Kent Hrbek

Kent Alan Hrbek (/ˈhɜːrbɛk/; born May 21, 1960 in Minneapolis, Minnesota), nicknamed Herbie, is a former American Major League Baseball first baseman. He played his entire 14-year baseball career for the Minnesota Twins (1981–1994). Hrbek batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He hit the first home run in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on April 3, 1982, in an exhibition game against the Phillies.[1] Fans knew Hrbek as an outstanding defensive player, perennial slugger, and charismatic hometown favorite. Former Twins pitcher Jim Kaat considered Hrbek to be the best defensive first baseman he had ever seen.[2] Hrbek attended Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Kent Hrbek
Kent Hrbek 1987
Hrbek in 1987
First baseman
Born: May 21, 1960 (age 59)
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 24, 1981, for the Minnesota Twins
Last MLB appearance
August 10, 1994, for the Minnesota Twins
MLB statistics
Batting average.282
Home runs293
Runs batted in1,086
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Career

Kent Hrbek was drafted by his hometown Minnesota Twins in the 17th round of the 1978 Major League Baseball draft and spent the next three seasons working his way up the Twins' organizational ladder where he would hit 47 home runs and rack up 111 runs batted in while hitting .318 in 253 minor league games. In 1979, Hrbek played 24 games for the rookie league Elizabethton Twins in the Appalachian Rookie League before spending the next two seasons playing A ball—first for the Wisconsin Rapids Twins in the Midwest League and then the Visalia Oaks in the California League.[3] Hrbek made his major league debut on August 24, 1981, at Yankee Stadium, hitting a game-winning home run in the 12th inning off New York reliever and future Twins player George Frazier.[4]

After his "cup of coffee" at the end of the 1981 season, Hrbek would make the team out of spring training and come into his own in 1982, playing well for Twins manager Billy Gardner. Finishing his rookie season hitting .301 with 23 home runs and 92 RBI, Hrbek would finish second in the Rookie of the Year voting (to future Hall of Famer Cal Ripken, Jr.) and be selected to his only All-Star game.[5] Although the Twins would finish 60–102, Hrbek and fellow rookies Tim Laudner, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, Randy Bush, and Frank Viola would make up the nucleus of the 1987 World Series team. Falling off slightly in his sophomore year (.297, 16 HR, 84 RBI), Hrbek would come up big in 1984, finishing the season hitting .311 (his second-highest career batting average) with 27 HR (his 3rd highest total), 107 RBI (his highest career total), 174 hits (his highest total), and 80 runs (his third highest total). During arguably his career year, Hrbek would power the Twins all season and the team would surprise the rest of the American League West by battling for the division crown. Although the team was as close as 0.5 games out of first place at 81–75, the Twins faded fast, lost their last 6 games, and finished in a tie with the California Angels, three games behind the Kansas City Royals. After the season, Hrbek was recognized for his performance and the team's surprise September run, by his finishing second in the American League Most Valuable Player balloting to Detroit Tigers' closer Willie Hernández.

World Series Play

Some of his most memorable moments were during the 1987 season. He hit a career-best 34 home runs to help the Twins win the AL West. Although he hit only .208, Hrbek was instrumental in capturing the World Series Championship, as he hit a grand slam in Game 6 off Cardinals reliever Ken Dayley, which essentially sealed the win for the Twins. In 1991, he again helped the Twins to win the World Series after having a typical Hrbek season (.284, 20 home runs, and 84 RBI). The Twins had finished the previous season in last place, as had their Series opponent the Atlanta Braves, which prompted the media to coin the phrase "Worst to First World Series." Hrbek's offense turned stale after his home run in Game 1 and he hit only .115 for the series with the one home run and 2 RBI. However, in Game 7, with the score still tied 0–0 in the 8th inning, Hrbek executed a very uncommon 3–2–3 bases-loaded double play with catcher Brian Harper that saved the Twins against the Braves' biggest threat of the game. The Twins eventually won the game 1–0, with Gene Larkin hitting a bases-loaded single to center field that scored Dan Gladden in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Hrbek was involved in a controversial play with Ron Gant in Game 2 of the 1991 Series. While Gant was coming back to first base after widely rounding the base on a single, Hrbek applied a tag to Gant's leg and Gant ran into Hrbek. The umpire, Drew Coble, called Gant out, ruling that forward progress would have caused Gant to step off the bag.[6] Gant angrily disputed the call and had to be restrained when Coble refused to change it. The move was later nicknamed the "T-Rex Tag," after Hrbek jokingly speculated about a post-baseball career in professional wrestling using the name Tyrannosaurus Rex. When the Series moved to Atlanta, Braves fans jeered him, and Hrbek received much hate mail, including a death threat.[7]

Although he was a key part of both World Series teams, Hrbek was largely ineffective at the plate, hitting only .154 in 24 post-season games with only 3 home runs and 12 RBI. Hrbek was one of seven Twins to be part of both the 1987 and 1991 World Series teams. The other six were Randy Bush, Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Al Newman, Gene Larkin (who made the winning hit in Game 7 of the 1991 series), and Dan Gladden (who was the runner Larkin scored with that hit).

Retirement

KentHrbekTwins
Kent Hrbek's number 14 was retired by the Minnesota Twins in 1995.

Frequently injured (though seldom seriously), Hrbek retired after the players strike in 1994, citing his nagging injury problems and desire to spend more time with his wife and daughter at their home in Bloomington, Minnesota. Despite operating in the same lineup as Kirby Puckett for all but two years of his career—and his long and close association with Puckett—Hrbek's numbers never approached those of the center fielder. It is generally agreed that Hrbek's career, while long and productive, was not Baseball Hall of Fame material and similar to a list of good-but-not-great players, such as Eric Karros, Will Clark, Greg Luzinski, David Justice, and Vic Wertz.[8] In 2000, his first year of Hall of Fame eligibility, Hrbek garnered only 5 votes, which was nowhere near the 5% minimum threshold for continued eligibility. Thus, he is ineligible for the Hall of Fame unless voted in by the Veterans Committee. His first year of Veterans' Committee eligibility was 2015.

Kent Hrbek's number 14 was retired by the Twins in 1995, which at the time, made him just the fourth Twins player in franchise history to have his number retired. (The other three were Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, and Tony Oliva.) Hrbek was also inducted into the Minnesota Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. He was also one of few players at the time—and even rarer by today's standards—to have played out his entire career with only one team.

In 2000, the Twins established their own "Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame," and Hrbek was one of six former Twins inducted into the initial class. The 2000 class also included MLB Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, and Kirby Puckett, player and Twins coach Tony Oliva, and former owner Calvin Griffith.

Kent Hrbek 14 banner - HHH Metrodome

Hrbek's number 14 retirement banner from the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

Other affiliations

Hrbek is an avid hunter and fisherman, particularly in his home state of Minnesota. He hosted an outdoor sports program on FOX 9 called Kent Hrbek Outdoors from 2004–2010.[9] Hrbek is a perennial pitchman for Twin Cities-area HVAC companies offering Carrier Heating and Air Conditioning equipment. He has a series of baseball fields named after him in his hometown of Bloomington.

Since Kent Hrbek's father died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or "Lou Gehrig's disease") in 1982, he has worked to increase awareness of the disease. Hrbek hosts an annual charity golf tournament in Minnesota to raise money for ALS research and makes many public appearances on behalf of the cause. He also participates in an annual fundraising event called the "Black Woods Blizzard Tour," a snowmobile excursion around northern Minnesota that raises money to fight the deadly disease. Hrbek and his wife, Jeanie Hrbek, are honorary co-chairs of the ALS Association's MN/ND/SD Chapter.[10]

Career statistics

AVG G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K OBP SLG HBP GD TB IB SH SF SB CS SB% AB/HR AB/K FLD%
.282 1747 6192 903 1749 312 18 293 1086 838 798 .367 .481 26 165 2976 110 15 66 37 26 .587 21.1 7.8 .994

See also

Further reading

  • Kent Hrbek by Deegan, Paul J.; Carpenter, Jerry; DiMeglio, Steve ISBN 0-939179-32-6
  • Minnesota Twins 2008 Yearbook

References

  1. ^ The Ballplayers – Kent Hrbek Archived 2007-10-18 at the Wayback Machine Baseball Library
  2. ^ Kelly, Tom; Robinson, Ted (1992). Season of Dreams: The Minnesota Twins' Drive to the 1991 World Championship. Voyageur Pr. p. 145. ISBN 978-0-89658-209-5.
  3. ^ "Kent Hrbek". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  4. ^ "Kent Hrbek". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on November 10, 2012. Retrieved April 22, 2011.
  5. ^ "Kent Hrbek Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  6. ^ Claire Smith (October 21, 1991). "Who's On First? Not Gant". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 14, 2013.
  7. ^ Jim Caple (November 19, 2003). "ESPN Classic – 1991 World Series had it all". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013.
  8. ^ "Kent Hrbek". Baseball-Reference.com. Archived from the original on October 21, 2012.
  9. ^ "Herbie: 1991 title uncapped a frenzy". Star Tribune. July 26, 2011. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  10. ^ "2019 Black Woods Blizzard Tour - The ALS Association". webmn.alsa.org.

External links

1978 Major League Baseball draft

In 1978, four American baseball players were promoted from amateur baseball to the major leagues, including Arizona State University third baseman Bob Horner, who was selected number one overall by the Atlanta Braves. Oakland High School pitchers Tim Conroy and Mike Morgan, and Brian Milner of Toronto also went directly to the big leagues.

In addition to Horner, the Braves also selected future major leaguers Matt Sinatro (2nd round), Steve Bedrosian (3rd round), Rick Behenna (4th round), Jose Alvarez (8th round) and Gerald Perry (11th round).

Others drafted in June 1978 included Lloyd Moseby and Dave Stieb (Toronto), Mike Marshall and Steve Sax (Los Angeles), Cal Ripken, Jr. and Mike Boddicker (Baltimore), Kirk Gibson (Detroit), Kent Hrbek (Minnesota) and Hubie Brooks (New York Mets).

1978 Minnesota Twins season

The 1978 Minnesota Twins finished 73-89, fourth in the American League West.

1982 Minnesota Twins season

The 1982 Minnesota Twins finished 60-102, seventh in the AL West. It was the first time the Twins lost more than 100 games since moving to Minnesota.

The Twins moved into the Metrodome but only 921,186 fans attended Twins games, the lowest total in the American League.

1983 Minnesota Twins season

The 1983 Minnesota Twins finished 70–92, fifth in the AL West. 858,939 fans attended Twins games, the third-lowest total in the American League.

1985 Minnesota Twins season

The 1985 Minnesota Twins finished with a record of 77-85, tied for fourth in the American League West, and 14 games behind the division winner and eventual World Series champion Kansas City Royals.

1986 Minnesota Twins season

The 1986 Minnesota Twins finished at 71-91, sixth in the AL West, 21 games behind the eventual AL runner-up California Angels. 1,255,453 fans attended Twins games, the second lowest total in the American League. Pitcher Bert Blyleven made a prediction on Fan Appreciation Day on October 3, saying that if the team came together as a unit and signed some other good players, they could potentially bring a World Series championship to Minnesota. That prediction proved accurate the next year.

1987 American League Championship Series

The 1987 American League Championship Series pitted the Minnesota Twins, the American League West champions, against the Detroit Tigers, the American League East champions. Minnesota won the Series four games to one, en route to winning the 1987 World Series four games to three over the St. Louis Cardinals.

1987 World Series

The 1987 World Series was the 84th edition of Major League Baseball's championship series, and the conclusion of the 1987 Major League Baseball season. It was a best-of-seven playoff played between the American League (AL) champion Minnesota Twins and the National League (NL) champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Twins defeated the Cardinals four games to three to win the Series. Twins pitcher Frank Viola was named as the 1987 World Series MVP.

Minnesota was victorious in a World Series that was the first to feature games played indoors. It was also the first World Series in which the home team won every game; this happened again in 1991 (also a Twins championship, this time over the Atlanta Braves) and in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks defeating the New York Yankees.

The World Series win was the first for the Twins franchise since 1924, when the team was located in Washington, D.C., and was known as the Washington Senators.

This is the first World Series in which the series logo appeared on the jerseys; only the Cardinals wore it, however, while the Twins did not.

1989 Minnesota Twins season

The 1989 Minnesota Twins finished 80-82, fifth in the AL West. 2,277,438 fans attended Twins games, the seventh highest total in the American League.

1990 Minnesota Twins season

The 1990 Minnesota Twins, three years after their World Series title in 1987, fell to the bottom of the AL West once again. However, the season was not completely bad, as there were some bright spots that included pitchers Rick Aguilera and Scott Erickson. Aguilera converted from starter to closer and recorded 32 saves, while Erickson was promoted to the Twins in June from AA and went 8-4 with a 3.27 ERA. During Fan Appreciation Day on October 3, Outfielder Dan Gladden made a prediction on saying that even though we finished in last place this season, we're going to improve next season and if we did, they could potentially bring another World Series championship to Minnesota. That prediction proved accurate the next year.

1991 Minnesota Twins season

The 1991 Minnesota Twins of Major League Baseball (MLB) won the World Series, the second time the Twins had won the World Series since moving to Minnesota in 1961. During the 1991 regular season the Twins had an MLB-leading 15-game win streak, which remains a club record. On June 18, 1991, the streak came to an end at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles but not before the Twins moved from fifth place to first, a lead they would not relinquish until winning baseball's championship. The Twins' winning streak of 1991 falls just seven games short of the all-time American League (AL) record of 22 consecutive regular season wins set by the Cleveland Indians in 2017.

The Twins finished 95-67, first in the AL West, which represented a turnaround from 1990, when the team finished last in the division with a 74-88 record. They were the first team to go from a last-place finish to a World Series championship. They and the Atlanta Braves were the first teams to go from last place to a pennant. The Twins defeated the Braves in seven games in a Series which has been considered one of the best to have ever been played.There was a considerable reshaping of the team in January and February, beginning when third baseman Gary Gaetti left as a free agent on January 25 and signed with the California Angels. Less than 12 hours after Gaetti's departure, the Twins signed free agent Mike Pagliarulo from the New York Yankees as a new third baseman. Two more key free agent signings followed with designated hitter Chili Davis on January 30 and St. Paul native Jack Morris on February 5. The July 1989 blockbuster trade that sent 1988 AL Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola to the New York Mets in exchange for relief pitchers Rick Aguilera and David West and starter Kevin Tapani proved to be pivotal to the 1991 season. There were only seven players still on the roster from the 1987 World Championship team, none of them pitchers: Randy Bush, Greg Gagne, Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek, Gene Larkin, Al Newman, and future Hall of Famer Kirby Puckett. Into this framework, young stars were blended successfully, including Scott Leius to platoon with Pagliarulo at third, Shane Mack in right field, Scott Erickson, a 20-game winner with a 12-game winning streak, and A.L. Rookie of the Year second baseman Chuck Knoblauch.

2,293,842 fans attended Twins games, the eighth highest total in the American League.

1992 Minnesota Twins season

Coming off a World Series victory, the 1992 Minnesota Twins continued the team's winning spree. The team finished in second place to the Oakland Athletics and did not make it to the postseason. This would be the team's last winning season until 2001.

1993 Minnesota Twins season

The 1993 Minnesota Twins underperformed in their last year in the old American League West Division, finishing with a 71-91 record, leaving the team tied for fifth place with the California Angels. There were bright spots for Manager Tom Kelly. This included Kirby Puckett winning the All-Star MVP award on July 13. Another bright spot was St. Paul native Dave Winfield getting his 3,000th hit in his first year back with his hometown team.

1994 Minnesota Twins season

The 1994 Minnesota Twins played in an abbreviated, strike-shortened season. The strike overshadowed the season's accomplishments. These included Scott Erickson's no-hitter on April 27, Chuck Knoblauch's 85-game errorless streak and league-leading 45 doubles, Kirby Puckett's 2,000th hit, and Kent Hrbek's retirement. In 113 games, Manager Tom Kelly's team finished with a record of 53-60, for fourth place in the newly created American League Central Division.

Bob Casey (baseball announcer)

Bob Casey (April 11, 1925 – March 27, 2005) was the only public address announcer in Minnesota Twins history until 2005. He started announcing Twins games when the franchise moved to Minnesota from Washington, D.C., in 1961.

Casey worked 44 seasons and more than 3,000 games for the Twins. He was inducted into the Twins' Hall of Fame in 2003.

Gene Larkin

Eugene Thomas Larkin (born October 24, 1962) is a former switch-hitting first baseman, designated hitter, and right fielder in Major League Baseball who played his entire seven-season career with the Minnesota Twins. During his playing career he wore #9 for Minnesota, and was a member of both the 1987 and 1991 World Series championship teams. He is best known for hitting the series-winning single, a deep fly ball that was not caught by the Braves' drawn-in outfield and scored Dan Gladden from third base during the tenth inning in Game 7 of the 1991 Series.

Larkin was one of seven Twins to be part of both the 1987 and 1991 World Series teams. The other six were Randy Bush, Greg Gagne, Kirby Puckett, Al Newman, Kent Hrbek and Gladden.

Larkin attended Columbia University, where he played for the Lions and was later drafted in the 20th round of the 1984 amateur draft. He was the first alumnus of Columbia University to make the major leagues since Lou Gehrig. He also graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, New York. He currently lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where he coaches youth travel baseball and is the Vice President of Players Only Incorporated (http://www.playersonlyinc.com/), where he does private and group instruction.

In a 7 year, 758 game major league career, Larkin compiled a .266 batting average (618-for-2321) with 275 runs, 32 home runs and 266 RBI. He recorded a .992 fielding percentage at first base and right and left field. In the postseason, in 1987 and 1991 for the Twins, he hit .273 (3-for-11) with 2 RBI.

Hammond Stadium

Hammond Stadium is a baseball field located in the CenturyLink Sports Complex in South Fort Myers, Florida, United States. The stadium was built in 1991, and underwent major renovations in 2014 and 2015.

The spring training home of the Minnesota Twins saw its seating capacity increased from 7,500 to 9,300 in the spring of 2015. Class A Advanced affiliate, the Fort Myers Miracle, of the Florida State League finished out their 2014 season and FSL championship at JetBlue Park (Spring home of the Boston Red Sox, also in Fort Myers) in order to get the renovations done in time for catchers & pitchers to report in 2015. The renovations will also increase the amount of walkable area, provide more shaded areas for sunny games and an expanded gift shop, among other amenities for fans and players.

The Twins' Rookie League affiliate, the Gulf Coast League Twins also play in the CenturyLink Sports Complex, however, not usually at Hammond Stadium, but rather at the fields within the surrounding complex.

The stadium is named in honor of retired Lee County Deputy Administrator William H. Hammond, Jr., who was instrumental in getting the Lee County Sports Complex (the name it was given prior to its renovations) built to draw the Twins from their previous Spring home, Orlando. Hammond Stadium's outer facade was designed with Churchill Downs in mind. The parking rows all feature streets signs named to honor former Twins greats—including Bert Blyleven, Kirby Puckett & Kent Hrbek. There is also a waterfall fountain near the stadium's entrance.

The Twins won the World Series following their first spring training in Hammond Stadium. Their agreement with Lee County for use of the complex runs through 2012. The Florida State League held the 48th annual Florida State League All-Star Game at Hammond Stadium in June 2009. The previous time the league held their mid-summer classic in Fort Myers was 2003.

Hammond Stadium & JetBlue Park are two of four spring training facilities in Fort Myers. City of Palms Park and Terry Park Ballfield (also known as the Park T. Pigott Memorial Stadium) in East Fort Myers are currently not in use. City of Palms Park is the former spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, and Terry Park Ballfield is the former home of the Philadelphia Athletics, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals.

List of Minnesota Twins broadcasters

The Minnesota Twins baseball team have had many broadcasters in their history in Minnesota. Here is a list of the people who have been a part of bringing the Twins to the people of Minnesota.

List of Minnesota Twins team records

This is a listing of statistical records and milestone achievements of the Minnesota Twins franchise.

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