Torii Hunter was known for his smile and play during his 19-year career, mostly with the Minnesota Twins. This weekend, he tried his hand at a new role.
There’s not much for Minnesota Twins fans to be excited about right now. Going 2-7 in a rain-shortened nine game home stand is definitely nothing to write home about. But one bright spot from the weekend series against the Tigers was the return of Torii Hunter.
If you weren’t watching the games (you didn’t miss much on the field if you did, so don’t worry), you’re probably confused. Hunter joined Dick Bremer in the broadcast booth while Bert Blyleven had the weekend off.
Hunter was a fan favorite everywhere he played but especially in Minnesota, where he spent the majority of his 19-year career. He was one of those guys that nobody could find anything bad to say about. He owned his bad games and humbly acknowledged his good games. He was never linked to steroids or any other bad behavior that seems to creep into locker rooms from time to time.
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He spent his last season with the Twins in a mentorship role and, save for probably the most un-Torii like moment of his career when he absolutely melted down in front of umpire Mark Ripperger and left a trail of uniform accessories as he was ejected from a June 10, 2015 game, an uneventful final season for him.
Hunter had the same wide smile and wit in the booth as he did in his post game interviews. His debut was a bit shaky, especially when he had to very nicely explain to Bremer that he never played with Josh Hamilton in Anaheim, but he warmed up quickly as the games went on.
Hunter is a smart baseball guy. You have to be to play 19 seasons. He’s also realistic about what needs to happen to turn this young season around and wasn’t afraid to give his opinion. As always, he was genuine, authentic and fun. Blyleven returns to the booth this week, but I think I speak for Twins fans everywhere when I say, “welcome back, 48”. We’ve missed you.