Former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly celebrates his birthday today!
Tom Kelly managed the Minnesota Twins for 16 seasons, winning two World Series titles for the organization in 1987 and 1991. Today, he turns 67 years young!
Kelly was a first baseman and corner outfielder, drafted in 1968 by the Seattle Pilots (eventually the Milwaukee Brewers). The Brewers released Kelly before the 1971 season, and the Minnesota Twins signed him and assigned him as a 20 year-old to their AA club. He actually had one of his best minor league seasons at the plate in his first year with the Twins organization, going .294/.413/.409 with AA Charlotte with 17 doubles and 6 home runs in 100 games.
Kelly was promoted to Tacoma in the Pacific Coast League at that point, and he spent the next three years working to get out of Tacoma. In 1974, he had his finest minor league season, hitting .308/.436/.504 with 16 doubels and 18 home runs in 115 games. He earned his one and only call up to the major leagues in 1975, but could only muster a .506 OPS in 49 games.
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In 1977, the Twins gave Kelly the opportunity to be a player and manager with Tacoma at just 26 years old. He became a coach for a season in 1978 while he played, and then in 1979, he essentially retired as a player to take over as manager of the Twins class-A club in Visalia of the California League.
After being a coach with the big league team for 3+ seasons, he was promoted to the manager of the Minnesota Twins when Ray Miller was fired. That made Kelly the youngest manager in the game, and on the World Series winning 1987 Minnesota Twins team, he was actually younger than some notable players on the team in Don Baylor, Joe Niekro, and Steve Carlton, only being a matter of months older than Bert Blyleven.
What is incredible to consider is that in the major leagues right now, if he returned to managing (something he hasn’t done in 16 years), he would be only the 3rd oldest manager in the game. He would be among 11 managers who are 60 years old or older. The youngest manager in the game right now is Kevin Cash of the Tampa Bay Rays, who is 39. He’s the only 30-something manager. There are only 2 managers in their 40s. Kelly managed all but one of his career years as a manager in his 30s and 40s, turning 50 late in the 2000 season and managing the majority of the 2001 season as a 50 year-old.