The Minnesota Twins are just 10 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.
The Twins have typically had very young managers, but none started his managerial career younger than Tom Kelly did, and none has won more than Tom Kelly did in a Twins uniform, which during his managerial career was #10, making him our focus for today.
Kelly was originally born in Minnesota in Graceville, but he graduated high school and attended college in New Jersey. He was an 8th round draft pick out of high school by the Seattle Pilots as a sweet-swinging outfielder with a power arm from the outfield.
He tallied up assists with his power arm, even spending half of his time at first base, totaling 10 assists in 1974 in spite of playing 61 of the 115 games he played in the outfield. His bat even showed signs of promise, as he hit .308/.436/.504 in AAA in 1974 with 18 home runs.
Kelly got his one taste of major league ball in 1975 with the Minnesota Twins, coming up for 49 games and 147 plate appearances, hitting .181/.262/.244 with a home run.
Kelly spent 3 more seasons pursuing his playing career full-time on the field, but by 1979, he was playing just when he inserted himself as the manager, a role he had taken over within the Twins system in 1977.
Kelly would manage in the Twins minor league system for four seasons, intermixed with different coaching and managing opportunities, having a chance to manage some of the young players that would make up the core of the Twins in the late 1980s that would become eventual 2-time World Series champions.
Kelly joined the coaching staff in the 1983 season with the Minnesota Twins, and in 1986, at age 35, he was promoted to manager in midseason when Ray Miller was fired. Kelly than led the Twins to their first World Series in 1987.
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TK would have his first 90-win season in 1988, winning 91 games, but losing to Oakland in the American League West race. After finishing last in the division in 1990, his 1991 team would have the most wins of his tenure, winning 95 games.
Kelly managed for 16 seasons for the Minnesota Twins, accumulating 1,140 wins. He retired after the 2001 season during threat of contraction for the Twins, only 51 years old.
Minnesota Twins legacy
Kelly was at the helm for the only two World Series wins in Twins history. He was American League Manager of the Year in 1991, and he finished top 5 in the voting for the award 4 times in his career. Kelly’s also the leader in wins among the 13 managers in Minnesota Twins history.
Kelly had his number 10 retired in 2012, and he was elected to the Minnesota Twins team Hall of Fame in 2002.
For 10 days to spring training, we remember the Minnesota Twins’ most successful skipper, Tom Kelly.
Come soon, spring!!