Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 41, Jeff Reardon
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins are just 41 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number!
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.
Today we get to take a look at a relief pitcher that came in and became a Twin right as the team was poised for a championship run in 1987. Because of that timing, an all-time recognized closer was able to find his way into the hearts of many Twins fans. That closer is Jeff Reardon.
As a high school student, Reardon was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the 23rd round of 1973 draft. He decided that 1973 wasn’t the time for him to enter the majors and instead chose to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst and play college baseball there. Reardon would then go undrafted in 1977 and sign a minor league deal with the New York Mets.
In 1981, the team that originally drafted Reardon, the Expos, would send Ellis Valentine to New York to bring Reardon and Dan Norman to Montreal. It was after that trade that Reardon would be given the opportunity to become the primary closer of a major league team. He had some of his best seasons in Montreal included two All-Star appearances in 1985 and 1986.
Pitching as a Twin
Before the 1987 season, the Expos package Reardon with Tom Nieto in a trade to the Twins for Alfredo Cardwood, Neal Heaton, Yorkis Perez, and Jeff Reed. That first season in Minnesota had to be quite the ride as Reardon was able to log 31 saves for Twins in 63 games and 80.1 innings on their way to the playoffs.
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Reardon continued to pitch well for the Twins into the postseason. He did take a few lumps in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers, blowing a lead in game 3 and allowing a run but maintaining the save in game 5. When it came to the World Series Reardon locked it down. In four games he pitched 4.2 innings and allowed no runs.
After pitching to a World Series championship, Reardon came back and pitched possibly the best season of his career. In 1988, Reardon appeared in 63 games, saved 42 of them and held a 2.47 ERA on his way to his third All-Star appearance. 1989 was Reardon’s last season as a Twins and he was able to add 31 more saves to his career total and finish with 103 saves in a Twins uniform.
Reardon would choose to leave the Twins after the 1989 season to join the Boston Red Sox. It was in 1992 as a member of the Red Sox that Reardon would take over as the all-time saves leader recording his 342nd save to pass Rollie Fingers. He has been since passed on that list but still sits 10th in the all-time saves list after he finished his career with 367 saves.
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Reardon’s time with the Twins was a short 3 seasons, but in that time he became one of the players that Twins fans will continue to remember. With 41 days until Opening Day we celebrate #41 Jeff Reardon.