Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 13 Managers

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 4: Former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly chats with former player Paul Molitor and current manager Ron Gardenhire during a post-game tribute to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 4, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Genevieve Ross/Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 4: Former Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly chats with former player Paul Molitor and current manager Ron Gardenhire during a post-game tribute to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on October 4, 2009 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Genevieve Ross/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Twins are just 13 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 playoff 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 as our countdown brings us to 13 days until Opening Day, we take a look at all the managers in Minnesota Twins history. For my lifetime when it comes to managers, the Twins were much like the Pittsburgh Steelers of baseball. They were patient and methodical with any changes made at the managerial position. That wasn’t always the case. Today we will look at all 13 managers that have ever led the Twins clubhouse.

Cookie Lavagetto (1961)

Lavagetto came over with to the Twins as they made the transition from being the Washington Senators. He became the Senators manager after the club fired Chuck Dressen in 1957 when the team found themselves in last place. While Lavagetto made the transition to Minnesota, he didn’t last long as his team’s last-place standing would be the end of his tenure.

Sam Mele (1961-1967)

Mele also came to Minnesota as a member of the coaching staff from the Senator days. When the former player took over as manager there was an immediate boost in performance for the first year Twins. Mele would have success through much of the early 60’s with a blip in 1964, but 1965 would be the pinnacle of success for Mele. It was in that season that the Twins would finish first in the American League standings and advance to the World Series. It was there the Twins would run into Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers and lose.

Cal Ermer (1967-1968)

In the middle of the 1967 season the Twins would struggle which led to Mele’s firing and Ermer’s installment as the Twins skipper. That season the Twins and Ermer found success as they challenged to win the American League pennant in 1967. That would result in Ermer’s return in 1968, but Ermer may have been the victim of inevitability.

Billy Martin (1969)

In 1969, Martin would take over as the Twins manager. That was a move that many thought was going to happen in the middle of Mele’s tenure when he struggled in 1964. Martin’s tenure as Twins manager may not have been long, but he had success in taking the Twins to the first American League Championship Series. The series ended in a loss to the Baltimore Orioles, after an alley fight which had him standing off with one of his pitchers, Dave Boswell.

Bill Rigney (1970-1972)

Rigney would manage for three seasons in Minnesota. In his first season on the job, he would take the Twins back to the ALCS only to lose once again. After a down season in 1971 and nothing too special in 1972 Rigney would find himself replaced by one of the coaches on his staff.

Frank Quilici (1972-1975)

That coach was former Twins World Series second baseman Quilici. On the playing field, he had the Twins was just shy of a .500 baseball club. Many of Quilici’s teams finished at or around .500 and his record as a manager with the Twins was 280-287 (.494).

Gene Mauch (1976-1980)

Over the whole of his career, Mauch was very successful at putting wins in the win column. Mauch just never reached the goal of winning a pennant. The Twins would continue to help him put some wins on his resume but wouldn’t get any closer than 3rd place to winning that elusive pennant.

Johnny Goryl (1980-1981)

Goryl was a long time coach with the Twins. Getting his start as a coach in 1966 and in his second stint with the Twins succeeded Mauch as manager late in the 1980 season. His tenure would be very short as he would be fired in the middle of the 1981 season and move on to coach with the Cleveland Indians.

Billy Gardner (1981-1985)

As a manager of the Twins, Gardner would do a lot of losing. His record was 268-353 over his time with the Twins. Gardner was the manager as we have seen over the past several days of our countdown that got to usher in the core of players which would bring winning to Minnesota.

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Ray Miller (1985-1986)

After being regarded as a successful pitching coach, Miller got his first chance to manage with the Twins. Miller would go 109-130 as the Twins skipper, and at the end of the 1986 season be replaced by the manager that would help the Twins reach the World Series again.

Tom Kelly (1986-2001)

In many ways, Kelly is the winningest manager in Twins history. That starts with actual wins at 1,140 wins, even though due to the many losing seasons in the 90’s his overall winning percentage is below .500 (.478). Kelly was also the manager in place for both the 1987 and 1991 World Series championship teams.

Ron Gardenhire (2002-2014)

As the Twins began to emerge from the darkness of the 90’s and fought off talks of contraction, Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002. Gardenhire was the manager for one of the most successful decades of Twins baseball as they almost always were battling for the American League Central crown. Even though Gardenhire never captured that World Series title, he is only second to Kelly in wins with 1,068.

Paul Molitor (2015-present)

That brings us to the present manager of the Twins, Paul Molitor. Molitor’s two first season were rough ones filled with a lot of losing. Last season was the pleasant surprise which landed Molitor success on the field as well as a new contract and the Manager of the Year award. Molitor and the Twins have a pretty well stacked roster this season and Molitor looks to become the second Twins manager to win a World Series title.

Next: A look at recently acquire Twins outfielder Jake Cave

That is the quick run down. Those are the 13 managers who have taken leadership of the Twins throughout their history as we have 13 short days until Opening Day.