Greatest Hits

Another day that has been full of things that are not writing about baseball (unfortunately). Here’s a best of post from last year remembering one of the greatest days in Twins history. I should be back to a regular schedule next week.

Sunday October 25, 1987

Twins 4, Cardinals 2

The Twins’ magic carpet took Minnesota to the moon Sunday night.

It was borne by the sound of 55,000 exploding voices in the Metrodome and hundreds of thousands more from border to border in one floor-stomping, chest-pounding declaration:

“We’re No. 1.”

And the moment Gary Gaetti fired to Kent Hrbek in the ninth inning to retire Willie McGee and beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2, The Celebration began.

It cascaded from the playing field where the Twins mobbed themselves in a primeval scream of glory, clutching, laughing and crying, and from the grandstand were the fans erupted in a feast of triumph and vindication. It came rolling out of the upper galleries like the boom of an ocean surf, and it flashed to the world on television in a wild swirl of white bandanas.

The champions of baseball. The World Series. No. 1.

-Jim Klobuchar, Star Tribune, 10/26/87

Minnesota finally had its World Championship; but early on it looked as though the Cardinals might spoil the party. A shaky-looking Frank Viola allowed three consecutive singles to start the second inning; the third of which, a base hit by Tony Pena, scored the game’s first run. With two outs in the inning, catcher Steve Lake hit the fourth single of the frame to score Willie McGee from third and to give the Cards a 2-0 lead.

The Twins were able to answer in the bottom of the second. The inning started when Don Baylor did what he did best, got hit by a pitch. Tom Brunansky singled Baylor to second, and with one out, Tim Laudner lined a single to left. Baylor was waved around third by Ron Gardenhire when the throw came in from Vince Coleman. Though replays later showed he slid under the tag, the ball beat Baylor and the “out” call was made. Fortunately, Steve Lombardozzi’s RBI single to center salvaged a run in the inning, cutting the St. Louis lead in half.

For a few innings, the umpires were the centers of attention. From Vancil’s game story:

Television replays showed that plate umpire Dave Phillips blew a call that took away a Twins run in the second. First-base umpire Lee Weyer missed two calls, one that resulted in a Twins run in the fifth and one that took St. Louis out of the sixth inning.

Despite the blown calls for both sides, there was little arguing. Al Michaels, calling the game for ABC, had his own theory. “It’s ridiculous to have an argument here. You can’t hear a man standing next to you.”

The first of the controversial calls that went against the Cardinals came in the fifth inning. With one out, Greg Gagne hit a chopper that first baseman Jim Lindeman. Lindeman fielded the ball and flipped it to Joe Magrane, who had hurried over to cover first. When Magrane took the throw, he clearly missed the bag with his first step, and took an awkward second step at the base. Though replays showed that he had the bag on the second attempt, the umpire didn’t see it, and Gagne was safe at first.

The play marked the end of Magrane’s night on the mound, and Danny Cox came in to try and get out of the inning with no damage. The first man he faced, however, Kirby Puckett, doubled to the gap in right-center, scoring Gagne all the way from first. Cox got out of trouble however, thanks mostly to the Twins base running. Puckett was caught stealing third for the second out, and the third out was made at home plate when Gaetti tried to score from second on a Baylor single to left, the second out Coleman’s arm had made at home.

Cox’s trouble continued in the sixth. After walking Brunansky and Hrbek, Cox was able to get Laudner to pop out. That brought Todd Worrell into the game, normally the Cardinal’s closer. Worrell walked pinch-hitter Roy Smalley to load the bases with one out. After a Dan Gladden strikeout, Gagne hit his second infield single of the game, this time to third, to score the go-ahead run. Worrell ended the inning by striking out Puckett. Though the Cards were down, they had wriggled out of two potentially big innings in a row, and only trailed by one.

While St. Louis pitchers struggled, Frank Viola was on cruise control. After allowing those two runs in the second, he retired 11 in a row before Tom Herr singled in the sixth. Herr was eventually picked off, and Viola allowed only one more hit, taking his team to the eighth inning.

The Twins added some insurance in the bottom of the eighth in the form of a Dan Gladden RBI double. With a 4-2 lead, Tom Kelly had a decision to make, though Kelly didn’t make it a particularly tough one.

“I told Frankie I was very proud of him,” Twins manager Tom Kelly said. “He did an outstanding job. He knows, like we all know, Jeff Reardon gets the ball in the ninth. That’s the way we’ve done it all year, and that’s the way we were going to do it tonight.

“We weren’t going to go away from our plan. When the ninth inning comes around, Reardon comes in. Frankie understands that’s the way we do it. I told him again, I was very very proud of him, but here comes Reardon.”

Reardon retired the Cardinals in order in the top of the ninth, the last out coming on a Willie McGee grounder, Gaetti to Hrbek.


The Minnesota Twins are baseball’s champions.

Player of the Game and World Series MVP
Frank Viola


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