The Twins wrapped up the annual Diamond Awards banquet Thursday night with a very special award… announcing in front of the 500 or so attendees, a FSN television audience, those of us watching online, and one very surprised former manager that the organization would be honoring Tom Kelly by retiring his #10 in a ceremony this September 8.
Kelly had just finished introducing retired radio broadcaster John Gordon, recipient of the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award, and was getting ready to return to his seat. Emcee Dick Bremer kept Kelly on the podium, however, and brought club president Dave St. Peter up to the microphone. St. Peter then proceeded to bestow the team’s greatest honor on Kelly, announcing that no Twin will ever again wear his number 10.
Standing behind St. Peter, TK was clearly overcome with emotion as the words sank in. Kelly was so emotionally overwhelmed that he simply stepped down from the podium and returned to his seat without a word, but his face and body language spoke volumes.
Kelly managed the only two World Series championship teams in Twins history, in 1987 and 1991, and even after his retirement from the field has remained a constant fixture in the organization. Visitors to the Twins spring training complex in Ft. Myers may not see much of Kelly if they only show up to watch the Major Leaguers play their afternoon games, but anyone who gets there early enough to patrol the practice fields in the mornings will have no trouble spotting him.
You may see him running the Big Leaguers through infield drills or, his particular specialty, working with the club’s first basemen. But you’re just as likely to find him working with the youngest of the club’s minor leaguers… doing what he does best, instilling the fundamentals of baseball in the young minds and bodies of future Minnesota Twins.
Tom Kelly made his name as the skipper of the championship teams he managed for the Twins, but he’s continued to leave his mark on the Twins organization long after he left the Big League dugout.
In my mind, that’s what makes this honor not only appropriate, but long overdue. Congratulations, Tom Kelly!