This story is the first in what will be an ongoing series dedicated to exploring the famous and not-so-famous autographs that grace the “Wall of Fame” at Twin Cities PBS.
Stroll the hallway that leads to the television studios at Twin Cities PBS and you instantly feel like you’re surrounded by what could be branded as Minnesota’s Walk of Fame. Instead of stars on the sidewalk, the wall is decorated with more than 20 years’ worth of signatures.
There so many signatures, in fact, that you’re almost certain to notice a new one every time you wander down the hall. During tours of the station, your guide will show off a few of the more notable autographs; however, this is a space in which we will dive a little deeper and share some information about the signee.
Because the baseball season has started down in Florida, our signature of focus was penned by former Minnesota Twins manager and two-time World Series Champion, Tom Kelly.
Minnesota-native Tom Kelly was born in Graceville. He had a short-lived Major League Baseball career as a player and played in 49 games for the Minnesota Twins during the 1975 season. By the time his career wrapped up, he’d landed one home run and 11 runs batted in. Fortunately for Twins fans, few people will remember him as a first baseman and outfielder.
In the early 1980s, Kelly began coaching in the Twins farm system. By 1983, he was brought up to the big leagues to coach under manager Billy Gardner. In 1986, Kelly replaced Ray Miller as manager for the final 23 games of the season, when he was just 35 years old.
The next year, 1987, is one that Twins fans of a certain age will never forget. Kelly was at the helm of a team with big-time names such as Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, Kirby Puckett, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola and Bert Blyleven. This was a team that barely finished with more wins then losses, but was able to win when it counted against the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. On October 25, 1987 the Minnesota Twins won their first World Series.
In 1991, the team did it again – and once again, Kelly led them to victory. This time, the team beat Atlanta in what some believe to be the greatest World Series of all-time.
[Editor’s note: We even have the thrilling story of the Minnesota Twin fan who caught Kirby Puckett’s game-six saving home run ball in 1991, which ultimately allowed the team to advance to the tie-breaker game they would go on to win. Watch Joe’s My MN Story.]
Kelly would go on to manage the team for 10 more years, retiring in 2001.
On August 10, 2007 Tom Kelly came in to talk to Eric and Cathy on Almanac about the 20th anniversary of the 1987 team that brought the World Series trophy home.