by Dan Cook, WCCO Radio
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has never been on the losing side of an All-Star game, and with Target Field hosting this year’s festivities, he doesn’t plan on starting now.
This will be the third time Gardenhire’s been a part of an American League All-Star staff, though he’s actually been invited four times.
His first experience with the Midsummer Classic came in 2003 when Angels manager Mike Scioscia invited him to join his staff in Chicago. In just his second year as Twins manager, it was a special treat early in his career.
The American League won that game, 7-6, on the strength of Rangers representative Hank Blalock’s eighth-inning 2-run home run off of Dodgers closer Eric Gagne.
He was next invited to join Jim Leyland’s AL staff in 2007, when the game was hosted by the San Francisco Giants. Gardenhire and Leyland maintained a professional and personal friendship throughout their time as managers in the AL Central, so it was an easy pick for the Tigers skipper to add Gardy to his staff.
The AL won that game 5-4, holding off a ninth-inning rally by the National League, which included a 2-run homer by Cubs representative Alfonso Soriano.
Gardenhire was subsequently invited to join Joe Girardi’s staff in 2010, but had to decline.
“It was out in San Diego, or somewhere like that so really tough travel,” Gardenhire said, “and then we were going to come back and start the second half like out this way, so that one didn’t work out.”
The game was actually at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, but Gardy’s point still held, with the Twins finishing their first half in Detroit, and starting again in Minnesota against the White Sox.
The AL lost that game 3-1, so Gardenhire’s perfect All-Star record remained intact. Ironically, current Twins starter Phil Hughes was on that team … and took the loss.
But 2014 is a special All-Star Game for Gardenhire, since he gets to experience it at his home ballpark.
“It’s as good as it gets,” Gardenhire said, “just seeing the whole thing, the pomp and circumstance, everything. It’ll be fun. It’ll be a really cool experience seeing our fans get to enjoy this.”
In past All-Star experiences, Gardenhire’s had mostly a bench role. Will he step out of the dugout at Target Field, perhaps for an inning or two in his former role as third base coach?
“Are you kidding me,” Gardenhire said, “I don’t want to get knocked down like Tommy Lasorda did. My preference is to be right there and let John [Farrell’s] staff do their thing. They deserve it, they won the World Series. Let them do their thing and I’ll sit on the bench and high-five guys.”