Two Great Guys! 14 Sep 12

Two Great Guys!
Story and Photos by Gordy Jones

Paul Molitor was the host for Friends of St. Paul Baseball golf outing.

In the final stretch of a melancholy 2012 Twins season, I recently had a couple of good reasons to smile. One was at the first annual Paul Molitor Friends of St. Paul golf outing. This is the same event that Joe Mauer has hosted for about the last 10 years. Joe excused himself under good terms after last year’s outing, with plans to eventually host his own event for the Mauer Foundation.

Paul generously agreed with the Friends of St. Paul to put his name on the event and host this year’s tournament. Paul is the perfect fit for this event, and he was a gracious host.

Tim Laudner hit his golf ball with a baseball "fungo" bat. Participants could give an additional donation to do this, and they could tee off from where their ball landed without using a stroke.

Paul was born and raised in St. Paul, and played ball on the same fields that benefit from the proceeds raised at this tournament. Friends of St. Paul has improved recreation centers and ball parks by putting up lights, repairing fields, dugouts, and fences, and even supplying baseball equipment to kids.

The Mauer family hosted this tournament for many years and continue to support. Joe's brothers, Billy Mauer and Jake, participated in it. Both brothers played in the Twins organization and Jake (on right) is currently manager of the Fort Myers Miracle.

During his event, Paul cruised around the course at Brackett’s Crossing with his cart being driven by his amateur coach and mentor, Billy Peterson. The outing was a “best-ball” competition, and Paul would tee off with some participants, or challenge others on the green or in chipping. He accommodated everyone who asked for an autograph or wanted him to pose in a photo. He shared memories with old friends from St. Paul, and with former MLB colleagues. Jack Morris, Tim Laudner, Tony Oliva, and Kent Hrbek were some of the former players participating in the event.

Former Twins Al Newman does a little dance after sinking a putt.

I asked Paul how he got involved with this tournament. He replied: “I got involved after last year’s event. Joe Mauer had served as honorary chair for a number of years. He decided to pass that on and he asked me to get involved. I was certainly familiar with Friends of St. Paul Baseball and the work that they do. Being from St. Paul, I have some friends who are on staff or who are volunteers for them. It seemed like a good a good fit and I was happy to participate and be part of this event — and we had a great day today. I imagine this is something that will continue…and if they ask me to come back next year, it would be my pleasure to continue to help generate funds through a golf tournament for Friends of St. Paul Baseball. I had a great time today…as a host, I got to meet nearly everyone who came out here today. I enjoyed rotating around with Bill Peterson, and sharing fellowship with as many participants as possible, and letting them know how much we appreciate their support.”

The 2012 Twins applaud Tom Kelly on his special day.

Paul, who is a former Twin and a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is currently a member of the Twins’ player development team, and is always a class act.

 

Class act also describes the other person who recently made me smile. Actually, in 1987 and 1991 he put a smile on nearly every face in Twins Territory. That would be Mr. Tom Kelly.

Although Tom felt honored to be honored last week when the Twins retired his number 10, it was also a difficult day for him because he doesn’t like a fuss to be made over him. TK doesn’t like talking about himself or taking credit for a job well done. He always gave credit to the players when anyone tried to shine a light on him.

Kent Hrbek, Tony Olivia, Bert Blyleven and Rod Carew were part of TK's ceremony, while John Gordon returned to Minnesota to be the MC.

At the same time, Tom is a great teacher who, like Molitor, continues to work with the Twins in player development, especially at spring training. He is extremely blunt, a no-nonsense teacher, and will “scold” a minor-leaguer as well as a future Hall of Famer if they are not executing properly. He has often said he likes to take a rookie and “bust his chops” — to take the big head away from his game. If followed properly, his philosophy will make any team successful, but a corporation could benefit as well. He has many sayings that display his ideas, and one was etched in the mini oar given out at Target Field before his ceremony: “We’re all in this boat together. Everybody grab an oar.” He also teaches to keep an even keel. When doing well, don’t get too high, and when things aren’t good, don’t get too down. He is gruff, but has a huge heart.

Tom's son, TK Junior, was on hand for the celebration, and as always, he was the life of the party.

His ceremony had many funny and touching stories from former teammates, opponents, players that he’s coached, Jim Pohlad, Andy MacPhail, and current Twins who were infants when Tom took the Twins to championships in a couple of World Series.

As much as TK hates attention, I think he really enjoyed his day. I believe the deal maker was the fact that this was an opportunity for 100 of his best friends and family to come together and celebrate with him — folks from all over the country.

I salute Paul Molitor and Tom Kelly; they are not only a couple of great baseball men, but just a couple of great guys!