Twenty five years ago, the Twins captured the imagination of a state and defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 in game seven of the 1987 World Series. With rookie manager Tom Kelly and a lineup comprised of a rat at third base, a vowel needing local at first, a catcher who hit a "buck ninety", and a center fielder with a dynamic personality nicknamed Puck.
If you could sum the 1987 playoff run up in one word, it would be ‘magic'. For the first time in years, one of the teams in our state won something.
"I thought that team really started playing good in September. Late August and September I thought they were really playing," Kelly told FOX 9 Sports Director Jim Rich. "I know myself, I'd stay up late at night just to see what Oakland was doing."
The year before, the Twins who then played in the American League West, finished sixth out of seven teams. On fan appreciation day, pitcher Bert Blyleven boldly stated that the team had the makings of a championship team. Little did he know how prophetic his words would be.
The Twins won the West by two games over Kansas City cementing a place in the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers. The Twins took the series 4-1, outscoring the Tigers 34-23. Gary Gaetti was named the ALCS MVP finishing the series 6-for-20 with two home runs, five runs scored and five runs batted in.
Following their series clinching win in game five, the Twins returned home to over 60,000 fans at the Metrodome to welcome them home and set the tone for the World Series against St. Louis.
The homer hanky was introduced for the first time and a sea of white greeted the Cardinals as they arrived at the Metrodome dubbed the Thunderdome. There was no question the 55,000 plus that attended played a huge part in the Twins win. For the first time in World Series history, the home team won every game of the series. At home, the Twins averaged 8 runs per game and only two in the three games in St. Louis.
In the seventh and deciding game, the Cardinals struck first on three consecutive singles to start the second inning. Tony Pena's single drove in Tom Lindeman. Later in the inning, catcher Steve Lake drove in Willie McGee for the 2-0 lead.
The Twins got on the board in the bottom of the second. Don Baylor was hit by a pitch, Tom Brunansky followed with a single. Then following a Kent Hrbek strikeout, Tim Laudner singled to left. Baylor was sent to the plate but was thrown out on a close play. Second baseman Steve Lombardozzi singled to score Brunansky and the Twins were on the board.
Frank Viola began to find a rhythm and held the Cardinals off the board, and in the bottom of the 5th inning, the Twins tied the game. Shortstop Greg Gagne reached on an infield single and scored when Kirby Puckett doubled to center.
They took the lead for good an inning later when Gagne's infield single scored Brunansky and added another run in the bottom of the 8th when Dan Gladden doubled home Laudner.
Closer Jeff Reardon entered in the 9th inning and the Cardinals went one-two-three. The final out coming off the bat of Willie McGee and AL Michaels on play by play exclaimed "to Gaetti…for the first time ever, the Minnesota Twins are World Champions."