Justin Morneau's Top 20 Moments as a Minnesota Twin

Minnesotans <3 Justin Morneau. - Hannah Foslien

Eleven-year Twins veteran Justin Morneau was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates last Saturday, spawning all kinds of nostalgia among Twins fans. Here's a list of Morneau's top 20 moments with the Twins to satisfy your needs.

20. Pumping Iron with Bears

Remember this?

19. Hits a Home Run in Four Consecutive Games

Between May 3rd and May 7th of 2005, Morneau belted a home run in four consecutive games--still his career best. Although it was not a Twins record (Harmon Killebrew hit a home run in five consecutive games twice in his career, and Marty Cordova did it once in 1995), it was an impressive and memorable feat for a young 24 year-old playing his first full season in the majors.

18. Hits Two Home Runs, Including a Walk-Off, against the Indians

Having suffered from concussion-like symptoms for two years, Justin Morneau's walk-off home run against the Indians on September 9th, 2012 was a memorable one, it being the first time in two years Justin was actually able to play in September.

"All I was thinking about when I was coming down third was, 'Don't hit me in the head.'" Morneau told Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger.

17. Grocery Shops for Joe Mauer

Remember when Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau used to live together? Unsurprisingly, Justin Morneau had to do all the grocery shopping for the pair while Joe Mauer waited in the car, because Joe would just get mobbed by Minnesotans if he went into the grocery store.

No word on how the two got their groceries after Justin Morneau won the MVP award in 2006.

16. Has First Career Hit

On June 10th, 2003, Justin Morneau made his major league debut at the Metrodome against the Colorado Rockies. Morneau didn't have to wait long for his first hit, slapping a single off Rockies starter Jason Jennings in his first major league at-bat.

Justin received a standing ovation from Twins fans after the hit. "I had to smile," he said later. "Normally I don't smile out there."

LaTroy Hawkins had the honor of smashing a shaving-cream pie in Morneau's face after the game.

15. Hits Home Run Out of Camden Yards on Dad's Birthday

Since opening in 1992, the Orioles' Camden Yards has seen more than 123,000 plate apperances--but only 62 of those appearances have resulted in a home run that sailed out of the park and on to Eutaw Street just outside of right field. Justin Morneau hit one of those 62 home runs on July 25th, 2004--which also happened to be his father's birthday.

You can see all the Eutaw Street home runs here, including a video of Justin Morneau's shot (if you can find the marker on the image of the street!!). A commemorative brick bearing Justin's name is laid at the spot where his home run landed too, if you ever go to Baltimore.

When commenting on the experience to the Pioneer Press earlier this year, Justin's father added, "I'm proud of what my son has done in Minnesota. He can't control what's happening, and whatever he does, he's going to work his butt off anyways, whoever he plays for. But I bet you his heart will stay in Minnesota because that's the first people that gave him a chance to play in the majors."

14. Hits Home Run No. 207

Prior to the Twins game on June 19th, 2013, Justin had been suffering from the longest home run drought in his career--45 days and 168 at-bats, to be exact. In the 6th inning of that night's game against the Chicago White Sox, Morneau ended that drought with a 370 foot, 2-run shot off Chicago reliever Deunte Heath.

It was Justin's 207th home run of his career, tying him with Kirby Puckett for fifth on the Twins all-time home run list.

When Justin returned to the dugout, his teammates gave him the silent treatment--so he just started high-fiving the air instead.

13. The Altercation with Torii Hunter

In what is probably now the most infamous clubhouse altercation in Twins history, Torii Hunter--apparently fed up with Morneau's attitude--threw a punch at Justin in the clubhouse sometime near the end of the 2005 season.

As you also probably know, Morneau dodged the punch and Torii Hunter hit Nick Punto instead.

However, Torii and Justin made amends after the incident, and hold no ill-will towards each other over it. Just a few months into the next season, Torii, speaking of Morneau to reporters, remarked, "Him, strong like bull."

12. Goes 5 for 5 With Two Doubles against the Red Sox on September 19th, 2006

In the midst of a divisional race against the Detroit Tigers, and with his father in the stands, Justin Morneau went 5 for 5 for the first time in his career, leading the Twins to a 7-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

David Ortiz, speaking to reporters about Justin after the game, remarked, "I knew he was going to be that good... He's still learning but it seems to me he's great already."

11. Hits 30th Home Run of the 2006 Season to Lift Twins Over Tigers

On August 9, 2006, Justin Morneau hit a 2-run bomb off Tigers' flame-thrower Joel Zumaya in the 8th inning for his 30th home run of the season. The blast lifted the Twins 4-3 over the Tigers and eventually accounted for the win.

It was the first time Morneau hit 30 home runs in a season. Hell--it was the first time since 1987 any Twins player had hit 30 home runs in a season.

When asked about Justin's 30th home run after the game, Gardy only commented, "There's not a better time to hit one."

10. Hits Solo Home Run and Grand Slam Against White Sox--And Homers Again the Next Day

Earlier this year on August 9th, the Twins played a double-header against the White Sox in Chicago--and Justin Morneau completely owned the first game. With the score 1-3 White Sox in the top of the 7th inning, Justin belted a grand slam off Nate Jones to give the Twins the lead--and they never lost it.

Just for good measure, Morneau belted another solo home run in the top of the 9th.

Oh--and he hit another home run in the game the next day.

9. Stops Microwave on 0:03 When Making Easy Mac

Any player on the Twins, and most Twins fans, would have no problem telling you who the most superstitious player on the team was--Justin Morneau. Morneau had a plethora of pre-game rituals including, but not limited to:

  • Eating a #4 Turkey Tom (no sprouts) from the Jimmy John's on Grand Avenue in St. Paul for lunch every day.
  • Microwaving a bowl of Easy Mac for 3:33--and stopping the microwave and removing the bowl with exactly 0:03 left on the timer--before every game.
  • Standing at third base during batting practice to wave Mauer home once Joe finished batting--every day, without fail. (Mauer, when asked why Morneau does this, told reporters, "All I know is, he's been doing it so long, it's just a habit now.")
  • Wearing a Todd Bertuzzi emblazoned Vancouver Canucks T-shirt under his jersey every game (until the shirt just literally fell apart).
  • Drinking a slurpee at 6pm that had to be made by Nick Punto, and according to the same recipe--1/2 Mountain Dew and 1/2 red or orange "stuff".
  • Playing catch with Nick Punto prior to every game.

8. Hits Home Run 221 to Give Twins the Win and Reach No. 3 on Twins All-Time List

Justin Morneau's last hit as a Twin isn't one that will be forgotten. With the game tied 2-2 in the top of the 7th inning, Morneau crushed a solo home run off Rangers ace Yu Darvish, giving the Twins the 3-2 lead that would eventually become the final score.

Not only was this Morneau's final hit as a Twin, and the game-winner at that--it was his 221th home run, passing Tony Oliva to sit alone at number 3 on the Twins all-time home run list, and number 4 on the all-time franchise list (I see you, Bob Allison).

7. Goes 4 for 4 with a Home Run Against the Tigers on July 4th, 2009

Justin Morneau may be Canadian, but he sure gave Twins fans even more reason to celebrate on July 4th, 2009, when he went 4 for 4 with a home run to lead the Twins to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

Although Morneau was shut down later in the 2009 season and couldn't play in the final Twins vs. Tigers match up in Game 163--just think: if Justin hadn't done what he did in this game, the Twins would never even have made it to game 163.

6. Hits 2 Home Runs--Including 12th Inning Walk-Off Against Bruce Chen on June 9th, 2006

After Justin hit a 3-run home run in the bottom of the 4th inning to put the Twins up 3-1,the Orioles came back to score 4 runs in the top of the 6th inning and make the game 5-3. Jason Kubel and Terry Tiffee tied it up for the Twins in the bottom of the 8th, but then the game dragged on to the 12th inning--when Justin Morneau launched his second home run of the game, a 2-run, 437 foot no-doubter to win the game.

It was the first walk-off home run of Justin Morneau's career. Not to mention, it was off Bruce "For Some Reason I Own the Twins" Chen.

5. "Jason" Morneau Wins the 2008 Home Run Derby

It's one thing to have a Twin win the Home Run Derby. It's another thing for a Twin to embarrassingly beat the much disliked Josh Hamilton in the process.

Morneau's Home Run Derby win is even better when you watch these clips is retrospect, because the announcers are basically ignoring him or writing him off 90% of the time (and, SPOILER ALERT, he wins).

Makes the award presenter calling Justin "Jason" even better. How embarrassingly ignorant are these guys?

By the way--Justin also gave the most Minnesotan award acceptance speech by a non-native Minnesotan that I've ever heard.

4. Goes 5 for 5 Against the Tigers, with Game Winning Home Run in Top of the 11th

On July 10th, 2008, the Twins found themselves down 4-6 at Comerica Park in the top of the 9th inning. Things were not looking good--until Nick Punto, Denard Span, and Joe Mauer combined hits to tie the game 6-6 and eventually send it into extra innings.

Having already gone 4 for 4 with 2 doubles on the day, Justin Morneau stepped to the plate in the 12th inning and launched a solo shot into the seats that would prove to be the game winner. In a season so close that the Twins eventually forced a game 163, an impressive, game-winning performance like Morneau's in this game becomes all that more important.

3. Voted 2010 All Star Game Starter

Justin Morneau was selected for the All-Star Game for the 4th time in his career in 2010, but this time was even more special than the others--for the first time, Justin Morneau was voted in by fans as the starting AL first baseman.

Of course, Morneau never actually got to go to the 2010 ASG--Justin was sidelined with a concussion suffered after colliding with Blue Jay's second baseman John McDonald on July 7th. At the time, taking the ASG off just seemed like a precautionary move--but Justin would go on to miss the rest of the 2010 season, and struggle for years after.

That's the bad part. Let's not think about that. Let's just try to remember how awesome it was the moment Justin Morneau was voted by baseball fans to the American League starting lineup. This, here, was the pinnacle of Justin's career.


2. Wins 2006 American League MVP Award

What--are you surprised?

The Twins capped off one of their best and most entertaining season in the past 20 years by clinching the American League Central Division title on the very last day during the 2006 season. Although that team had many other worthy MVPs--Brad Radke, Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Torii Hunter--Justin Morneau fit the most traditional mold for the official MVP award, and he won it, just narrowly beating out Yankee Derek Jeter.

Justin Morneau became the 4th MVP in Twins history, following Zoilo Versalles, Harmon Killebrew, and Rod Carew.

In fact, Justin Morneau was so surprised and excited to win the MVP award he carried it with him everywhere: to the grocery store, into the dugout, and even slept with it. Teammates say thye overheard him whispering, "Must protect the precious..." while polishing his trophy in the clubhouse.

Well you know what? You earned it, Justin.

1. Says Goodbye

Like his voting in as a starter for the 2010 All-Star Game, this moment is also so very bitter sweet.

After 11 years with the Minnesota Twins, Justin Morneau was traded to the Pittsburg Pirates during the late afternoon of August 31th, 2013. In return, the Twins received outfielder Alex Presley and RHP Duke Welker.

Morneau did not leave without saying anything--he left this public note for Twins fans. He said, in part:

My wife, kids and family are Minnesotans and this has become my second home. Minnesotans are some of the kindest, most genuine people I have ever met.

I am sorry that during my time here we weren't able to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the World Series, but I will forever carry many wonderful memories of my time here. I will always cherish every day I was lucky enough to play in front of you fans in a Minnesota uniform.

Thank you for all of your support throughout the years.

Justin Morneau left, being as classy, humble, thankful, and downright Minnesotan as he could ever possibly be. If this has to be the end, Morneau did it more than right.

Thank you Justin.

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