Well, another week has gone by and another baseball book has been uploaded—not literally, but give that a few decades—into my brain. This time, the subject was Dinner with DiMaggio, the true story of how New York foot/ankle doctor Rock Positano developed a late-in-life friendship with the Yankee Clipper and extracted more personal details from the notoriously brusque superstar than thousands of inches of newsprint ever could. Via countless dinner conversations with Joltin Joe’, Dr. Positano reveals that Joe’s surliness knew no bounds, while also trying to provide some humanizing touches to the son of Italian immigrants.
All this got me thinking about which current or former Minnesota Twins personality I’d most like to share a meal with. The “easy answers” are of course figures like Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, or Joe Mauer. But I think such a choice comes down to personality-matching as much as anything. For instance, I am—by nature—very shy and non-confrontational. So, a dinner with the Killer or #7 would largely consist of silence. Conversely, supping with a Puckett or Torii Hunter-type might be a bit “too much” for my reserved nature.
With those parameters in mind, these are my top choices of Twins legends to sit down with at the dinner table...
- Brad Radke: Besides him simply being my favorite non-Kirby Twin, I’d be fascinated to learn the differences between pitching in a near-empty Metrodome for the laughingstock of the American League versus the transition to the three-peat, early-oughts years. Plus, Radke still keeps himself in such good shape that we could head to the back yard afterwards for a game of catch.
- Ron Gardenhire: I’ve always been a fan of self-deprecating humor, and Gardy has that market cornered in Twins Territory. Give him an ample supply of cold ones and I feel like the hilarious stories would never stop.
- Tom Kelly: Yep, another manager. I’ll claim some personal bias here—part of the rationale behind this decision is the chance it would mean I might not be the most awkward presence at the table. T.K.’s mixture of droll commentary, mumbling diction, and intense baseball knowledge seems as winning a combination as any.
- John Gordon: Far and away the biggest reason for Gordo’s inclusion here is that even if I wasn’t part of every conversation around the table, I could simply sit back, close my eyes, and listen to whatever words happen to be coming from his mouth (he’s my favorite Twins broadcaster of all-time). He could read the phone book and have it bring a smile to my face.
- Nelson Cruz: I’m a little short on position players for this dinner, so Nellie gets the final chair. Why him over more noted or longer-tenured Minnesota personalities? The breadth of his experiences in life and baseball. Cruz was born in the Dominican Republic, struggled mightily to gain a foothold in MLB, played in every part of the country (Seattle, Texas, Baltimore, Minnesota), and eventually became one of the most feared sluggers in baseball history. Any one of those topics could be expounded upon endlessly. He’d also never overstay his welcome, seeing as how much he values his sleep.
That’s my lineup of Twins dinner guests—what about yours? Like I said, so much depends on comfort levels with different personality types (instead of just “choosing a favorite player/figure”). One thing I’ll almost guarantee, however: no matter who you pick, there will be less chance of uncomfortable moments or outright humiliation than doing the same with Joe DiMaggio.