First Pitch: 1:10 pm CDT
TV: Bally Sports North / ~ / Radio: TIBN
It is an incredible thing to have been born in 1938 — 23 years before the “Minnesota Twins” existed — and still be around nearly 84 years later for that team retire your number. Nevertheless, this is the accomplishment that Jim “Kitty” Kaat will lay claim to this afternoon, when his #36 jersey is retired ahead of his induction to Cooperstown later this summer.
16 Gold Gloves, three All-Star selections, and a World Series championship with the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals (Kaat pitched four innings of one-run relief ball at the age of 43) were just the tip of the iceberg for the Zeeland, MI native.
Kaat would take his roots in local Minnesota radio broadcasting and embark on an analyst career, bouncing around between calling Yankees and Twins games; he’d get World Series reporting duties with CBS during the 90’s, and did a stint with beloved bygone program Baseball Tonight. Kaat would wind up winning more Emmy Awards than All-Star nominations before it was all said and done.
After an on-and-off retirement period, Kaat has transitioned to something of a cameo role in the world of baseball broadcasting, joining the Minnesota booth for the odd series, and making appearances on various MLB Network showcases.
He’ll be enjoying a more permanent retirement period this afternoon — that of his jersey, which goes up next to Joe Mauer’s #7, and makes Kaat the most recent recipient of the franchise’s highest honor.
There aren’t many folks left who saw Jim Kaat pitch for the then-Washington Senators in 1958, but some of them will be tuning in today. It should be a cool chapter in Twins history, amid a summer that will shine the spotlight also on Tony Oliva, as well as (more locally) Dan Gladden, Cesar Tovar, and Ron Gardenhire.
Congrats, Kitty, and a big ol’ GO TWINS GO!