Minnesota Twins: Winter Caravan rolls into Worthington
WORTHINGTON — Minnesota Twins spring training home Hammond Stadium will be buzzing one month from today as pitchers and catchers report to begin preparing for the 2015 season.
Before the team takes its annual migration to Ft. Myers, Fla., players and other team personnel are making their rounds throughout ‘Twins Territory’ on the Twins Winter Caravan. Tuesday, a handful of them made a stop at the Worthington YMCA to meet with local fans. Second baseman Brian Dozier, relief pitcher Brian Duensing, former pitcher — and MVP of the 1991 World Series turned TV personality — Jack Morris, broadcaster Dick Bremer and team mascot T.C. Bear were all greeted by about 100 fans at the stop.
“We enjoy talking with the fans and meeting some of the fans that maybe don’t get the opportunity to see us at Target Field,” said Duensing, who is on his fifth caravan. “It’s also important for us to just be able to say ‘thank you’ to them for supporting us. It’s something I always look forward to.”
Bremer served as the event’s emcee as each player took his turn talking to the crowd about everything from charity work to pheasant hunting.
During the 25-minute long presentation, Dozier spent much of his time talking about the upcoming season and his excitement for it. Duensing then told the group about charity work he does both in the Twin Cities as well as his home state of Nebraska. Morris discussed the state of the Twins and, when prompted by Bremer, his performance in the 1991 World Series.
Morris pitched 10 shutout innings in Game 7 as the Twins defeated the Atlanta Braves 1-0 for their second world championship in five years.
“Most kids that play the game have lived it before it even happens,” Morris told the crowd. “You’ve seen it on TV; or in our day heard it on the radio or in Morse code or whatever. You dream about being the guy that hits the home run or pitches or makes the great catch to prevent the other team from scoring the winning run. I had lived it in my mind already.”
Afterward, there was a short time available for questions. During that time, Bremer discussed what it’s like to work with broadcast partner Bert Blyleven before Morris talked about his relationship with legendary Detroit Tigers’ manager Sparky Anderson, whom he was coached by when he first got into the Major Leagues.
Morris — a Minnesota native — said after the program that he enjoys seeing the excitement from fans throughout the state.
“You realize how many Twins fans are out there and how important Twins baseball is to them,” he said. “It’s great to see that, even through the tough times like we’ve been having the last few years, how they come out and support the team. I think we kind of see our sports teams as a reflection of us. If our teams are doing well, that shows the rest of the country that, hey, we’re doing OK, too.”
Dozier, who was also on his fifth trip with the Twins Caravan, said it is exciting for him to see the turnouts they get at each stop. He relishes the opportunity to get outside of the Twin Cities and see fans throughout the Midwest as it helps him get more excited for the upcoming season.
As for 2015, he thinks there are good things in store for the Twins.
“It’s gonna be different,” Dozier said. “We’ve made a lot of big changes during the offseason. That, of course, starts with Paul Molitor being named our new manager. He’s a guy that I have the utmost respect for both as a manager and as a person. Adding Tori (Hunter) was big and so was getting a top-tier starting pitcher like Ervin Santana. To be honest, I’ve never been more excited for an upcoming season. After we’ve had a few losing seasons, I know this team that we have now and I’d put them up against anybody.”