Minnesota Twins to retire Jim Kaat’s number (36) in July
Kaat, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in December and will be enshrined in July, becomes just the ninth Twin to have his number retired by the team.
ST. PAUL -- When Jim Kaat saw Rod Carew, Kent Hrbek, Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, Tom Kelly and Joe Mauer appear on a recent video call, he assumed the group had gathered to congratulate him on his recent election to the Hall of Fame.
It wasn’t until Carew started talking that he realized the group of Minnesota Twins legends had other news for him: The organization planned to retire his number this summer.
The Twins announced Wednesday that Kaat’s No. 36, which was notably also worn by closer Joe Nathan more recently, would be retired on July 16.
“It’s such select company,” Kaat said. “… It’s such an honor. I mean, what’s happened to me the last, going on six weeks now, has just been incredibly humbling, and I’m so thankful to the Twins.”
Kaat, who was elected to the Hall of Fame in December and will be enshrined in July, becomes just the ninth Twin to have his number retired by the team. He joins a list that includes Harmon Killebrew (3), Oliva (6), Mauer (7), Kelly (10), Hrbek (14), Blyleven (28), Carew (29) and Kirby Puckett (34). Additionally, Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 is retired across the sport.
The No. 36, Kaat said, didn’t have any sentimental meaning to it at the start. When he began his career with the Washington Senators, he was given No. 21. His new number, 36, he said, was assigned to him upon the move to Minnesota. He stuck with it the rest of his career at every other stop he made except for Philadelphia, where it already had been retired.
The Twins’ pregame celebration on July 16 will happen eight days before Kaat is inducted into Cooperstown alongside Oliva, his former Twins teammate.
Kaat, who initially debuted with the Senators in 1959, pitched in Minnesota from 1961 through 1973. During his time with the Twins, he was a two-time all-star, a 12-time Gold Glove winner and the winningest pitcher in team history.
Kaat finished his career, which spanned 25 seasons, with 283 wins and a career 3.45 earned-run average. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in December by the Golden Days Era Committee, capturing the necessary 12 of 16 votes for enshrinement.
“For more than 60 years, Jim Kaat has been an important part of the fabric of the Minnesota Twins organization,” Twins owner Jim Pohlad said in a release. “With Kitty’s storied career on the field as well as his accolades in the broadcast booth and his contributions in the community in mind, the Twins family is proud to bestow our highest honor with the retirement of his jersey.”