Twins to honor Kelly with Target Field statue

Former manager led Minnesota to '87, '91 World Series championships

Twins to honor Kelly with Target Field statue

MINNEAPOLIS -- As former Twins manager Tom Kelly puts it, baseball is all about the players.

So it was only fitting on Friday, when the Twins announced plans to dedicate a bronze statue to Kelly in 2017 at Target Field, that eight of his former players were on hand to take part in the ceremony at TwinsFest. Kelly, who managed the Twins to two World Series titles during his 16 years as manager, said he's been resisting the idea of having a statue at Target Field but finally relented after a call from Twins president Dave St. Peter earlier this month.

"When they told me a couple weeks ago, I don't want to say I argued, but for me, these things are about players," Kelly said. "But Dave said I was a big part of the history of the Twins. But I wouldn't be part of it if I didn't have good players. So I'm very appreciative and honored."

TwinsFest information

The announcement was made after a panel with several members of the 1987 World Series-winning Twins team that included Dan Gladden, Bert Blyleven, Roy Smalley, Kent Hrbek, Gene Larkin, Tim Laudner, Al Newman and Kelly.

Kelly's statue will be the eighth at Target Field, but the unveiling and location of the statue will be announced at a later date. Kelly, though, said the club has already started the planning stages with Minnesota-based artist Bill Mack, who also created the other seven legend statues at the ballpark.

"They picked one out, and I think I'm standing with my fungo," Kelly said. "The big discussion is about the uniform. The rest of the statues have 'Twins' [across the jersey], but I kind of like the pinstriped uniforms with the 'M' hat and Minnesota."

Kelly, 66, managed Minnesota from 1986-2001, leading the club to its first World Series championship in his first full season at the helm in '87, and to another title in '91.

Overall, Kelly's record as Twins manager was 1,140-1,244, placing him first in franchise history in wins and games managed. When he retired following the 2001 season, Kelly had been the longest-tenured manager or coach in any major sport.

"The Minnesota Twins are excited to have this opportunity to further celebrate and recognize the incredible career of the one and only Tom Kelly," St. Peter said. "Tom's contributions to the Twins organization and the Upper Midwest baseball community are quite significant. This statue will help memorialize Tom's greatness and ensure future generations are aware of the T.K. story."

Kelly was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Twins retired his No. 10 in '12. His statue will be the eighth to stand outside Target Field, joining those of Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, Kirby Puckett, Calvin Griffith, Carl and Eloise Pohlad, Tony Oliva and Hrbek.

But in a major change, Kelly won't be going to Fort Myers, Fla., this year, breaking his streak of 47 straight seasons of Spring Training with the Twins. Kelly, who helped run infield drills even after retiring as manager, said his knees and Achilles can't handle the workload anymore.

"My mind says, 'You can't do it anymore,' but my heart wants to go," Kelly said. "We have to use some better judgment. It was just a little rough last year."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.