Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Billy Gardner was kind of like Gardy before Gardy.  Like Ron Gardenhire, he was a scrappy middle infielder as a player and a fiery manager, adored by his players.  "Slick" had a more successful playing career than the current Twins skipper, and was not nearly as successful as a manager, but he had his moments.  He took over the team for Johnny Goryl in 1981 and oversaw the great 1982 rebuild.  That team, which featured rookies Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tom Brunansky, Tim Laudner, Randy Bush, and Frank Viola, went 62-100.  Two years later, though, the Twins finished 81-81 and spent the entire season in the AL West race.  Gardner probably does not get the credit he deserves for helping to lay the foundation of the 1987 World Series team.

Gardner played for ten years in the big leagues, including the first half of the 1961 season for the Twins.  He was traded to the Yankees mid-season and went on to win his only World Series with them.

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