Saturday, March 22, 2014


Lenny Webster was a solid defensive catcher.  He had brief big league trials with the Twins in each season from 1989 to 1991 before settling in as Brian Harper's primary backup in 1993 and 1994.  He was dealt to the Expos during spring training in 1994 and spent the next seven years in the majors, primarily as a backup catcher.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


Quite simply, Jim Langer is one of the greatest centers in NFL history.  The Little Falls, Minnesota native went undrafted out of South Dakota State University before signing with the Miami Dolphins in 1970.  He was installed as the Dolphiins starting center in 1972.  That team, of course, made history as the only undefeated, Super Bowl winning team in history.  Langer was a mainstay on the Dolphins line throughout the '70s, winning two Super Bowls and appearing on six All-Pro teams.  After suffering a devastating knee injury in 1979, he resurfaced with his home-state Vikings in 1980.  He spent his final two seasons in Minnesota as a reserve offensive lineman.  Langer was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987 and was named as the center on the NFL's All-1970s Team.


7'0" center Trevor Winter was a key reserve for the Gophers hoops squad in the mid to late nineties, and a big part of the 1997 Final Four team during his senior season.  Although he only averaged 2.9 points and 2.7 rebounds per game over his collegiate career, a seven-foot frame will always get you a chance at the next level.  Winter got that chance for his hometown Timberwolves in 1999.  He played in one dubious career NBA game, committing five fouls and five minutes against the Lakers as the Wolves played Hack-a-Shaq.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Don Baylor's Twins career was brief, but memorable.  With the team in a surprising pennant race, Baylor was acquired in a waiver-deadline deal to serve as a veteran bench bat and platoon DH.  He paid off with one swing in the World Series.  With the Twins down 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth inning of game six, Baylor crushed a two-run, game-tying homer off Cardinals ace John Tudor.  Later in the inning, the Twins added a go-ahead run, and in the next inning they blew the game open.

Baylor had a remarkable career, highlighted by his 1979 AL MVP award.  He has remained in the game as a manager and hitting coach since his playing career ended.  His two months as a Twin is a small blip on his career timeline, but that home run is one of the most significant dingers in team history.


Adam Hall has the distinction of being on the wrong end of possibly the worst trade in Wild history.  On February 9, 2007, Hall was acquired straight-up for Pascal Dupuis.  It's not entirely Hall's fault that the trade was so lopsided -- he only appeared in 23 games for the Wild before moving on to Tampa Bay.  And while Dupuis didn't set the world on fire with the Rangers (who unloaded him after six games) or the Thrashers, he has blossomed into one of the finest two-way wings in the game since arriving in Pittsburgh.

As for Hall, he has carved out a nice, long career of his own as a fourth-line grinder, specializing on faceoffs and penalty kills.  He is currently in his second season with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


In addition to having the greatest mustache in NHL history, Dennis Maruk was a hell of a player.  He technically had two separate stints with the North Stars, but the first one lasted only two games.  He originally came to Minnesota after the North Stars-Cleveland Barons merger, but was almost immediately flipped to the Washington Capitals for a draft pick.

It was in Washington where Maruk blossomed into a star.  In 1980-81, he exploded for 50 goals.  In 1981-82, he shattered the Capitals franchise record book with an astounding 60 goals and 76 assists.  Only thirteen different players in NHL history have scored more points in a single season than Maruk's 136, and eleven of those are in the Hall of Fame.  (Of the remaining two, Jaromir Jagr is a shoe-in once eligible, and Bernie Nicholls will get in eventually.)

Maruk returned to the North Stars in 1983 and spent the final six seasons of his career at Met Center.  He was a solid, productive player, but never reached the heights that he did with the Capitals.

Monday, March 10, 2014


As the administrator of the North Stars Facebook page and the North Stars Preservation Society blog, I am often asked, "Who's your favorite North Star of all time?"

I do not have an answer to that question.  It's impossible to quantify my "favorite."  Of course I loved Neal Broten, Dino Ciccarelli, Bobby Smith, and Mike Modano.  They were the superstars when I was a kid, and the "best" players we had.  I'm too young to have actually seen Goldsworthy or Gump play, so it feels disingenuous to say one of them could by my "favorite" (just like how I can't justify calling Oliva or Killebrew my favorite Twin or Page my favorite Viking).  And I've had the privilege of becoming good friends with Brad Maxwell, as well as getting to know some other ex-North Stars like Tom Younghans and Dan Mandich.  They're great guys, but because I know them personally, it feels a bit biased to say they're my "favorites."

Stew Gavin, though... he's definitely on the list.  A slightly more obscure player who is on my list because he was an ultimate team player.  He was, in many ways, the heart and soul of the 1991 Cinderella run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Gavin was an outstanding defensive forward who placed in the Selke Trophy voting four times during his career.  He wore the alternate captain's "A" for most of his North Stars tenure.  When the North Stars drafted Mike Modano first overall, Gavin was given the task of showing him the ropes as his first roommate.  And he was arguably the most valuable player during that magical run to the 1991 Stanley Cup Finals.  After scoring just eight points in 38 regular season games, he notched 13 in 21 playoff games.  More importantly, he and his line shut down the most explosive offenses in the Campbell Conference.  In the first round, they he shut down Jeremy Roenick and the Blackhawks.  In the second round, he shut down Hull & Oates of the Blues.  And in the conference finals, he shut down Mark Messier and the Oilers.

Plus he had a killer playoff beard.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Carmen Cali spent most of his professional baseball career in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, but he had his lengthiest big league run with the Twins during their disappointing 2007 campaign.  He posted a 4.71 ERA over 24 games, and stuck around at Rochester in 2008, but simply allowed too many baserunners to make it back to the majors.