Kent Hrbek

Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Kent Hrbek was an instant fan favorite when he joined the Twins in 1982, following a .379 batting average in the California League, best among all pro hitters in 1981. He hit the first home run in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on April 3, 1982 in an exhibition game against the Phillies. As a rookie he garnered his only All-Star selection, batting .301 with 23 round trippers and 92 RBIs while finishing second to Cal Ripken, Jr. in the AL Rookie of the Year vote. For years afterwards he provided a consistent left-handed power bat and developed into a reliable fielder at first base.

In 1984 he won the Twins MVP after driving in a personal best 107 runs, and by 1987 he was the senior member of the club. That season he set a Metrodome record by launching 20 of his career-high 34 home runs in front of the home fans en route to a AL West division title. He added a solo home run vs. Detroit in Game Two of the ALCS, then blasted the 14th grand slam in World Series history in Game Six of the Fall Classic, which the Twins won the next day to complete an improbable championship run.

With batting championship skills, the burly, sometimes overweight Hrbek sacrificed some batting average for power, but also exhibited improved discipline at the plate through his career. For a power hitter, he posted surprisingly low strikeout totals, never fanning more than 87 times in a season. In 1991, while batting .284 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs, he helped Minnesota rise from a last-place finish the season before to their second World Series title in five years, defeating Atlanta in another seven-game set. Hrbek thumped a circuit blast to aid the club’s Game One victory, but his most memorable contribution during the series came in Game Two, when he snuffed out a Braves’ rally with a bit of first base chicanery. After singling Lonnie Smith to third base with two outs and Atlanta down by a run in the top of the third, Ron Gant scrambled to beat a throw back to first base. Although Gant reached the bag safely, he was struggling to keep his balance when Hrbek subtly pushed his leg off the base and applied a tag. Gant was called out, ending the inning.

Hrbek retired after the players strike prematurely ended the 1994 season, and had his number retired by Minnesota in August 1995. Only Harmon Killebrew hit more home runs or collected more RBIs in a Twins uniform.