Minnesota Twins Gear
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While their team name is meant to serve as a nod to the two cities that flank them on both sides of the river, the Minnesota Twins actually sport a much more expansive network of supporters. In addition to Minneapolis and St. Paul, "Twins Territory," as it's called, stretches to points of both North and South Dakota, as well as parts of Iowa and even Canada. Since arriving in 1961, the franchise has honed its craft and created a legion of diehards in the process.
Originally known as the Washington Senators, the ball club came to the Upper Midwest with several established players already on the roster. However, it was the play of first baseman Harmon Killebrew that would leave the most enduring mark in the minds of fans. "The Killer" smashed 40 or more home runs in eight different seasons, including four straight campaigns with at least 45 round-trippers. He powered the franchise to a pennant in 1965, and collected MVP honors in 1969. The first Twin to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Killebrew's #3 was retired by the organization in 1974.
All-Star efforts from players such as Rod Carew and Tony Oliva would keep Minnesota above water throughout the '70s and into the following decade, but playoff success would remain out of reach. In 1982, the team began playing indoors at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but ultimately the new stadium did little to ignite the team's postseason prospects. Two years later, centerfielder Kirby Puckett made his debut with the club, and the team had its first bona-fide superstar since Killebrew. Over the course of his eleven-year career, Puckett would be named to 10 All-Star teams and earn six Gold Gloves for his defensive excellence. Most importantly, the Twins would capture the World Series crown in both 1987 and '91, with Puckett leading the charge.
It wouldn't be until the dawn of the new millennium that Twins fans would find themselves watching baseball in October again. Spurred on by manager Ron Gardenhire, the ball club posted a winning season in 2002 and booked their first playoff appearance since 1991, and then proceeded to take the American League Central six times in the next nine years. Catcher and St. Paul native Joe Mauer emerged as a fan favorite and became the latest star to play for the hometown team, following past Twin greats such as Kent Hrbek and Paul Molitor.
While supporters continued to wait for another trip to the Fall Classic, fans had something to celebrate in 2010 when Target Field opened its doors to the public. The state-of-the-art ballpark is said to be so inviting that many almost forget that they're in Minnesota. "Almost" being the key word there, as the Upper Midwest couldn't be more committed to their club. In 2014, the team made national headlines when they announced proposed self-serve beer kiosks. For Twins fans, a win is a win and anything can be cause for having a ball. Just don't call them the "Twinkies," whatever you do.