The Minnesota Twins Franchise was established in 1901 and has been based in Minnesota since 1961. The franchise originated in Kansas City, Missouri in 1894 and then moved to Washington, D.C. in 1901 when the American League was formed. The ballclub played in D.C. through the 1960 season and then moved to Minnesota.
In Washington D.C. from 1901 to 1960,
the franchise was known by two nicknames, the Nationals
and the Senators. During 1905 to 1906 the team actually
wore "Nationals" on their jerseys. Otherwise,
the jeriiseys either read "Washington" or
carried a plain block "W". Newspaper articles
for decades used the names "Senators" and
"Nationals" (or "Nats") interchangeably.
By the 1950s, "Nationals" was pretty much
passé. In 1959 the word "Senators"
finally appeared on their shirts. They and their expansion-replacement
in 1961 would remain officially the "Senators",
although space-saving headline writers would often refer
to them as the "Nats.”
From 1907 to 1927, the team's line up boasted the presence of Walter "The Big Train" Johnson and they won the 1924 World Series. They also appeared in the 1925 and 1933 Series and came very close in 1945. After that, the team was mediocre at best. That, along with its poor early years, resulted in the team being remembered mostly for its failures rather than its successes. During one portion of its history, the team was so notoriously inept that it inspired San Francisco Chronicle columnist Charley Dryden to joke: "Washington: First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League." This was a play on Light Horse Harry Lee's remembrance of George Washington: "First in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of his countrymen."
The longtime competitive struggles of the Washington team were fictionalized in the book The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, which became the Broadway musical and movie Damn Yankees. The plot features a middle-aged man named Joe Hardy who sells his soul to the Devil so the Washington Senators can win the pennant. One of the songs from the musical, You Gotta Have Heart, is frequently played at baseball games.
In October 1960, Calvin Griffith announced he was moving his Washington Senators to Minnesota, where they would become the Twins. With an expansion team all ready to begin play in Washington in 1961 the old Senators who had played in the Nation's Capital for 60 years got the go ahead to move to Minnesota. They would play in the Metropolitan Stadium built originally for minor league baseball, but was renovated and expanded for Major League Baseball. A new era of Minnesota major league baseball was about to begin.
Minnesotans were excited about the arrival of the Twins, even though the team, through most of its years in Washington, had not been a great one. But there were stars to get excited about, such as pitchers Camilo Pascual and Jim Kaat and the fearsome batting tandem of Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew. With the Senators, Allison had been the American League’s Rookie of the Year in 1959 and that same season, Killebrew hit 42 home runs.
Calvin Griffith and Minnesota politicians insisted the Twins be given The "Minnesota" designation, instead of "Minneapolis" or any other single city name due to they fact that the team is intended to represent the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul (and, presumably, the entire state). This fact is further reinforced by the stylized TC logo worn on home caps, and by their mascot, TC Bear.
The Twins have had many ups and downs throughout their years in Minnesota. Their playing and players ranged from superstardom to mediocre.
Below is a snapshot of each season:
1961: With players like Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Camilo Pascual and Jim Lemon Minnesota is excited about getting Major League Baseball, as the Twins are born. However, the team does not experience a lot of success and would finish in 7th place with a record of 70-90 playing in Met Stadium.
1962: With pitcher Jim Kaat coming into his own and Harmon Killebrew leading the league with 48 home runs, the Twins reverse their record to 91-71. The highlight of the season came on Sunday, August 26 when southpaw Jack Kralick pitched a no-hitter against the Kansas City Athletics, coming within two outs of a perfect game. Sam Mele was a strong manager and the Twins finished second to the mighty New York Yankees only 5 games out of first.
1963: The Twins win 91 games again, but finish in third place in a very competitive division. It was a tough year finishing a distant 13 games out of first.
1964: Even with Harmon Killebrew leading the league with 49 home runs and Rookie of the Year Tony Oliva winning the batting crown the Twins have trouble wining and finish a disappointing 6th with a 79-83 record.
1965: The Twins started the year strong and never looked back. Superstar Harmon Killebrew missed time due to injuries, but Tony Oliva repeated as batting champion becoming the first player to win it in each of his 1st two seasons. Mudcat Grant won 21 games and Zolio Versalles finished as the league MVP. Ironically the Twins would clinch the American league pennant on September 26th in Washington, the city they once called home. The Twins would go on to win franchise best 102-60 record. In the World Series the Twins were matched up against the best pitching set-up in baseball history owned by the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Twins would get off to a flying start beating both Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax in the first 2 games at Metropolitan Stadium to take a 2-0 series lead. However the Dodgers would bounce back and take the next 3 in LA. Down 3-2 the Twins found home field to their liking again as Mudcat Grant stared on the mound and at the plate, allowing just 1 run and smacking a key 3-run homer to force a 7th and deciding game. The home field advantage would not last to Game 7, as the Twins were bowled over by Sandy Koufax, who earned his 2nd series shut out. It was a tough loss, but the championship drive cemented the team's relationship with the people of Minnesota.
1966: The Twins experience World Series hangover and start the season slow. Despite 25 wins from Jim Kaat, they ended the season 8 games short of the pennant. They finished 2nd place with an 89-73 record.
1967: With super rookie Rod Carew setting the pace, the Twins find themselves in the thick of one of the tightest pennant races in American League history. The Twins were in the race until the final day of the season when they faced the Red Sox. The Twins came out strong with an early 2-0 lead, but the heroics of Red Sox MVP Carl Yastrzemski would do them in as the Twins came up just 1 game short. The ended the season with a 91-71 record.
1968: During the All-Star game, Harmon Killebrew injured his arm and ended his season. Without their megastar slugger, the Twins finish a disappointing 7th place with a 79-83 record.
1969: With a healthy Harmon Killebrew the Twins quickly rebound back into American League West superstars in the first season of divisional play. Killebrew won the AL MVP and led the league with 49 home runs and 104 RBI’s. Rod Carew batted a league high .332 and the Twins soared into the playoffs. The Twins only real challenge would come from the ever strong Oakland Athletics, however taking 5 of 6 in early September allowed the Twins to capture an easy 1st Division title with a 97-65 record. In the 1st ever ALCS the Twins faced the Baltimore Orioles. However, the Twins would lose 2 heart-breaking games in extra innings at Baltimore to fall behind 2-0 in the series. In Game 3 not even the home field site of Metropolitan Stadium would help as the Orioles completed the sweep with an 11-2 romp.
1970: Jim Perry won 24 games while capturing the CY Young award and the Twins dominate the AL West again. They finished 1st with a 98-64 record. In the ALCS the Twins earned a rematch against the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, bats as strong as ever, would sweep the series scoring an incredible 27 runs in 3 games.
1971: With a weak Twins pitching program, the Twins finish in fifth place with a 74-86 record. The lone highlight of the season comes when Harmon Killebrew hits his 500th career home run.
1972: The Twins play mediocre baseball all season and finish in 3rd place with a .500 record of 77-77.
1973: The Twins have a back-to-back mediocre season and finish again with a .500 record in 3rd place at 81-81.
1974: After 21 years with the Senators-Twins franchise Harmon Killebrew is released. Killebrew would go on to play just one more season with the Royals. In Killebrew’s final season, the Twins finish in 3rd Place with an 82-80 record.
1975: In their first season without Harmon Killebrew, the Twins would struggle to finish in 4th Place with a 76-83 record.
1976: Tony Oliva retires at age 36 after a season of injury and frustration. Oliva played his entire career with the Twins and won 3 batting titles and finishes his career with a .304 career average. The Twins would go on to finish the season in 3rd Place with an 85-77 record.
1977: Baseball fans and players called it the "Year of Rod Carew." The Twins super slugger first baseman tore AL pitching apart en-route to being named the American League's MVP. He led the circuit in average (.388), hits (239), runs scored (128) and triples (16), in addition to collecting 100 RBI’s. Moreover, the 3-time batting champ was nationally recognized as baseball's best hitter, appearing on the cover of several national publications and featured on network news shows. Despite the heroics of Carew, the Twins finish a distant 4th with an 84-77 record.
1978: After a disappointing 73-89 season the Twins stun baseball and their fans by trading Rod Carew who had just won his 5th batting title in 6 years to the California Angels. In return the Twins received several young but unproven players including Ken Landreaux.
1979: The Twins were energized by their youthful players. Newly acquired Jerry Koosman led the team with 20 wins and Roy Smalley led at the plate with 24 home runs. The Twins spent most of the season in a tight 4-way race in a weak Western Division. The Twins end up fading to 4th and finish 6 games behind the Western Division Champion Angels with an 82-80 record.
1980: The Twins struggle all season as they finish in 3rd place with a record of 77-84.
1981: A strike put a damper on the season and the Twins finished with a lousy 41-68 record. On September 30th, the Twins played their final game at Metropolitan Stadium. Almost 16,000 fans turned out for the finale, played in chilly, rainy conditions; it was ironically the same type of afternoon experienced for the 1961 opener at the stadium.
1982: Playing in the first air supported dome stadium in baseball history the Twins started the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome era on the wrong foot. The Twins became the worst team in baseball by getting off to an embarrassing 16-54 start. However, the Twins youthful core of Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaeitti and Tom Brunansky showed fans that good things were yet to come. The Twins posted a horrid 60-102 record.
1983: Coming off a 102-loss season the youthful Twins continue to experience growing pains as they finish in 5th place with a 70-92 record.
1984: Several years of poor performance by the Twins had led to low game attendance. Owner Calvin Griffith, had a 20-year contract with the Metrodome, which stated the club, had to draw an average of 1.4 million fans in any 3-year period or he could break the lease and move the team. Griffith was threatening to exercise this option and move the Twins to Tampa, Florida. However, a group of local civic leaders banded together in an attempt to purchase enough tickets to gain support to keep the Twins in Minnesota. From mid-May to late-June, they administered a ticket buyout. On June 22, prominent local businessman Carl Pohlad stepped forward and signed an agreement to purchase the team from Griffith and his sister, Mrs. Thelma Griffith Haynes. Pohlad wanted to keep the Twins in Minnesota and on September 7, the deal was finalized ending an era of 72 years in which the Griffith family controlled the ballclub. The Twins ended up finishing with an 81-81 record and were led by pitcher Frank Viola who won 18 games, as the Twins finish just 3 games out of 1st in a weak Western Division. The season was also highlighted by the debut of a 5'8" outfielder Kirby Puckett, who most think is too small to ever make the majors. That OF would not only make the majors but will become the center of Twins baseball for the next decade while building a hall of fame career. In his debut Puckett shows his greatness by collecting 4 hits in a game in California against the Angles on May 8th.
1985: The Twins suffer a setback falling into 4th place with a disappointing record of 77-85.
1986: Poor pitching dooms the Twins from the start as the team falls into 6th place with a dreadful 71-91 record. Young Kirby Puckett shows the fan there is promise of better things to come as he has a break out year slamming 31 home runs. On September 12th the Twins would change mangers for the 3rd time in 2 years, as the job was handed over to Tom Kelly on an interim basis.
1987: Intent to make sure the Twins performed better, newly appointed General Manager Andy MacPhail acquired Jeff Reardon to fill the need for a closer, and Dan Gladden to provide spark form the leadoff spot. MacPhail also kept Tom Kelly on as manager whose even temperament would keep the team on an even keel. Not much was expected from the team coming off a 91-loss season, but most expected they would improve enough to finish with a respectable record. On the road the Twins were much like the year before with a pathetic 29-53 record. However at home the Twins were magic winning 56 while losing just 25. Usually an 85-77 record would leave a team far behind in any pennant race, but the AL West was mediocre and it was good enough to give the Twins their first division title in 17 years.
The Detroit Tigers swept the Toronto Blue Jays for the Eastern Division title and went on to face the Twins. With Twins barely sliding into the playoffs, most thought the series was a mere formality, but the Twins would have home field advantage and the magic of the doom that had been building all season. The dome had loud crowds and tons of fans with white towels called “Homer Hankies.” Game 1 turned into a see saw battle as the Twins used 2 doubles to score 4 times in the 8th inning to pull out the opener. Game 2 saw the Twins score 6 runs off St. Paul native Jack Morris to take a 2-0 series lead. In Game 3 the Twins, away from the Homer Hankies experienced a bump in the road wasting a comeback from a 5-0 deficit, to lose 7-6. However, the Twins would bounce back in Game 4 thanks to solo homers from Kirby Puckett, and Greg Gagne to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Even on the road the Twins could not be stopped as they trounced the Tigers 9-5 in the 5th game to earn a trip to their first World Series in 22 years.
1987: Entering the World Series the Twins remained heavy underdogs facing the St. Louis Cardinals. However like the ALCS the Twins would have the advantage of 4 games at home. In the 1st game a loud Metrodome crowd sparked the Twins to an impressive 11-1 victory highlighted by Dan Gladden's 4th inning Grand Slam. The Twins offense didn't miss a beat in Game 2, as a 6-run 4th inning enabled the Twins to win 8-4. The series then moved to St. Louis for games 3, 4 and 5. Game 3 was a pitcher's duel between Les Straker and John Tudor, but St. Louis got 3 runs in the 7th inning off Juan Berenguer and went on to win, 3-1. The Cardinals offense broke loose in the 4th game in defeating the Twins, 7-2. It was followed by Game 5, which was another tight struggle, that the Cards won 4-2. The Twins found themselves in the same position, as they were 22 years earlier losing 3 road games and returning home on the brink down 3-2. However there was still magic in the dome, and after falling behind 5-2 in Game 6 the Twins rallied to take a lead 6-5 in the 5th after Don Baylor sparked a 4 run 5th inning. The Twins would pull away the next inning thanks to a Grand Slam from Kent Hrbek to force a series ending 7th game. In Game 7 the Twins had ace Frank Viola on the mound, against the Cardinals rookie Joe Magrane. The Twins would fall behind early 2-0 but Viola rocked the rest of the way and the Twins would score 4 times and take a 4-2 lead. In the 9th inning the ball rested in the hands of the “Terminator” Jeff Reardon. True to form, Reardon retired all 3 batters he faced and the Twins captured their first World Championship. The 1987 Twins were unique from the standpoint that with their regular season record of 85-77, they became the worst performing team (winning percentage wise) to win the World Series.
1988: Frank Viola was playing his sweet music on the mound all year while winning 24 games to earn the Cy Young award. He helped the Twins win more games than their previous Championship year. However, with a 91-71 record, the Twins would not even come close to winning the division title. The Twins finished in 2nd place, 13 games behind division rival and powerhouse Oakland A's. Also highlighting the year was Alan Anderson who led the league in ERA in his first full season in the majors. On the field the Twins set a new record committing just 84 errors, while posting a .986 fielding percentage. The fans of Minnesota were also record-setters, as the Twins became the first American League team to draw 3 million fans when 3,030,672 passed through the turnstiles at the dome.
1989: With the Twins fading in the race for the division they would make a stunning trade as the clock struck midnight on the trading deadline. The Twins traded superstar pitcher Frank Viola to the New York Mets. In return the Twins acquired 5 young pitchers that would hopefully give them solid pitching in the years to come. The Twins acquired a proven, 28-year-old veteran, Rick Aguilera, heralded rookie southpaw David West, considered to be the Mets' top prospect, rookie right-handers Kevin Tapani, a starter, and relievers Tim Drummond and Jack Savage. Despite Kirby Puckett winning the batting title with a .339 average the Twins would fall below .500 and finish in 5th place with an 80-82 record.
1990: The Twins would fall into the AL West basement with a 74-88 record. Despite their record, the Twins had their share of bright spots. Rick Aguilera was converted from starter to stopper in the bullpen and responded by recording 32 saves. Right-hander Scott Erickson made the jump from AA to the Twins in June and finished the season strong, going 8-4 with a 3.27 ERA. The highlight of the season came on July 17, in Boston, when they turned 2 triple plays. In the 4th inning, with the bases loaded and Scott Erickson pitching, Tom Brunansky hit a sharp grounder to Gary Gaetti at 3rd, who stepped on the bag for the force out, fired to Al Newman at 2nd, whose relay to Kent Hrbek was in time to get Bruno at 1st. In the 8th inning, with John Candelaria on the hill and runners on 1st and 2nd, Jody Reed hit a one-hopper at Gaetti who again started a rapid fire triple play.
1991: Not much was expected for the Twins coming off their last place finish, and when they got off to a 2-9 start no one batted an eye, but 1991 brought breakout years from newcomers Shane Mack, Scott Leius, Chili Davis, and rookie of the year Chuck Knoblauch, along with consistently excellent performances from stars Hrbek and Puckett. The pitching staff excelled as well, with Scott Erickson, Rick Aguilera, and St. Paul native Jack Morris having all-star years. The season was soon turned around and behind the spectacular pitching of Scott Erickson, who won a club-record 12 consecutive games, the Twins soon closed the gap on the 1st place Texas Rangers and began to make their move as June rolled around. The Twins began the month by winning their first 15 games, setting a team-record, and finished the month with an incredible 22-6 mark which catapulted them over the rest of the AL West field and into 1st place with a 95-67 record. The Twins became the first team ever to go from last place one season to first place the next season. Behind the turnaround were some spectacular seasons from many different players. Erickson became the 10th Twin to win 20 games, as he used his phenomenal first half to push him toward a 20-8 mark. Jack Morris notched an 18-12 record and gave Tom Kelly a proven starter to whom he could give the ball in pressure situations. While, young players such as Kevin Tapani, Shane Mack and AL Rookie of the Year Chuck Knoblauch each established themselves with terrific seasons.
1991: The Twins opened the American League Championship Series against the Toronto Blue Jays with home field advantage and hometown hero Jack Morris on the mound. The Twins jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first 3 innings, and weathered a furious Blue Jays comeback to win, 5-4. The next day, Toronto starter Juan Guzman limited the Twins to just five hits for a 5-2 win. In the process the Blue Jays became the first team to defeat the Twins in the Metrodome in post-season play. The 1991 series between the Twins and Blue Jays was also the 1st postseason series to be played completely indoors. In game 3 Mike Pagliarulo put the Twins ahead by a game with a solo home run in the 10th inning for a 3-2 win. The Twins rolled over the Jays in Game 4 and clinched their 3rd American League pennant in Game 5 with an 8-5 win. An 8th inning single by the ALCS MVP Kirby Puckett put the Twins ahead and gave them needed momentum into the World Series.
1991: In the World Series the Twins would be matched against the Atlanta Braves who themselves made history by becoming the first National League team to go from last to 1st in one season. The Twins would have one big advantage in that if the series went 7 games, 4 would be at the Twins home sweet dome. The Twins jumped out to a 1-0 series lead with a 5-2 win pounding Atlanta starter Charlie Leibrandt for 4 runs in 4 innings. In Game 2, Scott Leius was the hero as his 8th inning solo home run that made a winner of Kevin Tapani, who out dueled Atlanta ace Tom Glavine with just 2 runs in his 8 innings of work. Arriving in Atlanta up 2-0 the Twins were in familiar territory after taking the first 2 series game. Game 3 was an extra-inning affair, and set the tone for the remainder of the gut-wrenching games to follow. The game entered the 12th inning still knotted at 4, as the Twins threatened in the top half of the inning, loading the bases with 2 outs. However, Tom Kelly was forced to pinch-hit pitcher Rick Aguilera for Mark Guthrie, as there were no hitters left on the bench. Aguilera end up flying out to end the threat. The Braves, would win the game in the bottom of the 12th when Mark Lemke singled home Dave Justice. Atlanta evened the series 2-2 with another win in their last at-bat, this time on a Jerry Willard sacrifice fly to score Lemke in the 9th inning of Game 4. That game featured 3 close plays at home plate, with Twins' catcher Brian Harper blocking away Lonnie Smith and Terry Pendleton, but just missing Lemke with the tag to end the game. The Braves, would gain a 3-2 series advantage with a 14-5 drubbing of the Twins in Game 5.
1991: With the series returning to Minnesota the Twins hoped they could keep their home fires burning to force a 7th game, as Kirby Puckett was not about to let the title go quietly going 3-for-4, with a leaping catch at the center-field wall to rob Ron Gant of extra-bases. That effort, along with Scott Erickson's gutsy 6 innings of work, kept the teams tied as the game went into extra-innings. Kirby Puckett would end the game in the 11th inning with a dramatic lead off homer that set up a dramatic 7th game. In Game 7 Jack Morris and Braves starter John Smoltz each held their opponents scoreless, as the game entered the 8th inning. The Braves loaded the bases in the top of the 8th but Minnesota turned a 3-2-3 double play to get Morris out of the inning. The Braves returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, getting out of a bases loaded jam. As the scoreless game entered the 10th inning, Morris continued to hurl a gem of a shutout, and set the stage for the offense to clinch the Series, as Gene Larkin's pinch-hit single scored Dan Gladden with the winning run in a 1-0 game to close out one of the greatest World Series ever. Five of the seven games were decided by one run, 5 were decided in the last at-bat and 3 games went into extra innings. The Twins became World Champions for the 2nd time in 5 seasons, as Morris was awarded the MVP trophy for his brilliant pitching effort.
1992: Kirby Puckett reached a milestone 200 hits for the 5th time in his career while scoring 100 runs and driving in 100 RBI’s, while hitting over .300 for the 7th time in 9 seasons, the Twins went 90-72, for their 3rd 90-win campaign in the 5 years. However, the Twins couldn't catch the Oakland Athletics and finished in 2nd place.
1993: A disappointing 5th place record of 71-91 was highlighted by individual player accomplishments. Kirby Puckett earned the All-Star Game MVP with a homer and a RBI double. St. Paul native Dave Winfield who signed with the Twins in the off-season collected his 3,000th career hit on September 16th in the 9th inning off the Oakland Athletics ace reliever Dennis Eckersley.
1994: In their 1st season in the newly formed AL Central the Twins are never factor in the race for 1st place with a record of 53-60, when a strike prematurely ended the season on August 12th. Kirby Puckett collected his 2,000th career hit while leading the AL in RBI’s. The highlight of the season was on April 27th when Scott Erickson pitched the 3rd no hitter in Twins history. The year also sees the end of two eras, as 1B Kent Hrbek retires after 13 seasons, and GM Andy MacPhail leaves the Twins to run the Chicago Cubs.
1995: The Twins finish in last place with an awful 56-88 record. Three individual career milestones from Kirby Puckett highlight the year as he eclipses the 200 HR 1,000 RBI, 1,000 Runs marks.
1996: With spring training nearing an end the most popular player in Twins history Kirby Puckett awoke on March 28th with blurred vision. Puckett would never play again and would be forced to retire after it was determined the eye problem was caused by glaucoma, an incurable disease that robs people of their sight. Prior to the season the Twins brought in St. Paul native Paul Molitor to collect his 3,000th in front of his hometown fans much like Dave Winfield did 3 years earlier. He would collect his milestone hit in Kansas City with a triple off Royals pitcher Jose Rosado on September 16th, as the Twins finished in 4th place with a 78-84 record.
1997: Following a terrible 4th place 68-94 season, the Twins trade popular 2B Chuck Knoblauch to the New York Yankees for Rookie pitcher Eric Milton. Owner Carl Pohlad almost sold the Twins to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, who would have moved the team to the Winston-Salem area of the state. The defeat of a referendum for a stadium in that area and a lack of interest in building a stadium for the Twins in nearby Charlotte killed the deal.
1998: With Paul Molitor's 21-year playing career coming to an end the Twins suffer through another poor season finishing in 4th place with a miserable 70-92 record. Management cleared out the team of all of its players earning over 1 million dollars (except for pitcher Brad Radke) and rebuilt from the ground up
1999: Eric Milton's no hitter versus the Anaheim Angels at the Metrodome on September 11th is the lone bright spot in a pitiful 63-97 season that sees the Twins land in last place.
2000: Despite finishing 69-93, for the 4tth straight 90-loss season in a row, the Twins new foundation continued to solidify. At the plate, Matt Lawton hit .305 making his first All-Star team; Corey Koskie impressed with a .300 batting average; Jacque Jones showed glimpses of all-around stardom, hitting .285 with 19 home runs while playing a sterling outfield; and shortstop Christian Guzman, who continued to dazzle with the glove, led the majors with 20 triples.
2001: Following 4 straight 90-loss seasons, and entering the season with baseball's lowest payroll not much was expected from the Twins. However, the Twins surprised competitors and fans by spending the first 3 months of the season at or near 1st place. Following the All-star break the Twins faded from the race as their pitching faltered. The Twins did rebound and managed to finish in 2nd place with a solid 85-77 record, which ended an 8-year run of losing seasons. However, despite the strong season Manager Tom Kelly decided to leave the organization. The Twins also received word that 2 MLB teams would be contracted and the Twins were rumored to be one of those teams. Lawmakers in Minnesota led by Governor Jesse Ventura, fearful of seeing the Twins eliminated went to court to try and force the Twins to honor the last year of their lease with Metrodome in 2002. It was a winter of uncertainty as Major League Baseball and the state of Minnesota were in and out of courtrooms and testified before congress. Uncovered during the hearings was the fact that owner Carl Pohlad received an offer to buy the team, but turned it down because he was set to receive more money in a Major League buyout for contraction. Eventually the state of Minnesota had an injunction granted forcing the Twins to honor their lease.
2002: After a winter in which it was unknown if they would ever play another game the Twins get off to a fast start taking control of the AL Central early in the season under new Manager Ron Gardenhire. The Twins would go on to cruise to their first division title in 11 years with a solid record of 94-67. Along the way longtime Twin Eddie Guardado became automatic out of the bullpen with a club record 45 saves. In the playoffs the Twins would get off to a shaky start as they committed 3 errors in the first 2 innings falling behind 5-1 to the Oakland Athletics in game 1. However, the Twins would settle down and comeback to win 7-5. After losing games 2 and 3 the Twins blow out the A's at home 11-2 in game 4. In game 5, the Twins would stun the A’s 5-4 as they survived a 9th inning rally to advance to the ALCS. In the ALCS against the Anaheim Angels the Twins would capture game 1 at the Metrodome 2-1, as Joe Mays out dueled Kevin Appier. However the Twins were shutdown, as they were held "homerless" on the series falling in 5 games.
2003: Looking to win their second straight division title the Twins got off to a Helter Skelter start either being swept or sweeping their opponent in their first 21 games. Over the next 6 weeks the Twins would play a more consistent game of baseball as they climbed to the top of the Central Division. However the Twins would suffer a major June swoon as they lost 22 of their next 28 games and entered the All-Star Break with a 44-49 record, trailing the Kansas City Royals by 7 and a half games. Hoping to give themselves a jump-start the Twins acquired Shannon Stewart from the Toronto Blue Jays at the start of the second half. Stewart would provide just the spark that the Twins needed batting .322 as the Twins cut away at the Royals lead. By September the Twins were back in first place and clinched their second straight division title with a week to go. They posted a solid 90-70 record. In the ALDS the Twins faced the New York Yankees and got off to a good start beating the Yankees for the first time in 13 games 3-1 as the Twins bullpen kept the Yankees at bay after Johan Santana was forced to leave the game early due to an injury. The Yankees would bounce back to win game 2 and as the series shifted to the Metrodome the Yankees dominance of the Twins resumed as the Yankees easily won both games by a combined score of 11-2 and won the series in 4 games.
2004: In their quest for a third straight division title the Twins got off to a solid start posting a 15-7 record in April as Joe Nathan quickly established himself as a reliable closer on the way to a 44-save season. After playing mediocre ball in May and June the Twins called up Justin Morneau. Morneau would help provide the needed spark with the Twins as he hit 19 homers in 74 games. With Morneau now starting at first the Twins would deal Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox at the trade deadline. Meanwhile Johan Santana was unhitable in the second half posting a 13-0 record with a microscopic 1.82 ERA as he went on to capture the AL Cy Young award. The Twins pulled away down the stretch to win their 3rd straight AL Central Division Championship with a record of 92-70. In the playoffs the Twins would face the New York Yankees in an ALDS rematch. In game 1 Santana continued his dominance as the Twins took the series opener 2-0. In game 2, the Twins rallied to take a 6-5 lead in the 12th inning after tying the game in the 8th. However Joe Nathan was hit hard as the Yankees scored twice to even the series. After losing game 3 at home 8-4 the Twins turned to Johan Santana to get the series to a decisive 5th game. Santana was strong again as the Twins jumped out to a 5-1 lead. However, pitching on short rest Santana could only go 5 innings. The Twins bullpen would be unable to hold the lead as the Yankees roughed up Juan Rincon for 4 runs in the 8th before winning the game 6-5 in 11 innings to take the series in 4 games for the 2nd straight year.
2005: With another winning season record of 83-79, the Twins compiled the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons since moving to Minnesota, going 85-77 in 2001, 94-67 in 2002, 90-72 in 2003, and 92-70 in 2004.