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 Minnesota Twins > Twins Greats > Kent Hrbek
     
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Kent Hrbek
Kent Hrbek

Name : Kent Hrbek
Position: First Baseman
Number: 14
Height: 6-4
Weight: 260
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Born: May 21, 1960 in Minneapolis, MN
Resides: Bloomington, MN
How Obtained: Twins' 17th-round draft choice in 1978

Notable Achievements:
1982 Topps All-Star Rookie Team; 1982 AL All-Star; 1991 Lou Gehrig Award; Won 2 World Series Rings (with 1987 & 1991 Minnesota Twins)

Quotes:
"I had a great time on Kent Hrbek Outdoors... there's never a bad day in the field with Hrbie... Kent's a true sportsman."
-- Bud Grant, Pro Football Hall of Fame

 

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Biography:
Kent Hrbek was born on May 21, 1960 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He grew up in the shadows of the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington and was destined to become a Minnesota Twin. The big kid who played the game as hard as anyone and had more fun than most is certainly a Minnesota Twin “great.”

A true hometown boy, Kent attended Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minnesota. He graduated in 1978 and was the Twins 17th round draft choice. He then played in the minor California League where he hit .379, the best among all pro hitters in 1981. He got called up to the majors in 1981 where he got the opportunity to play briefly in his backyard at Met Stadium in Bloomington before the Twins moved into the Minneapolis Metrodome in 1982.

Kent Hrbek played fourteen seasons for the Minnesota Twins at first base. Fans nicknamed him "Herbie" and knew him as an outstanding defensive player and a perennial slugger, as well as being charismatic and often chewing bubble gum. He treated Twins fans to much excitement from the day he donned a Twins uniform homering in the 12th inning at Yankee Stadium to give the Twins a win on August 24, 1981, until the last game of his career, August 10, 1994, when he came up with the bases loaded three times against Boston as the fans were on their feet every at-bat.

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 home runs and 92 RBIs. He also finished 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. In the ‘87 season he hit a career best 34 home runs and much to fans delight, he hit 20 of them in the dome en route to an AL West division title. He added a solo home run vs. Detroit in game two of the ALCS. Then in game six, he hit a grand slam, only the 14th grand slam ever in World Series history to be hit in game six. The Twins won the series the next day to complete an improbable championship run.

In 1991, while batting .284 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs, Kent Hrbek 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. He hit a big home run to help the club's game one victory. His most memorable contribution came during the series in game two, when he snuffed out a Braves' rally with a bit of first base trickery. 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 Kent subtly pushed his leg off the base and applied a tag. The umpire called Ron out, citing forward progress would have caused him to step off the bag, even though most spectators claimed Kent Hrbek's move was deliberate. When the series moved to Atlanta, Braves fans jeered him excessively, and Kent received much hate mail, including a death threat.

Kent’s bat had turned stale after his homerun in game 1, but he continued to be hot defensively. In game 7, with the score still tied 0-0 in the 8th inning, he executed a very uncommon 3-2-3 bases-loaded double play with catcher Brian Harper that saved the Twins against the Braves' biggest threat of the game. The Twins eventually won the game 1-0 in dramatic fashion, with Gene Larkin smashing a bases-loaded single to center field that scored Dan Gladden in the bottom of the 10th inning.

Kent experienced frequent injuries, though seldom was serious, and decided to retire after the players strike prematurely ended the 1994 season. Despite operating in the same lineup as Kirby Puckett for all but two years of his career, and his long and close association with Kirby, Kent Hrbek's numbers never approached those of the famous Puckett, and it is generally agreed that Kent’s career, while long and productive, was not Baseball Hall of Fame material.

Kent still had plenty to brag about with batting championship skills, the burly, sometimes overweight Hrbek sacrificed some batting average for power, but also exhibited great 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.

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