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11/21/10 11:46 PM EST
Minnesota celebrates Ron Gardenhire Day
Monday's honor adds to big week for AL Manager of Year
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ron Gardenhire won his first American League Manager of the Year Award last week, and now he's been recognized with a unique honor.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty declared Monday to be Ron Gardenhire Day in the state of Minnesota to recognize all of Gardenhire's success as Twins manager.
The honor adds to what's been a special week for Gardenhire.
Gardenhire was named the 2010 AL Manager of the Year by the Baseball Writers' Association of America last Wednesday. It ended what had been a string of near-misses for the skipper, as he had finished runner-up for the award in five of the last eight seasons.
The day after Gardenhire was named AL Manager of the Year, the Twins announced they signed him to a two-year extension that runs through the 2013 season. It was a move that came as no surprise for the man who has been at the helm of his team longer than any other head coach in the Twin Cities and is also the AL's longest-tenured current manager with one team.
Since taking over for long-time Twins manager and mentor Tom Kelly in 2002, Gardenhire has led his club to six AL Central titles in nine years. The skipper has made the club a perennial division contender and he's become perhaps the most recognizable face for a franchise that's known for its stability and continuity.
In his declaration for Ron Gardenhire Day, Pawlenty pointed to the fact that Gardenhire, like Kelly, has made throwing strikes and playing sound defense the foundation of his teams. Over his nine seasons as the Twins manager, the 53-year-old Gardenhire has a career winning percentage of .550 with a record of 803-656.
"Different people will tell you how many games a manager wins or loses by tactical decisions," Twins general manager Bill Smith said recently. "But the clubhouse atmosphere and the chemistry on a ballclub is something that factors in every day, from the first day of Spring Training to the last day of the season, and he never wavers with any of that.
"He is an upbeat, popular manager with his players. He's been everything we would ever have hoped for in someone to lead this club."
It's not hard to see how much respect that Gardenhire garners throughout baseball. From his players, his peers and even the media, Gardenhire has been highly regarded for how he handles himself both on and off the field. After winning the AL Manager of the Year Award, Gardenhire was congratulated on Twitter with messages from Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen.
"I think he's done a great job of handling his players, and I think to be a good manager, that's key," said slugger Jim Thome, who played his 20th Major League season with the Twins in 2010. "You have to know each personality, and he does that. I think he knows everybody from top to bottom, and he does a great job with the on-field stuff, too. ... I've had good ones, and he's right up there, definitely, at the top of the list. It's definitely been a pleasure to play for him, that's for sure."
Gardenhire has done more than just deliver success on the field. The Twins skipper has made himself a staple within the Twin Cities community. He and his wife, Carol, along with their three children (Toby, Tiffany and Tara), reside in Minnesota and they have dedicated their time to many local causes in the place they call home.
And now Gardenhire is being recognized for the impact that he's had throughout Minnesota by being honored with his very own day.