Tom Kelly (baseball)

Infobox MLB retired
bgcolor1=#af0039
bgcolor2=#0f437c
textcolor1=white
textcolor2=white
name=Tom Kelly
position=First Base, Manager
birthdate =birth date and age|1950|8|15
bats=Left
throws=Left
debutdate=May 11
debutyear=by|1975
debutteam=Minnesota Twins
finaldate=July 11
finalyear=by|1975
finalteam=Minnesota Twins
stat1label=AVG
stat1value=.181
stat2label=HR
stat2value=1
stat3label=RBI
stat3value=11
teams= As Player
*Minnesota Twins (1975)As Manager
*Minnesota Twins (1986-2001)
highlights=
*American League Manager of the Year (1991)

Jay Thomas Kelly (born August 15, 1950 in Graceville, Minnesota), also referred to as TK, is the former manager of the Minnesota Twins baseball team from by|1986 to by|2001. Currently, he serves as a Special Assistant to the General Manager for the Twins.

Biography

Managerial career

He was the 11th manager of the team and his tenure as manager was the longest in team history. Under his tenure, the Twins won two World Series crowns in the span of five years (1987 and 1991); however, from by|1994 to by|1997 a long sequence of retirements and injuries (including superstars Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett) hurt the team badly, and Kelly spent the remainder of his managerial career rebuilding the Twins.

In by|1998, 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; the team went 70-92 and in fourth place in the AL Central, 19 games behind the Cleveland Indians and five games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. A run of eight consecutive losing seasons ended in 2001, when the Twins led the division for much of the year before fading, finishing at 85-77, second to Cleveland. He then resigned at age 51, citing burnout. His rebuilding efforts paid off the year after he retired from the Twins, with a threepeat of divisional championships in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Kelly was succeeded as manager of the Twins by Ron Gardenhire. Kelly also played for the Twins during the by|1975 season, his only season in the majors.

Managerial style

Kelly's managerial style has been described as "even-keel," emphasizing consistent performance over the span of a season rather than flashy individual game performance. Under his and successor Gardenhire's leadership, the Twins have been widely known for playing the kind of fundamental baseball that wins ball games consistently, rather than having individual superstar players, although a number of well-known stars have emerged from the Twins organization under their leadership (most notably Kirby Puckett).

1987 World Series

A year after taking over the reins of the Twins from Ray Miller, Kelly took the team that he had helped build through his role as one of the top people in the Twins' minor league organization and led it to a World Series championship. Though the '87 Twins were criticized for being the top team in a weak division (amassing only a .525 record in regular season play, which was the worst winning percentage for an eventual World Champion until surpassed by the St Louis Cardinals in 2006), they easily handled the Detroit Tigers in five games, losing only Game 3 of the American League Championship Series to a heartbreaking 8th-inning two-run home run.

The World Series was a well-fought contest between the Twins and the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals, each team winning all of its home games. Games 1, 2, 4 and 6 were decidedly lopsided contests (10-1 Twins, 8-4 Twins, 7-2 Cards, 11-5 Twins), with games 3, 5 and 7 being much closer contests, each being decided by only two runs (3-1 Cards, 4-2 Cards and 4-2 Twins).

After a 63-year drought, Tom Kelly's leadership helped propel the Twins to their second World Championship (the first coming in 1924 as the Washington Senators).

1991 World Series

After finishing the 1990 season in last place, the Twins dominated the AL West in 1991, finishing 8 games ahead of the second-place Chicago White Sox with a record of 95-67. In the AL Championship, the Twins easily defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in 5 games, winning the right to face the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Marked by a series of close contests filled with dramatic plays and extra-innings, the 1991 World Series would later be ranked as the greatest World Series ever [ [http://espn.go.com/swf/mlb/anniversary/worldseries100.html ESPN: WORLD SERIES 100th ANNIVERSARY ] ] .

Following two closely contested victories at home, the Twins traveled to Atlanta where they suffered three straight defeats. Tom Kelly, prior to the Series' move to Atlanta, infamously suggested that managing without the designated hitter was "right up there with rocket science" [ [http://www.sportingnews.com/archives/worldseries/1991.html Sporting News: Baseball History of the World Series ] ] . Although he was being facetious, the grueling Game 3 proved Kelly prescient as a series of double switches and substitutions emptied the Twins' bench and both teams' bullpens. Kelly was forced to pinch hit Rick Aguilera in the top of the twelfth and was prepared to send outfielder Dan Gladden to the mound if necessary; however, the Braves won in the bottom of the twelfth when David Justice narrowly beat a throw to the plate. After a similarly close Game 4 and a dominating 14-5 Braves victory in Game 5, the Twins had to win the final two games at home.

Game 6 featured two climactic plays by Kirby Puckett who, in the top of the 3rd, made a sensational leaping catch against the center field acrylic glass to prevent a Braves' run. The Twins won 4-3 in the bottom of the 11th when Puckett blasted a home run off Charlie Liebrandt. Game 7 proved to be one of the greatest games in baseball history, as the game remained scoreless for 9 innings and included a number of decisive and memorable plays. Twins starter Jack Morris argued repeatedly with Kelly to allow him to stay in the game and pitched 10 scoreless innings before the Twins won in the bottom of the 10th, giving Minnesota its second World Series victory in five years.

Managerial record

References

* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/managers/kellyto01.shtml Tom Kelly Managerial Record.] Baseball-reference.com.


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