MINNEAPOLIS -- From the arrival of Major League Baseball in Minnesota in 1961 to the modern era of Twins baseball at Target Field, nine icons have risen above the rest in their significance to the club's history with contributions deserving of their jersey numbers being retired.
Jim Kaat will become the ninth member of that exclusive fraternity on July 16, when the Twins will retire his No. 36 a week before his induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The other eight, featuring five fellow Hall of Famers, two local kids turned franchise legends and the only championship-winning manager in club history, will welcome him with open arms. Here are all of their stories:
Harmon Killebrew, 1B: No. 3
Number retired: May 4, 1975
Killebrew was one of the best sluggers of his era, hitting 559 of his 573 career homers with the Twins/Senators, including 475 while with Minnesota. He was a 13-time All-Star, leading the American League in homers six times and winning the 1969 AL MVP Award. At the time of his retirement, he was second only to Babe Ruth in homers by an American League player. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984.
Tony Oliva, RF: No. 6
Number retired: July 14, 1991
Oliva played his entire 15-year career with the Twins from 1962-76, bursting onto the scene in '64, winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award after winning the first of his three AL batting titles. He was an eight-time All-Star from 1964-71 and also won a Gold Glove in 1966. Knee injuries forced him into an early retirement, and he was considered one of the best players not in the Baseball Hall of Fame until he finally gained admission via the Golden Days Era Committee ballot as part of the Class of 2022.
Joe Mauer, C: No. 7
Number retired: June 15, 2019
Mauer was, perhaps, the ultimate hometown kid. After Mauer attended Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn., the stars aligned for the Twins to nab Mauer with the first pick of the 2001 MLB Draft, and by '04 he had grabbed a foothold in the Majors. He's the only catcher in AL/NL history to win three batting titles, and the only AL backstop to win one at all -- and that's not to mention the 2009 AL MVP Award, six All-Star honors, five Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Glove Awards. Concussion issues moved Mauer to first base for his final five seasons, after which he retired with 2,123 hits with a .306 average and .827 OPS across 15 seasons -- all with his hometown team.
Tom Kelly, Manager: No. 10
Number retired: Sept. 8, 2012
Kelly managed the Twins from 1986-2001, leading Minnesota to its only two World Series titles in 1987 and 1991. He was named the AL Manager of the Year in '91. He is the franchise's all-time leader with 1,140 managerial wins and his clubs went 16-8 in the postseason. Kelly also played one season in the Majors with the Twins in 1975 and managed in the Twins' Minor League system from 1978-86.
Kent Hrbek, 1B: No. 14
Number retired: Aug. 13, 1995
Hrbek, a Bloomington, Minn., native, played his entire 14-year career with the Twins from 1981-1994, winning World Series titles in '87 and '91. He was an All-Star in 1982 as a rookie and finished second in the balloting for AL MVP in 1984.
Bert Blyleven, RHP: No. 28
Number retired: July 16, 2011
Blyleven spent 11 of his 22 years in the Majors with the Twins, winning 149 games and posting a 3.28 ERA with 2,035 strikeouts in 2,566 2/3 innings. He was an All-Star in 1973 and in 1985. He had stints with the Twins from 1970-1976 and 1985-88, winning the World Series with Minnesota in '87. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in '11.
Rod Carew, 2B: No. 29
Number retired: July 19, 1987
Carew played the first 12 years of his career with the Twins from 1967-1978, winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award in '67 and was the AL MVP in '77. He was an All-Star all 11 seasons he was in Minnesota, winning seven batting titles with the organization. He racked up 3,053 hits in his career, including 2,085 with the Twins. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.
Kirby Puckett, CF: No. 34
Number retired: May 25, 1997
Puckett starred with the Twins from the start, collecting four hits in his first game in 1984, and established himself as one of the better two-way center fielders in baseball during his 12 years in Minnesota. He was a 10-time All-Star, a six-time Gold Glove Award winner and won the AL batting title in 1989. He was a clutch postseason performer, helping the Twins win World Series titles in '87 and '91. He was the ALCS MVP in '91 and had a memorable Game 6 of the 1991 World Series, robbing Ron Gant of a homer and hitting a walk-off homer in the 11th inning. He retired as Minnesota's all-time leader in hits (2,304), doubles (414), total bases (3,453), at-bats (7,244) and runs (1,071). He lost vision in his right eye due to a degenerative condition in his retina, which forced him to retire before the 1996 season. He was elected as a first-ballot Baseball Hall of Famer in 2001.
Jim Kaat, LHP: No. 36
Number retired: Scheduled for July 16, 2022
Kaat debuted for the Washington Senators in 1959, then he was part of the '61 team that brought Major League Baseball to Minnesota. Elected to the Hall of Fame via the Golden Days Era Committee as part of the Class of 2022, Kaat pitched in four decades and is one of five pitchers in AL/NL history to pitch for 25 seasons, including 15 with the Senators/Twins. He won the first 12 of his 16 consecutive Gold Glove Awards with the Twins, started three games in the 1965 World Series and posted a 283-237 record with a 3.45 ERA across 4,530 1/3 innings in 898 career games pitched.
Note: On April 15, 1997, the Twins joined every team in MLB in retiring No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson.