Bremer goes from booth to book in 'Game Used'

Twins broadcaster's new collection spins 108 yarns of life in baseball

March 21st, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- Baseball arrived in Minnesota not too long after Dick Bremer arrived in this world, and from his childhood in tiny Dumont, Minn., through his decades in the broadcast booth, the longtime Twins play-by-play announcer feels fortunate to have had the team as a fixture in his life, a focal point of both his personal and professional experiences.

All those decades around the Minnesota organization have given Bremer a trove of stories from around the game -- first as a fan, and later, as the voice that soundtracked the highs and lows of baseball in the Upper Midwest for generations of Twins fans. (Though if you ask him, he'll insist that he remains just as much a fan of the game now as he was during his youth.)

As Twins fans around the region remain in their homes during the coronavirus pandemic while they await the return of baseball, Bremer's new book, "Game Used: My Life in Stitches with the Minnesota Twins," released on Tuesday, can offer a look back at past seasons through that familiar voice.

"Hopefully, in reading the book, people will get the same impression that I hope they have, having watched me on television all these years: I take my job very seriously, but I don't take myself very seriously," Bremer said.

People around the sport love to swap stories about their experiences and the game's many characters, and Bremer has recounted his share of those tales in half-inning portions on the air. Thus, unlike a typical book structured in chapters, Bremer built his memoir around 108 vignettes -- one for each stitch on a baseball.

"I tell people it's not so much a coffee-table book, but a toilet-tank book," Bremer said with a chuckle. "You can pick it up, and if you've only got five minutes, you can read a couple of stories and put it back down or whatever."

Bremer says that he hoped for his voice to come through in the collection of short stories, which he mostly pulled together in the offseason between the 2018 and '19 campaigns after he was approached by Triumph Books about writing an autobiography.

He was originally given a June deadline, but he convinced his publishers to allow him to submit his final manuscript following the end of the '19 season -- just in case the Twins' campaign happened to be a memorable one. Of course, he didn't want the book to be out of date as soon as it was published.

So, shortly after the Twins were swept in the 2019 American League Division Series by the New York Yankees, he finalized his 108th and final "stitch" and sent it off.

"I enjoyed [writing] it, but I did find it a challenge, because I'm used to spontaneously expressing myself, verbally, on television," Bremer said. "That's what I do. That's my career. So if a thought pops into my head, it's out on the air and that's the end of it. But now, with this, in dealing with the written word, it was a different process, because I would write a story and then reread it and change it, and then reread it and change it again."

Throughout the writing process, Bremer says he tried to filter his story through the lens of a fan interested in both the history of the Minnesota Twins and of the impact that the game would have had on a lifelong baseball fan growing up around the game in the Upper Midwest.

The end result? The first four "stitches" look back at his life in Dumont, and the story meanders through both lighthearted tales like "The Duke Abides" -- the origin story of his onetime on-air persona, "The Duke in the Dark" -- to more deeply personal and emotional memories like "A Star is Mourned" -- in which he pays his final respects to Kirby Puckett, with Harmon Killebrew at his side.

Juxtaposed with those more personal stories are on-field memories that Twins fans will hold dear, from the 1987 and 1991 World Series championship runs to "Game 163" in 2009 against the Tigers in the team's memorable final win at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome.

"Through, hopefully, 60 years, I've had an intense interest in this franchise," Bremer said. "And [I've] just been very fortunate that I've been able to make my career with that team for most of its existence here in Minnesota. So I just wanted to try to make it a bit of a Twins history book because I think for people my age and older, this franchise has been a fixture in their lives since [it] arrived here in 1961."

Bremer says that, at points, the book became a more personal memoir than he had originally intended, but that's something that he hopes will enhance the unique perspective from which he has carved out his niche in Twins history.

"I obviously want people to enjoy reading it and be glad they bought it and will remember it," Bremer said. "But if people can revisit how important this franchise has been to the Upper Midwest region in reading the book, then I will have probably accomplished what I set out to do."