Top 5: Homecoming edition
With Kevin Garnett ready to take the floor tonight for the Minnesota Timberwolves, and Torii Hunter coming back, it got me thinking, what are the top five best homecoming's in Minnesota sports history. These five players contributed big time for the respective teams. Also I am leaving KG and Torii Hunter off this list because they have yet to play for the T-Wolves and the Twins. Also my disclaimer is that some of the players on the list might have not started their careers here but have some kind of root here in Minnesota, enjoy.
I know, I know he did not start his career with the Minnesota Wild, however the Wild have only been around for a little over a decade and the only players to come full-circle have been Andrew Burnette and Stephane Veilleux, but Parise is from Minnesota, born and raised and his dad did play for the North Stars, so I am grandfathering him into this list. Parise brings so much to the Wild, star power, leadership, hustle, grit, and a fighting chance to make the playoffs. You can argue that without Parise the Wild would not be where they are today, playoff contenders every season. By the time he retires there might be a few Stanley Cup banners hanging from the rafters at X, and if that is the case Parise would jump to number 1 on my list, but right now he is number 5.
Bert was drafted by the Twins in 1969, and made his debut a year later, however after the 1976 season Blyleven left the Twins organization, and bounced around between the Rangers, Indians and the Pirates however he did win a ring in 1979 with the Pirates, but in 1985 Bret returned to the Twins, and with young nucleus coming up through the minors, Blyleven was the perfect veteran for this team, and in 1987 helped the Twins win their first World Series in Minnesota going 2-0 against the Tigers in the ALCS and 1-1 against the Cardinals in World Series. Bret became a Hall of Famer in 2011, and was enshrined at a Twin, so you can say his homecoming was perfect for both him, and the Twins, also not to mention Bret is the perfect color-commentator in all of baseball.
Paul is now the new Minnesota Twins manager, so I can sneak him in here, but before that I will start off with this born in Minnesota played his collegiate ball here, and then came back after winning a ring in Toronto to smash in his 3,000 hit in front of his hometown fans. So here is the second part of this, he is coming back as the manager of the Twins; and after four straight 90 lose seasons, Molitor brings a sense of hope to all of Minnesota. Molitor has a high baseball IQ and hopefully guide this franchise back to respectability. Molitor got his 3,000 hit during a horrific time in Twins history when they became a lousy team, and now is coming back during another lousy time in Twins history, but if he can guide this team to respectability then his homecoming can become a success.
Originally drafted my the Minnesota Vikings in 1961 but left after the 1966 season. The Vikings did win the last NFC Championship in 1969 and lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl four without Tarkenton, however when Fran returned in 1972 and immediately helped turn the Vikings into a perennial Super Bowl contender for the better part of a decade. In Fran control the Vikings went to three more Super Bowls, even though they lost all three under Tarkenton, you can make a case that without him they wouldn't have gotten that far. Fran is an Hall of Famer and has his jersey retired by the Vikings, and won the 1975 NFL MVP award. Fran might have more accolades then the number one on my list, but the reason Fran is number two is all about championship rings.
What can I say that hasn't already been said about Black Jack, and I know, once again Jack did not start with the Twins, but once again he is from Minnesota and what can I say I am a sucker for baseball. Jack turned in, what can be called the greatest performance ever in baseball history. In game seven in front of his hometown fans, Morris went ten innings of shutout baseball to secure the win to give the Twins two World Series championships in five years. It might have been a brief stay in Minnesota but that performance in game seven trumps everything else in regards to Minnesota sports history.