It's Herbie's birthday today. And it seemed like a good time to look back on a happy memory.
The tall, gangly kid had quite an auspicious debut on August 24, 1981 (The Sporting News report), hitting one over Reggie Jackson's head into the Yankee's bullpen in the 12th inning. It was Kent Hrbek's first home run, hit while wearing number 26 in his first game up from A ball. Home run number one was a line drive off future teammate George Frazier, whose reaction is like one who just stepped on a rattler.
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This clip is also interesting for what doesn't happen...a silent treatment
followed by the outbreak of hugs, backslaps, which you see today for
a rookie's first home run. Or the orgasm of joy for a walk-off.
Nope, other than Darrell Jackson giving Herbie a light tap on
the shoulder, everyone's obeying the unwritten code, not
displaying too much joy...there was still another half inning to play..
It was an unlikely 3-2 Twins win over the eventual American League champs. But better - it was a glimmer of better times to come for Minnesota. Kent Hrbek was just the start of the run of talented players that would compose the roster of the 1987 World Series Champions. It really held the air of promise, this night, of fun times to come. Of course, we had no idea how badly the Tigers would whip our guys' fannies for the next five years. But that adversity just made the future success that much sweeter.
So long, everybody! - Herb Carneal