Ron Gardenhire, Dan Gladden, César Tovar elected to Twins Hall of Fame
The three will be inducted in separate pregame ceremonies on Aug. 20-21 as the Twins honor the careers of three who have meant so much to the organization.
MINNEAPOLIS — A longtime manager, a two-time World Series champion and a do-it-all utilityman will have their legacies cemented in Minnesota Twins lore forever this summer.
Ron Gardenhire, Dan Gladden and César Tovar have all been elected to the Twins Hall of Fame, the club announced Thursday, and will be inducted in separate pregame ceremonies on Aug. 20-21 as the Twins honor the careers of three who have meant so much to the organization.
“(It’s) a special fraternity and I’m honored to be able to finally go in and join that,” Gladden said. “I think when you look at Gardy, myself and the other inductees over the years, there’s a link there and that is that they’re committed to the Twins. … It’s an honor to go in there.”
That honor is long awaited, especially for Tovar, who will enter the club’s Hall of Fame posthumously. Tovar passed away in 1994 at the age of 54 in his native Venezuela, and in recent years, calls for his inclusion have picked up.
Those calls haven’t been lost on his daughter, Nancy Jones, who lives in the Twin Cities.
“We just kept telling ourselves, ‘Well, maybe next year, maybe next year or the next time,’ ” Jones said. “We didn’t really reflect too much on it and just are thankful that when we got the call and then information that it is happening this year and (we’re) just overall thankful that he can finally get the recognition that he deserves.”
Tovar’s Twins days spanned eight seasons, from 1965-1972, part of a 12-year playing career. For five straight seasons, he received MVP votes, finishing as high as seventh in the balloting. In 1968, the versatile utilityman became just the second player in MLB history to play all nine positions during a game.
While neither Gladden or Gardenhire had a chance to meet Tovar before his passing, the two do have a fairly lengthy history with each other, Gardenhire first joining the Twins coaching staff in 1991 when Gladden was a player.
Gardenhire, 64, began his coaching career in the Twins farm system in 1988 and joined Tom Kelly’s staff just in time to win a World Series ring that year as the Twins’ third-base coach.
In 2002, following Kelly’s retirement, Gardenhire was promoted to manager of the Twins. The fiery skipper, known often as “Gardy,” went 1,068-1,039 in 13 seasons at the helm of the Twins, managing the likes of Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer and more. He led the team to six division titles.
“As far as this Hall of Fame stuff, it’s unbelievable, to tell you the truth,” Gardenhire said. “This organization gave me a chance. TK gave me a chance and it kind of went from there. TK was big, along with (then-general manager) Terry Ryan in getting me the manager’s job. They both had my back and we kind of went from there. A lot of wins and a lot of losses and a lot of fun.”
Gardenhire was fired in 2014 and went on to work for the Arizona Diamondbacks before taking a job managing the Detroit Tigers, which he stepped down from in 2020, citing health concerns. His son, Toby Gardenhire, remains in the Twins organization as manager of the Triple-A St. Paul Saints.
Asked what he was most proud of during his Twins tenure, Gardenhire cracked that he “only got fired once.”
“I’m pretty proud of that,” Gardenhire joked. “I feel good about that.”
Gladden, 64, a former outfielder who famously scored the game-winning run on Gene Larkin’s walk-off single in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, is one of just seven players to win a ring as a member of both the 1987 and 1991 teams.
During his five seasons with the Twins — part of an 11-year playing career — Gladden hit .268 with a .700 OPS. He is perhaps best known for his postseason heroics, ranking first on the club’s all-time postseason list for runs scored and second in hits, doubles and RBIs.
Gladden can now be found in the radio broadcast booth, where he has been since 2000, calling games alongside Cory Provus. Come August, Gladden joked that he might submit two separate speeches to the Twins for his induction ceremony — one which the club might reject.
When they are inducted in August, the trio will become the organization’s 35th, 36th and 37th members of the club’s Hall of Fame. They enter as the first group of at least three to be inducted since the inaugural Hall of Fame class in 2000.
“I think that anybody just wants an opportunity just to sign a professional contract. Once you do, the dream is to get to the big leagues,” Gladden said. “I don’t think that people aspire to be in that organization’s Hall of Fame, but at the same time, I think it’s a tribute to the organization and to the player. For that matter, to the coach, to the manager, because of the hard work and the dedication that you put into your trade.”