Legends of the fall play one more game

Bert Blyleven throwing batting practice. Gary Gaetti hitting a line drive off pitcher Juan Berenguer and over the head of Dan Gladden. Kent Hrbek tumbling and creating a huge divot in foul territory.

Nothing breaks the tension of pennant races like an old-timers game.

I attended Sunday’s Twins-Rangers game, but as wild as the finish was, nothing was more thrilling than seeing the players I watched growing up take the field one more time.

The three-inning Legends Game was part of the team’s 50th anniversary weekend that saw one of my favorite players as a kid – Greg Gagne – get inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.

There were just as many punchlines among my friends as there were base hits. “I wonder if Blyleven is on a pitch count” or “Does Blyleven know stats from this game won’t count toward his Hall of Fame candidacy?”

Watching the guys take batting practice before the exhibition game was fun too. The first pitcher to throw was Blyleven, and when Hrbek stepped into the cage, he squared to bunt the first pitch. Later on, he lofted a home run into the seats of the overhang in right field.

And when the game started, nothing could beat Hrbek falling down – and hopefully not hurting himself – chasing a pop fly in foul territory near first base. Hrbek fell as he approached the ball, tearing up a Hrbek-sized chunk of the sod as one of his knees gave out from under him. Hrbek pointed at, surprising even himself.

It was nice to see Brad Radke pitching, and it was nice to see Corey Koskie at least healthy enough to participate in a three-inning game like this after seeing his career end due to a concussion.

I hope it’s an annual event.

And for a few Labor Day links:

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