Happy birthday, Kent Hrbek

Minnesota's 50 greatest baseball playersKent Hrbek is one of the players featured in our book, Minnesota’s 50 Greatest Baseball Players: From Town Ball to the Twins.

The story of Kent Hrbek is that of another local boy made good, but unlike Paul Molitor, Jack Morris or Dave Winfield, Hrbek spent his entire major league career playing for the local nine.

Hrbek was born May 21, 1960, in Minneapolis and grew up in Bloomington, site of Metropolitan Stadium, the home of the Twins and Vikings before they moved into the Metrodome. As a young player, he wore No. 6 in honor of his favorite player, Tony Oliva. Living close enough to ride his bike to the stadium, Hrbek spent plenty of time at the old Met.

Hrbek played his high school ball at Bloomington Kennedy High School, where he caught the eye of Met Stadium concession worker Smokey Teewalt. Teewalt’s son played against Hrbek for Bloomington Lincoln and Teewalt told the Twins they should check out that Hrbek kid.

Hrbek signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Minnesota, but was also drafted by the Twins in the 17th round of the 1978 draft. The Twins offered a $5,000 signing bonus, which Hrbek turned down. By the end of the summer, they upped the offer to $30,000 and Hrbek signed with the club.

In 14 years with the Twins, Hrbek played in 1,747 games for the team, behind only Harmon Killebrew, Joe Mauer and Kirby Puckett. He finished his career with a .282 average. His 293 home runs and 1,086 RBI are both second to Killebrew. His .481 slugging average and .848 OPS are both third-best in Twins history.

In 1995, the Twins retired his No. 14. He was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 2000. He was also a member of the Twins 40th Anniversary Team and the Twins All-Metrodome Team.

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