Gardenhire celebrates 10th Opening Day with Twins

BALTIMORE — While the Orioles celebrated the 20th anniversary of Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire celebrated an anniversary of his own.

Minnesota’s Opening Day tilt against Baltimore marked Gardenhire’s 10th season as manager after he took over from Tom Kelly prior to the 2002 season.

But Gardenhire became manager amid turmoil, as contraction threatened the Twins that offseason, but ultimately they played the season and ended up advancing all the way to the American League Championship Series where they lost to the Angels in five games.

“We talked about that a few times,” Gardenhire said about the rumors of contraction that offseason. “More so than anything else, was the wait after I interviewed for the job. The wait in between being interviewed and not knowing whether I’d be a manager or even have a job. It was pretty entertaining.

“But the coaching staff, we couldn’t start looking for another job because we were still with the Twins. I was interviewed for the manager’s job so I had to sit back and wait. Terry [Ryan] kind of saved the day for myself and the organization by saying he was staying and that we’d go about business as normal to prepare for a season. That was huge. So he gave me this opportunity, and it’s been a fun time.”

Under Gardenhire, the second-longest tenured manager in baseball behind Angels skipper Mike Scioscia, the Twins have won the AL Central six times. But Gardenhire says he never looks back at what he’s accomplished so far as manager.

“I don’t,” Gardenhire said. “I just go day by day and year by year. I enjoy what I’m doing, I enjoy the organization and I enjoy where I live. Everybody in baseball knows you’re always fortunate to stay in baseball with the longevity I’ve had here along with my coaching staff. It’s not the norm. I’m blessed to say the least. As for as judging we’ve had some success, some years that haven’t gone as well, and we haven’t won a World Series and that’s always the goal. So we haven’t finished the job yet.”

– Rhett Bollinger

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