Hrbek gives Twins (and Gant?) a
Here's Jim's account of Kent Hrbek's play on Ron Gant in the 1991 World
Series, published Oct. 21, 1991.
MINNEAPOLIS - Atlantans will remember it as the big, bad guy manhandling the
good, little guy, while the man policing the whole thing was looking the other
way. Sort of like every pro wrestling bout witnessed on Ted Turner's
Except this time it happened in the World Series, and
possibly contributed to Minnesota's 3-2 win over Turner's Atlanta Braves. It
also put the Twins up 2-0 in the 88th World Series.
Kent Hrbek and Ron Gant look to be about the same size
in this Minnesota Twins' picture of the 2011 bobblehead.
No matter how one judges the third-inning play Sunday night in the
Metrodome, it will certainly prompt plenty of boos when Kent Hrbek
strides to the plate in Atlanta's Fulton County Stadium Tuesday night.
It will also make Hrbek immortal in the realm of bizarre World Series plays.
Minnesota led 2-1 in the third with the Braves' Lonnie Smith on first
and two out. Ron Gant singled to left field, and Dan Gladden's
poor throw to get Smith at third skidded past Twins' third baseman Scott
Leius toward home. Backing up the play was pitcher Kevin Tapani.
Tapani scooped the ball and threw to first as Gant rounded toward second.
The 172-pound Gant scurried back toward first, his momentum carrying
him into the 253-pound Hrbek. Hrbek caught Tapani's throw and brought his glove
down on Gant's leg, the leg that was on the bag.
Hrbek tottered back, his glove hand pinning Gant's leg to Hrbek's massive
thigh. Gant's foot came off the bag, and umpire Drew Coble called Gant
Gant erupted, bouncing his helmet off the Metrodome turf as Coble walked
"I think in a normal game he would have been tossed," said Atlanta
first base coach Pat Corrales, who intervened. "I just had to grab
Coble kept walking, and later said he had no desire to eject anyone in a
World Series game.
Replays showed that Hrbek, a man who aspires to be a pro wrestler
when he retires from baseball, seemed to all but give Gant a toe-hold. Hrbek
"I was falling back and I just kept my glove on his foot," Hrbek
said. "His momentum carried him over me. I didn't pull him off at
Coble said that Gant lunged into the bag.
"He tried to pick one foot up and bring the other one down. Hrbek took
the throw low and tried to tag him as his feet were coming up, too."
Atlanta manager Bobby Cox said "you don't like to cry about an
umpire's decision, but you can't lift a player off the bat. If the base is
occupied, you just can't do it. You can't even nudge a guy off the bag.
"But he probably thought he made a good call. Umpires don't want to be
Finally restrained on the field, Gant cut loose in the dugout,
scattering equipment before heading up the runway.
In a more reflective mood after the game, he said. "I've been angry
before. It's going to happen, and you just gotta blow things off.
"I don't blame Hrbek. You know, the players are going to do whatever
they can to try and get a call. That's why we have umpires out there. I can't
blame him. I'm sure he didn't expect to get the call.
"But I was clearly on the base, and if he wouldn't have pulled me up, I
would have stayed on the base, no matter what he said. I felt the whole force
of him trying to pick me up, and he's twice my size, so he was pretty
Twins' manager Tom Kelly pleaded ignorance.
"I was throwing my cap down and uttering profanities because I get
nervous when we start throwing the ball around," Kelly said. "All of
a sudden, the ump has his arm up and I had to ask what the hell happened."
Gant, Corrales and Cox said the play didn't cost Atlanta the game.
"I told Hrbek later, 'you got away with one,' " Corrales said.
And the Twins got a big leg up on Atlanta.