MINNEAPOLIS LaTroy Hawkins still remembers the call he got from manager Tom Kelly after the Twins' 2001 season.
Minnesota finished the year with an 85-77 record, good for second in the American League Central. Despite the Twins' success that season, however, Kelly called to tell Hawkins that he wasn't returning as Minnesota's manager for 2002.
"I felt bad. I was like, 'Did we do something wrong?'" said Hawkins, now a reliever with the Los Angeles Angels, who are in town this week to face the current-day Twins. "We had no inclination that he wasn't coming back."
In Kelly's place stepped a young Ron Gardenhire, who inherited a team that was slowly on the rise after plenty of lean years in the 1990s -- and a team that was nearly contracted in 2001.
Terry Ryan, the Twins' general manager, knew the team had to hire a new manager with the 2002 season quickly approaching. Minnesota chose Gardenhire, who had previously served as the team's third base coach.
"I said to (owner) Carl (Po...