Huzzah! The first request I am fulfilling for someone. Comment below if there are any forgotten players you would like to see in future weeks.
Let’s get down to it.
All too often, people in the world of sports have unfair advantages, and certainly extra pressure, due to their bloodlines. Some, like say Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Prince Fielder, can exceed what their fathers accomplished. Most, however, say Dale Berra, Tony Gwyn Jr., and Josh Barfield cannot reach such lofty expectations.
Such was the case for Greg Gagne.
Greg’s father Verne Gagne was the 10-time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, an accomplished amateur wrestler and football player. He also happened to be the owner and promoter of the AWA by the time his son Greg was ready to lace up the boots.
There are two Greg Gagnes?
Both tied to Minnesota?
Damn. There goes my great anecdote of staying home sick back in highschool when ESPN Classic was showing old AWA matches. I had some sweet Larry Zbyszko knowledge to spread to you, the gentle reader. Your loss.
*** I had written most of this earlier this week, before Gaby “The Lariat” Sanchez annihilated Nyjer Morgan with one of the finest clotheslines I have ever seen. Morgan never got hit that hard back in his hockey career. Wrestling and Baseball truly were meant to be discussed together this week. Enjoy this beautifully edited Youtube clip below.
Back to work.
The actual Greg Gagne was best known for his ten seasons of service as The Twins shortstop from 1983 to 1992. He was an integral part of the Twins two championship teams in ’87 and ’91. He is one of five Twins to play on both squads along with Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Gene Larkin, Randy Bush, and Dan Gladden.
His main contribution to those Twins teams was as one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball. The fact he was able to earn this reputation is a testament to the effort he put into improving himself on the field. He had 26 errors in 1986 then came back in ’87 to post 47 straight errorless games. Hopefully Edwin Scissorhands/Encarnation is reading this somewhere and learns that he too can learn to field ground balls.
For a guy who seemingly had very little pop in his bat, Gagne has some memorable home runs on his career obituary. Two that immediately jump out were hit on October 4, 1986 when Gagne became only the second player since 1930 to record two inside-the-park home runs in the same game. This thankfully shot his season OBP to .300 for the first time since August 23rd that year.
More famously, Gagne hit the game winning home run of Game 1 of the 1991 World Series, considered by many to be one of the finest Series in baseball history.
Everyone who remembers Gagne remembers him as a Twin. Yet, his best season came in 1993 with The Kansas City Royals. His line of .280/.319/.406 with a career high 57RBIs and an AL leading fielding percentage of .986 helped the Royals finish 84-78.
If you have any suggestions for future Obscure Players, drop them in the comments.