Minnesota Twins visit middle school

This article submitted by Linda Stelling on 2/4/97.

John Gordon, announcer for the Minnesota Twins, introduced Paul Molitor, Rich Becker, and Al Newman to the Paynesville Area Middle School students on Wednesday when the 1997 Twins Winter Caravan made a stop in Paynesville.

Gordon talked about the new stadium issue and various promotions which will be taking place this year, including Kirby Pucket weekend in May when they will retire his number.

The first player introduced to the students was outfielder Rich Becker who joined the Twins in 1990. Becker said his 1996 season started out slow. “The year was a learning experience for me,” he told the students. Becker said to enjoy the game because it is a game. “If you make it to the big leagues, you need to remember that it is the game that counts. Some people are born with a natural talent to play baseball. It won’t do them any good if they don’t have the work ethic and determination to succeed,” he added.

Becker said he is always learning and hopes to continue to get better as he matures. “Learning is an everyday thing,” he said. “Most sports figures are failing 70 percent of the time and there is vast room for improvement in everybody’s game,” Becker said. “Don’t be content with your performance, as an athlete you can always get better and do better,” he stressed.

Al Newman spotted eighth grader Chris Lauer in the stands wearing a Royal’s shirt. Newman, a native of Kansas, said the Royals are one of his favorite teams and presented Lauer with a picture of himself.

A minor league manager for the Twins, Newman was telling of some young talent people will be hearing from soon. The two he mentioned are only 19 and 20 years old.

“Determination and a good work ethic are important,” Newman told the students. “You are at the age when it is vital to instill this into your daily lives.”

Newman told the students about his duties as a minor league manager. He works with 23 young players on the Rock Cats in New Britain, Pa., a double “A” farm club of the Twins. “For many of the players, this is their first time away from home. They are changing their eating and work habits. It is a tough transition for many of them,” he said.

Gordon asked Newman who inspired him to play baseball. Newman replied, Mike Kelso. “He would take me to the ball park and we would sit and talk and eat hot dogs. He encouraged me to challenge my mind and a good way to do that is by reading, it can enhance your growth in many ways.”

Gordon introduced Paul Molitor as the 21st player in baseball history to exceed the 3,000 hit mark.

Molitor, a native of Minnesota, followed the Twins as a youngster and played 19 years in the major leagues before coming home to be a Minnesota Twin.

“If you are going to play major league baseball you need a lot of optimism about the future. You don’t want to be a player to accumulate statistics, but to be challenged to be the best player you can be,” Molitor told the students.

“I feel there is a good chance the Twins can bring back another championship to Minnesota,” he said.

Molitor talked about how professional athletes carry responsibility to be good role models for young people today.

“Even at a young age you learn to set goals and dream about what you can be when you grow up. You need to follow the advice of your parents and teachers, develop good work ethics, keep focused on your priorities. Maybe you will be one of the lucky ones to get on a major league team,” Molitor added.

“School is the best place to learn about teamwork, working together and taking responsibility for your actions,” Molitor said. “Baseball was my passion in high school and I was one of the lucky ones to make it to the major leagues.”

In the pitching contest, a student from each grade level was called up to play with the Twins. Jenny Berg teamed up with Rich Becker, Nathan Glenz with Paul Molitor and Dustin Ruble with Al Newman.

Each student and Twins member were given three chances to hit a target of a catcher. Those participating were given autographed pictures by Al Newman. The players also presented Deb Gilman, middle school principal, with three autographed baseballs.

From Paynesville, the Twins were headed to St. Cloud where they had three stops to make. Paynesville was the third day of their tour.

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