Twins manager Kelly adds touch of class to AL All-Stars

BILLTANTON

June 14, 1992|By BILL TANTON

The players aren't the only All-Stars from the American League who'll face the National League tonight in San Diego.

The AL's manager, Minnesota's Tom Kelly, is becoming as outstanding at his job as his players are at theirs.

Not that Tom Kelly is a household name. For every fan who would recognize Kelly walking down a crowded street anywhere in America there are 1,000 who'd know Tom Lasorda or Sparky Anderson.

Yet Kelly is outshining those two.

Kelly's Twins have won two World Series in the past five years, quite an accomplishment these days in a medium-sized market.

What's more, Minnesota has a good chance to win a third pennant this year. The Twins lead the AL West by two games over Oakland.

They grabbed first place by winning 20 of their final 25 games leading up to the break. To the chagrin of Baltimoreans, they won their last three against the Orioles at Camden Yards last weekend.

True, Minnesota has some excellent talent -- Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Chuck Knoblauch and Rick Aguilera -- but Kelly's clubs are also rich with the intangibles.

"They have a happy clubhouse," says Orioles public address announcer Rex Barney, who has seen a few clubhouses in his 50 years in baseball.

Says the Cubs' Jim Frey, who has been scouting the American League throughout the first half of the season:

"The Twins have a special spirit about them. They play with the same energy as the Orioles. Minnesota has a lot of enthusiasm. )) Tom Kelly deserves a lot of the credit for that."

Kelly is a manager who knows how to get the most out of today's players. And what philosophy does he employ to get that?

"I like to let the players play ball," he says. "I tell 'em to have fun and I don't look over their shoulders."

As for managing the All-Stars, Kelly likes the whole experience.

"I like getting a chance for one day to manage the best players in the league. It makes you feel awful smart."

* If the Orioles seem restrained in their excitement over rookie left-hander Arthur Rhodes' win over Minnesota in his 1992 O's debut last Thursday night, there's a reason.

Says Orioles director of scouting Gary Nickels: "Throughout his career, Arthur has had a pattern of pitching a good game followed by one that's not so good. We're waiting to see how he does next time out."

Maybe that explains why Rhodes had a 6-6 record at Rochester and yet looked like Cy Young against baseball's defending world champions.

* Baltimorean Pat Dennis, the new basketball coach at The Citadel, breezed through his hometown en route to a camp near Pittsburgh. He had some interesting things to say about hoops at military schools, of which The Citadel is one.

"I looked this up, and in the last five years there's only been one military school in the country that's had a .500 season. That was The Citadel," said Dennis, a Loyola High grad who has been an assistant coach at Towson State, Loyola, and Richmond,

That didn't occur last year at the Charleston, S.C., school. The Citadel was 6-21, which is why it wooed Dennis away from Richmond, where Pat was considered heir-apparent to Dick Tarrant.

* The death of former Yale football hero Clint Frank last week brought back memories of a famous game that Frank and the Elis played against Navy in 1937 at Baltimore's Municipal Stadium (later called Memorial Stadium).

This, remember, was back in the days when Yale was a national power and so was Navy. Navy appeared on its way to a 7-6 win over Yale when the Middies muffed a punt.

Yale's Larry Kelley, who had won the Heisman the year before, kicked the loose football and Yale recovered on the Middies' 3-yard line. Frank, the '37 Heisman winner, ran it over from there and Yale won, 12-7.

WBAL-TV's Vince Bagli, the dean of local sportscasters,

remembers the game well. He was there.

"The debate," Bagli says, "was over Kelley's kicking the ball. Did he kick it accidentally? Or did he kick it on purpose toward the Navy goal line? In any event, they changed the rule after that and made it illegal to advance a ball by kicking it."

This is the sort of thing, you see, that earned Bagli the nickname Dean.

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