Torii Hunter said goodbye to the game he loved one last time this afternoon with a press conference at Target Field and he kept bringing everything back to one bible passage; as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17)
The nine-time Gold Glove award winner used this verse as a metaphor to thank all those who helped shape him into the baseball player and man he is today.
Hunter’s first “iron” that he thanked was his grandfather, who made him watch the Chicago Cubs everyday growing up. This made him fall in love with Hall of Fame outfielder Andre Dawson and gave him an on-field idol to look up to. He went on to thank many scouts, team administrators, coaches and teammates for sharpening him throughout his career, having the most say about Tom Kelly, who was his first big league manager.
All the guidance Hunter got early in his life gave him the ability to become the “iron” for younger players, pointing out Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau – who were both in attendance today – as well as former Angels’ teammate Mike Trout and many of the the young talented players called up by Minnesota in 2015, including top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. Hunter never did win a World Series in his 19-year career but he said when those players succeed, his success continues as well.
When the floor was finally opened up for questions, multiple reporters stood up and wound up asking nothing, instead taking the time to thank Hunter for being a stand up player who was so good with the media throughout his career. This parade of thanks from the sports writers was led off by the legendary Sid Hartman, who has been writing for the Minneapolis Star Tribune since 1945. While Hunter’s starts on the field were always impressive, seeing so many reporters choose to take the time to personally say thanks and goodbye to a Minnesota fan favorite is very telling about who he was as a person.
General Manager Terry Ryan, who was the Twins Vice President of Player Personal when the team drafted Hunter 20th overall in 1993, opened the press conference by telling everyone that the organization believed there was “no risk” in drafting Hunter at the time because of his character and raw talent; 22 years later that pick proved right with Hunter retiring as a five-time All-Star with 353 home runs.