All throughout the summer of 1984, the baseball world was mesmerized by the Detroit Tigers’ dominant run through the regular season on their way to a World Series title that fall.
Along the way, the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets captivated us, too, with their unlikely battle in the National League East, and the San Diego Padres came out of nowhere to win the NL West.
The Pads and Cubs were led by Tony Gwynn and Ryne Sandberg, who announced themselves with a bang — Gwynn with his first batting title and Sandberg with an MVP award.
And Don Mattingly did much the same in the AL, battling teammate Dave Winfield for the hitting crown through the last game of the season (Donnie Baseball won out).
With all that fire power and dominance, it was easy to overlook the more mundane but still solid and promising performance of a team like the Minnesota Twins, who improved from 70-92 in 1983 to an even 81-81 in ‘84 — tied with the California Angels for second in the AL West behind the Kansas City Royals.
Minnesota’s best player that season, by WAR and by more conventional stats, was their big first baseman, Kent Hrbek.
Of course, by then, Hrbek was no stranger to baseball card collectors, having snagged rookie cards in two of the three 1982 base sets (Donruss and Topps — a triple-dude “Rookie Stars” affair) and the 1982 Topps Traded set.
Those cards only meant something, though, because Herbie brought power to the Metrodome — 23 home runs in 1982 and 16 in 1983, hitting right around .300 each season.
But, while Hrbek’s performance in 1982 brought him a second-place finish in American League Rookie of the Year voting and his only All-Star nod, it was that summer of 1984 when he firmly established himself as a star.
That season, amid all the hoopla of a game in full bloom, Hrbek bashed 27 home runs, drove in a career-high 107 runs, and hit .311.
It all added up to a 5.6 WAR (Baseball Reference version) and a second-place finish in AL MVP balloting, behind Detroit reliever Willie Hernandez.
That offseason, with an eye toward the future, Minnesota signed their big man to a new contract — five years, $5.9 million, making Hrbek the first million-dollar player in Twins history.
The next summer, Hrbek made the usual baseball card rounds, but he added some cardboard accolades to his resume by being featured in a few special issues, like Donruss Action All-Stars and Fleer Minis.
And, for the first time, Hrbek was anointed one of Drake’s Big Hitters …
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After four years of featuring “just” 33 Big Hitters, Drake’s expanded their offering to add on 44 “Super Pitchers” to the mix … the snack maker breaking out right along with Herbie.
The Drake’s checklist provided some symmetry to the whole affair, too — there, on the hitter’s side, quiet Hrbek was sandwiched between Keith Hernandez and Reggie Jackson, two of baseballs … um … non-quiet personalities.
And on the pitchers’ side of the ledger stood Willie Hernandez, together again with Herbie, just like in that MVP race.
What’s better than one Twins legend? Why, two, of course!
And that’s what you find in the this eBay lot …
That’s a Target Field seat back autographed by both Hrbek and Tony Oliva.
Check out the full listing on eBay right here (affiliate link).
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End Date: Saturday 12/16/2023 16:00:25 EST
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End Date: Thursday 01/04/2024 14:15:17 EST
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