From late in 1986 through 2014, the Minnesota Twins enjoyed a remarkable run of stability in their dugout.

During that nearly three-decade period, Minnesota could count on the maneuvering of just two managers — Tom Kelly from 1986 through 2001, and Ron Gardenhire from 2002 through 2014.

Of course, the two men share another, earlier bond, too, as Gardy wrapped up his playing career in 1987 for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate Portland Beavers after eight seasons in the Mets system.

The very next season, Gardenhire began his coaching tenure in the Twins bushes before taking over as Kelly’s third base coach in Minnesota from 1991 through 2001.

So it made sense that Gardenhire was the heir apparent, and then the actual heir, when Kelly announced his retirement in October 2001.

Now, when Kelly took the reins back in the mid 1980s, Topps was making manager cards, but it was pretty much one and done — each team got the skipper they had at end of the year before, and don’t ask for anything more.

So, we got a 1986 Topps Ray Miller and a 1987 Topps Tom Kelly, and nothing in between.

But by 2002, when Gardenhire took over, the hobby had exploded to the point that there were something like 650 sets issued.

And, yes, that did mean we got to see Kelly one last time, on his 2002 Topps card …

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… and Gardenhire, for the first time as a big league manager, on the 2002 Topps T206 card …

Find Ron Gardenhire cards on eBay (affiliate link)

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And maybe it was fitting that old (Kelly) was new (Topps) and new (Gardy) was old (T206) — a symbolic changing of the guard with a cardboard twist-tie to bond them forever.

Hobby Wow!

While Gardenhire never got the Twins to the promised land, Kelly guided them to World Series glory in his first full season. You can relive that shine through this eBay offering …

That’s the 1987 World Series ring presented to Twins scout Cal Ermer, and it’s a beaut!

Check out the full listing on eBay (affiliate link).

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