Two members of the Twins organization were elected today to join 24 other former players, coaches, administration, and front office staff members in the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. Former director of public relations Tom Mee and long-time pitcher “Every Day” Eddie Guardado won the honor. Congratulations to both! As a fan growing up, to be honest I don’t know much about Tom Mee. Guardado, on the other hand, toyed with my emotions more than just about another player in team history.
Minnesota drafted Guardado in the 21st round of the 1990 draft out of San Joaquin Delta College in California. It wasn’t long before he made is major league debut on June 13th, 1990, as a starter for the Twins against Oakland. Eddie threw only 3.1 innings that day, giving up 3 runs and 5 hits, also walking 3 batters. One of the 3 runs, in fact, came on a first inning home run by current Twins Bench Coach Terry Steinbach.
Thus was the story of Guardado’s career as a starter, as he struggled in the role the first 2+ years in the majors. On June 12, 1995, he made his last career start. Eddie went on to pitch in 648 games in 12 years with the Twins, 623 of those out of the ‘pen. From 1996-2003, he never pitched in fewer than 63 games per season, hence the nickname. He lead the American League in 1996 in appearances with 82.
Guardado finally filled the closer role on a full-time basis in 2002 as the Twins made their first playoff appearance in over 10 years that season. He led the AL in saves that season with 45, and followed it up with 41 saves in 2003. After the 2003 season, he became a free agent and signed with Seattle. After two solid seasons with the Mariners, he never really was the same. He spent time in Cincinnati and Texas, with a quick stop back in Minnesota, before retiring in 2009 at the age of 38.
In his time with the Twins, Guardado pitched 704.2 innings over 648 appearances. He saved 116 ball games, struck out 610, and ended with an ERA of 4.53. His surprisingly high ERA doesn’t quite tell the story of why he is a Twins Hall of Famer. He became part of that core group of guys that brought the Twins back to the playoffs in 2002, and was a fan favorite with the energy he brought to the ninth inning. He never threw the hardest or had the nastiest slider, but his passion and focus he brought to the mound every game brought him great success as a Minnesota Twin.
I’ll never forget the hours of nail-biting, teeth-clenching, ends of games; but no matter how stressful those bases-loaded jams were, Eddie Guardado certainly deserves this honor for his contributions to the organization. He wasn’t my first choice, but certainly deserving. Congratulations Every Day Eddie!
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