Dick Leinenkugel emerged from his office Thursday, dressed head-to-toe in a Minnesota Twins uniform. The white jersey displayed his name on the back, and he looked ready to get back on the field.
Leinenkugel, 60, got the sharp uniform when he participated in the Minnesota Twins Baseball Fantasy Camp earlier this month in Fort Myers, Fla. He put the jersey back on as Twins Hall of Famer Tony Oliva, World Series hero Dan Gladden, and two current Twins stopped by the brewery for a tour.
Leinenkugel was eager to show off his prize gifts from the trip. He slowly removed a plastic sheath from a brand new bat, showing off the autographs from former Twins players who led the camp, such as Torii Hunter. He was able to add autographs from the Twins on the caravan to that bat, too.
Overall, Leinenkugel was thrilled with his experience. The players who participated in the fantasy camp were divided into two divisions. Leinenkugel was placed on a second-tier team, but his team finished 5-4, winning their division title. He showed off a scorecard he received for being named game MVP. His coach, former Twins infielder Al Newman, signed the prized scorecard.
Not everything went smoothly for Leinenkugel – toward the end of the week, he pulled his hamstring, leaving him bruised and struggling to run.
Leinenkugel did a great job preparing for this memorable week-long trip, as he sought help from trainers at Momentum Baseball Academy in Altoona, who worked with him on his throwing and batting.
Leinenkugel grew up in the Chippewa Valley. As he notes, the Milwaukee Braves had moved to Atlanta, so he grew up watching and listening to the Minnesota Twins games. A chat with him shows he is knowledgeable about the team’s history and its players.
My first-ever job was as a ticket-taker at the Metrodome, beginning when I was in high school in 1991. I worked there through 1994, so during my nearly four-year stretch, I got to witness a World Series win, an NCAA Final Four, and a Super Bowl.
I don’t get fazed when I interview an important person – earlier in the day, I was asking Gov. Scott Walker some questions about his welfare reform proposal. But as a diehard Twins, I admit being awed and honored to interviewing Gladden and Oliva. I never saw Oliva play, but if you ask my dad, he’d quickly say that Oliva deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. When I told Oliva that on Thursday, he smiled, laughed, and said that my dad was right.