Q&A: Toby Gardenhire: “Baseball is a fun game.”


The Rochester Red Wings baseball team is the top minor league affiliate of the Minnesota Twins and Toby Gardenhire is the new manager this year. According to Wikipedia.com, it is the oldest continuously operating sports franchise in North America below the major league level.

LIFL: Has it always been your dream to manage a professional baseball team?

It was originally my goal to be a baseball player. When that didn’t work out I went into coaching. I always knew I’d be a coach in some regard so getting back into pro baseball with the Minnesota Twins was awesome. I had hoped I’d be able to manage someday and I’m glad I got the chance. It’s been great.

What is your ultimate goal for the 2020 Red Wings team?

Winning a championship would be the ultimate goal. In the minor leagues you are always looking to get guys up to the big leagues, but with the team we have up there right now I think that would mean some guys would have to get hurt. I’m rooting for those guys up there to be successful too. If they win up there and we win in Rochester I think that would be a pretty good year. Any help our guys can give them up there is a bonus.

How do you make the sport of baseball more fun for your players?

Baseball is a fun game. I think it is just a matter of putting them in an environment where they can enjoy their work. Putting too much pressure on yourself is never fun. We want to create an environment where these guys are looking to improve their skills but don’t feel too much pressure to do so.

How does it feel to be managing a team that you played for?

It’s awesome to be managing in Rochester where I spent a couple years as a player. Some of my best memories from my playing career were in Rochester. I feel pretty lucky to get a chance to get back there as a manger.  

Who inspired you as a young athlete?

I had a lot of pretty cool role models. My dad (Detroit Tigers head coach Ron Gardenhire) would be a pretty obvious one. Kirby Puckett when I was a kid was a huge role model of mine. As I started playing I looked at guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and the work they put in. Very cool guys that I feel lucky to have gotten a chance to see play.

What is the thing you most like about Rochester?

I most like the pride that the people put into their city.  People in Rochester are very big baseball fans, and they love their Red Wings. That makes it fun for players and coaches. You don’t always get that in the minor leagues.

What is your favorite regional food?

I’m a big fan of the sandwiches in New York.  I also like an occasional garbage plate.

Which is your all the time favorite book?

I’m a huge Stephen King fan. Anything by him I will pick up and read. Tough to pick a favorite from all of those. The Shining was amazing. I also read the entire Dark Tower series and was pretty obsessed.

What is your favorite sports movie?

Favorite movie is another tough one for me. I could list off a few, but I think it really depends on what type of mood I am in. A Few Good Men, Jaws, The Wolf of Wallstreet, Castaway, Shawshank Redemption. I love movies. Favorite sports movies are A League of Their Own, Varsity Blues, Bull Durham, Ford vs Ferrari. Can’t go wrong with any of them.

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