MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Torii Hunter played seven seasons outside of the Twins organization, but he started and finished his career here in the Twin Cities. Saturday night placed Hunter in a Minnesota state of mind for good as he entered the Twins Hall of Fame less than a year after his final game in a Twins uniform.
“What I did on the field, what I did off of the field, the way I carried myself, the way you treat others, it all spirals into one thing and that’s a reward,” Hunter told FOX 9 prior to his Hall of Fame induction. “Once you do all of those things, work hard and treat people with respect and love - this is what you get.”
The Twins went all out for their all-star outfielder. The team unveiled a new plaque at Target Plaza in addition to Hunter’s induction ceremony. Torii also hit the field again at Target Field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
For a guy known as a team player, Saturday night was all about Torii for a change and his former teammates and coaches were excited to welcome in a new member to the Twins Hall of Fame.
“I’ve known Torii for a long time and I couldn’t be more proud,” Eddie Guardado said. Guardado gave an induction speech prior to Hunter’s entrance into the Twins Hall of Fame. “I’m proud of not only what he’s done on the baseball field, but also for what a good person he is.”
“He has the explosiveness, the quickness, the desire and the work ethic that you need to move forward in this game,” former Twins manager Tom Kelly said of Hunter. “You have to do the work and Torii exemplifies all of that.”
The newest Twins Hall of Famer will forever be known for his strong hits and sliding catches all while flashing that superstar smile, an attribute Hunter credits to his love of baseball.
“I just hope people saw the way I played the game. I played with a passion, and I had a lot of fun,” Hunter said. “When you saw me smiling, it wasn’t because I was just happy to get a check, or just happy to be here.”
Hunter consistently hunted down perfection with his powerful competitive edge and positive attitude. That approach to the game is an impression he hopes can make an impact on future major league players.
“I smile and treat people with love and respect, and that’s the legacy I would like to leave,” Hunter said. “The men who gave me that, I’ve been able to pass that down to some of these younger guys. When I’m gone you’re going to see the guys like [Byron] Buxton and [Mike] Trout have little characteristics of myself. They’re going to do the same thing for the next generation and I’m excited about that."