Pete RedfernSeptember 25, 2009
This’ll have to be a quick one because this morning my wife and I are driving up to St. Paul, MN, to the Midwestern Booksellers Association trade show. My publisher, Seven Footer Press, wants to start drumming up interest in my book, Cardboard Gods (due out April 2010). I guess I’ll be signing some advance review copies of the book on Saturday (according to page two of the conference schedule).
Anyway, since this is my first ever visit to the Twin Cities, I wanted to pay tribute to the first-ever Twins pitcher to start a game in the Metrodome, which the Twins will be vacating forever in less than two weeks, after 28 memorable seasons there. Pete Redfern, a highly touted prospect who ascended very quickly to the majors after being taken first overall in the January 1976 draft, lost that first game in the Metrodome in 1982, to Floyd Bannister, and didn’t do much better the rest of the year, which would prove to be the last in a career that didn’t quite live up to the sky-high expectations that naturally attach themselves to the distinction of being chosen number one. But everything is relative. For example, after all, for several years, he was in the major leagues, one of the chosen few. For another example, the year after his career ended, he was paralyzed in a diving accident.
As can be seen (not really) and heard (sort of) in a fan-shot video on youtube, Redfern recently returned to the Metrodome with his son, Chad, also a talented athlete who played professionally in the Atlanta Braves system. It’s difficult to get a read on the elder Redfern in the video, but he comes across as loving and tough and wise in articles about his accident and about his son.
For some reason this doesn’t surprise me. When I was a kid growing up far from Minnesota in the 1970s I always assumed, for reasons I can’t place beyond the perception of a certain aura of gentleness emanating from Rod Carew, that the roster of the powder blue Minnesota Twins was populated entirely by nice guys.
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(Love versus Hate update: Pete Redferns’s back-of-the-card “Play Ball” result has been added to the ongoing contest.)