Pete Redfern

September 25, 2009

Pete Redfern 78

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.)


  1. Table 3! Good luck, Josh. Have fun in Minnesota!

  2. I remember a friend of mine from high school going out to visit his brother in Minnesota and catching hit first Twins game. It must have been around 1982-84. He came back with tales of the most modern newest ballpark in the majors, The Hubert Humphrey dome. We were all a little jealous that he got to see this “wonderful” place.

    It’s funny now looking back at what a dump this place is and how we were all impressed by this piece of junk structure.

  3. Josh…for whatever reason, your blog had fallen off my radar but am so ever glad that I have found it again! I run the Twinscards.com website and I can’t leave without commenting on one of my all-time favorite Twins. I went to 3-4 games in 1980 and I think Redfern pitched every time I was at Met stadium. I think the only reason Pete stands out in my mind was because of those games and the uncanny resemblance to Gene Wilder (see 1979 Topps, #113)


    Anyway…enjoying going back and reading some stuff I’ve missed over the past year or so (hey…I was in Korea the past year!). Keep up the great posts!


  4. Wow, it’s amazing what you find out about players who were “nobody’s” when you look into them. Had no idea Redfern had such an interesting story behind him.

  5. Could your impression that the 70’s Twins were a team of ‘nice guys’ be influenced by their old-time logo, with it’s jovial characters (see http://tinyurl.com/yc24a3x)? Maybe they styled those guys to look like the average Twins fan, because they look like they’d be comfortable having a few brewskis and talking good fishing spots…

  6. Oops, the link got messed up with the parenthesis. Try this:


  7. bloggerdad:
    I can see the Gene Wilder resemblance in that card, but I also found myself faintly associating Redfern in this 1978 card with the replicant named Leon in the movie Blade Runner. Something about the jowels.

  8. PeoriaBadger:
    I never saw that great logo, but maybe its message of jolly comradery somehow permeated the team.

  9. That first Metrodome game was a matchup between two pitchers who both went first in 1976 drafts.

  10. Watched a few Twins games on Extra Innings recently. It’s interesting to see a commercial one inning reminiscing about great moments at the Metrodome and then the next inning there’s another one that basically says “Thank god we’ll be playing outside again” and hitting people up for season tickets.

  11. I’m definitely seeing a mix of replicant and Gene Wilder. Probably explains his being drafted number one. His mother was probably a mix of Wonder Woman and Gilder Radner.

    Can’t believe you’ve never seen the Twins logo of the two twins shaking over the river. It’s the original Twins logo and they’ve revived it in the past few years.

  12. Two pitchers who went first in the draft and two pitchers who played together on the 1975 Alaskan Goldpanners.


    Interesting what you find sometimes…

  13. In reference to the Alaska Goldpanners link, I had no idea Dave Smith had died. Other than being an effective reliever, I’ll always remember him for not being able to get the Mets out in the ’86 playoffs including giving up Dykstra’s game winning homer in game 3.
    Sounds like he was really a good guy. Way to young.

  14. Pete Redfern’s son Chad also played for the Goldpanners.

  15. So you’ll never get to see a game in the Metrodome? That’s, well…

    “a pity” might be stretching it, I suppose. Hope you enjoy Minnesota.

  16. I’m back now, and I did have a great time in St. Paul. I’ll try to get a few thoughts about the trip up tomorrow in relation to native son Paul Molitor.

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