Dan Gladden

Choke up enough, there Danny?

Why we like him: Dan Gladden at one point, had one of the most stunningly perfect blond mullets/skullets in all of Major League Baseball.  He was also one heck of a ballplayer.  Gladden played 11 seasons with stops in San Francisco, Minnesota, and Detroit, and with a mustache like his, you know he was destined to be a Tiger.  He was a career .270 hitter in the era of anorexic offense, and he didn't possess very much power, like everyone else in the league before steroids.  He was also a threat to swipe 20 to 30 bases in a season before his body began breaking down in 1991.  Most importantly, he was the regular left fielder for two, count 'em two, World Series Champion Twins teams in 1987 and 1991.

Despite his mullet winning consecutive MVP awards in 1990-1991, Gladden was never an All Star, but he did finish 4th in Rookie of the Year voting in 1984 behind Dwight Gooden, Juan Samuel, and Orel Hersheiser.  He was never a guy that you even thought about being in an opposing lineup until he was being a nuisance on the basepaths and scoring the winning run in an important ball game.

Gladden's performance in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against Atlanta pretty much wraps up the best parts of his career into a nice tidy Homer Hanky.  He was 33 years old, on the downslide towards the ending of his career, and the Twins needed him.  He was in the leadoff spot, starting in left field, just like every other game of the Series. All he did was go 3-for-5 with two doubles, the second of which led off the 10th inning, where he made it to third on a Chuck Knoblauch bunt, and eventually scored on a Gene Larkin single.  But will we remember Dan Gladden from the 1991 World Series?  No.  We will remember Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris.

My favorite thing about Dan Gladden was, of course, the way he looked playing the game. He had that flowing blond mullet and that sweet soup strainer on his upper lip. Plus, I can't ever recall him jogging out a grounder to first or loafing after a shot in the alley.  He played the game at that rarely seen Pete Rose effort level, and, for that, I adored him.  It always seemed as if he got to the ballpark, rolled in the dirt, put pine tar on himself, and bathed in Red Man before the first pitch.  He was born to play this game.

Ladies and gentlemen, Dan Gladden, ballplayer.

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