Ron Gardenhire

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Ronald Clyde Gardenhire

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Biographical Information[edit]

Gardenhire (in blue) speaks to Air Force members

Ron Gardenhire was the skipper of the Minnesota Twins for 13 seasons and has been affiliated with the club since the 1980s.

Gardenhire, a shortstop, was selected by the New York Mets in the sixth round of the 1979 amateur draft and made the Carolina League All-Star team that year in his first pro season. He earned a September call-up with the Mets in 1981, and got his first big league hit on September 11th off future Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter. The next season, 1982 he hit .240 as the Mets regular shortstop.

Gardenhire was traded to the Twins following the 1986 campaign, and after his playing career ended, he made his managerial debut with the Kenosha Twins in 1988. He joined the Twins coaching staff in 1991 and was named the club's manager in 2002. "Gardy" became only the third skipper to start his career with three straight pennant-winning seasons (in his case, the AL Central division title). He added a fourth division title to his resumé in 2006 and fell one game short of winning a fifth in 2008. He then won two more division titles in 2009 and 2010­. He had a lot less success in the post-season, however; after reaching the ALCS in his first year as manager, his teams were eliminated in the first round every year after that.

After never finishing below 3rd place in his first 9 seasons as manager, and falling below .500 only once, he ran into trouble in 2011, when the Twins were decimated by injuries. The team finished in last place with the worst record in the American League. On July 2, 2012, Gardenhire won his 900th game as the Twins' skipper, becoming the second man in franchise history to reach that total, following his predecessor Tom Kelly. On April 5, 2014, he made that 1,000 wins; he was only the tenth manager in history to achieve the total with one team, but still 140 wins behind Kelly, who was one of the other nine men on that exclusive list. He was fired on September 29, 2014, the day after the regular season ended, after a third last-place finish in the last four years.

He was offered a job as an adviser with the Twins, but decided instead to take a year off and spend time with his family before settling on a new occupation. He had not given up on the possibility of managing in the major leagues again. In April 2016, he returned to the Twins as a special adviser to General Manager Terry Ryan, then in 2017, he joined the coaching staff of the Arizona Diamondbacks under new skipper Torey Lovullo as bench coach. However, when he joined the club at the beginning of spring training in February, he announced that he was fighting prostate cancer; the good side of that news was that the condition had been detected early and that his prognosis for a full recovery was excellent. He underwent surgery on April 18th at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Jerry Narron took over for him as bench coach on an interim basis.

On October 20, 2017, he was introduced by the Detroit Tigers as their new manager for the 2018 season, replacing Brad Ausmus. He was on the losing end of his first three games as the Tigers' helm, including being ejected on Opening Day, March 30th for arguing a video review in the 10th inning. Nicholas Castellanos had apparently scored the winning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tigers were out celebrating on the field when the controversial reversal came in after a protracted examination of the visual evidence. The Tigers went on to lose that game, 13-10, in 13 innings, and then were swept in a doubleheader on April 1st before savoring their first win under Gardenhire on April 2nd, 6-1 over the Kansas City Royals. Overall it was a rough season as the Tigers lost 98 games - but they still managed to finish third in a very weak AL Central division, ahead of the Royals and Chicago White Sox, who both lost 100 or more games. If fans were hoping for the Bengals to begin turning things around in 2019, they were sadly mistaken however, as the pains of being a rebuilding team with relatively few top prospects continued. Worse, the Tigers even managed to get rid at the trading deadline of the few decent major league players they still had, such as Castellanos and reliever Shane Greene. The question now was whether it made any sense for the Tigers to keep an old-timer like Gardenhire at the helm going forward knowing that the main task was to develop young players, not to win, and that the light at the end of the tunnel was at least a couple of years away. The Tigers finished with 114 losses, the morst in the majors, but during the shortened 2020 season, they were playing better and were at one point flirting with .500. On September 19th, however, a couple of hours before they were scheduled to play the Cleveland Indians, Gardenhire announced his retirement, effective immediately. The Tigers had fallen to 21-29 by that point. Veteran coach Lloyd McClendon was designated as interim manager for the remaining games. Gardenhire explained that he had been "stressed out and not feeling well," including missing a couple of games earlier in the month with what described at the time as a stomach virus caused by food poisoning.

He is the father of Toby Gardenhire.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Preceded by
Tom Kelly
Minnesota Twins Manager
Succeeded by
Paul Molitor
Preceded by
Brad Ausmus
Detroit Tigers Manager
Succeeded by
Lloyd McClendon

Year-By-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1988 Kenosha Twins Midwest League 81-59 4th Minnesota Twins Lost League Finals
1989 Orlando Twins Southern League 79-65 3rd Minnesota Twins Lost in 1st round
1990 Orlando Sun Rays Southern League 85-59 1st Minnesota Twins Lost League Finals
2002 Minnesota Twins American League 94-67 1st Minnesota Twins Lost ALCS
2003 Minnesota Twins American League 90-72 1st Minnesota Twins Lost ALDS
2004 Minnesota Twins American League 92-70 1st Minnesota Twins Lost ALDS
2005 Minnesota Twins American League 83-79 3rd Minnesota Twins
2006 Minnesota Twins American League 96-66 1st Minnesota Twins Lost ALDS
2007 Minnesota Twins American League 79-83 3rd Minnesota Twins
2008 Minnesota Twins American League 88-75 2nd Minnesota Twins
2009 Minnesota Twins American League 87-76 1st Minnesota Twins Lost ALDS
2010 Minnesota Twins American League 94-68 1st Minnesota Twins Lost ALDS
2011 Minnesota Twins American League 63-99 5th Minnesota Twins
2012 Minnesota Twins American League 66-96 5th Minnesota Twins
2013 Minnesota Twins American League 66-96 4th Minnesota Twins
2014 Minnesota Twins American League 70-92 5th Minnesota Twins
2018 Detroit Tigers American League 64-98 3rd Detroit Tigers
2019 Detroit Tigers American League 47-114 5th Detroit Tigers
2020 Detroit Tigers American League 21-29 -- Detroit Tigers replaced by Lloyd McClendon on September 19

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jason Beck:`"Citing health, Tigers manager Gardy retires: Gardenhire: 'I know I have to take care of myself'",, September 19, 2020. [1]
  • Barry M. Bloom: "Gardy well supported as he faces cancer fight: D-backs' new bench coach to undergo prostatectomy in April",, February 14, 2017. [2]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Adding Ron Gardenhire a good move for Detroit Tigers going forward", USA Today Sports, October 20, 2017. [3]
  • Anthony Fenech: "Tigers' Gardenhire hoping for chance to see rebuilding through", Detroit Free Press, August 28, 2019. [4]
  • Bob Nightengale: "As Diamondbacks go on without him, Ron Gardenhire readies for cancer fight", USA Today Sports, April 9, 2017. [5]
  • Evan Petzold: "Ron Gardenhire ends career as manager with a shot of Fireball. What will he do next?", Detroit Free Press, September 21, 2020. [6]
  • Tracy Ringolsby: "Gardenhire stands out in new wave of managers: Veteran skipper, 60, is only one with MLB managing experience",, January 11, 2018. [7]

Related Sites[edit]