This past Monday, the Minnesota Twins opened their new stadium and for the first time since 1981, they played a home game out in the elements.
On hand to help break in Target Field were popular former Twins Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rod Carew and Kent Hrbek. Hrbek's teammate with the Twins back in 1985 and 1986, Dennis Burtt, is on board for this week’s “Friday 5”.
HOVG: Who was your biggest influence and why?
BURTT: I really didn't have one person that was more influential than another. There were many people that influenced me in different ways. My Dad, Howard Burtt coached me in the beginning. High school coach Dave Ochoa let me play many different positions that helped me become a good fielder. College coach Jim Reach made me strictly a pitcher. Former Red Sox pitching coach Lee Stange always believed in me as did Johnny Podres, who was with me with the Red Sox, Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers organizations. I always seemed to follow Johnny around my whole career.
HOVG: What is your most memorable travel experience?
BURTT: I didn't have many travel experiences. Leaving Spring Training and heading to Oakland for Opening Day (in 1986) and then going to Anaheim. I had my wife's family there in Oakland and my family in Anaheim. As far as traveling, I remember a flight back to Caracus during winter ball. We were about halfway back when we went through a thunder storm. Lightning hitting the wing and the plane was rocking around, dropping a couple of hundred feet and then rising back up. If felt like you were riding a bull in a rodeo. The players were all having a good time, but the local people were scared to death. It was the Knuckleball Express.
HOVG: What is your favorite baseball term or saying?
BURTT: I don't have a favorite term or saying. One I remember is "anyone can come out here and try, you need to get the job done." That always made you pull your head out of that place and go out and get the job done.
HOVG: What is your best experience or greatest accomplishment?
BURTT: It should be my first win, but it isn't. My best experience is coming in the game in the first inning with one out and down four runs. I went into the ninth before giving way. I retired 15 in a row during that span and kept my team in the game. It would have been nice if it all worked out the right way, but I ended up taking the loss. It was probably the best game I threw.
HOVG: When did you know that you “made it”?
BURTT: I must say there was never a time that I knew that I made it. I did get to spend some time in the big leagues and got a couple of wins, but I wasn't there long enough to really say I made it.
Dennis Burtt made two trips to the Majors and totaled just eight big league appearances. Over his 16 year Minor League career, the righty went 120 and 98 and managed a 3.99 ERA. Since 2002, he’s been with the World Financial Group.