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Updated: January 26th, 2014 12:52pm
Zulgad: How will fans react when Chuck Knoblauch joins Twins' Hall?

Zulgad: How will fans react when Chuck Knoblauch joins Twins' Hall?

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by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com

The Twins established a Hall of Fame in 2000 as part of a way to celebrate their 40th season in Minnesota.

There have been 26 former or current members of the organization inducted since that time. Chuck Knoblauch will become the 27th member when he's honored on Aug. 23.

Knoblauch is deserving of this recognition -- he is either the greatest second baseman in Twins history or No. 2 on that list depending on if you consider Rod Carew to be a first or second baseman - but he's also the first person on the Twins' Hall of Fame list who might not garner unanimous applause at Target Field.

Heck, this could be downright interesting. (Not as interesting as if A.J. Pierzynski was elected to the Twins Hall of Fame one day - that is extremely unlikely - but still interesting.)

This is not to say Knoblauch was the first guy to depart Minnesota on poor terms and continue his playing career elsewhere.

Rod Carew, who went into the Twins Hall with the inaugural class, was traded to the California Angels in February 1979 after he grew tired of Calvin Griffith's money-saving ways and forced the owner to trade him.

Pitcher Jim Kaat, who was inducted in 2001, also didn't see eye-to-eye with Calvin and ended up being claimed off waivers by the Chicago White Sox in August 1973.

Kaat was joined in the 2001 Class by another new pitcher, who had among the worst exits of any Twins player. Bert Blyleven, another non-Calvin fan, saluted a few fans at Met Stadium by extending his middle finger on the night he was traded to the Texas Rangers in 1976.

In each of these cases, fences were mended between the former Twin and the fan base before they were honored by the team. Blyleven even returned to help the Twins win the 1987 World Series and there is a generation of fans who now only know him as the broadcaster who circles fans with signs.

Knoblauch, though, has never mended fences back in the Twin Cities and rarely has been heard from since he retired in 2002 and moved home to Houston. Frankly, he's never come off as a guy who seemed as if he cared about making things right.

Knoblauch went from fan favorite as the spark-plug second baseman who won the Rookie of the Year on the World Series winning Twins team of 1991 to the guy who forced his way to the big-market Yankees after the 1997 season.

In the early Knoblauch years, he was considered fiery but loveable. In the later years, at least in Minnesota, the word loveable had been replaced with the term jerk by many.

How deep was the dislike?

Knoblauch was in his fourth season with the Yankees, and had been moved to left field because of throwing issues, when Twins fans decided to get their revenge on Dollar-Dog-Night on May 2, 2001.

Angry fans, who likely had enjoyed beverages with those hot dogs, attempted to pelt Knoblauch with enough items that the umpires pulled the Yankees from the field, public address announcer Bob Casey screamed for fans to "Quit This!" or the game could be forfeited and eventually, before the game was resumed, Twins manager Tom Kelly walked out to left field with Knoblauch to try to calm the situation.

Thirteen years later, Knoblauch will return to Minnesota, this time to be honored by the Twins and, at least the franchise is hoping, by the fans.

It will be interesting to see if the latter group is as forgiving as the former.

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Judd | @1500ESPNJudd | Mackey & Judd
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