Honoring Oliva and Kaat: Several give their take on the Twins newest HOFs

(ABC 6 News) — Jim Kaat’s speech lasted 11 minutes. Tony Oliva’s was a little over 18 minutes. But both men spoke of their love of baseball, and their gratitude for finally getting into the hallowed hall of fame.

Joe Laughton Jr, who lives in Rochester was planning on going to Cooperstown to watch the ceremony in person but unfortunately, plans fell through.

Nevertheless, he is still very happy to see Oliva and Kaat now officially glorified in baseball history.

“Tony Oliva, he would say, ‘See ball, hit ball!’,” Laughton said. “He was the best bad ball hitter I’ve ever seen… And he would turn a high outside pitch into a double or triple and he could really run then before his injuries. Jim Kaat was just a model of consistency. You could count on him giving you seven, eight, nine innings on a regular basis. Which is a miracle for today’s Twins pitchers. He was very well equipped to handle any balls that would come back his way. And he was just a joy to watch.”

Laughton has had many memorable experiences as a Twins fan. He was at game 6 of the 19-91 world series when Kirby Puckett hit a game-winning home run and has met Kent Hrbek several times. He also says he occasionally talks to Bert Blyleven on Facebook.

Speaking of Hrbek, he spoke on Oliva’s impact on him. “I followed Tony pretty much my whole life,” Hrbek said.

“Growing up as a kid in Bloomington playing tee-ball with the number six on my jersey. My mom sewed a number six on the back of my t-shirt. Tony’s always been an idol of mine and later on, in life, he becomes my hitting coach in the big leagues and it’s a great day for Tony.”

Joe Mauer — a twins legend in his own right who hopes to one day join them in the hall of fame — spoke about what it meant to watch guys he grew up watching and playing against getting their rightful due.

“You walk on the grounds here and you start seeing guys you grew up idolizing and guys you played with and against,” Mauer said. “You’re all out here to support Tony and Jim. I played against David and played with David for a little while. It’s just a great year for me because it’s so many people going in that are well-deserving and that I know personally.”