Kent Hrbek: I had tears watching them blow the Metrodome up

Kent Hrbek in 1981

Kent Hrbek in 1981

Seasonal thaws and spring training starting up in Florida are plenty to get Minnesota Twins fans giddy for the sights and sounds at Target Field. Music plays a huge role in baseball, so events like Rock N Jock Expo can feed urges for all sorts of fans this weekend. The now-annual event brings together records, music memorabilia, and a documentary on Twin Cities scene vet Grant Hart.

Gimme Noise spoke to former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek ahead of his appearance at the event about some of his favorite music and what's in store for Minnesota Twins fans.

Gimme Noise: Hey Herbie! Great to talk to you. This event coming up is a cool mix of sports and music. We all know you know baseball. But what's your scene as far as music? What do you listen to when you get the chance?

Kent Hrbek: I listen to anything from Frankie Yankovic to Frank Zappa. I grew up around polkas and sitting in bars with Mom and Dad and they'd be polka dancing 'til 1 or 2 in morning. But I'm really not the greatest polka dancer. I guess I still do it at weddings sometimes though.

Haha! I'd love to see that. Interesting you are a Zappa fan. I would have never guessed.

"Don't Eat the Yellow Snow"! Gary Gaetti, G-Man turned me on to Frank Zappa. That guy could play the guitar. Back when I was playing we would listen to that stuff. G-Man kind of looked like Zappa a little bit!

Music plays a big part in baseball games, at least for the fans. Is there some music from when you were on the field you really remember as part of the game?

Everytime I hear "If I had the Time of my Life" from Dirty Dancing, they played that song in the video of the World Series. Whenever I hear that song, I start crying. I have a soft spot in my heart for that song. You can play it any place and I always get sentimental over it. I guess when they hear it most people think about Dirty Dancing, but I think of baseball.


Right on, Did you have a song for your walk-up music back then?

We didn't have walk up music then. It wasn't a thing. I'll tell you, Harmon Killibrew is rolling over in his grave if these guys have to have walk-up music. He'd say, "You have to hit the ball no matter where you are. If you have to have your song to get fired up to hit, then how you going to hit the ball when we go on the road and you don't have that song?"

I always think of Oakland Coliseum playing the best music. They had huge loud speakers and I remember hearing Huey Lewis doing the best National Anthem there that we ever heard. I just hate when people sing the National Anthem adding a lot of "oohs" and "aahs." Sing it nice how it's supposed to be sung! I remember we had Bruce Hornsby at the dome doing the Anthem and he played it on the piano. I was a big fan of his. He promised to come over to play piano at my house but he had to leave town.

So as a music fan do you go see a lot of concerts? Did you ever see any of the big shows at the Metrodome?

I never did. To be honest, I never was a big concert goer for some reason. I've been to see the Eagles a bunch of times. Any chance to see them, I usual take advantage of it. I love to go see someone like Willie Nelson too. Classic stuff.

So without getting to down on the team, I am wondering how things might be going with the Twins for this year? Any thoughts?

I was down there a couple weeks ago when the catchers and pitchers were reporting. Whatever you see in the papers is what I see. I throw stuff at the TV and scream and holler just like any fan. You live and die with the team.

You are still a part of the organization though, right? I mean what's your official role?

Yeah, I'm still employed by the team. My title? I don't know what I'm called. I'm the shake hands and promote Twins baseball guy. The Twins got me where I am and I am still a fan to this day. My baseball room is all Twins stuff.


Win or lose I think the Twins have pretty loyal fans. I know I've stayed a fan through thick and thin. Speaking of the Metrodome, you must have had some feelings about them tearing it down?

I had tears watching them blow the thing up. That was a special place in my life. It's where I spent my summer for 14 years. I played in the very first game there ever and saw the last Vikings game they played at the Dome. I know it was horrible to watch baseball there. But all my memories are in there. I really want to get a couple seats if I can.

Yeah, probably would be cool to have one with a number 14 on it. I think you'd deserve that. I love going to Target Field.

Its a great place to watch baseball. But it's still nice to put a good product on the field. It's more fun if the team is winning. That's the hard part in baseball, everyone's trying to win. You know, things get cyclical. They'll come back. They're trying to do it the way it's supposed to be done. You can't just go to Wal Mart and buy a pitcher. You can't go to Walgreens and get a third baseman.

It's like playing music and being in a band. It's not that easy to put a great band together every year. I played on a team in 1990 that was brutal. Then the next year we won the World Series! It was from the shit house to the castle in a matter of 365 days.

It's always exciting when spring training kicks in and the uniforms are fresh. With Joe Mauer now working in your old office at first base, I'd imagine you would have some advice for him?

He knows what he's doing. Joe's a sharp guy. If he wants to talk to me, of course he can. Anyone can talk to me. I gave you my number, didn't I?

I'm excited about the young players coming up. But they haven't played in the big leagues so it'll take some time. Again, it's like how there's so many great bands out there. So many great rock and roll groups. Why don't they all have a record contract and make gazillions? There's hundreds of Garth Brooks. It's not because they aren't good. It's just takes a certain chemistry and timing.

But to have a bar named after you at the ballpark in your own hometown. What can be better than that?!

The Rock 'N' Jock Expo 2014 is happening this Sunday, March 16 at New Hope Cinema Grill. Event starts at 9 a.m. and is open to All Ages. Autograph appearances from former Vikings coach Bud Grant and former Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek. The event will also feature the Twins playing the Marlins live from Spring Training as well as a special guest DJ set from That Metal Show's Don Jamieson. For more info check out the Facebook Event Page.

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