DETROIT — Minnesota's Tom Kelly became the sixth rookie manager to win a pennant since the inception of the East-West playoff format in 1969. And in the opinion of the first, Sparky Anderson, Kelly's job with the Twins in 1987 may have been the finest to date.
"That's Tom Kelly's victory," Anderson said after his Detroit Tigers lost Game 5 to Minnesota, 9-5, Monday. "Not his ballclub's. That's his victory.
"What a tremendous job that young man did. It's all because of him. He kept his players very relaxed, he kept the pressure off them, he took all the heat, if there was any to take.
"Tom Kelly must be able to enjoy this. He brought a ballclub that had never been in anything and they performed as if they had been there forever."
Anderson felt so strongly about it that he sought out Twins owner Carl Pohlad in the Minnesota clubhouse and told him: "I hope you understand what you have in that man."
Said Kelly: "Sparky came in there and said some very, very nice things. Sparky Anderson is a very class act."
Kelly was asked if he felt he outmanaged Anderson this series.
"Pitching dictates how a game goes," he said. "I didn't outmanage anyone. Our pitchers just pitched better than theirs."
The other five managers to win pennants as rookies: Anderson (Cincinnati Reds, 1970); Tom Lasorda (Dodgers, 1977); Jim Frey (Kansas City Royals, 1980); Dallas Green (Philadelphia Phillies, 1980), and Harvey Kuenn (Milwaukee Brewers, 1982).
Scene: Tom Brunansky pouring champagne into the AL playoffs most valuable player trophy awarded to Gary Gaetti and then players taking drinks from the cup.
Among the national press corps, there was disagreement over who should be named MVP--Gaetti, who batted .300 with 2 home runs and 5 RBIs, or Brunansky, who batted .412 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs. But in the Minnesota clubhouse, the consensus supported the final vote.
Said Kelly: "He's the catalyst on our club. A lot of people say Kirby (Puckett), but when he swings his bat, he gets things going.
"The two home runs he hit in Game 1 showed the rest of the guys that we were capable of doing some damage. If we can hit two off Doyle Alexander, we can score some runs. He got us off on the right foot."
Said Bert Blyleven: "It was probably between him and Brunansky, but if you have to take one guy, I'd say Gaetti, because of his defense and timely hitting. Those two home runs in Game 1 gave us a big lift. That got us going in a positive flow."
Even Brunansky agreed.
"Getting those runs off Alexander, that broke the feeling that these guys (the Tigers) are awesome," Brunansky said.
"There's no way I can destroy the award, but I've got to figure out some way to share it," he said. "There were too many great individual efforts on our side."
If Kelly were to second-guess himself after Game 5, he said it would concern the use of his bullpen. Both Jeff Reardon and Juan Berenguer appeared in four games--including Monday's--and that, according to Kelly, was too much.
"I've really been abusing Jeff Reardon," he said. "I really believe he's tired and a little worn out. I'm glad he got it done the way he did--fairly quickly in the ninth."
After Berenguer got the first two outs of the eighth inning, Reardon was summoned to pitch the final 1 innings. Reardon earned the save, but not before yielding a run on three hits and a walk.
"Both Berenguer and Reardon were not supposed to be in the game, but we had to use them," Kelly said. "I was worried about their health. At least now, they can rest the rest of the week."
Nearly 50,000 Twins fans jammed the Metrodome Monday night to welcome home the American League champions.
"This is something we'll never forget. Thank you for coming out. . . . We're No. 1," Blyleven said.
"We were the underdogs going into Detroit, but we showed them, didn't we? Now going into the World Series, we've got 24 guys here . . . that want to do one thing. We want a World Series championship here and we need your support."
Tiger reliever Willie Hernandez is one of the most unpopular man in the city, due to recent ineffective performances, most noteably in Game 1. He was the only Tiger that received boos in pregame introductions.
The Detroit Free Press is running a write-in contest, "Whispers to Willie." In 25 words or less, how would you counsel Willie? Win two hockey tickets, or coffee mugs.
Less tactful were the T-shirts on sale outside the stadium, featuring a likeness of Hernandez in a circle, with a vertical slash across the face, and the words "No mas."
"This wasn't viciously done," the shirt seller said.
Of course not.
Times staff writer Scott Ostler and Associated Press contributed to this story.