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57th Twins Winter Caravan swings by Grand Forks

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Dan Gladden, Minnesota Twins color commentator and member of the 1987 and 1991 World Series champion Twins, signs a Bobblehead of himself during the Twins Winter Caravan stop at the Ramada Inn Tuesday in Grand Forks. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald2 / 3
Twins broadcaster Bert Blyleven gets the crowd warmed-up Tuesday at the Ramada Inn for the Twins Winter Caravan. photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald3 / 3

Baby boomers greatly outnumbered millennials and school-age fans when the 57th Twins Winter Caravan made its Grand Forks stop Tuesday at the Ramada Inn, attracting about 350 fans who appeared more interested in nostalgia than optimism for the future.

Former Twins/current media favorites Bert Blyleven and Dan Gladden stole the show—and the crowd interest—over Twins' backup catcher John Ryan Murphy and young pitching hopeful Jose Berrios, not exactly household names.

Dean Godel, 65, of Grand Forks was a prime example of the diehard fans. He was wearing his blue Blyleven Twins jersey, purchased six years ago.

"Bert is my favorite Twins player of all time," Godel said. "One of the reasons I like Bert is because he says what he thinks. And he's my age.

"Tony Oliva was here last year on the Caravan and that was great, too."

Gladden retains fans, too. He still has long, flowing blond locks, although there's a hole in his haircut.

Reminiscing about the good old days and Hall of Famers is less painful for long-term fans than the 103-loss 2016 season. But Blyleven—known for his bluntness and honesty as a Twins broadcaster—said there's hope:

"We have to be patient, but with the talent we have now, we are 2-3-4 years of making good things happen."

The foursome of Twins past-and-present and their entourage are making stops in Fargo, Warroad, Grand Forks, Detroit Lakes,Crookston, Fosston and Brainerd this week after visits to Mankato and Willmar in Minnesota and Sioux Falls and Aberdeen in South Dakota last week. They're all a part of what the baseball club calls "Twins Territory."

They were generous with autographs. Mike Pokrzywinski, a member of the East Grand Forks City Council, got Blyleven to autograph a leather casing that wraps around his phone. It will go well with the tattoo of the Twins' TC logo and the downtown Minneapolis skyline on Pokrzywinski's left (throwing) arm.

Ron Larson of East Grand Forks attended the Twins Winter Caravan with his grandson, Ryan Grove, for 23 consecutive years, starting at age 3. The first one, held at the Westward Ho, included Harmon Killebrew.

In 2017, the headliner is Bert Blyleven, who says what he wants in public. Regarding plunking batters, he said: "You have to knock batters on their *ss," he said. "It's part of the game.

"I hit 155 batters in my career and I'm proud of it."

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