Torii Hunter is opening up about some of the more colorful moments of his nearly two decades in the major leagues.
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The former Minnesota Twins outfielder took to The Players’ Tribune on Tuesday to reminisce, revealing that he once lived in a rented Geo Prizm during his early days with the Single-A New Britain Rock Cats.
"We couldn’t afford a $19-a-day hotel room because we had just broken Spring Training and we hadn’t gotten paid yet. We opened the regular season with a seven-game homestand. But until we got that paycheck, we had nowhere to stay. After each game, we’d sit in the car and wait for everybody else to leave the stadium. Then we’d drop the Prizm seats down and sleep right there in the parking lot."
Hunter follows the lows with the highs, including his memories of the 2002 Twins, a squad that survived the league’s brief contraction scare, after the owners voted 28-2 to eliminate two of its own as MLB suffered through a financial downturn, only to win the AL Central.
"I remember sitting in the clubhouse one day in Spring Training that year with David Ortiz, Corey Koskie, Doug Mientkiewicz and Jacque Jones, reading the newspaper. The Twins were coming off five straight 90-plus loss seasons, and we were supposed to get contracted that year â ripped apart and all the players dispersed to other teams in a draft. The beat writers talked about us being contracted, calling us ‘the best Triple-A team in baseball.’"
That group, Hunter writes, was a particularly tight one.
"We were a close-knit squad. These were guys I’d come up with through the Twins system, guys I’d grown up with, really. So we decided that if that was gonna be our last time playing with each other, we wanted to leave it all on the field. We went out that year with a chip on our shoulder, with an attitude. We wanted to destroy everyone."
Hunter covers plenty of ground in the piece, including his interactions with Twins legend Kirby Puckett.
"Without even knowing it, he taught me to treat people how you want to be treated â to love like you want to be loved. And that you could do that and have fun, but still be a killer on the field. I never forgot that."
Hunter retired last year after returning to the Twins on a one-year contract worth $10.5 million, helping lead Minnesota to an 83-win season in which the team finished just three games out of a wild-card spot.