‘Everyday Eddie’ touched by Twins Hall of Fame honor

MINNEAPOLIS — When Eddie Guardado made his way from the Metrodome bullpen to the pitcher’s mound to save a game in 2001, a song blared from the loudspeakers that Guardado didn’t recognize.

As it turns out, the song was “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC, and it pumped Guardado up enough to where he kept the song as his ninth-inning ballad for the rest of his time in Minnesota. It seemed to work, too. Guardado went on to save 116 games for the Twins in 12 seasons, including a league-high 45 saves in 2002.

“They played music, and I didn’t know what music it was,” Guardado said. “So when ’02 came, they go, ‘Eddie, that paper you filled out, what type of music do you want?’ ‘Whatever they played last year.’ And it was ‘Thunderstruck.’ I’d never heard that song in my life. So they played it, and they kept on playing it and it worked.”

Because of his successful tenure in Minnesota, Guardado is being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on Friday, along with former public relations director Tom Mee. They become the 25th and 26th members of the team’s Hall of Fame, which began with its inaugural class in 2000.

Guardado later went on to play for Seattle, Cincinnati and Texas before briefly rejoining the Twins for nine games in 2008. He retired after the 2009 season with Texas when he pitched 48 games. While he played for four different teams during his 17-year major league career, Minnesota was the place Guardado made his mark.

“When I left here, my heart stayed here,” said Guardado, now 42. “I’m always going to love Minnesota when I go down six feet under.”

As effective as he was closing out games, Guardado was equally as important as a clubhouse presence, especially during Minnesota’s American League Central titles in 2002 and 2003. Always a jokester during his career, Guardado helped keep things light in the locker room through the highs and lows.

“We laughed every day,” Guardado said. “Good or bad, we laughed, but we also played the game the right way and we played it hard. We had a good time.”

Guardado became known as “Everyday Eddie” during his time in Minnesota. The former 21st-round pick didn’t become the full-time closer, though, until 2002 when he saved 45 games. A year later he saved 41 games and posted a 2.89 ERA in 66 games, even though he never had overpowering stuff as a closer.

“He had no fear and we always made a lot of jokes that if you’re throwing 87-88 mph you should have fear, especially closing out games,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “But he was so competitive. He had funk. He hid the ball nicely. You’re going to have a lot of success as a closer if you’re a good one. But you’ll also have failures, and you can’t have those take over and he didn’t. He was just an everyday guy and could really take the ball any time we needed him.”

Guardado found out he was being inducted into the Twins’ Hall of Fame when he received a call from Twins president Dave St. Peter and Hall of Famer Rod Carew. Guardado and Carew often golf together during the week, so Guardado was confused about the nature of the call.

When Carew told Guardado that the closer would be joining him in the Twins Hall of Fame, Guardado couldn’t believe it.

“I go, ‘Did you fall in the shower this morning? Did you bump your head?'” Guardado said. “It’s a great honor, no question.”

Mee began with the organization in 1957, before the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961. While he served many roles within the organization throughout the course of several decades, he spent more than 30 years as the team’s director of media relations. After retiring in 1991, Mee was an official scorer for more than 15 years.

Like Guardado, Mee was thrilled to be inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame.

“It means a great deal,” Mee said. “It’s good to be alive, but its even better to know you’re still alive. I just had a job. I didn’t go to work every day; I went to my hobby. That’s what was great.”

Follow Tyler Mason on Twitter