FORT MYERS, Fla. — Today’s trivia question: Who was Minnesota’s first Mr. Basketball?
Hint: He’s a member of the coaching staff of the Minnesota Twins.
If you didn’t know, don’t feel bad. After all, it was 40 seasons ago that Gene Glynn was voted the winner of the prestigious high school award. Glynn, the new third-base coach of the Twins, starred at Waseca High School and then played both basketball and baseball at Mankato State (now Minnesota State, Mankato).
"Those days, coming from a small town in Minnesota, being able to play two sports at a (NCAA) Division II school were the two biggest reasons (for choosing Mankato)," said Glynn, who was the 13th of 14 children. "There were a lot of good players in those days, so you think of those times and we all have great memories of high school, but I also have great memories of college playing two sports and meeting so many people."
After college he signed with the Montreal Expos as a non-drafted free agent and spent seven seasons in their farm system, three at the Triple-A level as a slick-fielding infielder who also played all outfield positions.
"I ended up being that utility guy because I could play six positions," Glynn said after the fifth day of the 2015 spring training camp at Hammond Stadium.
His coaching career includes five years (1994-98) with the Colorado Rockies plus stints with the Expos, Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants. After five seasons on the scouting staff of the Tampa Bay Rays, Glynn joined the Twins’ organization, serving as the manager at Triple-A Rochester the last three seasons.
His success in Rochester earned Glynn an interview for the Twins vacant managerial job last October. But Hall of Famer Paul Molitor was hired to replace Ron Gardenhire. Glynn was then hired as the third-base coach on Molitor’s first-year staff.
"The three years in Rochester were probably the most fulfilling of my coaching and managing career," Glynn said. "Now, I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to be in the major leagues again and I feel humbled to be in this game for so long. You never know when you’re going back, but to do it with your home-state team . . .
"I really like Mollie’s direction," Glynn said of his current position. "I liked everybody who was here before and I know the players did too. But the reception to change has been good."
Glynn’s job description also includes infield instruction. Through the opening week, he likes what he’s seen. Asked if he thinks the team will be successful, he hesitated and said he wasn’t a prognosticator. But, he pointed out, if Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer and Kurt Suzuki have productive seasons, that’s three of your starters. Then if a few more contribute, who knows?
"I think I have to quote Mollie on this," Glynn said. "We can’t worry about what happened in the past. We’re trying to be grounded on who we are and what we need to do. I think we’ve seen a lot of positives in his mental approach.
"We’ve got a good mix of veterans and high-energy young players, and it’s a good combination of power and speed."