Ex-Twins still remember 'Dairy Queen' jerseys
They were, by many accounts, an eyesore.
They were jokingly dubbed The Dairy Queen Jerseys.
But, years later, they spark nostalgia for some.
This month marks the 15th anniversary of the Twins' short-lived experiment with wearing red alternate jerseys on Sundays.
Minnesota donned the uniforms two times in 1997 — first on April 6, again on April 27. On both occasions, the Twins endured one-sided defeats. The red jersey dalliance was brief, but it nevertheless is burned into the memories of those who experienced it.
"The first thing we thought as we put on our jerseys is, you felt like you were glowing in the dark because of the color of red they used," former Twins third baseman Ron Coomer recalled recently.
Alternate jerseys seemed to pop up at nearly every major league port in the late 1990s, and Minnesota kept with the theme, presumably to aid its merchandise sales. But Twins players immediately considered the red jerseys a swing and a miss.
"They looked silly, just too bright of a color," recalled former Twins utiltyman Denny Hocking, now a coach at Double-A Bowie in the Orioles' organization.
"I think I saw a therapist for (wearing) those red jerseys," Hocking joked.
The red-clad Twins, managed by Tom Kelly, received a 12-2 beating from the Kansas City Royals on April 6, 1997, as starter Brad Radke surrendered six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. Three Sundays later, the Rangers beat the Twins 7-3 in front of 17,118 fans who saw red at the Metrodome.
"I knew after the second game we wore them in we'd never wear them again," Coomer said. "Tom ripped his jersey off, and you knew he didn't wanna wear it — none of us did; it didn't look good.
"When you wear a new uniform and you get your butt kicked twice, everyone in the room is thinking 'Why are we wearing this?' So, I definitely think everyone in the room was in favor of getting rid of those jerseys."
Starting pitchers typically decide what uniform their team wears each day. After Radke got roughed up on April 6, he wasn't about to choose the red button-ups again, according to Coomer. The rest of the Twins' roster agreed with his decision. The stop-sign hue that blended in with the restaurant advertising appearing throughout the Metrodome earned the jerseys their nickname.
"Yeah, they definitely had the Dairy Queen colors," said Coomer, currently an analyst for FOX Sports North. "We said we looked like we worked at Dairy Queen."
Though the 1997 Twins weren't fond of those red fatigues, some of their fans clearly were. In recent years, the old Sunday alternate tops have fetched sizeable sums in online bidding — as much as $475 per jersey.
"People collect some crazy things," Hocking said. "That's an alarming number, to me. I'm really surprised people would pay that kind of money for something like that."
"I guess I should start digging my red jersey out, huh?," Coomer said, laughing.