Twins pay tribute to Carneal at opener

Twins pay tribute to Carneal at opener

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was a poignant moment that said everything with no words actually having to be spoken. The shot of an old fashioned microphone sitting in front of Herb Carneal's empty chair in the radio booth made it clear to all at the Metrodome on Monday night just how much of the Twins' history was now gone.

The Twins paid tribute to their longtime radio broadcaster throughout Monday's Opening Day game, just a day after Carneal, 83, passed away due to congestive heart failure.

Before the game started, the Twins held a moment of silence in honor of their Hall of Fame broadcaster and ran a video that included a few of his famous calls. In addition to the pregame homage, the Twins played videos throughout the game of people like Hall of Fame slugger Harmon Killebrew and Twins manager Ron Gardenhire sharing their memories of Carneal during his 45 years in the broadcast booth.

The 2007 season has been dedicated in honor of Carneal, and the players wore black arm bands on their uniforms in remembrance of him. The plan is to have Carneal's initials put on the team's uniform for the rest of the season once the team has a chance to do so.

It wasn't just inside the Dome that Carneal was being remembered. Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty declared April 2, 2007, "Herb Carneal Day," and the flags outside the Metrodome were flown at half staff.

Former Twins pitcher Brad Radke received his own tribute prior to the start of the opener, and before throwing the ceremonial first pitch, he recalled his memories of the legendary broadcaster.

"I'll just remember how nice he was, especially my rookie year when I first got to meet him," Radke said. "Just the way he was, his voice, his family -- he was just a heck of a guy.

"He will be missed. He worked here 45 years. It's just like when Bob Casey passed away, too. It's going to hurt a little bit because he's been here for so long, but he's in a better place right now."

Casey, the longtime Twins announcer, passed away right before the start of the 2005 season and it was the start of a sad trend of deaths just prior to the regular season. Kirby Puckett's untimely death came just last March, and now Carneal's passing has meant the Twins have seen their share of tributes during Opening Day festivities.

"The organization has been through some tough times," Gardenhire said. "We've lost a lot of great people here that have done a lot for this organization and meant a lot and been in the spotlight here for a long, long time. It's tough, but they will never be forgotten around here."

The sadness of Carneal's passing was tempered in part due to the knowledge of just what a wonderful life the broadcaster was able to lead. Surely he will be missed, but his memory, just like his famous calls, won't be gone any time soon.

"He was 83 years old, that's a pretty good contract with God," Gardenhire said. "I'm sure he touched a lot of people's hearts. We're going to miss him, but he lived a good life. I'm sure he'll be up there announcing games in heaven."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.