But he certainly was on Saturday evening at Target Field, as the Twins retired the former manager's No. 10 jersey in a special pregame ceremony before Minnesota's game against the Indians.
Kelly, who led the Twins to World Series titles in 1987 and '91, was honored in an hour-long ceremony that was hosted by former broadcaster John Gordon, who retired before this season.
Hall of Famers Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew and Paul Molitor were on-hand along with several other former Twins players such as Dan Gladden, Kent Hrbek, Jack Morris and Tony Oliva.
Several speeches were given, including those by former general manager Andy MacPhail, manager Ron Gardenhire, Twins owner Jim Pohlad, Hrbek and then one by Kelly, who managed the club from '86-01.
Kelly, though, made sure to deflect the credit to his players, asking his former starting pitchers to stand before his speech and his closers to stand at the end.
"I never dreamt it would ever happen," Kelly said. "I just think the game is about the players. I think I made that pretty clear. I think the game is for the players so to be up there with the Carews, the Olivas, it's a little out of my reach. I just don't think that way. I never have."
Kelly was also presented with a few special gifts from the Twins, as he was given a free trip to the Kentucky Derby while the Twins also announced they will rename Field 6 at their Fort Myers Spring Training complex after him.
"There were too many ambushes," Kelly said jokingly about the gifts. "I don't like those ambushes. I told Gordo up there while he was trying to read that I'm tired of all these ambushes. So it was pretty funny. I told him he better stop, but he said he was just reading them."
Kelly is Minnesota's all-time leader in managerial wins with 1,140, a figure that ranks 43rd on Major League's all-time list. He also excelled in the postseason, with a record of 16-8 that included the franchise's World Series titles in '87 and '91.
Gardenhire joined his staff in '91 as Minnesota's third-base coach, and has nothing but positive things to say about his predecessor.
"He was all about respecting the game of baseball," said Gardenhire, who took over from Kelly as Twins manager in '02. "He preached that constantly. It was about taking the field and playing hard. TK has a lot of good sayings, and one of those sticks in my head is, 'I don't care if you give me bad or good but give me your all.' So that's basically what resonates through our organization."
Kelly, 62, joins Harmon Killebrew (No. 3, 1975), Carew (No. 29, 1987), Oliva (No. 6, 1991), Hrbek (No. 14, 1995), Kirby Puckett (No. 34, 1997) and Blyleven (No. 28, 2011) as the seventh Twin to have his number retired by the organization. The Twins, in conjunction with all of Major League Baseball, retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 in 1997.
Kelly has also stayed active with the Twins organization, as he serves as an instructor during Spring Training and also has filled in as a broadcaster for Minnesota's broadcasts on Fox Sports North.
He wore his World Series rings during his speech, and said he couldn't think of a better time to wear them.
"My wife had them hidden, but I had to put them on tonight. If you don't put them on tonight, when can you put them on? Tonight was a pretty special occasion."