For quite possibly the last time, Brad Radke stood in front of the crowd at the Metrodome. Nearly three years removed from retirement, the fans loudly welcomed Radke back to the field as he was honored for his achievements over his 12 year career in Minnesota.
Radke’s achievements on the field are undeniable. He ranks fourth in franchise history with 148 victories, third with 377 games started, fifth with a total of 2,451 innings pitched, and fifth with 1,457 strikeouts. Those are the numbers; but numbers don’t tell who Brad Radke was or what he meant to the franchise.
As he was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame, Radke mentioned something that might just define his career in a Twins uniform – heart. Never was it about the money, or the wins, or the fame. Radke started in Minnesota and stayed in Minnesota; even when things got bad and even when he could have headed to a large market.
To Radke, those 148 victories are just a number. It’s a number that could have been higher had he played on more winning teams, but Radke never was worried about the stats or the money.
Throughout his long tenure with the Twins, Radke became known as a reserved, quiet, but very caring guy. He spent a tremendous amount of time in the community, but did it quietly and often unnoticed.
Through 12 seasons with the Twins, Radke played with a total of 197 different players including two Hall of Famers. He played on some less-than-spectacular teams, but when the turnaround came, he was at the forefront.
Heart is exactly what Radke had, and if everybody played the way Brad did, they’d be better because of it. The prime example came in his final season. With a torn labrum, Radke finished out the season and even pitched in the playoffs. Nothing would keep Radke from pitching, not even the weekly cortisone shots.
As Radke spoke to the crowd, he apologized for one thing: not bringing a championship to Minnesota. If anybody deserved a ring, it was Radke. His commitment to the city and organization was incredible, and he without a doubt had a lasting effect on the near 200 players he shared a locker room with.
To Radke, all fans can say is thank you. While the stats will over time disappear into the distance, the memories will not.