In 1987, I kept an elaborate Twins home run chart.
My dad helped me make The Chart. I started by crudely tallying each player's home runs in a spiral notebook. Dad found a large piece of graphing paper and showed me how to use a yardstick to measure and draw straight lines. We listed each Twins hitter on the left hand side and numbered each column after that from 1-40. We mounted it to a large wooden board.
I used a different color of Crayola marker for each player. All season long, every time the Twins hit a home run, I would color in the next box for the player who hit it.
A husky nine-year old lugging a two-foot wide rectangular board around all summer was probably a pretty hilarious sight. What can I say? Once a nerd, always a nerd. I really did bring that thing everywhere. While at home, watching the Twins on TV, I would sit on the floor in the family room with The Chart and the markers in front of me. Every time Kent Hrbek or Gary Gaetti would hit one out, I updated The Chart.
The most romantic memories of The Chart are from my family's cabin in Grand Marais. With no TV broadcast available there, I would attempt to get the radio signal from Duluth. Some nights it would come in crystal clear. Other nights, nothing. Occasionally, on a clear night, the WCCO broadcast from the Cities would be audible. On those nights, I would sit by the the old Ben Franklin furnace and listen for a rare longball from Steve Lombardozzi. If the game wasn't coming in on the radio, I was at the mercy of the sports highlights from the Duluth local news on the portable black and white TV set.
1987 was a fortunate year to have The Chart. I tracked them all, from the team-leading 34 by Hrbek to the one contributed by reserve outfielder Mark "Country" Davidson. By year's end, the Twins clubbed 196 home runs en route to their first World Series title. They have not hit that many in a season since.
'87 was the only year of existence for The Chart. It was most likely thrown away around twenty years ago. I had not even thought about it in until the other night. While watching the 2010 version of the Twins blast off for nine longballs in the season's first four games, I found myself trying to guess how many home runs the team could hit this year. With a stacked lineup and the new bandbox of a stadium, it's hardly a stretch to think they could finally match the 1987 total.
It might even be time to bring back The Chart.
In the meantime, here's what the 1987 Chart would have looked like if made by a computer instead of a nine year old and his dad.