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Two-time Cy Young winner Saberhagen tosses out pitch during Stingers opener

Former major league pitcher Bret Saberhagen (167-117, 3.34 ERA in 16 seasons), center, poses with Stingers players after throwing out the first pitch. He's flanked by Kyle Fischer (16) of St. Cloud State and Kenny Roberts (2) of Alabama. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton

Ater watching a former major league star throw out the first pitch, the Willmar Stingers embarked on the 2012 Northwoods League season Wednesday at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Former Kansas City Royals ace Bret Saberhagen, a two-time Cy Young Award winner and World Series MVP, was the celebrity guest as the Stingers began their third season in Willmar.

Saberhagen, one of baseball's premier pitchers in the 1980s, met with fans and signed autographs prior to the season-opening X-X loss to the Mankato MoonDogs.

Saberhagen has ties to the Northwoods League: His son, Drew, manages the Alexandria Beetles, and the elder Saberhagen is scheduled to also throw out the first pitch at the Beetles game Friday against the Duluth Huskies.

Saberhagen twice won 20 games in the majors, with his signature season coming in 1985, when he won his first Cy Young Award and led the Royals to a World Series championship. He went 20-6 in the regular season and pitched two complete games in the Series, including a shutout in Game 7, to earn Series MVP honors.

The Stingers have posted solid attendance numbers in their first two seasons and an announced crowd of 1,000 turned out Wednesday to see manager Matt Hollod's team.

Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

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