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Guardado coming to Stingers' home opener Thursday

Eddie Guardado is staying busy in retirement, coaching his son’s 12-year-old All-Star team and helping out at the Minnesota Twins’ spring training.

He gets back to Minnesota a few times a year and will be in Willmar on Thursday to throw out the first pitch and sign autographs at the Stingers’ home opener after doing first-pitch honors for the Mankato MoonDogs’ home opener today.

“I love Minnesota,” Guardado said. “I was there for 12 years … I had a great time, the people were great, the fishing was great … it’s very green.”

An avid fisherman, Guardado helped organize a crappie tournament every April during his time with the Twins.

“I didn’t know crappies got that big until I fished in Minnesota,” he said.

Guardado grew up in Stockton, California, and played junior college ball at Stockton’s San Joaquin Delta College.

He said that college ball was fantastic for him, and also highlighted his time in summer ball in Anchorage, Alaska, in a league similar to the Northwoods League.

“I always talk about Anchorage because we had a great time there,” he said. “Playing in Alaska it was my first time ever leaving home and playing with the top players at the college level.”

Known as “Everyday Eddie,” he is the Twins’ all-time leader in appearances for a pitcher (648) and third in saves (116) behind Rick Aguilera and Joe Nathan.

Asked about coming back to a place where he had so much success, Guardado said he never really thinks about it until he’s here.

“You go back and people recognize you,” he said. “It’s actually a very great feeling. I try to stay humble and be thankful I had the career I did and did it right. I talked to the ushers, I talked to the guards, I talked to the fans. I always want to be remembered for the person I was.”

The 43-year-old Guardado pitched for the Twins from 1993-2003 and was an All-Star in ’02 and ’03. He went to the Seattle Mariners in 2004 as a free agent for three seasons before finishing up his career with stints in Cincinnati, Texas and a brief return to Minnesota.

The chant of “EDDIE, EDDIE, EDDIE” from his days with the Twins could also return on Thursday.

“I heard (the chant) when I got induced to the Twins Hall of Fame last year,” he said.” Talk about goosebumps. I got that rush again.”

He stays involved with the team as a special assistant in spring training every February.

“I get to know the guys and help a younger’s dream come true,” he said. “You try to talk to a different guy every day and hopefully help somebody out to play the game at a high level.”

He said the extent of his throwing these days is to 12-year-olds for batting practice, though he did pitch in a game for Legends Day in Cooperstown, New York, recently.

As for the first pitch for the Stingers?

“I just want to make it to the plate.”

Ben Brewster

Ben Brewster covers the Willmar Stingers and other area sports, as well as laying out the daily sports section cover for the West Central Tribune. Follow him on Twitter @benbrewster.

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