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Eddie! Eddie! Eddie!

Everyday Eddie Guardado enjoys his appearance at Stingers' game

Tom Mack, at right, smiles while introducing himself to former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado during the home opener between the Willmar Stingers and the Eau Claire Express in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Tom Mack, at right, smiles while introducing himself to former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado during the home opener between the Willmar Stingers and the Eau Claire Express in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune
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WILLMAR — Former two-time all-star for the Minnesota Twins, Everyday Eddie Guardado, is enjoying his post-career life as a father of three children as he resides in Tustin Ranch, Cal.

Guardado attended the Rochester Honkers game to watch his son, Jakob Guardado, against the Willmar Stingers on Tuesday evening. Knowing the connection, Stingers owners Ryan Voz and Marc Jerzak reached out to Guardado to see if he would have any interest in making an extra trip up to Willmar to throw the first pitch at the Stingers' home opener Wednesday evening at Bill Taunton Stadium.

Guardado did not hesitate to take up Voz and Jerzak on the opportunity, which came as the second time he has thrown the first pitch at a Stingers game.

However, Eddie doesn't do it for the recognition.

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado signs a baseball hat for a fan at Bill Taunton Stadium on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado signs a baseball hat for a fan at Bill Taunton Stadium on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

"I do it not for the recognition because I've done that already [in my career]. I do it because it helps the program ... It helps bring people in and for support."

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The long-time Twins relief pitcher still has it in him as he whipped the ball into the lower right corner of the plate on the opening pitch.

Before his ceremonial first pitch, the beloved Guardado spent 45 minutes greeting and signing autographs for fans.

"Eddie's a Twins legend. He's a fan favorite," Jerzak said. "He loves baseball fans. He loves Minnesota fans. He loves the Twins. Anytime he can come out and meet the fans, he really enjoys it. We're happy to have him."

Guardado earned the "Everyday Eddie" title through his success as a relief pitcher.

Guardado pitched for the Twins for 12 seasons, where he made 648 appearances and helped Minnesota win back-to-back American League Central Division Championships in 2002 and 2003.

In 2002, Guardado led the American League with 45 saves, accumulating 187 over his 17-season career.

For Everyday Eddie, he embraces the nickname.

"I think anytime you have a nickname in MLB baseball, you did pretty good and something right. I love it," Guardado said. "I love it when I comeback to Minnesota or wherever I'm around and people say, 'Oh, that's Everyday Eddie.' That's special."

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Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado shakes the hand of Willmar Stingers athlete Matt Dreher after throwing the first pitch of the home opener against Eau Claire Express in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado shakes the hand of Willmar Stingers athlete Matt Dreher after throwing the first pitch of the home opener against Eau Claire Express in Willmar on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

With having a long career in the major leagues, Guardado has a long list of memories, but one sticks out to him more than others: Game 1 of the 2002 ALCS against the Anaheim Angels.

Guardado came in relief for starting pitcher Joe Mays in the ninth inning as the Twins held a 2-1 lead over the Angels.

Everyday Eddie recorded two strikeouts against four batters in front of more than 55,000 fans at the Metrodome en route to earning the save as the Twins took a 1-0 series lead.

Guardado still remembers the fans chanting, "Eddie, Eddie, Eddie," after his huge save where the feelings before entering a situation like that are indescribable.

"It's an out-of-body experience and the butterflies, they were kicking," Guardado said. "As soon as that first pitch was over, everything calmed down and that was my fondest memory."

Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado interacts with Jasmine Espinoza, 6, and Nico Espinoza, 4, as their family gets autographed photos at Bill Taunton Stadium on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Former Major League Baseball pitcher Eddie Guardado interacts with Jasmine Espinoza, 6, and Nico Espinoza, 4, as their family gets autographed photos at Bill Taunton Stadium on Wednesday, June 1, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

At the end of the day, Guardado mentioned the importance of the Northwoods League for not just baseball, but for the student-athletes who have the opportunity to compete in the summer ball league.

"This league gives them a little taste of minor league baseball — the bus rides, the stadiums, the host families," Guardado said. "Nothing but the best to these young men playing."

Michael Lyne joined the West Central Tribune as a sports reporter in May 2022, following his graduation from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where he graduated with a bachelors degree in journalism and a minor degree in Spanish studies.

You may reach Michael at mlyne@wctrib.com, or by calling (320) 214-4345.
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