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Chuck Knoblauch: “a man both buoyed and wounded by the game of baseball”

Sep 22, 2011, 10:30 AM EDT


We haven’t heard much about Chuck Knoblauch in the nine years since he retired from baseball.  He was named in the Mitchell Report and had to testify in front of a grand jury about it, but otherwise, he’s been an invisible man.

Today there’s a feature story on him in the Star-Tribune.  It’s not the easiest read.  No, Knoblauch is not some tragedy case like some ex-players. He hasn’t lost all of his money or found himself on skid row.  He has had some legal problems — domestic violence — but that’s in the past now and he seems to have a happy home life.

But there’s a fine line between a guy who can walk away from baseball and never look back and a guy walks away from baseball and can’t bear to look back.  Whatever he says about his current state of contentment in the article, Knoblauch seems to be in the latter camp, and one can’t escape the feeling that he’s a man with a lot of darkness about him.

Maybe it’s just me, but I came away from the article rather troubled and concerned.  You feel the same way?

  1. sknut - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Yeah it was odd, like the bad moments outweighed any good moments of a 10 to 1 ratio. I also found it strange that he was worried to come back to Minny to celebrate the 91 WS by feeling the fans would boo him, I really think they would have cheered him and focused on what he did for that team and not when he was a Yankee.

    I sense something eating at him that he can’t get over and I feel bad for him. I hope he can find peace and enjoy his family and life.

  2. Chris Fiorentino - Sep 22, 2011 at 10:48 AM

    Craig, I didn’t feel the way you did at all. What I felt is that this is a guy who just likes to compete and win at whatever he is doing. Whether it be playing baseball or board games with the family. Some guys are born to play and be involved with baseball, but would never play a game like Risk or Monopoly. Others are just born to compete at whatever it is they do…Knoblauch is the latter. He obviously can’t play baseball anymore so he just doesn’t care about it or his involvement in it. I am sure getting pelted by hot dogs, quarters and marbles when he went out to LF in Minnesota didn’t help…to the point where the umpires almost called the game a forfeit? I won’t even go where I really want to go right now…..I’ll let you all decide what I am thinking.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:01 AM

      I’ll let you all decide what I am thinking.

      It’s okay, we all know. Cake > Pie :)

      • Chris Fiorentino - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        There’s nothing better than a strawberry pie with cool whip and a graham cracker crust…at least there wasn’t after dinner last night. Tonight, it could be a Key Lime. Pie > Cake times 1,000. Cake is overrated. 😛

    • kopy - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:05 AM

      It was quite the spectacle. Tom Kelly ran out to the outfield to personally plead for fans to stop throwing things. Every time I order a beer at a Minnesota sporting event, and they remove the cap and throw it away before giving it to me the bottle, I think of Chuck Knoblauch. The policy was put in place overnight, and spread to other stadiums. Plastic beer bottle caps were the #1 projectile hurled at Knoblauch that day.

      • Francisco (FC) - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:59 AM

        Psshh, Amateurs… in Philly we have batteries….

      • bigleagues - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:52 PM

        . . . and ice balls.

  3. kopy - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:02 AM

    Hard to read because of the iPad app that dominates the screen, or because StarTribune has the worst coded mass media website in the world? Knoblauch is an interesting case. It seems like people have increasing sympathy for him, but growing up in Minneapolis, I never did.

    I’m grateful he helped win a World Series. If he came back to Minneapolis I wouldn’t boo or throw things at him, and if I met him I would shake his hand. He wanted to be traded to a winner, and he got exactly what he wanted. I have no ill will toward him, but there are shades of a “be careful what you wish for” and “deal with the devil” elements here. There may be a time 15 years down the road when LeBron James feels guilty about wanting to leave Cleveland to chase championships too. Everybody has to live with the decisions they make, and no matter what, some people won’t like them.

    • Bill - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:08 AM

      What was the “deal with the devil” referred to here? Leaving Minnesota? The comparison to LeBron seems wildly out of place, since Knoblauch was traded, so the choice to leave wasn’t even actually his, and wasn’t a hometown guy at all.

      • kopy - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:21 AM

        Well the “Deal with the devil” element generally applies with somebody asks for something, and they receive it, only to end up in a comic twist or learn a moral lesson. Knoblauch wanted to leave the Twins, and he wanted to win championships. Those wishes were granted, but only to go through the infamous New York media and his defensive issues. And now it seems he goes through his original decisions all the time. Like I said, I don’t feel negatively about Knoblauch at all, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t facing his own demons and the people that do dislike him. I hope that he lives a long and happy life, but from the article it seems clear that he faces some issues about his past baseball career.

        As for the LeBron thing, I don’t think it’s wildly out of place at all. Both players left their current teams because they wanted to win more games, and the fans felt jilted. Knoblauch wasn’t hometown guy, but he was under contract and asked for a trade while James was even a free agent.

  4. Tyree Studio - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:42 AM

    Was the picture of Chuck in Royals gear chosen for this post to make me feel more sorry for him?

  5. ditto65 - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:50 AM

    Many people have scrap books, but don’t look at them. Chuck has a scrap book, but he calls it a condo.

  6. emeraldcityfan - Sep 22, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    I feel sorry for him and that’s tough considering the dude is a millionaire. People were upset when Griffey left Seattle but time heals and he was welcomed back as a hero. I hope someday he can make it back to Minnesota and reconcile with the fans there because he was a big part of that ’91 world series.

  7. kingkillerstudios - Sep 22, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    I feel like something is missing here. What does he do with his days? And then the timeline in the piece is kind of strange: nothing, really, between ’02 and ’09; then the arrest; two years later, he’s married to someone else and they have a kid together? It just seems like there’s some key element that ties all this together, something besides “I forgot how to throw and the fans turned on me,” that he wanted taken off the record?

  8. mianfr - Sep 22, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    We Yankee fans tend to leave scars, yes.

  9. bigleagues - Sep 22, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    I’m gonna read the story later, but Knoblauch has been very busy on Twitter in recent months.

    A few weeks ago Chuck Knoblauch ‘Followed’ me (@bigleagues) on Twitter. I thought it was a fake Knoblauch – before I saw he is ‘Verified’. It appears he has been following anyone who has been or still is associated with professional baseball.

    Which leads me to believe that he probably began to feel that he was being forgotten.

  10. kirkmack - Sep 22, 2011 at 2:30 PM

    There is a little more to the story about Knobby getting pelted by stuff in left field at the Metrodome, all from more of a contextual standpoint:

    1. It was dollar dog night with little to no limit on how many hot dogs you could buy
    2. It was left field general admission right there
    3. The Twins were horrible, the Twins were slashing ticket prices for GA seats and those seats were being sold for something like $5 a pop
    4. By this time, Knoblauch was hated around the Twin Cities, partly thanks to a leading radio show blasting him constantly due to the hotel incident of pushing a kid as well as Knoblauch being known to take himself very seriously (and apparently still does).

    What would happen is a bunch of college and high school age guys, mostly fans of the radio show, who would buy a seat and since they were so cheap, buy a ton of hot dogs for the night, mostly to eat, but on this night took to throwing them.

    I seriously believe that if it isn’t dollar dog night with cheaper seats right there, that night does not happen at the scope that it did.

  11. coachbrew - Sep 22, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    His Twitter (@chuckknoblauch) links to his website The website says it was launched Sept. 14. I wonder if him finally talking to the press again was a calculated move to get traffic to the site.

  12. simplicitymadecomplex - Sep 23, 2011 at 3:18 PM

    This post is for Mr. Bubblepipe who undoubtedly remembers the 1991 WS “incident” when littl’-chuckie faked Ron Gant out of his cleats [’cause RON WAS NOT PAYING ATTENTION] costing the Braves the WS WINNING RUN.

    Yes, an out was not tallied on the play however Ron did come up 1-base short.

    At the time I believe I was one of very, very, very few fans [baseball vs. a team] who actually realized what Knobby had done simply by rushing towards 2nd base while pounding his glove in anticipation of a throw that would never come [in time to even attempt a tag on then not runnin’ so quickly {to 3rd base} Ron, so to NetspeaK].

    Many consequences unfolded due to that “one play that never happened”. One that stands out for most knowledgeable baseball fans – the Braves never have really and truly recovered and when I write never I mean never; the Braves 1 WS notwithstanding.

    Oh and Ron Gant quickly disappeared into the twilight, and then the graveyard of baseball players.

    • jjschiller - May 21, 2012 at 5:28 PM

      One World Championship not withstanding?

      And Ron Gant disappeared into the twilight? He played 12 more seasons and twice received MVP votes.

      What planet are you from?

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