The Detroit Tigers found out about the news of manager Ron Gardenhire deciding to call it a career on Saturday afternoon around 4:30 PM, and needless to say, the team was surprised.
According to pitcher Spencer Turnbull, he had just begun to warm up when a team meeting was called, and that it was an emotional experience.
“I was just about to start warming up and we had a team meeting,” Turnbull said. “I was completely shocked. It was a wave of emotions, to say the least.”
However, Turnbull knows that the health of Gardenhire and his family comes first, and talked of how blessed he feels to have had him for a manager.
“I just love him, man,” he said. “He’s been nothing to good to me. I’m extremely blessed to have had him as my manager. I love him to death and want what’s best for him…His health comes first. His family comes first. This is just a game.”
Turnbull and the Tigers were able to pay tribute to their former manager, defeating the division rival Cleveland Indians tonight soon after the announcement by a 5-2 final score. Turnbull went six innings, striking out seven while surrendering five hits.
Meanwhile, pitcher Daniel Norris described the touching words that Gardenhire left them with, wanting them to know that he wasn’t walking out on them.
“The biggest thing that [Gardenhire] said was, ‘I hope and pray that you guys don’t think I’m walking out on you.’ That’s just a testament to who he is as a person.”
Norris went on to describe Gardenhire as one of his “favorite humans” he’s ever been around.
“He’s one of my favorite humans I’ve ever been around. Not just in baseball. He’s such a joy…I’m really happy for him. I’m happy he was able to look himself in the mirror and say, ‘This is what I’ve got to do.'”
Meanwhile, utility man Niko Goodrum was grateful to Gardenhire for being the one who gave him his first chance to play in the majors.
“This is the first time he opened up to us about how he was feeling,” Goodrum said. “This was a shock to everybody today.”
“He gave me my chance,” he continued. “A man can only ask for a chance to prove himself. Gardy and the Tigers gave me that chance.”
The players will definitely miss having Gardenhire in the clubhouse.