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Non-football: R.I.P. Herb Carneal

Just give me two pillows and a bottle of beer
And the Twins game on radio next to my ear
Some hark to the sound of the loon or the teal
But I love the voice of Herb Carneal

-Garrison Keilor, Porch Song

Herb Carneal, the legendary voice of Minnesota Twins baseball for 45 years. . .nearly as long as the Minnesota Twins have been in existence. . .has passed away at his home in Minnetonka due to congestive heart failure.  He was 83 years old.

Carneal took over as the voice of the Twins in 1962, a year after the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins.  For the next 45 seasons, all the way through last year, he would be the man most associated with Minnesota Twins baseball.  In 1996, he was inducted into the broadcaster's wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Carneal when I was in college.  I was working at the B. Dalton Booksellers in the West Acres Mall in Fargo, ND during the holiday season in 1995.  His book, Hi, Everybody, had just come out, and he was coming to towns around the area for book signings.  I was working the day that Mr. Carneal came in, and was told that if I wanted to get a book signed, I'd have to wait for my break and get in line to get it done.

Well, my break came around, so I took my copy of Hi, Everybody and got in line.  The line was fairly long, and I had to go to the back and wait like everyone else.  Well, my 15-minute break went by and I didn't get up to the table, and my boss informed me that break was over and I had to get back to work.  I had a few hours left in my shift yet, but the book signing was only going to continue for another half an hour or so, so I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't going to get my book signed and went back to work.

Well, the signing concluded, and a co-worker and I started gathering up the table that Mr. Carneal had been sitting at and some other stuff while he spoke to the manager.  As we put the table away and I went back to work, he excused himself from talking to the manager and approached me.  He asked if I had been in line to get a book signed, and I told him that I had been.  What happened next was something completely unexpected. . .by me, anyway.

He asked for my copy of his book so that he could sign it.

I went back behind the counter and grabbed my copy of the book and brought it to him.  As he signed my book, I thanked him profusely, and we talked about the Twins for a few minutes.  I mentioned that it was my ambition to be on the radio one day as well, and that I had worked in high school at the local radio station. . .one that happened to be a Twins' affiliate.  (KQLX-FM in Lisbon, ND)  He thanked me for listening and said he hoped to hear me one day, smiling the entire time.

What an incredible and humble man Herb Carneal was.  It was an honor to have met him, and it's a shame that we've lost him.

R.I.P., Mr. Carneal.