MINNEAPOLIS -- When Kent Hrbek played for the Minnesota Twins, he frequently
pinned teammates to the clubhouse floor, then predicted a future for himself
in pro wrestling.
But when Jesse (The Body) Ventura asked Hrbek during the summer to be
his tag-team partner — better known as lieutenant governor — in the gubernatorial
race, Hrbek disqualified himself, saying he couldn't govern with a foreign
object (a fishing pole, shotgun or bowling ball) in his hands.
``I'd have missed my hunting trip this weekend if I would have ran with
him,'' Hrbek said. ``Or, I would have gone anyway, and I would have gotten
off on the wrong foot on that job.
``I'm happy the way it turned out. I thought it was great. But I'm not
a politician. Then again, neither is Jesse.''
Ventura and Hrbek told friends of Ventura's offer this summer, but both
of them kept the offer quiet publicly until Wednesday, when a reporter
called Hrbek at home.
``I think he can do this without me,'' Hrbek said. ``Heck, he did everything
else without me.''
A longtime wrestling fan, Hrbek voted for Ventura, as did many of his
``He loves Minnesota, just as much as I love Minnesota,'' Hrbek said.
``And I think there's a lot of people who really like Minnesota, and they
gave him four years to give it a shot.
``To me, it seems like there are a lot of people around here with a
bounce in their step because of Jesse.''
As a player, Hrbek was glib and honest with reporters he knew, but didn't
enjoy mass interviews. He felt for Ventura when he saw him besieged by
``I felt sorry for the guy this morning, seeing him on one station after
another,'' Hrbek said. ``I mean, give him some sleep. But he's done wonderful
with them. He gives straight answers. He'd have made a helluva ballplayer.
He tells it like it is, and that's the way I did it.''
Ventura has vowed not to spend public money on a new stadium for the
Twins. Hrbek understands that approach, but hopes Ventura will find a way
to replace the Metrodome.
``Me and a pile of my buddies all hate the dome,'' Hrbek said. ``I hate
it _ it's all plastic. I played there for 13 years and loved it, but when
you're playing you don't know you have a roof over your head. When you
become a fan, it's very different _ you've got to be comfortable these
``Three different places passed amendments for new stadiums _ Cincinnati,
Denver and Pittsburgh. We've got a Reform Party governor and we've got
``I think Jesse will help us out with that. He said he won't use taxpayer's
money, but I think he might be able to get something done. We've got to
cheer up that atmosphere and make baseball fun again.''
Hrbek is leaving for a quail-hunting fundraiser to benefit the Make-A-Wish
Foundation in Mitchell, S.D. Although the former first baseman didn't help
Ventura get to first base in the campaign, he said he'd be glad to lend
Ventura a hand.
``I'm on the fundraising trail right now,'' Hrbek said. ``Now I guess
I've got to start fundraising for Jesse. If he wants me to go sit on the
Capitol steps and sign autographs, I will.
``You know, I think people wanted a change. They got so sick of all
the Democrat and Republican stuff, and said, 'Let's go with the horse farmer.'''
Hrbek praised Ventura awhile longer, then said he had to embark on his
``I've got to go bowling, and then I'm going hunting,'' Hrbek said.
``Tough schedule, huh?''