A/N: Mostly a MTM fic, but it includes a few characters from my Peanuts crossover. I mostly focused on the interaction between universes there. I included Rhoda but Phyllis didn't appear, so she's here. My "It's the Senior Prom, Charlie Brown" referenced. Wikipedia's my only source for the "Phyllis" spinoff so it might not be exact. Twins' threat to move if they didn't draw over a million in 1984 was real, as were their PA announcer's jokes. I don't recall what happened to Gordy but he can always come back like Mary if he left; or, it could be a different person.
Mary's idea didn't come in our timeline till two years later, but it could come earlier in the MTM universe, as I view each fictional universe as like ours except for characters & how they impact things. I could see Mary coming up with this, and it's only a couple years ahead; maybe nobody would have known if I hadn't mentioned it, but I felt honesty was best. (Plus, one could argue it's just the station's thing and the team picks it up later.)
Mary and the Homer Hankies
"You hardly even had to change your name, Aunt Mary; you just added a German version," quipped Bess, in her mid-20s, as she and her mother, Phyllis Lindstrom, relaxed in the small town home of Phyllis' best friend, Mary Richards-Reichardt.
"Sometimes it works out that way, Bess," Mary said. "I hear your uncle…well, your husband's uncle, is really active in city politics."
Phyllis leaned forward. "And listen to this, Mary; Bess is running for the Board of Education."
Mary was quite impressed. She was naturally enthusiastic and supportive, even as she hedged a little here. "That's great; are you sure you have enough experience? I mean, usually you have to have a long track record in education to do that."
"I will," Bess said confidently as her young children entered the home and took off their snow-covered coats, hats, and scarves. "I've had to be a homemaker for a while so I know what kids need, plus I got a lot of encouragement in leadership growing up," she said, speaking of her mother, who was always pushing her to be independent of "traditional womens' roles." "So, if I don't, maybe city council or something."
Peppermint Patty, the fourteen-year-old girl of Mary's husband, Frederick Reichardt, entered as well. Her dad and Mary had met in 1979, and married over a year later. She was so excited to have a mother who understood her tomboyish tendencies, yet who also aided her in the feminine side of things.
"There's nothing like a good snowball fight." Peppermint Patty looked at her friend, Charlie Brown, like her in his early teens. He and his sister Sally, a couple years younger, had also been playing. "Chuck, Sally, you remember my mom's friend Phyllis and her daughter, Bess from the wedding, right?" They did. "These were her kids we were playing with."
Sally spouted. "Your kids are really sneaky! They said you were from San Francisco, so I didn't think they'd know how to throw snowballs."
"Our uncle takes us to Lake Tahoe sometimes, so they know about snow," Bess explained. "It's been great to see them grow up, but now that I've had a couple, I'm ready to see what I can do."
Phyllis praised her attitude. "You've got all the talent in the world; you need to do this for all womanhood. There's plenty of good nannies around. Your job is to help the world." Expecting the girls to agree, she said, "Right, girls?"
Peppermint Patty agreed, but Sally said, "You need to add caviar."
"I think you mean a caveat," Charlie Brown noted.
As Sally said "whatever," Mary encouraged Charlie Brown. "See, I told you, you understand what she's saying; you have some real skill there."
"Your job is to make sure your children have a good caregiver, even if it's not you. If the nanny you find isn't any good, you need to take charge. Be the boss! No holds barred! Fifty-four forty or fight!" Sally proclaimed.
Charlie Brown gawked at his sister. "Fifty-four forty or fight?" He turned to Mary and said, "I'm sorry, Ma'am, but nobody can understand where she got the idea to mix what else she said with a slogan about negotiating over the Oregon Territory in 1844."
Sally was astonished. "I remembered that? Wow, I just thought I was remembering a slogan about fighting. I must be getting good at school."
"You are," Mary encouraged her. "And, remember what I said about your brother's friend, Linus?" She leaned forward a little. "I have it on good authority that he likes a little goofiness like that now and then… just don't go too fast."
"Oh, don't worry. That fits in perfect with 'Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen.' You were right; he was like a big brother for a while; then we didn't like each other. Now we kind of do again, and I can be his funny Valentine. Then when I'm sixteen…" Sally trailed off dreamily.
Mary was going to caution her again, but Phyllis said, "That's the way to think. Don't let anyone stand in the way of your dreams. Bess had some interruptions, but she saw how I made my dreams, so she learned how to make hers." She turned and asked Mary, "How about Peppermint Patty? Have you taken her to work? Some of us are talking about trying to make a national day out of doing that." It would happen almost ten years later.
"I don't know; it's kind of rough right now." When Phyllis protested that she should show her the tough parts, too, Mary said, "Well, I don't know where to take her. You know I got hired back at WJM after success with a network station…"
"I know, you're program manager now," Phyllis said excitedly. By this time, Peppermint Patty was getting everyone hot chocolate. "They finally want someone to come up with drastic ideas for changes because they're worried about the future of independent television with the rise of cable; I guess Murray's found success writing for ESPN?" He'd have considered CNN, but preferred the climate in Bristol to that of Atlanta.
"All except for how he sometimes hears one sportscaster say he's 'going to Murray like a lamb to the Slaughter.'" The sportscaster, Chris Berman, had become famous for making puns out of player names. As the children giggled, Mary continued. "Anyhow, I had this idea… you know the Minnesota Twins have been talking about moving?" She did. Mary hadn't wanted to reveal this till she knew what she planned to do, but felt she had no choice. She hated hiding things. "Well, I came up with some ideas for promoting the team on our station, plus covering all the open dates where they aren't on TV otherwise; sort of a blitz package so they can draw a million fans. That's what the owner, Mr. Griffith, says he needs to keep the team here."
Phyllis could tell something exciting was coming. "Yes, yes?"
"So, last night Mr. Griffith called, he heard about my ideas and wants me to work for them."
"Mary, do you see what a golden opportunity this is?" Phyllis excitedly turned to the side and held out a hand as if pointing to something on a billboard. "Suddenly, you, Mary Richards-Reichardt, have a chance to cause a bidding war based on your experience. You could be producing the news for CNN someday!" she finished, turning back to Mary.
Mary frowned slightly as she started to speak. However, Mary was interrupted by Peppermint Patty. "But, if the Twins don't draw a million, we'll have to move to Florida," the girl protested.
"That is a tough one," Bess agreed. "Moving is really hard."
Charlie Brown spoke as Mary gave a "this is just what I was afraid of" look. "Maybe they'll draw a million. Then again, if some of their stars get hurt they could lose 100 and be on their way by August. The Cleveland Spiders were actually evicted in 1899, they were so bad."
"Isn't Calvin Griffith that miserly old fellow whose father owned the club in 1920? Mary, you don't need to work for him. Wait till he sells the team. If you're responsible for helping to keep them, the new owner will be sure to hire you," Phyllis said.
Mary was quite pensive. "That's a good point. Still, I hate to pass up the chance."
Mary sighed. She was so nice she didn't want to displease anyone. However, there were times when Phyllis' insistence on womens' lib seemed a bit tedious to her. Still, there was one person she loved to do things for no matter what – her daughter. It didn't matter if she and Frederick hadn't had children of their own – to her, Patricia was incredibly special no matter what.
"I think Patricia wants me to wait, right?" she asked Peppermint Patty, who agreed heartily. "I'll tell you what, I'll take you to work Monday, Patricia. Mr. Grant and Murray are both in town to see family over the Christmas break, so maybe we can all get together. You can see what it was like then, too." The girl agreed.
That Monday, Mary brought the young teen in to work with her. Murray and Lou sat in her office with her catching up on old times as she was explaining to the girl her duties and the meetings she was scheduling. Finally, she said, "I've been here a few months, but I do have one other interesting dilemma." At that moment, Ted Baxter walked in. "There he is."
"Hey, what is this? Oh, wait, I know. We're remaking that old show 'This Is Your Life,'" Ted said, looking around for cameras.
"Ted, we're not doing 'This Is Your Life.'"
"Oh, come on, Mare; they've done a remake of 'You Asked For It' already." Ted straightened his tie and said, "I, of course, would be perfectly willing to host it."
"Well, that is a thought," Mary hedged. In the back of her mind, she'd been struggling with how to handle Ted. Their news had been so bad for so long, Ted was still employed there and it didn't matter to anyone. He was there, as he had been since the other members of the crew were fired in 1977; as he had been since she'd come to work there in 1970; maybe even as he had been since the station went on the air. He was an icon the owners wouldn't part with, but not he was quite boastful and often mangled names.
Lou recalled his mangling all too well. "Yeah; instead of fumbling Harmon Killebrew's name once in a newscast, you could spend a whole half hour messing it up."
"Where I work, they're still laughing about that letter you sent about doing an expose on Mike Krzyzewski, and why he goes by 'Coach K' when the first sound in his name is an 'S,'" Murray told Ted.
"I like to freelance in my spare time, don't I, Mary?" Ted asked.
Mary hated to see anyone lose their job, even Ted. She'd helped a bumbling waitress keep working at WJM for a while after she should have been fired because she felt bad for her, after all. "Ted, I know you didn't like being passed over to replace Walter Cronkite, but when I said maybe you should focus on something less to do with news, I meant, well…"
"Say it, Mary; he stinks," Lou said.
"Mr. Grant…" Mary began hesitantly, unsure of what else to say.
"Mary, I'm back with a newspaper now. You're a programming director. You've earned the right to call me Lou," Lou reminded her for what seemed the hundredth time to him.
Mary knew she could, but it still felt awkward. However, at least that had drawn attention away from his other comment. She turned to Ted and explained. "I just think 'This Is Your Life' is a bit too much on the news side yet."
"Oh. Okay, how about one of those blooper shows. Or, we do like on Candid Camera and hide cameras around town."
Peppermint Patty thought that was a great idea. "Maybe you could go with my mom to work for the Twins if she goes."
Murray was stunned. "Mary, are you going to work for the Minnesota Twins?"
"Guys, not so loud. I haven't had time to think. I'm back here now, and that's what matters. After that, I think Phyllis is right; it'll be better if I go to work for a new owner there," she remarked candidly.
Ted was glad to hear it. "With the two of us working together, we can use WJM to save the Twins. Then I can go over there, and be a play by play man. Or would I make a better color commentator," he asked himself. "Let's see. 'Fly ball, left field, Hrbek's under it…'"
"Hrbek plays first base," Murray corrected him.
"I'm just kidding," Ted said defensively. "All right, let's try color. 'The Twins have won 32 games and lost 10 this year in which they've been tied or ahead after 10 innings."
Lou had a question. The others were glad he asked it because they didn't think could have without giggling. Lou asked, "Ted, if a regulation game goes nine innings, and the team can't lose if they're ahead after nine, how could they lose games if they're ahead after ten?"
"Well, let's see; there must be a rule to explain it somewhere," Ted responded.
Mary got up from her desk and walked toward Ted. "I hate to break it to you, but I just don't think you're going to get a job broadcasting Twins games."
"Okay, how about PA announcer. 'Now batting for the Minnesota Twins, number… uh… what number does Viola wear?"
"Ted, Viola wouldn't be batting when they have the Designated Hitter rule in effect in the American League," Lou reminded him forcefully.
Murray pointed out, "Hey, he's improving; ten years ago he'd have called him 'Violin.'" Mary didn't want to say he'd done that in September. Maybe it was nerves being in front of a camera or something, she considered.
"I told Mom we need something fancy to wave around, like the Steelers' Terrible Towels," Peppermint Patty said. "So, we started coming up with ideas."
"Thanks," Mary said; she hoped this got their minds off Ted. It did. "I thought maybe if our station sold handkerchiefs; we could call them Homer Hankes." Lou was displeased. "I know, you think it's too cute, but, I want something that'll draw attention, let us be known as the station that kept the Twins here. Ideas like this are what got me the job."
"Wait a minute." Ted was stunned; he'd been focused on himself, and what job Mary might find for him if she went to the Twins. So, his mind was on the possibility that he might become part of this. "You don't want me to broadcast for the Twins; you want me to go around telling people to wave handkerchiefs in the air? That sounds like it's beneath me as a serious newsman," he said, shaking his head as he left the office.
Once he was gone, Lou said, "You just did that to get rid of Ted, didn't you? That was really clever."
"No, really, I think homer hankies could catch on," Mary insisted.
"Don't forget, Lou, these are fans who also love to hear a certain sportscaster make puns out of everyone's name," Murray said a little disdainfully. The practice wasn't cringeworthy to him like it had been, but he still preferred news – even sports – to be a bit more serious.
"I think that guy's so funny," Peppermint Patty said.
"Well, it does show creativity," Murray admitted. "Plus, the Twins' public address announcer has jokes like 'Don't throw anything or anybody onto the field,'" he recalled fondly.
Mary agreed. "Sure; and Chris Berman's a good sportscaster, just like our PA announcer. I just don't know if I like using one job as a springboard to another. I feel loyal to this station."
"Mary, you haven't even been offered the job with the Twins yet," Lou said.
"Actually, I have. I just hadn't told anyone else," Mary whispered.
"Oh." Lou thought for a moment. "I had a good speech ready, too. Can I say it anyway? I hate letting it go to waste."
Mary chuckled. "Trust me; Frederick has probably given the same advice. And, so have my other friends. This is a job that can be a springboard to a lot of different things. Murray, when you found that other job in Connecticut in '77, did you think of it as a stepping stone?"
"I really wasn't sure. I only know when ESPN looked ready to start up, I jumped at the chance," Murray said. "Marie said it was the gambler in me a little, but it looked like it was going places. And, it has. Plus the work's very stable."
"If I turn down the Twins… I wonder if I'm saying that I don't believe the team will stay," Mary said worriedly.
Lou suggested that they had to stay. "Mary, I know this city's more about hockey and football than baseball right now. But, I bet when they start winning, it'll be just like the '60s; I wasn't here for the whole thing, but we've got some great fans." He seemed to get a little indigestion as he said, "Probably the kind that will wave hankies. I don't think you're showing mistrust in the Twins. You're showing you care. Because, you think they're worth pouring a station's programming into them."
"Thanks, Mr. Grant. I appreciate your way of looking at things," Mary said with a smile.
"Don't mention it." He knew what her next question was going to be. "Sorry, I can't give you any advice on Ted."
"That's okay; I'll find something. Maybe he'll be willing to wave a homer hanky someday after all," she said.
All in the room chuckled. "Yeah; he would; I hear he's back to doing those commercials like in the early '70s, before I made him stop," Lou said. Mary nodded.
The station's owner visited Mary as lunch neared. "Well, Patricia, how do you like it here?"
"It's great; did you hear about my mom's ideas with the Twins?" Peppermint Patty asked.
"I did; that's what I wanted to talk to her about a moment." Peppermint Patty saw Murray and Lou waiting and went down to the cafeteria with them while Mary stayed behind a moment. "We've got the promos all ready for the replays of the 1965 World Series now. But, do you know why Ted Baxter is talking about broadcasting Twins games?"
Mary wasn't sure what to say, but decided honesty was the best policy. She hated to lie; she figured he could tell if she did. Not only that, though, but Lou was right; she could still show a love for the station. And, if wasn't as if she'd looked for the job. Things just seemed so complex sometimes. But, that's why honesty was best. "Well, Sir, to tell you the truth, word got out about my plans for baseball programming, and, well, Calvin Griffith offered me a job. But, trust me," she said, "I like it here. In fact, I wouldn't want to work for Mr. Griffith; I mean, he seems like a nice guy, but what if the new owner wants to bring in someone else? Plus, I don't even know what he'd hire me to do."
The owner was taken aback. "I really wasn't expecting all that. I just wondered why I heard him practicing saying a few names like an announcer," he said with a laugh.
"I know it probably bugs you to have him, even though he is our icon; kind of like an aging slugger, but we can't just trade him. I am trying to find ways to use him. But, I promise, he will not be near the broadcast booth. Especially not if we redub 1965 instead of using the network announcers," Mary pledged.
"Good. I think we can work out a contract with the Twins for the remaining games. You're really stepping out in faith. But, it shows you realize we need something to keep independent stations like ours alive," the owner responded. "I hate to ask if you'd produce the games; this is, the 1984 ones; I know you have family considerations." She agreed. "At least help us to find some good people," he requested. "Their flagship station has brought Killebrew back to broadcast, so some others are already at work. But, with you on board, I'm sure we'll find our niche."
"I'll do that." As he began to leave, Mary said, "Oh, and, Sir?" He looked at her. "I'd like to break in this year with the announcement of Killebrew's election to the Hall of Fame if he gets in. He got a little over 70% last year so I'm sure he'll make it." He needed 75% of the votes to make it in.
The owner agreed. "That's a great idea."
He left before Mary had the chance to tell him she wanted someone to wave a hanky during it.
Days later, at the scheduled time, as ordered, Ted waited at the anchor's desk for the all-important announcement. He'd insisted on doing it himself, though the sportscaster, Gordy, walked behind him intending to wave his Homer Hanky. It would be the introduction of them to the Minnesota sports world. "What are you doing here?" Ted asked as Gordy sat beside him.
"I'm here to wave the Homer Hanky."
"Well…" As he began to protest, someone raced into the studio after getting the information, and the cameraman said, "Up in five!" "We'll talk later." Ted looked at the camera and spoke in his traditional newscaster voice. "We interrupt this 'Gilligan's Island' rerun for special news for all Minnesota. Harmon Killebrew, with over eighty percent of the vote, is now a member of baseball's Hall of Fame…."
Mary smiled broadly in her office. She doubted the network stations would have dared to do this. But, thanks to help from Murray, they'd gotten a special call just as it was announced and scooped everyone else! They were surely the first station in all Minnesota with the news! This would be the start… wait, she asked herself as she leaned forward. Why was Ted still talking?
"…But, I'm sure you'd rather hear about Killebrew than that episode that we planned to air. I mean, Gilligan always messes up and they don't get off the island. And now, I've told you what the episode is, so you don't have to watch. You can hear us memorialize that great slugger," Ted said. He'd previously revealed the plot of that day's episode.
Mary put her head in her hands as Ted droned on, then looked up – Gordy was about to save them. He waved the hanky and said, "We need a million fans or more,a nd I'm sure everyone will come out. Soon we'll all wave homer hankies at the Metrodome!"
"Not on my newscast," Ted said.
Mary called downstairs as a commercial aired at its regular time. She had an idea. "Listen," she instructed, "tell Ted you don't memorialize someone unless they died. And second, if Ted wants to do this, tell them to forecast the upcoming baseball season."
They said Killebrew was still alive as requested. But, she wouldn't have believed the furor created over the second part of her order.
The Twins had finished tied for 5th at 70-92 in the American League West the previous year, 29 games behind the White Sox! Gordy made what seemed like a sensible pick. He said the Twins would improve to 78-80 wins, and that the Rangers would fight Seattle for last because they'd traded away their best pitcher and had won only 64 before 1983's near-.500 season. He predicted a three-way tussle for third between the Twins, Angels, and A's, with the Twins likely to come in third if – as expected - their young team gelled. The Royals would be in second – they had good young pitching plus George Brett – and the Sox would repeat.
However, Ted went further.
"Who needs Homer Hankies?" Ted declared. "This is the way the '69 Mets did it. You're right, Gordy, about the Orioles being beatable, but it's not by the Tigers. I say the Twins will win the 1984 American League pennant, and beat the Cardinals in the World Series!"
Gordy was astounded. He'd picked the Tigers over the White Sox, who looked unbeatable but who would not have the home field advantage in the league championship series. Lots of people were picking the Orioles to repeat or the White Sox to make it, so he'd dared to be a little different as a few others had. The Tigers had been second the year before and had a very good young team, after all, with a starter in Jack Morris whom he said could win Game 1 in Chicago and help the Tigers win the ALCS. He'd end up being right about the Tigers. But, this?
He masked his shock well. He glanced at Ted before looking back into the camera. "If the Royals' young pitching doesn't pan out the Twins could finish second; I can see 85, 87 wins from them in a best case scenario." As Ted went through the A.L. West, Gordy recalled the need to stay upbeat. He didn't ask how they would beat the White Sox, who had added the great Tom Seaver, or win the World Series when they had no experience even in a tough pennant race. He had picked them ahead of Oakland, which seemed just as possible a candidate for second; Sports Illustrated would pick Oakland there, for instance. So, he was positive. But, this? Gordy was taking a bit of a chance picking the Royals so high, but the Tigers looked like a championship team. "Well, to paraphrase another announcer, win or lose, tie or suspended, I'm a Twins fan," he said at the end of Ted's A.L. West picks as he waved his Homer Hanky.
"Me, too. But, a professional newsman tells it like it is. And, the Twins will win. I guarantee it!"
Mary mumbled, "You're not Joe Namath," referring to the quarterback who'd guaranteed the Jets' Super Bowl win. At least the rest of Ted's picks – the Orioles, Cardinals, and Dodgers – made sense. So, too, did Gordy's. Gordy even agreed about the Dodgers, though he said they'd have to trade excess pitching for some offense. As it turned out, if they had, they'd have finished a lot closer. Gordy picked the Dodgers to make the right trade and then beat Montreal, winner of a very weak division, for the pennant before losing to Detroit in the World Series.
Gordy's Tigers pick – they started the year 35-5 – was the talk of the station. However, it was soon eclipsed by Ted's pick of the Twins. By the time the Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown came, the Twins – battling for second much of the late spring and early summer – were in first. Ted mercifully remained behind in Minnesota, so others didn't have to keep hearing him brag about his prediction. Even worse, the Twins were up by 5.5 games on August 22nd with about six weeks left; nobody else was above .500 in that division.
As he often had, Ted began his newscast by saying, "How about those Twins? They're staying for sure now. And lest we forget, one man dared to pick them to make it to the World Series this year." When Pohlad's name surfaced as the man who would likely buy the club from Calvin Griffith, Ted reported, "We have a potential buyer, one who will keep the Twins in town, because they are sure to reach that million fan mark. But what a wonderful thing if one last time, Calvin Griffith got to be handed the World Series trophy, as champion of all baseball. Who needs those rich guys in New York?"
Patricia was sitting at home with Mary and Frederick as they watched that newscast. "Don't worry, Mom," she told Mary. "I know Ted bugs you. But, doesn't the preacher always say pride cometh before a fall?"
"I know, but at that rate, the way Ted's talking, he might jinx us so we don't win again all season," Mary lamented.
"It can't be that bad," Frederick was certain. "We'll win some."
"Well, we can probably take this division. And Kent Hrbek does look like the MVP," Mary considered. "Ted just seems so hard to deal with sometimes. I mean, it's nice that people tune in; our owner's right, we might have drawn even fewer viewers without him."
Patricia wondered if Ted had just picked the Twins to be different, or maybe to boost ratings.
"That's a good question. I guess I do misjudge him sometimes," mary lamented. "Ted's just so full of himself it's hard to avoid thinking that he did it for himself; and, now that the Twins are winning part of me wonders - enough stuff already goes to his head. Well, what's one more thing, huh?" she finished, laughing it off inside. She always tried to be nice and put a positive spin on things.
Frederick joined her in chuckling and acknowledged, "It is hard. But, you do a great job," and gave her a warm, loving smile. She'd been just the kind of mother Peppermint Patty needed.
"Yeah, and don't worry about not being perfect," Peppermint Patty said. "You're still a great mom. I know I had a lot of doubts at times about God and stuff. But, you've helped me see it's not about religion; it's about a relationship. He finds a way to complete us somehow, if we trust Him to though what He did on the cross for us and rose again, taking our punishment for our sins, instead of trying to do it ourselves. Just like He gave us you. I still don't have the best grades, enough they've improved since I'm not up half the night worrying about Dad. I don't have great looks. But, you look at what's inside," the girl concluded.
Mary put an arm around her. "That's right. And, you're a beautiful person."
:Thanks. I wonder when Mr. Baxter will realize he doesn't have to keep boasting about himself."
Mary wished she knew.
The Twins won three game and lost eleven immediately after that. They were tied by September 5th. They played only a game below .500 the rest of the way, but ended up tied with the Angels and 3 games behind the Royals, who lost to the Tigers. Kansas City would win next year, too, capturing the World Series.
Ted walked into Mary's office totally dejected in late summer of 1985. "I can't do this anymore," he complained as he sat.
"Can't do what?"
"Anything." He looked up and asked, "What could have gone wrong? I thought for sure with our pitching, and that trade we made for more, we'd be sure to win. Then when we didn't in '84, I thought, 'Okay, I've got other people picking the Twins to win in 1985, too, but I can still say I was first.'" A few publications picked the Twins to win the division. "And, we were only a game back in May this year, till we lost… how many was it?"
"Ten in a row." Mary walked out from behind her desk.
"Yeah. And, whatever happened to Hrbek; I thought for sure he'd win MVP even if we didn't win our division," Ted said.
"Well, Ted, at least on that, quite a few sportswriters think he should have," Mary admitted. The Tigers' Willie Hernandez had had an excellent year in relief in '84, but there were some who thought Hrbek should have been named because he was more valuable than Hernandez, whose team had won by 15 games. Then again, Hernandez got 16 first place votes to Herbek's 5; two other players had split the last 7.
The new Twins' owner was interested in having her work for him in public relations or marketing. Mary pondered how she might help market the Twins with technologies like VCRs and other things available. However, she liked WJM. Plus, she felt sorry for Ted.
"Ted, we might still win. We've got a good nucleus." They would, in fact, in 1987 – ironically beating the Cardinals, as Ted had predicted for 1984. "But, what's important is, you were part of a team that helped keep the Twins in town."
Ted sighed. "Maybe. But, I see all these fans still talking about our live coverage of Killebrew's induction into the Hall of Fame, and the other things we've done to promote the Twins. It seems like I just haven't been a part of enough of it."
"Well, we could use your 'Candid Camera' style idea, too," Mary said.
"Thanks, Mary. Yeah, maybe see how the team reacts to talking bats or something. You know, I hoped picking the Twins for first would be my big break. I haven't had many; maybe because we're such a small market." Mary didn't want to tell Ted he wasn't the best newscaster, either. "But, I couldn't even get that done. And, I'm starting to think maybe I'll never be a superstar like I should be," he confided.
Mary wasn't sure how to approach this. Sometimes, with someone like Peppermint Patty, who didn't have the best grades or looks, but looks weren't as important as the media made them out to be anyway; what was important, which she kept emphasizing, was that the teen was a wonderful person and a great friend. She often advised her that she was just approaching things from the wrong perspective, looking only at the exterior rather than letting a close friendship develop with a boy like Charlie Brown – which she had - and it might turn into love someday.
Patricia's goal had been realistic, though; she could find love, it just had to be arrived at in a different way for different people. Ted's goal, however, of national stardom was unrealistic. And yet, she didn't want to put him down. She loved building others up.
"Ted, I think instead you need to look at your good qualities,' Mary began.
"That's just it; I look at them, but nobody else does," Ted explained.
Mary opened her mouth for a second, and then closed it. She recalled when she hadn't even anted Ted living in her apartment building. Still, as she noted, "Well, look at Georgette. I'm talking about the things that make you a good husband and father?"
"That's true at home, but I'm talking about professional advancement. ESPN won't even return my calls when I call them about openings," Ted pointed out.
"But, at home you put others first," Mary noted.
"Say, this isn't some ploy to get me to wave a homer hanky, is it? I told you, Ted Baxter is a professional newsman; he does not wave handkerchiefs," Ted protested.
Mary wasn't sure what to say to that. Finally, she just blurted, "Well, Ted, not everyone has the same path in life. I mean, look at me, 15 years ago I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined I'd be where I am. I came to WJM looking for a job as a secretary. Mr. Grant came from a newspaper before going back. Murray's got the same job he had but as ESPN, and I don't think anybody would have envisioned a network like that back in 1970."
"I'm looking for other opportunities. They're not there," Ted related.
"Well, maybe the message is that your main focus should be on things like family. Maybe if you put that first, things will seem better," Mary opined.
Ted smiled. "Thanks, Mary. I'll think about it."
Over two years later, Mary had to work the next morning, but she couldn't help staying up quite late one night; lots of others would be up late with her around the state, anyway. She, Frederick, and Patricia smiled warmly at each other, and the final batter hit the ball…
"…He has it. And the Minnesota Twins have won the 1987 World Series," the announcer said as the family erupted in cheers as they waved Homer Hankies.
"What a season," Mary said. "Is there enough room on the tape for the postgame show?" There was. "Great."
Frederick smiled at her and said, "I bet you always knew this day would come, huh?"
"Well, I kind of had doubts about this year. I mean, we finished in last place last year. But, someday, I knew." She hadn't been totally sure, but always wanted to be positive.
As Frederick picked up the phone, Patricia said, "Of course you knew, Mom." The term still gave Mary goose bumps at times, she was so happy to be able to hear it. "Chuck and his family invited me to a party this Friday night, win or lose," she reported.
"That's wonderful! You'll have a great time," Mary said confidently.
She agreed. "It sure gets loud in the Metrodome when we win. I think that helps Chuck's confidence, though. He doesn't worry about me hearing him if he says the wrong thing. Of course, after our prom date this past May, I wouldn't mind anyway."
"You two make a nice couple," Mary said as she took the phone. It was Murray.
Lou called a few minutes after he hung up to congratulate Mary. "You taking that job with the Twins now?"
"I'm thinking about it. I don't want to gloat or anything but if we win again it would be fun to get a World Series ring; I hear sometimes some front office people get them, too."
"Well, whatever you do, I know you'll do a good job. And you know that's not something I say to just anyone," Lou complimented her.
"Thanks, Mr. Grant." Mary beamed until she was brought back to earth moments after the call.
"What do you think Ted Baxter will say now?" Patricia asked.
Mary hummed. "I'm not sure. I'd like to think he's forgotten his earlier prediction, except I think he has tapes of most of his newscasts since VCRs came out."
They got their answer the next day. Ted cut short his newscast by several minutes and said, "And now, I want to take this time to thank the Minnesota Twins. I've spent a lot of time thinking these last couple years. I'm not getting any younger."
"Why are you going over your resume live on television?" Mary asked the TV as she watched.
"So, then a few years ago, we got a new programming director; that same Mary who came to work at WJM in 1970. She was bound and determined to keep your Minnesota Twins in town, rather than see them flee to Florida. And with that move, she offered me a chance, as your fearless forecaster, to present to you a fearless prediction – that the Twins would win the 1984 World Series over the St. Louis Cardinals. Oh, I may have been off by a year, or two, or three. But, in the meantime, she and her family have helped me to understand that it's not the prediction that matters, it's the man inside," Ted droned onward.
"Will you please get to the point," Mary asked the television. "You're going to cut into Gilligan's Island again otherwise." She realized what she'd said and turned to Patricia. "I guess that's not the worst thing, huh?" she said as the two chuckled. She hated to admit it, but times were really tough for her station.
She at least got some satisfaction. Not because Ted discussed his retirement to spend more time with his family, after decades in the news business, but because of what he did at the end.
"Yes, Minnesota, Ted Baxter is going out on top. I can proudly say that I, Ted Baxter, have reported on a World Series champion. And it is with great pride that I do so," he said. He pulled out what had looked like an ordinary handkerchief out of his pocket, but as he spoke he unfolded it to show that it was actually a Homer Hankie. "Because Minnesota deserves a champion like the Twins. And what better way to celebrate them than to wave what has become the symbol of the great state of Minnesota and of small market teams everywhere." Ted waved it as he said, "This is Ted Baxter, waving his Homer Hankie and saying 'good night, and good news.'"
"That was sudden," Frederick remarked after a moment.
Mary turned off the TV. She looked a bit worried as she nodded; Peppermint Patty read her mind and asked, "Wondering who will be the anchor tomorrow?"
"Yes, I mean he's still under contract, so I can see Ted wanting to come back in a couple days, but…" The phone rang; she picked it up. "Yes?"
"I don't know if I can do it, Mary," Ted said, almost out of breath. "I ran to the phone as fast as I could. I walked out of that studio and I couldn't stand to leave knowing I wouldn't be anchoring the news anymore."
Mary listened for a moment. "Ted, I understand; if you want to stay you're more than welcome. If I go to the Twins, I'm sure you'd make a very entertaining… well, I'm sure as a vendor or something," Mary responded.
Ted said he'd think about it, and hung up. Mary put down the phone.
"A couple days, yeah, but a couple minutes?" Peppermint Patty said, shocked.
"Well, you know Ted. But, I do think he'll slow down, maybe let someone else have some of his slots, things like that."
"Plus, we got him to wave a Homer Hankie, Mom."
Mary put an arm around her. "We sure did. Maybe Ted starting to lighten up in little ways like this is the key. I mean, he's putting others first, he's realizing he doesn't have to be the center of attention, right? So, let's just keep working on him."
"Sure; after all, we've got a wonderful family. And, that's what's important. With you and Patricia, I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the world," Frederick said. Patricia agreed, and they all hugged.
(Note: I finished here because I couldn't decide whetehr she would go. Independent TV stations were really starting to suffer by this point, but would it be too easy for her to leave? Would she be able to help them? Or would it be better for her with the Twins? And in what capacity? Those are questions for someone else to answer. My idea was simply to cover the characters – at least as I recall and from hulu reruns – in this special part of Minnesota sports history.)