CEDAR RAPIDS — A couple of years ago, Triumph Books in Chicago reached out to Dick Bremer about possibly doing a tome with them.
The company was trying to get multiple veteran baseball sportscasters to write memoirs about their careers for a series called “If These Walls Could Talk.”
Bremer, who has been calling Minnesota Twins games on TV for 37 years, said he was flattered but politely declined, telling Triumph he had a couple of different ideas about what his book might look like. Triumph phoned him back a short time later and told him they would do it his way.
So Bremer, 64, who spent time in the late 1970s as a sports TV personality in Cedar Rapids, went about writing “Game Used: My Life In Stitches With The Minnesota Twins.”
It is 108 anecdotes, beginning with his adoption by a Lutheran minister and his wife in St. Paul, Minn. It explains his life-long love of the game of baseball and moves through his four-decade media career.
It’s a good read, one Twins fans very much will enjoy. By the way, 108 is the number of stitches on a baseball.
“I think, whether it should be this way or not, we probably have shorter attention spans than we used to,” Bremer said Thursday. “I wanted it to be a book that would be easy to pick up, hard to put down. I guess every author would want that. But I tell people it’s not so much a coffee-table book, it’s a toilet-tank book. If you’ve only got a couple of minutes, you can spend it reading the book, then put it down. Pick it back up again and read a story or two. That was the intent. I just really wanted it to be formatted differently than all the other sports books I’d read.”
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While attending St. Cloud State, Bremer received an internship to work with WMT-TV in 1977, then was offered a full-time job as weekend sports anchor. Four months in, Bremer became weeknight sports anchor, replacing Ron Gonder, who wished to work strictly in radio.
In the book and in person, Bremer speaks highly of his time in Cedar Rapids, expressing his admiration for Gonder.
“I really did get so lucky by being offered a job before my internship was up,” Bremer said. “Here I was in Iowa, asked to do just about everything. From writing to filming, and it really was film back then, not video. I had the freedom to do feature stories. Iowa’s basketball team going to the Final Four (in 1980) was an unbelievable experience.”
So was being allowed to take a road trip with the Cedar Rapids Reds in 1980. Bremer hit the bus with the Reds for a pair of series at Wisconsin Rapids and Wausau.
“The manager was Jim Lett, and he was very accommodating,” Bremer said. “I got a chance to be a player ... until the games began. I was in uniform, I took batting practice, took fielding practice.”
One of the longer anecdotes in his book discusses Iowa’s Final Four run, spurred by the return from injury of guard Ronnie Lester. Bremer did play by play for six Iowa games on statewide TV that year and vividly remembered the night the team returned to town after beating Georgetown in the East Regional Final.
Fans packed the Iowa Field House to celebrate the team as it arrived home at roughly 11 p.m. WMT did a live remote of the festivities that Bremer hosted.
“The most emotional broadcast I had ever been part of,” Bremer wrote in his book. “Most of the players were overcome with joy; some even cried.”
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Bremer eventually found his way back home to the Twin Cities. He did Big Ten Conference men’s basketball and football on TV for years but is best known for his gig with the Twins.
He has become an iconic voice in the upper Midwest, part of a beloved broadcasting tandem with Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven. There are multiple Blyleven anecdotes in the book that will make you cackle.
He described the Twins as an organization full of good people who have allowed him to continue his labor of love for so long. He had a special affinity for players like Kent Hrbek, another Twin Cities guy who was about Bremer’s age when he first came to the big leagues in the 1980s and eventually won two World Series championships with the club.
Bremer is quarantined at home in the Twin Cities with his family at the moment, playing his son, Erik, in a Strat-O-Matic baseball series pitting former Twins teams. He’s hoping, as is everyone else, there will be some sort of 2020 MLB season, even if it’s a Florida or Arizona-only proposition.
“That is one of the things about my job and career,” he said. “I am fortunate enough to be one of a very select few who gets to broadcast Major League Baseball. And then it gets to be the team I grew up following.
“I’d like to keep going for awhile. Herb Carneal was the dean of Twins broadcasters, and he went 45 years. I’d like to go 44.”
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