DETROIT — It’s not very often that a pair of home runs can save someone’s life.
But for Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, he essentially did just that in 2001 while playing in the Eastern League playoffs with the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats.
Cuddyer hit a game-winning, two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 1 to help the Rock Cats to an early 1-0 series lead over the Norwich Navigators before helping New Britain clinch the series with a go-ahead shot in Game 4.
Those homers turned out to be crucial not just for the Rock Cats’ title hopes, but for the lives of Cuddyer’s teammate, Brad Thomas and his wife, Kylie.
Thomas and his wife had purchased tickets for American Airlines Flight 11 from Boston to Los Angeles on Sept. 11, 2001, in case New Britain was eliminated from the postseason. The couple would then fly from Los Angeles back to Thomas’ native Australia.
But Thomas and his wife never took that flight because the Rock Cats won the series, and it turned out to be a blessing, as that flight crashed into the World Trade Center that morning.
"He credits me for saving his life," Cuddyer said. "I mean, I don’t know about that. It was just a twist of fate."