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Twins, DNR honor 'Break a Bat' program at Afton State Park

Former Minnesota Twins pitcher Jack Morris speaks Wednesday during a joint event between the Twins and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources at Afton State Park in rural Hastings. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker

HASTINGS -- The remaining bounty of last year's Minnesota Twins pitching was planted today at Afton State Park.

Twins and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources notables gathered at the park to plant 25 trees as part of the joint "Break a Bat, Plant a Tree" program. The program calls for the state to plant 10 trees for every broken bat caused by a Twins pitcher.

Last year Twins pitchers destroyed 180 bats, and DNR officials had made good on almost all 18,000 trees they were responsible for planting - all except the final 25, which former Twins pitcher Jack Morris and Twin Cities students helped plant Wednesday at Afton State Park.

"We hope they break a lot more bats this year," DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said during the ceremony, attended by Twins mascot TC Bear and forestry mascot Smokey the Bear.

The trees planted at Afton State Park were burr oaks. A DNR official said that during their 200 to 300-year lifespan, the saplings could one day grow to 80 feet tall, with a four-foot diameter.

Other trees in the "Break a Bat, Plant a Tree" program were planted at Itasca State Park - where about 10,000 red and white pines went in - Lake Bemidji State Park, Moose Lake State Park and St. Croix State Park.

Morris, perhaps known best by Twins fans for his complete-game shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series finale, would have been the source of more trees, had the program been around during his playing days, said Patrick Klinger, the Twins' vice president of marketing.

"I think we would have planted an entire forest," Klinger joked.

Morris later admitted he would have been an eager participant in such a venture.

"I would rather break a bat than get a strikeout," he said.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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