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    Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame Spotlight: Kelvin Torve (Inducted 1995)

    In its 50-years of unparalleled success, Post 22 has produced four major leaguers.  Of all of them, Kelvin Torve may best exemplify the perseverance underlying the character of the fabled Hard Hats program.  Torve played 1,502 games as a professional baseball player, but only 42 at the major league level. 

    After two stellar years and two state titles with Post 22, Torve was recruited to play baseball at Oral Roberts University.  ORU was an emerging college baseball power at the time, having reached its first ever College World Series the same summer Torve was recruited. 

    Torve played three years at ORU (1979-81), and finished with a career .349 average (4th all-time) with 17 homeruns and 108 RBI.  Torve earned 2nd team All-American honors in 1981, and earned a spot on the 1981 United States Baseball Federation All-Star team.  Torve was inducted into the ORU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

    Torve's professional career began in 1981 after being taken by the San Francisco Giants in the second round of the draft (36th pick overall).  He was promoted to AA his second year, and then to AAA Phoenix his third.  At Phoenix in 1983, Torve’s drive to the major leagues suffered a setback as he hit .260 and drove in 54 runs for the year.  The following two years found him back in AA.

    Torve moved onto the Orioles system where he toiled for three seasons mostly at the AAA level.  After signing with the Minnesota Twins in 1988, Torve began that season batting over .300 for their AAA club in Portland, and made his major league debut in June.  His first at-bat was as a pinch hitter with the bases loaded against the best reliever in baseball, Dennis Eckersley.  Torve struck out, but relished the experience (as reported by the AP): “That’s what I wanted,” said Torve.  “I wanted the first at-bat to be a chance to go up and win the ball game.  At least I got that chance, I could be playing in Portland (Minnesota’s AAA club).”  Later in the year, Torve came through for the twins with a game-tying RBI single off 7-time All-Star reliever, Lee Smith of the Boston Red Sox.

    Torve's next shot at the majors didn't come until 1990 with the Mets.  He played thirty games as a Met in 1990 and 1991. 

    Interestingly, upon Torve’s initial New York call up he was issued No. 24, the same number worn by the Willie Mays even though Mets ownership had promised the all-time great his number would never be worn again.  After negative public reaction, the Mets organization fixed their mistake by changing his number to 39.  Torve took it all in stride; "I was just happy to be there," Torve said, "I'd have worn 2.4 if they asked me to." 


    Torve finished his professional career in Japan playing for the Orix Blue Wave, where he was a teammate of future MLB Hall of Famer and current Yankee, Ichiro Suzuki.  In his first Japanese season, Torve finished 2nd in the league in batting.  After the 1993 season with Orix, Kelvin decided to retire from baseball in order to raise his young family back in the States.

    Torve presently lives in Davidson, North Carolina where he serves as Director of Development at the Covenant Classical School.    

    Listen to the interview with Kelvin Torve by Nate Brown on the Rapid City Sports Hall of Fame Spotlight:


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