Brunansky's father, Joe Sr., 69, was a Class D catcher and two-way lineman who would have played professional football for the Chicago Cardinals if he hadn't been blacklisted for competing in an unsanctioned all-star game. Tom's brother and business manager, Joe Jr., 35, was a scratch golfer and an All-America first baseman at Cal Western U. Both Joes suggested that Tom, an all-around athlete, follow his best instincts about a career. When the California Angels offered him a $100,000 bonus, Tom discarded the letter of intent he'd signed to play football and baseball at Stanford. Four years later he was batting .205 for California's Triple A team in Spokane and undoubtedly having second thoughts. Fortunately, on May 11, 1982 the Angels traded him to Minnesota for infielder Rob Wilfong and reliever Doug Corbett. Brunansky hit 80 homers from '82 to '84, and it was clear that Calvin Griffith had perpetrated another steal.
Away from baseball, Brunansky is a thoroughly acclimated Midwesterner. He spends his off-hours as state sports chairman for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and he is hunting for property on Lake Minnetonka. "Bruno's adjusted perfectly," says first baseman Kent Hrbek, a Twin Cities native. "Well, almost. The final test is whether he likes ice fishing."