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On Slaying Stupid Dynasties

This weekend, you’ll see all kinds of stories about the Twins futility against the Yankees. But the Twins also have some history on their side. It isn’t often that one can define, to the moment, the end of an era, but such was the end of the Yankees three decade long domination of the American League. The moment was on Sunday, July 11th, 1965. And Twins slugger Harmon “Killer” Killebrew ended it on one symbolic swing.
Image courtesy of © Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
From 1936 through 1964, the Yankees failed to win the American League pennant just seven times, meaning they were in the World Series twenty-two times in twenty-nine years. But in 1964, there were indications that the end was near. Entering a series with the first place Twins immediately prior to the All-Star Game, the Yankees were in sixth place, 12.5 games back.

In front of packed stadiums, the Twins won the first two games. However, the Yankees won the third game, and the fourth game was a tight affair, tied 4-4 going into the ninth. That last inning, it turned out, made the “Phil Cuzzi foul ball” call seem legitimate.

In the top of the frame, the Yankees had runners on first and third base with two outs but failed to score when their batter hit a soft ground ball up the first base line. The Twins pitcher wasn’t able to field it cleanly, but that was because the Yankees batter interfered with him while running to first base. So the batter was out, and the runner from third that had crossed home plate didn’t count.

Or did it? Yankees manager Johnny Keane came out and disputed the call, telling the umpire that he thought the Twins pitcher fielded the ball and tried to tag the Yankees batter, but then dropped it. If that’s the case, the runner would be safe and the run that crossed the plate on the play would count.

Any Yankee detractor can see how this is going to end: the umpires reversed the call. Twins manager Sam Mele charged out of the dugout, but his team was told to retake the field even as he told the umpires the rest of the game would be played under protest. The Twins got the last out, but the damage had been done and the extremely agitated crowd knew it. Didn’t the Yankees get breaks like this all the time?

However, the ’65 Twins had proved their resiliency throughout the year. Rich Rollins coaxed a walk, but it was sandwiched between two outs. Still, that gave Killebrew a chance to bat. He worked a full count before Yankees reliever Pete Mikkelsen challenged him with a fastball.

In his book about the 1965 Twins, Cool Of The Evening, author Jim Thielman describes what happened next:

“The ball jetted towards the stands, almost as if Killebrew had lit a short fuse on a Fourth of July pop bottle rocket. It was not the typical “Killebrew Fly” that featured a majestic parabolic arch. The ball was still rising when it crashed into the left-field pavilion.


Silence.


Had this happened? Had Killbrew hit a two-out, two-run homer on a 3-2 pitch to beat the Yankees heading into the All-Star Break? Was this team going to the World Series? The crowd erupted, screaming, applauding and stamping its feet on the stands, as had become the custom when the Met Stadium regulars wanted to display their appreciation enthusiastically. The cantilevered triple deck behind home plate shook from the thunderous pounding.”


That home run was recognized as the biggest home run in Twins history until Kirby Puckett’s walkoff shot in 1991’s Game 6. The Twins did go on to the World Series that year, though they lost to the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax in seven games.

The Yankees not only did not with the pennant, but they finished with a losing record for the first time since 1925 – the same year the Washington Senators (the Twins predecessors) won their only World Series. And the Yankees would not make the playoffs again for the next eleven years.

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26 Comments

Another test to see if these Twins are real. If we take 2 of 3 even those of us who are trying to remain 'cautiously optimistic' are probably going be get pretty high on this team.

 

I'm sorry for Corey Kluber. I truly am.

But if factors into the season in a significant way.

    • nicksaviking, woolywoolhouse, mikelink45 and 2 others like this
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Joe A. Preusser
May 02 2019 11:35 PM
I said it in a game thread recently.
Step on their throats. Take it. Demand it. Momentum is real.

So is Confidence. Attitude. Swagger.

I have been a Twins fan since '85. And I have loved every minute of it. But post '91, I can honestly say I didn't feel any of those words above myself, and I didn't feel my team did either...until this year.

We are witnessing the beginning of something great.
    • mikelink45, ChrisKnutson, CUtomorrownight and 3 others like this

The famous collapses of the Twins in the playoffs to the Yankees are in the rear view mirror, but maybe Rocco does not know we are supposed to melt when they are our opponents.Lets start a new narrative - The Yankee slayers!

    • diehardtwinsfan and bighat like this

I was there at the '65 game. No, I didn't catch the home run, but I was in the left field stands near where it landed. I was in town because we had tickets to the all star game two days later. The Mpls paper headline the next day was "Forever Harmon," and we prepared a banner that said the same thing. We waved it from our right field seats after he hit a homer in the all star game also. I don't remember that the Yankees were that far back in the standings. I thought they were in second place, and the win meant the Twins went into the all star break with a five game lead rather than a three game lead. There was a collective exhale in Twins land in recognition that the Twins might actually win the pennant.

    • John Bonnes, Steve Lein, glunn and 6 others like this
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Aerodeliria
May 03 2019 07:56 AM
I like this. I was only 6 when this happened, but my imagination can conjure up that image.

It would be sooooo great to win a series at Yankee Stadium.
    • goulik and Devereaux like this
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ScooterDance
May 03 2019 08:13 AM
I think we should just regain our homer happy form with that bandbox of a field, and pull out our brooms.

Simple as that.
    • Joe A. Preusser likes this
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nicksaviking
May 03 2019 08:29 AM

I feel a lot better about playing the Yankees and any of the other teams the Twins have laid down for in recent history now that the people running the show both on and off the field have basically no ties to the prior leaders.

 

I'm a stats guy so this is going against the grain for me, but I always felt the Twins history of losing to the Yankees was only due to 30% having inferior talent and 70% having an inferior attitude.

 

Oh, I guess that was a stat after all.

    • woolywoolhouse, Joe A. Preusser, Devereaux and 1 other like this
I think we have enough new Twins who wont acknowledge history this weekend. The yanks are depleted, but Still potent. we should have a big weekend.
Go Twins.
RIP Harmon. My head is full and I his memories.
    • woolywoolhouse likes this
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Dave The Dastardly
May 03 2019 09:38 AM

 

I feel a lot better about playing the Yankees and any of the other teams the Twins have laid down for in recent history now that the people running the show both on and off the field have basically no ties to the prior leaders.

 

I'm a stats guy so this is going against the grain for me, but I always felt the Twins history of losing to the Yankees was only due to 30% having inferior talent and 70% having an inferior attitude.

 

Oh, I guess that was a stat after all.

I agree about the attitude. I once took over a decent basketball team that had a history of laying down whenever they played a particularly good rival team. By "laying down" I mean the players went into their game with resignation, expecting to get whipped. And so they always did. Once I took over I spent as much time "head" coaching as I did head coaching. The first time the two teams met we lost by 20 points, the closest the game had been in years. The second time we played, we lost by 8 but were in the game until the final quarter. We met again in the sectional tournament and made a real game out of it; lost by 2 in overtime.

 

Team talent hadn't changed, but team attitude had.

 

The winning coach told me later that going into the tournament we were the only team he was afraid of. Maybe his team sensed that in him and they came to the game less confident they could beat us.

 

Personally, I always thought Gardy was mostly responsible for the Twins poor showings against the Damn Yankees. You could sense his defeatist attitude ahead of every Yankee series right through the TV.

 

I don't get that from Baldelli. So I ain't afraid of no stinking Yankees. I'm with the Beach Boys; I'm sensing Good Vibrations.

 

    • diehardtwinsfan, nicksaviking and h2oface like this
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nicksaviking
May 03 2019 10:12 AM

 

I agree about the attitude. I once took over a decent basketball team that had a history of laying down whenever they played a particularly good rival team. By "laying down" I mean the players went into their game with resignation, expecting to get whipped. And so they always did. Once I took over I spent as much time "head" coaching as I did head coaching. The first time the two teams met we lost by 20 points, the closest the game had been in years. The second time we played, we lost by 8 but were in the game until the final quarter. We met again in the sectional tournament and made a real game out of it; lost by 2 in overtime.

 

Team talent hadn't changed, but team attitude had.

 

The winning coach told me later that going into the tournament we were the only team he was afraid of. Maybe his team sensed that in him and they came to the game less confident they could beat us.

 

Personally, I always thought Gardy was mostly responsible for the Twins poor showings against the Damn Yankees. You could sense his defeatist attitude ahead of every Yankee series right through the TV.

 

I don't get that from Baldelli. So I ain't afraid of no stinking Yankees. I'm with the Beach Boys; I'm sensing Good Vibrations.

 

 

I wouldn't want to lay it all on Gardy or anyone else, and I also wouldn't necessarily label it defeatist only because I can't say what those guys were feeling exactly, but whatever it was, there was a bad aura around the club that EVERYONE felt, fans and players. 

 

 

 

 

Personally, I always thought Gardy was mostly responsible for the Twins poor showings against the Damn Yankees. You could sense his defeatist attitude ahead of every Yankee series right through the TV.

 

 

 

 

Concur. 

 

 

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woolywoolhouse
May 03 2019 11:07 AM

Yankees are only 8-7 at home this year, and are 0-5 when playing teams with better-than .500 records. 

 

Twins are 8-5 on the road, and are 11-3 when playing teams with a sub-.500 record. 

 

I've shot past "cautiously-optimistic" and am expecting a Twins sweep (or, at worst, two-of-three) this weekend in the Bronx.

    • glunn likes this

Here's to 11 years of beating the Yankees! Harmon Takes Down The Yankees: July 11 1965

    • John Bonnes, glunn and Kevin like this

“If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. For a couple of years, [the Astros] have been the best, but we believe we’re the best now,” said second baseman Jonathan Schoop. 

 

At first, I thought that was a little too cocky...it's early.But then I thought that swagger is exactly what the Twins have been missing.I think we need that attitude no matter who we play.

    • glunn likes this

Thanks for this, John.I was thinking of posting a similar article- and I have to echo yours, and so many of the posts here already.

 

We all know the recent history. Just as the B-ball coach asserted, I am just totally sick of the Twinks going into Yankee series', especially in the damn Bronx, and just looking shell-shocked and intimidated from the start, with results to match. I want to see the opposite attitude this time, for once in many years. I hadn't heard Schoop's comments, but I'm glad he said it.

 

I remember years past, back when the Kenny Lofton-era Indians were holding sway in the Central, and he and a few of his teammates flashed that swagger, and smacked down the young upstarts from Minny. I wanna see that same attitude from our boys this series. They're down with injuries and the like- I even read a non-delusional article in a Yankee blog where they were peeing themselves at the prospect of having 4 straight series- for the first time all season- playing teams with actual winning records- DBacks, us, the 'Ms, and Tampa, and how their glittering early record might take a big hit.

 

I'm going to chalk myself up in the column of 'cautiously optimistic.' And that is a BIG change from how I've felt going into the Bronx in many, many years.

 

They just got swept in the desert. They got a bunch of guys hurt- cry me a river.

 

Let's beat the living snot out of these guys for a change. Foot, meet neck.

 

Amen.

    • glunn and Joe A. Preusser like this
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theBOMisthebomb
May 03 2019 04:03 PM
Can clubs still protest a game? With the advent if instant replay, is a protest even an option?

 

I am just totally sick of the Twinks going into Yankee series', especially in the damn Bronx, and just looking shell-shocked and intimidated from the start, with results to match. I want to see the opposite attitude this time, for once in many years. I hadn't heard Schoop's comments, but I'm glad he said it.

 

Well...

 

There was one year there where the Twins had leads in nearly every game they played against the Yankees, only to have the Yankees battle back and if the Twins didn't end up swept in the season series it was close to it.

 

In one game I watched where the Twins were ahead, you could clearly see A-Rod (who was on second), figure out the signs Mauer was using at the plate and yelled them loudly to the Yankees bench. The game was turned around after that.

 

How no one on the field failed to see this and call it out is beyond me.

 

Perhaps the Twins lose to the Yankees so often because the Twins are the last team to figure out how much they cheat. Other teams no doubt change up the signs multiple times while playing those clowns.

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ChrisKnutson
May 03 2019 04:39 PM
Step aside Yanks, it’s not the 90’s anymore and I don’t care if your team is loaded with (injured) superstars, the Twins dynasty is here. In fact, it’s only just begun, we got Lewis, Graterol, Kirillloff, and Larnach on the way as well, so don’t get comfortable.
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John Bonnes
May 04 2019 07:10 AM

 

Here's to 11 years of beating the Yankees! Harmon Takes Down The Yankees: July 11 1965

 

Where did you find this! Do you know who created the intro?

I hate the Yankees as much as you guys do. Glad my team has beaten them 3 out of 5 times in the World Series. But, stupid dynasty? Do you know why they dominated the Junior Circuit since the mid-20's?

Weak opponents like the Browns, Senators and A's. Then expansion teams in early 60's. Yankees could spend to find talent. The Yankees went downhill after ownership cared less until Steinbrenner.

Stupid dynasty? No, wished the other AL teams could have won the pennant more often.
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Brock Beauchamp
May 04 2019 08:17 PM

 



That home run was recognized as the biggest home run in Twins history until Kirby Puckett’s walkoff shot in 1991’s Game 6. The Twins did go on to the World Series that year, though they lost to the Dodgers and Sandy Koufax in seven games.

I don't like to correct core writers often but I found this line so untrue that it needed revision.

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Brock Beauchamp
May 04 2019 08:22 PM

 

Can clubs still protest a game? With the advent if instant replay, is a protest even an option?

Yes.

Regarding the state of the Yankees, the HR was symbolic more than anything...the Yankees were already somewhat buried at that point in the season...and were headed to a stretch of extended irrelevance.

When the Twins have been legitimately better than the Yankees, they’ve beaten them...trouble is, that hasn’t happened in this millennia. But it was the case for a stretch of 6 or 7 years through about 1970 and then again for a shorter period in the earlier 90’s. The Twins are better than this injury-depleated version of the Yankees, and need to take advantage.
    • birdwatcher likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
May 05 2019 06:44 AM

I'm not really sure a regular season series has much to do with breaking this curse personally. They managed to win them from time to time during the Gardy era, even some bad teams. 

 

It will be over when they take a playoff series from NY.

 

Where did you find this! Do you know who created the intro?

John, hi. I found it through the excellent Classic MN Twins blog. I don't know anything about the intro. I tried to find the post about in on the blog just now, but got tired of scrolling through the many Killebrew tales. I have been interested in this HR since I read Cool of the Evening. I was 4 when it happened. I have a collection of bookmark's about the home run. There's a great story on SABR. My interest was recently rekindled when I read Red Barber's autobiography. He was a Yankees announcer at the time. The way he describes the day made it sound like it was THE nail in the coffin to the multi-decade Yankees dynasty. That always makes me happy to contemplate.


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