The Twins Almanac for January 14–20
Nothing happened today (unless you count the births of Mike Pelfrey and J.R. Graham), so I went looking for a Minnesota/New Orleans connection in honor of the big game today.
The Twins selected Randy Bush out of the University of New Orleans in the second round of the 1979 draft. Bush played for the Twins from 1982 to 1993. He is one of eight men to play for both the 1987 and 1991 Twins, and one of seven to play in both World Series. He tied Glenn Adams' team record with eight RBI on May 20, 1989. He tied the American League record with his seventh consecutive pinch-hit on August 19, 1991. He received his third World Series ring as an assistant general manager of the 2016 Cubs.
January 15, 2014
West Central HOF Inaugural Class Announced
The Kandiyohi County Historical Society and Willmar Rails announce the seven-member inaugural class of the West Central Baseball Hall of Fame, headlined by Mike Kingery and Blix Donnelly.
Also included was St. Paul Central grad Howie Schultz, who played for the Willmar Rails from 1950 to ’54 following a six-year major league career. Schultz played first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1943 until being traded to the Phillies early in the ‘47 season after it became abundantly clear that a young man named Jackie Robinson was more than capable of holding down the position.
Fun Fact: The 6’6” Schultz was rejected for military service during World War II because he was too tall.
Mike Kingery graduated from Atwater High School in 1979, and was signed by the Royals that summer. He made his major league debut seven years later on July 7, 1986 and went on to play 819 major league games over parts of 10 seasons with Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, Oakland, Colorado, and Pittsburgh. A career .268 hitter, Kingery’s best year by far was the strike-shortened ‘94 season when, at age 33, he hit .349 over 105 games with the Rockies.
Kingery hit .290 in 24 games vs. the Minnesota Twins, including a home run off Les Straker on July 29, 1987. That same season he hit two home runs off 1973 Highland Park High School graduate Jack Morris.
Sylvester “Blix” Donnelly graduated from Olivia High School in 1932. He spent the next two years working and playing townball. He caught a break in ‘34, receiving an invitation to a three-day baseball school at Nicollet Park in Minneapolis, and began his pro career the following season in Superior, WI. He was traded to Duluth for the ‘36 season where he went 11-19 with 232 strikeouts in 214 innings.
Donnelly’s minor league exploits, including a 19-K game and three no-hitters, are thoroughly laid out in Gregg Omoth’s essay in the Stew Thornley-edited Minnesotans in Baseball. Perhaps his best minor league season was 1941 when he went 28-6 with Class C Springfield, setting a Western Association record with 304 strikeouts.
After nine minor league seasons, Donnelly made the Cardinals out of spring training in 1944. He came up big for the Cards in an all-St. Louis World Series, pitching perfect eighth and ninth innings in Game 1, and holding the Browns scoreless while striking out seven in the eighth, ninth, tenth and eleventh innings of Game 2 to earn the win. The Cardinals won the Series in six games. Over 1,000 people crammed into the Olivia Armory to honor the World Series hero on October 24, 1944 at an event broadcast by WCCO’s Halsey Hall and Cedric Adams.
Donnelly went on to pitch eight seasons in the majors, including 14 appearances with the 1950 National League Champion Phillies. He passed away in 1976 at age 62. Cancer sucks.
January 16, 1899
Birthdate of Showboat Fisher
It’s the birthday of Albany (MN) High School alumnus and 15-year pro ballplayer George “Showboat” Fisher, born in Wesley, IA (maybe) in 1899. The Fishers moved to a farm near St. Anna, MN when George was just a few months old.
After gaining notoriety with area townball teams, Fisher began a 15-year professional career with the Minneapolis Millers in 1919. He made it to the majors with the Senators in 1923, getting into 18 games over two seasons. He didn’t make it back to the big leagues until 1930, when he had a career-year, hitting .374 with the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals. Despite the breakout season, he was back in the minors the following year. He made one more trip to the show, getting into 18 games (one start) with the 1932 St. Louis Browns.
Stew Thornley biographed Showboat Fisher for the 2009 book Minnesotans in Baseball. His essay includes an anecdote about Fisher being beaned by Hartford pitcher Lou Gehrig in 1932.
Fisher opened a tavern on the shore of Middle Spunk Lake in Avon, MN in 1932. Garrison Keillor was a co-owner of Fisher’s Club from 2005-2012. I’ve never been there, but I’ve never met a fried walleye I didn’t like.
January 16, 1975
Twins Release Killebrew
Unable to agree to terms on a new contract, the Twins release 38-year-old slugger Harmon Killebrew. To this day nobody has played more games in a Twins uniform. The Kansas City Royals quickly signed the Killer eight days later. The Twins officially retired his #3 while the Royals were in town on May 4, 1975. Harmon homered in the first inning of that game. On September 18, he hit his 573rd and final home run off the Twins’ Eddie Bane.
His 573 homer ranked fifth-most in baseball history at the time of his retirement, behind only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Frank Robinson. He hit 84 with the Washington Senators, 475 in a Twins uniform, and 14 in his only season as a Kansas City Royal.
Killebrew was elected to the Hall of Fame on January 10, 1984. He was the first of eight former Twins players elected. Can you name the other seven?
January 16, 1986
Twins Acquire Billy Beane
The Twins trade career minor leaguer Pat Crosby and rising star Tim Teufel to the Mets for Joe Klink, Bill Latham, and 1980 first-round draft pick Billy Beane.
Beane played in 80 games (47 starts) for the Twins in ‘86, going 39-for-183 (.213), with three home runs and 15 RBI. He was a September call-up in 1987, getting into 12 games, all but two of which he entered in the seventh inning or later. Beane was traded to Detroit at the end of spring training in 1988 for pitcher Balvino Galvez, who never made it back to the majors.
Joe Klink made his major league debut with the Twins on April 9, 1987, getting into 12 games before being sent down to Double-A Orlando. Junk Wax Era card collectors will be most familiar with Klink as a member of the ‘90–’91 Athletics.
Tim Teufel, who finished fourth in ‘84 AL Rookie of the Year balloting, one place behind teammate Kirby Puckett, went on to play nine more seasons with the Mets and Padres. He went 4-for-9 with a home run in the 1986 World Series in which the Mets beat Buckner’s Boston Red Sox in seven games.
January 16, 2001
Winfield & Puckett Elected to Hall of Fame
Former Twins Kirby Puckett and Dave Winfield are elected to the Hall of Fame, both on their first ballot. Winfield appeared on 84.47% of ballots (435 of 512). Puckett appeared on 82.14% of ballots (423).
It was the fourth time that former teammates were elected by the writers in the same year. The previous occurrences were Lefty Grove and Mickey Cochrane (1947), Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford (1974), and Carlton Fisk and Tony Perez (2000). Subsequent occurrences are Gary Carter and Eddie Murray (2002), Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux (2014), and Craig Biggio and Randy Johnson (2015). Former teammates Jack Morris and Alan Trammell will be inducted together with the class of 2018, but they were elected by the Veterans Committee, not the writers.
Winfield was the first of three Hall of Famers to graduate from St. Paul high schools over a six year span. Each played briefly for the Twins. Winfield graduated from St. Paul Central in 1969, Jack Morris from Highland Park in 1973, and Paul Molitor from Cretin in ‘74. Winfield and Molitor both played at the University of Minnesota.
Eight former Twins players have been elected to the Hall of Fame, five on their first ballot: Rod Carew (1991), Steve Carlton (1994), Winfield and Puckett (2001), and Paul Molitor (2004). Harmon Killebrew was elected his fourth ballot in 1984, Bert Blyleven on his 14th ballot in 2011, and Jack Morris by the Veterans Committee this year.
Kirby Puckett is the only Hall of Famer to play his entire career with the Twins. Carew, Killebrew, and Blyleven played more games with the Twins than any other team.
Happy 38th Birthday, T.J. Bohn
It’s the birthday of 1998 St. Louis Park graduate and former major league outfielder T.J. Bohn, born in St. Louis Park in 1980.
After stints at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, Iowa State, and Bellevue University in Nebraska, Bohn was taken by the Mariners in the 30th round of 2002 draft. He made his major league debut with the Mariners at age 26 on August 22, 2006. He got into 18 games with the Mariners that season, going 2-for-14 (.143) with two walks. .
Two years later he made it back to the majors with the Phillies, getting into 14 games early in ‘08 season, mostly as a late-inning defensive replacement. He made only five plate appearances, but his two hits gave him a .400 AVG.
T.J. Bohn joined the Macalester College (St. Paul) baseball coaching staff in 2014.
Happy 84th Birthday, Camilo Pascual
It’s the birthday of Twins all-time great Camilo Pascual, born in Havana in 1934. Pascual’s curveball is legendary. Ted Williams once said he had the “most feared curveball in the American League for 18 years.”
Pascual came up with the Senators in 1954. He led the majors in shutouts in 1959, ‘61, and ‘62. He led the AL in complete games in 1959, ‘62, and ‘63, and in strikeouts each season from 1961-’63. Pascual’s teammate and 1954 Sebeka High School grad Dick Stigman, incidentally, was third in the AL in complete games and strikeouts in ‘63.
Pascual was sensational in the Twins’ first four seasons in Minnesota. He pitched back-to-back shutouts three separate times during the Twins’ inaugural 1961 season, and once again in ‘62. On July 19, 1961 he struck out 15 Angels in a five-hit shutout at L.A.’s Wrigley Field.
Pascual pitched a three-hit shutout on September 30, 1962 (Game 163) to become the first 20-game winner in Twins history. He won 21 games in 1963.
On April 27, 1965 he hit the only grand slam by a pitcher in Twins history. He had also hit a grand slam on August 14, 1960, the Senators’ last season in Washington.
The Twins traded Pascual to the new Senators for second baseman Bernie Allen on December 3, 1966. He would stick around the big leagues for five more seasons with the Senators, Reds, Dodgers, and Cleveland, pitching his last game on May 5, 1971 at age 37.
Following his playing career, Pascual became a scout. Perhaps his most prominent signing was Jose Canseco. Working for the Dodgers in 1996, he signed new Red Sox manager Alex Cora.
Camilo Pascual was inducted as the 24th member of the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame on July 14, 2012.
Camilo’s brother Carlos pitched two games for the Washington Senators in 1950.
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