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  1. Becoming the ninth member in organization history to have his number retired, Kaat will join the likes of Joe Mauer, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett, Bert Blyleven, and Tom Kelly. Kaat was a three-time All-Star and 16-time Gold Glove winner. He won a World Series ring with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982 and finished with 283 career wins. Jim Pohlad released a statement saying, “For more than sixty years, Jim Kaat has been an important part of the fabric of the Minnesota Twins organization. With ‘Kitty’s’ storied career on the field as well as his accolades in the broadcast booth and his contributions in the community in mind, the Twins family is proud to bestow our highest honor with the retirement of his jersey – number 36. We are excited to celebrate his decades-long commitment to Twins Territory, as well as his much-deserved and long-awaited induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, this coming season.” Since retirement Kaat has made a home in the broadcast booth working for the Twins and other organizations around baseball. His trademark on the microphone is the ability to tell stories and take us back to the game as it was before. As someone who threw more than 4,500 innings during his career, there’s no doubt he’s seen it all. Kaat was a crafty southpaw, but that didn’t stop him from compiling over 2,400 strikeouts on the mound. For the Twins, number 36 will have been worn by a total of 34 players. It was last worn in 2020 by Tyler Clippard, and since Kaat, most famously by Joe Nathan. Minnesota’s former closer is also up for induction into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame this year, but his candidacy appears to be falling well short. A pregame celebration for Kaat’s jersey retirement will take place on July 16 against the Chicago White Sox. You can bet Minnesota will plan further festivities surrounding the day. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. Early Days Kaat was signed as an amateur free agent by the Washington Senators out of Hope College (Michigan) as an 18 year old. Kaat spent a few years in the minor leagues with the Washington Senators affiliates. Kaat bounced back-and-forth between the minors and majors in 1959 and 1960 before becoming a mainstay in the rotation in 1961. Kaat made 11 starts for the Washington Senators, going 1-7 with a 6.22 ERA. Kaat was not very effective with the Senators, walking 35 batters while only striking out 27 in the 55 innings he threw for Washington. Kaat on the Prowl With a rocky first couple of years, Kaat needed a change of scenery. When the Senators relocated to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Twins, Kaat was seen to be a big part of their future. In the Twins inaugural season, Kaat was a decent starter, going 9-16 but posted an ERA of 3.90 and threw 200 2/3 innings at the age of 22. He showed promise despite the team’s poor record of 70-90. Longevity is King Longevity is often downplayed in baseball today. Corbin Burnes won the NL Cy Young with only 167 innings in 2021. Burnes was so dominant that he still got the award, but I think one of the best qualities a pitcher can have is going deep into games. Kaat always went deep into games, giving his team a chance to win while limiting the workload other pitchers needed to throw. In MLB history, Kaat has the 25th most innings pitched (4,530). In Kaat’s career, he had 14 seasons in which he threw more than 200 innings. From 1964 to 1971, Kaat was an absolute workhorse for the Twins. Over that eight year stretch, he threw 2,016 1/3 innings (over 250 per year on average). In that stretch, he was 131-97 with a 3.13 ERA and a 3.15 FIP. He also accumulated 38.3 fWAR in that stretch, or almost 5 WAR per season on average. Kaat was not super dominant, only striking out 5.5 batters per 9 innings throughout his 15 years with the Twins. However, he understood how to get guys out and worked quickly, often being called the master of the quick pitch. Kaat was a very smart pitcher and got guys out by locating his pitches, changing speeds, and working extremely fast. Prime Years In 1964, Kaat hit his stride. After a 1963 season in which he regressed to a 4.19 ERA in only 178 innings, he bounced back and went 17-11 with a 3.22 ERA and threw 243 innings. It was clear that Kaat was going to be a very consistent pitcher for the Twins going forward, and a workhorse they could rely on to eat up innings. The following year, 1965, Kaat was a crucial member of potentially the best pitching staff in Twins history. The 1965 Twins went 102-60 and posted a 3.14 ERA as a staff. Kaat went 18-11 with a 2.83 ERA, his first time posting a sub-3 ERA. He also threw 264 innings (2nd on team), only trailing Mudcat Grant. The 1965 team was the first team in Twins history to make it to the World Series. In the World Series, Kaat pitched game two and was excellent. He outdueled Sandy Koufax, pitching a complete game while allowing seven hits and only one run in a 5-1 Twins win. The Twins would end up losing the series in seven games but the team showed great promise. Kaat’s best season was 1966. In 1966, Kaat started an astonishing 41 games, threw 304 2/3 innings, and went 25-13 with a 131 ERA+ (2.75 ERA). He led the American League in wins, games started, complete games (19), innings, and strikeout to walk ratio (3.73). He also led all American League pitchers in fWAR (6.4). Kaat finished fifth in MVP voting. At the time, there was only one Cy Young Award and Dodgers lefty Sandy Koufax won it. Had there been separate awards in the American and National League, Kaat was very likely to have won the AL version in 1966. Defense Wins Championships When people think of Jim Kaat, they usually think about his longevity as a pitcher or his ability to pitch deep into games. One thing Jim Kaat excelled at more than anything was defending his position. In Kaat’s career, he won 16 gold gloves. This is the second most for any player all-time, behind Greg Maddux. After Twins In the early 1970’s, the Twins were very mediocre. However, Kaat was not. After an outstanding 1972 season in which Kaat was 10-2 with a 2.06 ERA, he demanded that owner Calvin Griffith raise his salary to $60,000. Griffith unhappily obliged. In 1973, the Twins were once again mediocre so Griffith placed Kaat on waivers in early August and he was claimed by the Chicago White Sox. For the rest of his career, Kaat spent time with the White Sox, Phillies, Yankees, and Cardinals, winning a World Series championship with the Cardinals in 1982. Kaat was recently elected to the Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Era Committee with former teammate Tony Oliva. Conclusion Jim Kaat is not only an all-time Twins great, but an all-time MLB great. He has the second highest WAR (53.8) out of all Twins pitchers, trailing only Bert Blyleven. He also threw the most innings in Twins history (2,959). He was a bulldog and fan favorite pitcher who is now rightfully enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Kaat is also a Twins broadcaster and offers analysis during some Twins broadcasts throughout the year, and a player who played in four different decades in his career brings some unique insight to the broadcast. Stay tuned for the fourth day of Twinsmas! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! Read Previous "12 Days of TwinsMas" articles here: #12 - Torii Hunter #11 - Chuck Knoblauch #10 - Jim Kaat #9 - Coming tomorrow!
  3. Tony Oliva's playing career was over in 1976, and Jim Kaat's career ended in 1983. Neither was able to garner the support needed on the BBWAA's ballots, as both were well short of the 75% required for election. For many players, this signals the end of their chances to get the call from Cooperstown. However, Oliva and Kaat have gotten a second chance through the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Era Committee elections. The Golden Days Era ballot consists of 10 candidates that the BBWAA's Historical Overview Committee nominates. A 16-person committee of Hall of Famers, veteran baseball executives, and historians/media members is charged with voting on the candidates. Twelve votes are needed for a player to reach the 75% threshold required for induction. On Sunday, Oliva and Kaat finally received the call. Both were named on 12 of the 16 ballots. Each will be inducted to Cooperstown as part of the induction ceremony on July 24, 2022. Now in both in their 80s, frustration has likely followed each as they dealt with the election process in parts of nearly four decades. Another level of frustration was added back in the summer of 2020 as the National Baseball Hall of Fame decided to postpone the Era Committee elections due to the COVID pandemic. Although there is still uncertainty about the pandemic, this winter was acceptable for the committee votes to occur, Oliva's playing career statistics haven't changed since 1976, but he has become so much more than the player he was on the field. His career accolades include AL Rookie of the Year, three batting titles, eight-time All-Star, led the AL in hits five times, and a Gold Glove. Oliva finished runner-up for the AL MVP in two different seasons, and he was in the top-20 in eight other campaigns. He played at a Hall of Fame level for eight years before his right knee slammed into a sprinkler head while diving for a line drive in 1971. Knee injuries plagued Oliva throughout much of his career. When the AL adopted the designated hitter role in 1973, Oliva never played in the field again during a regular-season game. During the 1976 season, he struggled to a .494 OPS in 67 games. His playing career was done, but he joined the team's coaching staff the following year. For 15-years, he spent time as a first base coach, hitting coach, and roving minor-league instructor. Oliva served as the hitting coach when the Twins won the 1987 World Series, and he was the bench coach for the 1991 World Series team. Oliva is the only individual who had an on-field role in all three of the team's World Series appearances. Off the field, Oliva became an ambassador to baseball throughout the upper Midwest. He provides Spanish-language broadcasting for the Twins. Oliva is a staple as part of the team's Twins Caravan, making trips to small towns throughout Twins Territory. He and his wife, Gordette, have lived in Minnesota for over five decades as the Olivas impacted the community. Kaat's resume also puts him among the best all-time. His longevity is something to behold and it was a large part of his Cooperstown case. During a 25-year career, he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 2,461 strikeouts in 4,530 1/3 innings. He was an original member of the Twins franchise as he came with the club when they relocated from Washington. His first 15 big-league seasons were spent in the Senator/Twins organization. He was a two-time All-Star with the Twins, and he led the AL in wins, starts, and innings pitched back in 1966. He played with five different organizations by the end of his career and averaged over 180 innings per season. His defensive prowess puts him into rarified air. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards, which is tied with Brooks Robinson for second all-time. Only Greg Maddux and his 18 Gold Gloves rank ahead of Kaat on the all-time list. Congratulations to both players and their families. It was a long time coming, but the honor is well deserved. What is your favorite memory of Tony-O or Jim Kaat? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. Voting Process Back in the summer of 2020, the National Baseball Hall of Fame decided to postpone the Era Committee elections until the winter of 2021. Although there is still uncertainty about the pandemic, these committee votes will take place this winter. Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are two players featured prominently on the Golden Days Era ballot (candidates who played between 1950-1969). The ballot consists of 10 candidates that the BBWAA's Historical Overview Committee nominates. A 16-person committee of Hall of Famers, veteran baseball executives, and historians/media members is charged with voting on the candidates. Twelve votes are needed for a player to reach the 75% threshold required for induction. Back in 2014, Oliva and Kaat fell just short of election. Oliva and Dick Allen received 11 votes to fall one vote shy of induction, while Kaat ended with ten votes. The Golden Days Committee will meet on December 5, 2021, with the results being announced that night on MLB Network. The ballot includes Dick Allen, Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Roger Maris, Minnie Miñoso, Danny Murtaugh, Tony Oliva, Billy Pierce, and Maury Wills. Along with Wills, Kaat and Oliva are the only other living members on this ballot. Oliva's Hall of Fame Case Since 1900, only two hitters have won a batting title in their rookie season, Tony Oliva and Ichiro Suzuki. He was able to lead the league in runs, hits, doubles, and average on the way to winning the AL Rookie of the Year. He'd go on to win the batting title again in his second season as he was in the midst of eight straight All-Star seasons. Overall, he won three batting titles, led the AL in hits five times, and took home a Gold Glove. Oliva finished runner-up for the AL MVP in two different seasons, and he was in the top-20 in eight other campaigns. In 1965, he finished behind teammate Zoilo Versalles even though Oliva's OPS was 89 points higher. Oliva had quite possibly his best professional season five years later, but he finished behind Baltimore's Boog Powell. According to Baseball-Reference, Oliva's WAR that season was nearly two points higher than Powell's. Kaat's Hall of Fame Case Kaat's longevity is something to behold as part of his Cooperstown case. During a 25-year career, he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 2,461 strikeouts in 4,530 1/3 innings. He was an original member of the Twins franchise as he came with the club when they relocated from Washington. His first 15 big-league seasons were spent in the Senator/Twins organization. He was a two-time All-Star with the Twins, and he led the AL in wins, starts, and innings pitched back in 1966. He played with five different organizations by the end of his career and averaged over 180 innings per season. His defensive prowess puts him into rarified air. He won 16 consecutive Gold Glove awards, which is tied with Brooks Robinson for second all-time. Only Greg Maddux and his 18 Gold Gloves rank ahead of Kaat on the all-time list. Do you think Kaat or Oliva finally get the Cooperstown call? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Torii Hunter Region Hunter’s defensive prowess was something that followed him through his big-league career, even after he was forced to move to a corner outfield position. He won seven Gold Gloves during his time in Minnesota and added two more after signing with the Angels. He was a clear pick as the number one overall seed, but would he have enough to make it through the entire bracket? Zoilo Versalles might have provided the biggest challenge to Hunter in the region. The former MVP won multiple Gold Gloves at shortstop. Many reached out on Twitter and wondered how many current fans even remembered Versalles and his slick glove up the middle. Even if he was good for his time, Hunter ended up winning the region and moved on to the Final Four. Kirby Puckett Region Kirby Puckett made arguably the most famous catch in team history during Game 6 of the 1991 World Series. He wasn’t a one-catch wonder though as he accumulated six Gold Gloves throughout his Hall of Fame career. Unfortunately for Puckett, his region had a strong number two seed and an upset looked like it could be on the horizon. First, Puckett had to get by Corey Koskie, one of the team’s best defensive third basemen. From there he matched up in the regional final against Joe Mauer, who had defeated Denard Span in round one. Mauer won multiple Gold Gloves behind the plate and likely should have won one during his time at first. He was a tremendous athlete and his defensive skills beat out Puckett to win the region. Jim Kaat Region Younger fans might not be aware, but Jim Kaat lived up to his nickname on the mound as he used cat-like reflexes to pounce on batted balls. He holds the team record for Gold Gloves, and he went on to win 16 for his career. Much like Versalles before him, would a younger crowd on Twitter know enough about Kaat to push him through the region? Kaat’s region was no breeze as it included some of the biggest names in team history. Tony Oliva, Gary Gaetti, and Greg Gagne had a chance to upset the region’s number one seed. The regional final would be a battle between Gaetti, the team’s outstanding World Series third baseman, and Kaat, the top seed. Cooler heads prevailed and Kaat qualified for the Final Four. Byron Buxton Region Recency bias could play a role in making Byron Buxton the number two overall seed in the tournament, but he has made some legendary plays in his big-league career. Unfortunately, his career has been limited because of a variety of injuries. Would fans overlook his injury time and allow him to move out of the region? Buxton first made quick work of Kent Hrbek, a team legend, but one that played his entire career at first base. The lower part of the bracket pitted two other first basemen as one player took over first base from another in a dramatic trade deadline deal. Buxton faced a Gold Glove winner, Doug Mientkiewicz, in the final, but the first baseman couldn’t pull off the upset and Buxton moved on to face Kaat in the Final Four. Final Four Torii Hunter versus Joe Mauer and Jim Kaat versus Byron Buxton comprised the semi-final matchups in the Best Defender Bracket. Mauer had upset the number one seed, Puckett, to qualify for the Final Four, but he wouldn’t have enough steam to take down Spider-Man. Fans are more familiar with Buxton and it was easy for him to take down Kaat, especially since Buxton’s defense has been other-worldly when he has been healthy. Hunter facing off against Buxton in the final was certainly an intriguing match-up. Hunter has more Gold Gloves and was able to stay healthy and on the field for most of his Twins tenure. Buxton makes spectacular plays but there have been injury concerns. Overall, Buxton is a better defender and the fans picked him over Hunter’s longevity. https://twitter.com/NoDakTwinsFan/status/1253497118645518337 Do you agree with the results? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. Rod Carew was clearly the hitter of the 1970s for the Twins. On the pitching side, there is no doubt that the top arm was Bert Blyleven. The Hall of Famer debuted in 1970 at 19 and performed well through the first half of the decade. He returned a decade later and had a big impact. But Blyleven wasn't the only quality pitcher of the decade. As with the hitters, there were a couple of hold overs from the 1960s that had some decent years early in the decade. Another interesting trend was some of the innings pitched by relievers under the eye of Gene Mauch in the second half of the decade. Three Minnesotans make the list of 10 Twins Pitchers of the 1970s. Find out more below, and then discuss. Who should have made the list, and at the expense of which other pitcher? http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep16_Patrick_Reusse.mp3 SP - Bert Blyleven (1970-1976) 228 games, 225 starts, 99-90 with 2.80 ERA in 1,706 ⅔ innings. 1,402 K, 438 BB. Blyleven was the Twins third-round pick in 1969 out of high school in California. His debut came about two months after his 19th birthday in 1970. His first stint with the Twins lasted until June of 1976. His highest ERA in those seven years with the Twins was the 3.18 ERA he had in his rookie season. He won 20 games in 1973 when he made 40 starts, completed 25 of them and led the league with nine shutouts. That season, he was an All-Star and received Cy Young and MVP votes. SP - Dave Goltz (1972-1979) 247 games, 215 starts, 96-79 with 3.48 ERA in 1,638 innings. 887 K. 493 BB. Goltz was the Twins fifth-round pick in 1967 out of Rothsay (MN) High School. He debuted in July 1972 and quietly had a really nice career with his home-state team. In 1977, he won 20 games in a league-leading 39 starts and received Cy Young votes. He threw 303 innings. From 1974 through 1978, he didn’t have an ERA over 3.67. SP - Geoff Zahn (1977-1979) 95 games, 91 starts, 39-35 with 3.71 ERA in 619 ⅓ innings. 252 K. 188 BB. Zahn signed with the Twins before the 1977 season. He became a fixture in the Twins rotation for the next four years. His best year was in 1978 when he went 14-14 with a 3.03 ERA in 252 1/3 innings. In 1970, he went 13-7 with a 3.57 ERA in 169 innings. SP - Jim Perry (1970-1972) 115 games, 114 starts, 54-45 with 3.55 ERA in 766 ⅓ innings. 379 K. 219 BB. Perry spent most of the 1960s with the Twins as a solid starter who also saw plenty of time in the bullpen. In 1969 he won 20 games. However, 1970 was his best season. He won the American League Cy Young Award when he went 24-12 with a 3.04 ERA. He made 40 starts and threw 278 2/3 innings. He was also an All-Star in 1971 and won 17 games. He was traded to Detroit before the 1973 season. SP - Jim Kaat (1970-1973) 128 games, 114 starts, 48-38 with 3.46 ERA in 785 ⅔ innings. 414 K. 164 BB. Kaat was the Twins top pitcher in the 1960s. He continued to make starts for the Twins until he was waived in mid-1973. In 1972, he was 10-2 with a 2.06 ERA in 15 starts before experiencing elbow pains. He returned in 1973, but the Twins thought he was done. He pitched another 10 seasons. And, he won Gold Glove Awards each year. RP - Bill Campbell (1973-1976) 216 games, 9 starts, 32-21 with 51 saves and a 3.13 ERA in 460 ⅔ innings. 322 K. 183 BB. Campbell signed with the Twins late in 1970. He debuted in 1973 and became a reliable arm out of the Twins bullpen. But, he was a mid-70s reliever. In 1974, he tossed 120 1/3 innings in 63 games. In 1975, he threw 121 innings in just 47 games. He then went 17-5 with a 3.01 ERA in 1976, and he pitched in 78 games. He made zero starts and tossed 167 2/3 innings. He left after the season via free agency and pitched another 11 seasons. RP - Mike Marshall (1978-1979) 144 games, 1 start, 20-27 with 53 saves and a 2.57 ERA in 241 ⅔ innings. 137 K. 85 BB. Marshall debuted in 1967 with the Tigers. He pitched for six more teams before joining the Twins after the 1977 season. He received Cy Young votes in both 1978 and 1979 with the Twins. He worked 99 innings, and then he worked 142 2/3 innings and posted a sub-3.00 ERA both years. In 1970, he pitched in 90 games and finished 84 of them. He led the league with 32 saves. RP - Tom Hall (1970-1971) 100 games, 22 starts, 15-13 with 13 saves and a 2.72 ERA in 285 innings. 321 K. 124 BB. Hall was the Twins third-round pick in January 1966. “The Blade” debuted in 1968. In 1970, he went 11-6 with a 2.55 ERA in 155 1/3 innings. He struck out 184 batters (10.7 K/9) in an era where striking out was still considered a negative for a hitter. In 1971, he struck out 137 batters in 129 2/3 innings. He was traded to the Reds after the 1971 season. RP - Tom Burgmeier (1974-1977) 214 games, 0 starts, 24-16 with 23 saves and a 3.77 ERA in 380 innings. 155 K. 111 BB. Born in St. Paul, he played at St. Cloud Cathedral High School. He signed late in 1961 and debuted with the Angels in 1968. He then pitched for the Royals from 1969 through 1973. He was traded to the Twins after the 1973 season and pitched four seasons for his home-state team. The lefty pitched in at least 46 games each of those seasons. In 1976, he went 8-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 57 games and 115 1/3 innings. After leaving the Twins, he pitched for Boston and Oakland. RP - Tom Johnson (1974-1978) 129 games, 1 start, 23-14 with 22 saves and a 3.39 ERA in 273 ⅓ innings. 166 K. 93 BB. John is a native of St. Paul and pitched for the Gophers. He debuted in 1974 and spent the next four seasons with the Twins. He really had just one full season with the Twins. In 1977, he went 16-7 with a 3.13 ERA in 71 games and 146 2/3 innings. In fact, he received MVP votes that season. It was the only season he pitched in more than 18 games, the number in which he pitched in 1975, 1976 and 1978. In those years, the only one game he started was in 1976. (8:20 mark) Let the discussion begin... Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Hitters) Twins All-Decade Team, the '60s (The Pitchers) Episode 15: Get t o Know the 1960s Twins (with Dave Mona) Twins All-Decade Team, the '70s (The Hitters)
  7. In each decade, I will select five Starting Pitchers and five Bullpen pitchers. But the role of the bullpen in 1960s baseball is much, much different than it is today, and even much different than it became in the 1980s. So below you will see five starters and five "relievers" but frankly, at least three of the relievers made a significant number of starts. So in reality, you could call them "Long Relievers" and they are somewhat interchangeable with the back-end starters listed. But I am very curious your thoughts on my selections for a Twins pitching staff for the decade of the 1960s. And on a side note, later tonight (Thursday), I will be posting a podcast with someone who was/is very close to those Twins teams from the 1960s. It was a little over an hour conversation filled with many stories about the players selected (and many "snubs") from my list. You will definitely want to listen to that. THE PITCHERS SP - Jim Kaat (1961-1969) 340 games, 307 starts, 141-114 with a 3.22 ERA in 2,173 ⅔ innings. 1,410 K, 530 BB. Kaat debuted with the Senators as a 20-year-old in 1959 and pitched in 16 total games before the team moved to Minnesota in 1961. He was an All Star in 1962 and 1966. He led the league in starts in 1965 and 1966, and with 19 complete games in 1966 when he also led the league with 304 ⅔ innings. He finished fifth in MVP voting that season. It was before there were two Cy Young Awards, but he was The Sporting News’ AL Pitcher of the Year that season. He won the first eight Gold Gloves of the 16 he won in his career during the decades (1962-1969). SP - Jim Perry (1963-1969) 261 games, 135 starts, 74-45 with a 2.88 ERA in 1,117 innings. 646 K. 322 BB. Perry debuted with Cleveland in 1959. He came to the Twins early in the 1963 season and remained through the 1972 season. His two All Star appearances and his Cy Young Award came in 1970 and 1971, but he was pretty good in the ‘60s too. He split a lot of time between the rotation and the bullpen, but he provided innings, and kept his ERA low each year. His best season of the decade was the 1969 season when he went 20-6 with a 2.82 ERA. He finished third in Cy Young voting, setting up his great 1970 season. SP - Camilo Pascual (1961-1966) 184 games, 179 starts, 88-57 with 3.31 ERA in 1,284 ⅔ innings. 995 K. 431 BB. Pascual signed from Cuba and debuted at 20 in 1954. He was an All Star in 1959 and 1960. The Twins came to Minnesota and he was an All Star in 1961, 1962 and 1964. He won 20 games in 1962 and 21 games in 1963. Known for his great curveball, Pascual threw at least 248 ⅓ innings each season from 1961 through 1964, and he led the American League in strikeouts in three of those season. SP - Dean Chance (1967-1969) 104 games, 93 starts, 41-34 with a 2.67 ERA in 664 innings. 504 K. 166 BB. After six seasons with the Angels, Chance came to the Twins before the 1967 seasons. That season, he won 20 games and won the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. He then won 16 games the following season. In his three seasons with the Twins, he posted an ERA under three each season. SP - Dave Boswell (1964-1969) 169 games, 135 starts, 64-47 with a 3.28 ERA in 967 ⅔ innings. 820 K. 416 BB. Boswell debuted with the Twins as a 19-year-old in 1964. He remained with the Twins through the 1970 season. He was a reliable part of the Twins rotation throughout his time. His best season was 1969 when he won 20 games and posted a 3.23 ERA in 256 ⅓ innings. So while he’s mostly known for a fight, he was also a pretty good starting pitcher. RP - Al Worthington (1964-1969) 327 games, 0 starts, 37-31 with 88 saves and a 2.62 ERA in 473 ⅓ innings. 399 K. 186 BB. Worthington debuted as a 24-year-old in 1953 with the New York Giants. He came to the Twins early in the 1964 season, already 35. He became a reliable arm in the late innings for the next five seasons. He posted an ERA no higher than 2.84 from 1964 through 1968. RP - Dick Stigman (1962-1965) 138 games, 85 starts, 37-37 with 7 saves and a 3.69 ERA in 643 ⅔ innings. 538 K. 248 BB. The central Minnesota native was an All Star with Cleveland as a rookie in 1960. He came to the Twins in 1962 and went 12-5. The following season, he won 15 games in 241 innings. He split his time with the Twins between the rotation and the bullpen and ate a lot of innings in either role. RP - Ron Perranoski (1968-1969) 141 games, 0 starts, 17-17 with 37 saves and a 2.53 ERA in 206 ⅔ innings. 127 K. 90 BB. Perranoski came to the Twins from the Dodgers before the 1968 season and spent four years in the organization. In those two seasons, he was a late-inning fireman. In 1969, he went 9-10 despite a 2.11 ERA. He led the league with 31 saves and tossed 119 2/3 innings. He led the league in Saves the next season as well. LR - Mudcat Grant (1964-1967) 129 games, 111 starts, 50-35 with 7 saves and a 3.35 ERA in 780 ⅔ innings. 377 K. 163 BB. Grant came to the Twins from Cleveland during the 1964 season. In 1965, he went 21-7 with a 3.30 ERA. The next season, he went 13-13 despite posting a 3.25 ERA. He then went 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in three World Series starts and added a huge home run as well. RP - Jim Merritt (1965-1968) 122 games, 89 starts, 37-41 with 6 saves and a 3.03 ERA in 686 ⅔ innings. 527 K. 135 BB. The southpaw debuted with the Twins in 1965 with 16 games. He entered the Twins starting rotation during the 1966 season. Despite the record, Merritt posted ERAs below 3.38 and WHIPs below 1.10 in his three seasons as a starter with the Twins. He was traded to Cincinnati after the 1968 season and became an All Star and 20-game winner in 1970.
  8. The Twins came to Minnesota before the 1961 season and had a really good first decade. The team won 89 or more games in six of the nine seasons. They took the Dodgers to Game 7 of the 1965 World Series. They had some batting championship, Pitchers of the Year, lots of home runs and gave Twins baseball fans some great excitement. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep15_Dave_Mona.mp3 You may know Dave Mona from his great work at WCCO, hosting The Sports Huddle with Sid and Dave. But as you'll hear in this episode, he remains busy, working throughout the community. He has long been a huge supporter of all Minnesota sports. He worked at Met Stadium in the 1950s, when the Minneapolis Millers played there. He ended up at the Minneapolis Tribune and he was the Twins beat writer during the 1968 and 1969 seasons. In this episode, we discussed the top Twins hitters and pitchers of the 1960s. Mr. Mona has so many great stories from covering the team and from remaining in the sports media since then. He's got great stories of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Ron Perranoski and most of the All-Decade team. And there are great stories regarding Billy Martin, and Reggie Jackson, and others. This was one of the most enjoyable conversations I have had,and I really believe you will enjoy the conversation. There were so many great Twins players in the 1960s, and Dave Mona tells some great stories! Please listen and discuss and comment below. http://traffic.libsyn.com/sethstohs/GTKE_Podcast_Ep15_Dave_Mona.mp3 You can subscribe to the Get to Know 'Em podcast on iTunes. or follow Libsyn for new episodes here as well. Please leave ratings or feedback. And did you know that you can listen to the Get To Know 'Em podcast by asking Alexa to "Listen to the Get To Know 'Em Podcast." PAST EPISODES Episode 1: Get to know Niko Guardado (Actor and son of Eddie Guardado) Episode 2: Get to know Pat Dean, Brent Rooker Episode 3: Get to know Royce Lewis, AJ Achter Episode 4: Get to know Devin Smeltzer Episode 5: Get to know Jaylin Davis, Tyler Wells Episode 6: Get to know: Travis Blankenhorn, LaMonte Wade Episode 7: Get to know: Matt Wallner (and Ten Minutes with Tyler Wells) Episode 8: Get to know: Caleb Hamilton, Austin Schulfer, Nick Anderson Episode 9: Get to know: Andy Young, Billy Boyer (and Ten Minutes with Tyler) Episode 10: Get to know: Wesley Wright (Twins Pro Scout) Episode 11: Get to know: John Manuel (Twins Pro Scout) Episode 12: Get to know: Marshall Kelner (Mighty Mussels broadcaster) Episode 13: Get to know: Dick Bremer (Twins broadcaster, author) Episode 14: Get to know: Anthony Slama (former Twins pitcher, entrepreneur) Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook.
  9. April 8, 1988 Gladden Has Hot Home Opener Dan Gladden goes 4-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI, and three runs scored including a steal of home for a 6-3 win over Toronto in the home opener. Gladden homered to lead off the Twins’ half of the first, and knocked out another in the eighth. With Kent Hrbek batting in the seventh, Gladden stole home off David Wells. It was the first of three times that Gladden would steal home in his career. He would do so again later in the 1988 season, and once more in 1989. He was caught trying to steal home five times in his career. Rod Carew stole home 17 times in his career. Paul Molitor stole home 10 times. Gladden had also gone 4-for-5 in the Twins’ previous game in New York. April 8, 1994 Puckett Collects 2,000th Hit After striking out in his first at-bat, Twins right fielder Kirby Puckett collects five-straight hits, including his 2,000th hit with an opposite-field single driving in Pat Meares in the bottom of the third. Trailing 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth and Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley on the mound, Chuck Knoblauch hit a two-run double, and Puckett a two-run single in consecutive at-bats to tie the game, giving Eckersley his first blown save of the season. After Oakland took a 10-8 lead in the top of the tenth, Puckett drove in Knoblauch with a double, but the Athletics held on for a 10-9 win. Altogether Puckett went 5-for-6 with a double, 4 RBI, and a run scored in the game. 1980 New Ulm graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Terry Steinbach homered in the game for Oakland. Puckett retired with 2,304 hits, the most in Twins history. Joe Mauer will likely pass Rod Carew (2,085) for second in team history by the end of this season. April 9, 1995 Allison Passes Away Twins all-time great Bob Allison passes away from the effects of ataxia, a rare, incurable disease that affects nerve cells in the brain. He was just 60 years old. Read Gregory H. Wolf‘s SABR BioProject biography of Allison, which first appeared in the 2015 book A Pennant for the Twin Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins. April 9, 2000 Twins & Royals Go Back-to-Back-to-Back Already up 6-0 entering the top of the sixth in Kansas City, Corey Koskie leads off the inning with a single. Ron Coomer, Jacque Jones, and Matt LeCroy then proceed to hit three consecutive home runs on four total pitches. Coomer homered again in the seventh, again with Koskie on base. Eric Milton retired the first 20 batters in order and had a two-hit shutout going into the eighth. After retiring the first two batters, including former Twin David McCarty, Milton allowed two hits before being relieved by Eddie Guardado. Guardado gave up an RBI single and then back-to-back home runs to Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye before being relieved by Hector Carrasco who surrendered the Royals’ third consecutive home run to Mike Sweeney. It was the first game in major league history in which both teams hit back-to-back-to-back home runs. The Twins are one of seven teams to have hit four consecutive home runs, with Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall, and Harmon Killebrew doing so to start the top of the 11th in Kansas City on May 2, 1964. The Twins set an American League record by hitting five home runs in a single inning on June 9, 1966, also against Kansas City, but this time at home in Bloomington, with Rich Rollins, Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher, and Harmon Killebrew homering off three different Athletics pitchers. Four National League teams have hit five home runs in an inning between 1939 and 2006, all four against the Cincinnati Reds. April 9, 2010 Drew Butera Makes MLB Debut Catcher Drew Butera makes his major league debut in Chicago, making him and his dad Sal the first father-son duo in Twins history. Drew went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a sac bunt in a 4-3, 11-inning Twins win. April 10, 1968 Chance Pitches Opening Day Shutout Dean Chance pitches a four-hit shutout, and Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison hit solo homers off Senators pitcher Camilo Pascual for a 2-0 Opening Day win in Washington. April 10, 1971 Powell Homers for First MLB Hit In his first major league start, 1969 first-round draft pick Paul Powell hits an eighth-inning homer for his first hit, giving the Twins an insurance run in a 5-3 win in Chicago. It would be his only major league homer. Powell had gotten into two prior games as a pinch-runner, scoring both times. The Twins' Andre David hit a two-run home run on his first major league pitch against Jack Morris on June 29, 1984. Like Powell, his first major league hit was also his only home run. April 10, 1982 Twins Deal Smalley, Acquire Gagne The Twins trade Roy Smalley and 1975 Alexandria High School graduate Gary Serum to the Yankees for Ron Davis, Paul Boris, and Greg Gagne. Davis, who had been an All-Star in 1981, was one of the game’s first setup men, combining for a potent 1-2 punch with Hall of Famer Goose Gossage. Davis still holds the Yankees record for consecutive strikeouts in a game with eight on May 4, 1981. Doug Fister established a new American League record with nine consecutive K’s on September 27, 2012. The major league record belongs to Tom Seaver with 10 straight on April 22, 1970. Davis was never in All-Star form in Minnesota, however. He tied a single-season record with 14 blown saves in 1984, a dubious feat not matched since. Four pitchers had blown 14 saves in a season prior to Davis, including Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers in 1976, and Bruce Sutter in 1978. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, incidentally, holds the record with six seasons with 10+ blown saves, followed by Rollie Fingers and Jeff Reardon with four each. Davis’s incompetence as Twins closer is often overstated, but there’s no denying that his struggles took a mental toll on the team. When he was traded to the Cubs in August 1986, a party broke out on the team’s charter flight from Anaheim to Seattle, led by Kirby Puckett. Kent Hrbek said it was like the team had been exorcised of a demon. Hrbie conceded in retrospect that the team didn’t handle the situation too well. He personally really liked Davis. Harmon Killebrew, who was on the flight as a TV analyst, said it was one of the strangest scenes he’d ever seen. Though Davis was the object of the Twins’ desire at the time, Greg Gagne would obviously emerge as the key figure in this transaction. He didn’t make his major league debut until 1983, and even then only played 12 games between the ‘83 and ‘84 seasons before becoming a fixture at shortstop from 1985 to 1992. He was a key component of the Twins’ 1987 and 1991 World Series Championships. The Twins had originally acquired Roy Smalley in the 1976 trade that sent Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson to the Rangers. In July 1984 the Yankees offloaded Smalley to the White Sox in exchange for players to be named later, one of whom wound up being Doug Drabek, who, after just one season, the Yankees in turn shipped off to Pittsburgh where he would win the 1990 Cy Young Award. The White Sox traded Smalley back to Minnesota in 1985. He retired after the 1987 season. Gary Serum was born in Fargo, and grew up in Alexandria, MN. He played two and a half major league seasons with the Twins from 1977 to ‘79. Despite posting a 9-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in the Yankees organization, 1982 was Serum’s final professional season. April 10, 1992 Mack Leadoff Homer in Home Opener In the Twins' first at-bat at the Metrodome since Gene Larkin's walk-off in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Shane Mack hits a leadoff home run. Altogether he went 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in the 7-1 win over the Rangers (now featuring Al Newman). Mack posted a career-high 6.5 WAR in 1992, second on the team that season to Puckett’s career-high 7.1. Mack’s 3.6 WAR in 1991 was second-best to Kevin Tapani‘s 6.8. April 11, 1925 Birthdate of Bob Casey The inimitable Bob Casey was born in Minneapolis on this date in 1925. Casey was the only public address announcer in Twins history until his death in 2005. He also worked for the Minneapolis Millers, Lakers, and the Vikings. The decorated World War II veteran is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery. April 11, 1961 First Regular Season Game in Twins History In the first regular season game in Twins history, Pedro Ramos pitches a three-hit shutout versus Whitey Ford and the eventual 1961 World Series champions at Yankee Stadium. Ramos held Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris to a combined 1-for-11, with Berra singling in the first. Maris, of course, would go on to establish a new single-season home run record with 61 that year. Moose Skowron and the pitcher Ford had the Yankees’ other two hits. Ramos did not allow a baserunner after the fifth inning. Ramos and Ford were locked in a scoreless duel until Bob Allison led off the seventh with the first home run in Twins history. Ramos himself drove in Earl Battey and Reno Bertoia with a single to center later that inning, knocking Ford out of the game. Bertoia homered in the eight, driving in Battey. Killebrew added a sac fly in the ninth, driving in Zoilo Versalles to give the Twins a 6-0 Opening Day win. They went 5-1 on the road before coming to Bloomington to play their first home game in front of a crowd already deep in the throes of pennant fever. They lost the home opener 5-3 to the new expansion Senators, and finished their inaugural season 70-90, seventh in the American League. 5-1 record before playing their first home game in front of a crowd already deep in the throes of pennant fever. They would lose their first game in Bloomington, however, 3-5 to the new Senators, and finish their inaugural season 70-90, 7th place in the America League. April 11, 1971 Kaat Pitches 11-Hit Shutout Jim Kaat pitches a shutout in Chicago despite giving up 11 hits and a walk. At the plate he went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and a run scored. The Twins turned two double plays in the 6-0 win. The team record for hits in a shutout is 13 by Mudcat Grant on July 15, 1964. There have been two other 11-hit shutouts in Twins history: Rick Lysander on August 1, 1983, and Carlos Silva on August 3, 2004. April 11, 1975 Terrell Sets Double Play Record The Twins pull out a 12-3 win at the Kingdome in their first-ever game against the Mariners, despite 1964 Waterville graduate Jerry Terrell hitting into a team record three double plays. Jose Morales tied Terrell’s record on May 17, 1980. April 12, 1926 Birthdate of Walt Moryn It’s the birthdate of 1944 Harding High School graduate Walt Moryn, born in St. Paul in 1926. Moryn played 785 major league games over eight seasons with the Dodgers (1954–’56), Cubs (1956–1960), Cardinals (1960–’61), and Pirates (1961). His teammates included Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and Roberto Clemente. He hit 101 home runs, including six off Robin Roberts. He had nine multi-home run games. He hit three on May 30, 1958, including a walk-off home run against Sandy Koufax, who entered the game in the ninth. Moryn made his only All-Star team in 1958, though he did not get into the game. Moryn is best remembered by Cubs fans for making a dramatic shoestring catch in left for the final out of Don Cardwell’s no-hitter on May 15, 1960. Biographer Art Mugalian points out that Moryn had spoiled a no-hitter earlier in the season, hitting a two-out pinch-hit home run in the eighth off Sam Jones at Candlestick Park on April 16. Jones completed the one-hitter for a 6-1 Giants win. Moryn passed away on July 21, 1996 in Winfield, Il. He was 70 years old. Read Art Mugalian’s SABR BioProject biography of Walt Moryn. April 12, 1965 Home Opener Starter Airlifted Jim Kaat, Dick Stigman, Rich Rollins, and Bill Bethea are marooned at their homes in Burnsville—the wrong side of the flooded Minnesota River—and have to be taken by helicopter to and from Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington for the home opener versus the Yankees. Kaat gave up four runs on five hits and a walk over nine innings, and hit a two-RBI double. After Bob Allison got to third on an E7 leading off the 11th, the Yankees intentionally loaded the bases. They got to the first two outs on a shallow pop fly and strikeout, but César Tovar came through with a walk-off single to center off Pedro Ramos. Ramos started the first regular season game in Twins history, pitching a three-hit shutout against the Yankees in New York. April 12, 2005 Twins Win on Stewart Walk-Off After Torii Hunter drives in Jason Bartlett to tie the game in the eighth, the Twins beat the Tigers 5-4 on a Shannon Stewart walk-off ground-rule double off Troy Percival in the ninth. According to Halsey Hall SABR member John Swol‘s great site TwinsTrivia.com, Percival had not allowed an earned run versus the Twins in over 40 innings going back to 1995. April 12, 2010 First Regular Season Game at Target Field Carl Pavano and the Twins beat the Red Sox 5-2 in the first regular season game at Target Field. Red Sox leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro singled to center for the new stadium’s first regular season hit. With Dustin Pedroia batting, however, Scutaro was thrown out trying to steal second. Pedroia doubled on the next pitch (d’oh!). Pavano escaped the first unscathed. He gave up only one run in the game, on a David Ortiz RBI double in the fourth. After Jon Lester walked Denard Span leading off the bottom of the first, Orlando Hudson collected the Twins’ first hit at the new ballpark. After Mauer and Morneau made the first two outs, Michael Cuddyer collected the new stadium’s first RBI, driving in Span with a single to left. Jason Kubel then drove in Hudson, giving the Twins a 2-0 first-inning lead. Joe Mauer hit an RBI double in the second, and an RBI single in the fourth. Kubel hit Target Field’s first regular season home run leading off the seventh. Jon Rauch retired Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre in order to save the 5-2 Twins win. April 13, 1858 Birthdate of Bill Barnes It’s the birthdate of former major league center fielder Bill Barnes, born in Shakopee in 1858. Barnes played for the St. Paul White Caps, who in 1884 played nine games as a replacement team in the Union Association, which, despite only existing for one season, is generally considered a major league. The White Caps played all of their Union Association games on the road. April 13, 1962 Home Opener Snowed Out In just the second year of major league baseball in Minnesota, the Twins’ home opener versus the Los Angeles Angels is cancelled due to six inches of snow. April 13, 1968 Perry Pitches Shutout, Hits Homer Jim Perry has a heckuva day, pitching a four-hit shutout, and hitting a ninth-inning home run in a 6-0 Twins win at Yankee Stadium. Jim Kaat pitched a shutout and hit a home run on July 24, 1963, and October 1, 1970. April 13, 1991 Winfield Has 5-Hit, 3-HR Game vs. Twins Playing for the Angels, 1969 St. Paul Central graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Dave Winfield goes 5-for-6 with three home runs, a double, six RBI, and four runs scored in a 15-9 win at the Metrodome. Angels third baseman Gary Gaetti went 4-for-6 with a double and RBI. April 14, 1927 Wera Makes MLB Debut 25-year-old Winona native Julie Wera makes his major league debut with New York at Yankee Stadium, pinch-hitting for Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt against Hall of Famer Lefty Grove. He grounded out. Wera played 38 games at third base for the vaunted ‘27 Yankees. He hit his one and only big league homer during a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1927 in front of a then-record crowd of 74,000. Wera did not play in the 1927 World Series in which the Yankees swept the Pirates. He did, however, receive the same $5,782 portion of the winners’ purse as the rest of his teammates, which included Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Nice bonus, considering that Wera’s ‘27 salary was reported to be $2,400. April 14, 1983 Snow Collapses the Dome The largest April snowstorm in Minneapolis’s history forces the postponement of a game versus the California Angels. The decision to postpone the game was made the night before out of concern that the Angels would not be able to arrive in Minnesota in time. Travel concerns were a moot point, however, as damage from the storm caused the Metrodome roof to collapse about twelve hours after the decision to postpone. The spring storm dumped over 13 inches of snow on the Twin Cities. April 14, 2016 Worst Start in Twins History The Twins are swept by the White Sox in their home-opening series, falling to 0-9 on the season, the worst start in the franchise’s 116-year history. It was the worst start by any major league team in 13 years, going back to the epically awful 2003 Tigers who finished 43-119. The Braves would also fall to 0-9 later that day, and finish the season 68-93. Minnesota, meanwhile, would finish 59-103, the worst record in Twins history. It was remarkably not the worst season in franchise history, however. The 1904 Washington Senators finished 38-113 (.252 winning %). Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Facebook and Twitter. I hear so many cool stories with great insights from you guys. Keep 'em coming.
  10. WPA tries to put into context an individual play’s impact on a team's odds of winning. So while Kent Hrbek’s grand slam in Game 6 of the 1987 World Series was a great accomplishment, his performance in that game doesn’t crack the top 10. The slam was Hrbek’s only hit in that game, it came in the sixth inning and the Twins were already ahead by a run. That was no doubt a massive play, but the Twins have had some huge performances among their 21 World Series contests. For more on WPA, check out the FanGraphs glossary. I also like MLB.com’s one-sentence explanation: "Its best use is for deciphering the impact of a specific player or play on a game's outcome." It’s a fun stat, but it has its limitations. For example, fielders don’t get any credit for WPA from key defensive plays. 10. Chili Davis, 1991 Game 3, .303 WPA Chili only had one plate appearance in this game, but it was a big one. With the Twins trailing 4-2 in the top of the eighth inning, Brian Harper led things off by reaching on an error. Davis came off the bench to pinch hit for the pitcher and Atlanta countered by bringing in Alejandro Pena to face him. Davis swatted a laser beam for an opposite-field homer to tie the game. Unfortunately, the Twins would eventually fall in the 12th inning. 9. Carl Willis, 1991 Game 6, .334 WPA Willis became the third Twins pitcher to appear in the seventh inning of this game after starter Scott Erickson was lifted and Mark Guthrie, the first man out of the pen, got into some further trouble. The first man Willis faced hit into a force out that scored the tying run from third base. Willis then struck out David Justice to end the seventh and worked scoreless frames in both the eighth and ninth innings to keep the game tied, helping set the stage for ... we'll get to that in a minute. 8. Kevin Tapani, 1991 Game 2, .335 WPA This was a great bend-but-don’t-break performance from Tapani. He gave up a pair of runs over eight innings, but got outs when he needed them most. He also may have gotten a little help from his first baseman. Wait, let me rephrase that, Tapani was bailed out by Ron Gant, who inexplicably just fell right off first base. Atlanta scratched across runs on sacrifice flies in the second and fifth innings. Scott Leius led off the eight with a go-ahead homer before Rick Aguilera nailed down the save in the ninth. 7. Les Straker, 1987 Game 3, .372 WPA Straker pitched six shutout innings before exiting this game with a 1-0 lead. He gave up four hits and two walks while tallying four strikeouts. Straker’s position on this list surprised me, but six shutout innings goes a long way toward helping a team win and this was a tight ballgame. Unfortunately, the Cardinals got to Juan Berenguer for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and cruised to victory from there. 6. Frank Viola, 1987 Game 7, .378 WPA Viola gave up a pair of runs in the second inning, but it was all sweet music from there. He struck out seven Cardinal batters over eight innings while limiting St. Louis to six hits and did not walk a batter. From the end of that shaky second frame forward, he retired 11 consecutive batters. Viola exited the game with a 4-2 lead and Jeff Reardon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to close out the victory. 5. Jim Kaat, 1965 Game 2, .393 WPA Sandy Koufax was incredible in this series, but Kaat managed to outduel him in this one. It was 0-0 until the bottom of the sixth inning when the Twins tallied a pair of runs off Koufax. Kaat gave up his only run of the game in the top of the seventh, but the Twins scored three more runs against the Dodgers’ bullpen to win 5-1. Kaat pitched a complete game, giving up seven hits, all of them singles. He also had a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to score the team’s final two runs. 4. Mike Pagliarulo, 1991 Game 4, .399 WPA This is the highest WPA game that came in a Twins loss. Pagliarulo opened the scoring with an RBI single off John Smoltz in the second inning. He added another base hit in the fourth before hitting a go-ahead solo homer in the seventh. So that’s a 3-for-3 day off a future Hall of Famer in which Pags drove in the team’s only two runs of the contest. He was pulled in the ninth inning to avoid a lefty-lefty matchup against Mike Stanton and the Braves won it on a walk-off sac fly in the bottom half of that inning. 3. Mudcat Grant, 1965 Game 6, .420 WPA (pitching + hitting) What a performance. Mudcat not only pitched a complete game, but he also socked a three-run dinger. Grant didn’t even give up a hit until the top of the fifth inning, after Bob Allison already secured him a two-run lead with a home run in the previous frame. Grant was just the seventh pitcher to homer in a World Series game and only six more hurlers have gone deep in the Fall Classic since. The last to do it was Joe Blanton (Phillies, 2008). 2. Kirby Puckett, 1991 Game 6, .593 WPA The big moment here was Kirby’s walk-off home run in the 11th inning, but he had an incredible game leading up to that moment. In his first at-bat, Puckett drove in Chuck Knoblauch on a triple. He later scored on a Shane Mack base hit. Puckett then made that incredible catch up against the plexiglass in the third inning (not accounted for by WPA), and delivered a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. With the game still tied at 3-3 in the eighth inning, Puckett recorded a single and stole second base, though was stranded there. The next time he came up was in the 11th. And we will see you tomorrow night. Speaking of which ... 1. Jack Morris, 1991 Game 7, .845 WPA Of course it’s Morris, and it’s not even close. A 10-inning shutout in which the score was tied 0-0 the entire time he was on the mound? We’ll probably never see anything like it again. Atlanta got a runner to second base with one out in both the second and third innings. They got a man there with two down in the fourth. In the fifth, they had a runner at third with one out. In the eighth inning, they had a man on third with nobody out (hat tip to some Knoblauch deception on that one). Morris got out of every jam. When he needed a strikeout, he got one. The one moment when he desperately needed a double play, he got it. Morris would not be beaten on that day.
  11. The World Series pitted the Twins against the favored Dodgers. The Twins won the first two games handily in Minnesota, but scored just two runs in three games as they were swept in Los Angeles. Mudcat Grant, who led the club with 21 wins, pitched a one-run complete game to tie up the series, three games apiece. But the Dodgers prevailed in Game Seven when Sandy Koufax outdueled Kaat, throwing a shutout on two-day’s rest. Part 2 of a 12-part series that breaks Twins history into fun-sized chunks. You can find more here: Part 1 Part 2 The next couple of years would feature lots of success, but no return to the World Series. The next year, 1966, was a year of silver medals. Jim Kaat won 25 games–but lost to Koufax in the Cy Young voting, since there was only one award given between the two leagues. Meanwhile, Killebrew finished second in the American League in home runs and runs batted in, behind Frank Robinson who won the Triple Crown. The Twins also finished second in the American Leauge, though they were never closer than nine games back after mid-June. Finishing second was a lot tougher to swallow in 1967. As of September 6, four teams–the Twins, White Sox , Red Sox and Tigers–were in a virtual tie for the division lead. For the last month, those teams would battle in a ten-team league for a single postseason spot. As the final weekend approached, the Twins held a one-game lead over Boston and Detroit with two games to play against Boston. But in the third inning, while holding a one-run lead, Kaat tore a tendon in his pitching elbow, and the Red Sox rallied to win 6-4, helped by a 3-run home run from Carl Yastrzemski. The next day the Sox won the final game of the season 5-3, featuring more highlights from “Yaz.” The Twins finished second best again. After a disappointing 1968 that included a hamstring injury to Killebrew in the All-Star game and a seventh-place finish, changes were made for 1969. Billy Martin, who had managed the AAA team in Denver the year before, was instilled as manager. Martin’s aggressive style would make headlines on - and off - the field.
  12. The St. Louis Browns, Philadelphia Athletics, New York Giants, and Cleveland Indians had been wooed unsuccessfully. In their pursuit, the Twin Cities sibling rivalry flared up so that each built a major league stadium–but neither had a major league team. Civic leaders went so far as to back a new major league, the Continental League, which was to begin play in 1961 along with New York, Denver, Houston, Toronto, and other frustrated metro areas. To short-circuit the new league, Major League Baseball responded by expanding by four teams - but even then it looked like Minnesota would miss the cut. Part 1 of a 12-part series that breaks Twins history into fun-sized chunks. When the expansion meetings ended, however, Minnesota had their team. They weren’t awarded one of the expansion teams, but the Washington Senators, owned by Calvin Griffith, were relocating to Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. To ease the political backlash of that move--the American League owners rightly feared the nation’s lawmakers retaliating with additional antitrust hearings or other potentially punitive legislation--the D.C. area was awarded one of the two American League expansion teams. Griffith and the Twin Cities leaders had been talking about moving his franchise to the region for several years. In the face of pressure from minority owners and politicians, Griffith had never committed. However, with guarantees in place for attendance, moving expenses and bank credit, the quest had finally been completed. The franchise which Minnesota adopted was a team on the rise, though not by a terribly high standard. The Senators had not finished higher than fifth in the American League since 1946. Their inaugural season as the Twins didn’t change that trend; the team finished 70-90 and in seventh place in 1961. It also led to manager Cookie Lavagetto being replaced by Sam Mele, who would manage into the 1967 season. But Mele inherited a solid core of players. Catcher Earl Battey’s work in the 1960 season had earned him Most Valuable Player (MVP) votes, and he would garner multiple Gold Gloves and All-star appearances. Outfielder Bob Allison had been named Rookie of the Year just two years earlier, and would rank in the top ten in home runs eight times. Starting pitcher Camilo Pascual would win 20 or more games in 1962 and 1963 and be recognized as an All-Star five times. And 22-year-old Jim Kaat was beginning a career that would end with 283 wins and 16 Gold Gloves. Each was capable of doing significant harm to an opposing team, but they were joined by an absolute Killer. Next: Harmon Killebrew Leads A Revival
  13. Kaat signed with the Washington Senators as an 18-year-old in 1957. He made his big league debut late in the 1959 season as a 20-year-old. His first full season in the big leagues was 1961, when the Senators moved north and west to Minnesota and became the Twins. He pitched for the Twins until the 1972 season when the Twins brass thought he was done. In his time as a Minnesota Twins pitcher, he was one of the most respected pitchers in baseball. He struggled in his two brief stints with the Senators, but if you count those numbers into his Minnesota Twins numbers, he went 190-159 with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. That accounts for an adjusted-ERA+ of 110, which is 10% better than average. He gave up just 0.8 HR/9. He walked just 2.1 per nine. His 5.6 K/9 rate sounds miniscule in today’s world, but at the time, it was above average. Remember, players in his era were embarrassed to strike out. He represented the Twins in two All-Star Games. “Kitty” was a big part of the 1965 World Series team. In that Series, he started three games, all three against Sandy Koufax. He did win game two of that series, but as we know, Koufax became legendary in that Series. He was named the 1966 American League Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. He went 25-13 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.97 WHIP. The Cy Young Award was started in 1956, but the first time there were separate awards for each league was 1967. Names like Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Whitey Ford won MLB Cy Youngs before 1967. After being traded to the White Sox later in the 1973 season, he spent two more years there. He pitched great in 1975 and earned his third trip to the All-Star Game. He spent 1976 through 1979 with the Phillies. He was traded to the Yankees in 1979 and also pitched for them to start the 1980 season. 1979 was the first season in which he primarily pitched out of the bullpen. He was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as a 40-year-old in 1980. He stayed with the Cardinals until he was released in July, 1983. His first World Series was with the Twins in 1965. His second World Series was in 1982, and this time he earned the ring. He pitched in four games for the Cardinals in the Series. Kaat was known for his defense. He won 16 Gold Gloves, which was a record until Greg Maddux won 18 of them in his Hall of Fame career. Kaat won the award each year from 1962 through 1973, and then 1974 through 1977. In his 25 years as a big leaguer, Kaat went 283-237 with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. He had an adjusted ERA+ of 108. He became more crafty as he aged, and his career strikeout rate was just 4.9 per nine. From 1961 through 1976 (16 seasons), he went over 200 innings 14 times and over 300 innings twice. He was on his way to 200+ innings again in 1972. He was 10-2 with a 2.06 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 15 starts and 113.1 innings. Unfortunately, he had major elbow pain and didn’t pitch the rest of the season. Later, he would find out that the injury and pain he had at the time would now require Tommy John surgery. He didn’t have any surgery, but he did change several things to allow him to pitch, and he pitched for another decade. After retirement, he did join former teammate Pete Rose’s Cincinnati Reds coaching staff. Rose was so impressed by Kaat’s knowledge of pitching that he said if he was ever manager and Kaat was interested, he could be his pitching coach. He did have one twenty-game winner in his full season as pitching coach. However, Kaat has stayed in the game since then as an analyst of the game, and frankly, one of the best. He was a full time analyst somewhere from 1986 through 2006 when he allegedly retired. He was the Twins color analyst from 1988 through 1993. However, after some time off, he has called games in the World Baseball Classic, done work for MLB Network and more since then. In his time, he won seven NY Emmy’s for on-air sports coverage. We all know that “wins” are not a great indicator of great pitching. However, 283 wins means that he was very, very good for a very long time. He is one of just 29 men who played in four decades. There are 30 pitchers in baseball history with more wins than Kaat. Just five of them are not in the Hall of Fame. Bobby Matthews won 297 games between 1871 and 1888. Tony Mullane won 284 games between 1881 and 1894. Tommy John won 288 games between 1963 and 1989. Randy Johnson should get into the Hall of Fame this year on his first ballot, and Roger Clemens who should be in the Hall of Fame. In his 15 years on the ballot, Kaat never received more than 29.7% of the vote by the writers. In his excellent autobiography, Still Pitching, Kaat actually acknowledges that his was probably not a Hall of Fame career and he outlines some of the reasons. However, the Hall of Fame is also about character and integrity. There is also room for players who are great ambassadors of the game. Jim Kaat is certainly that. I once heard Kaat give a speech, probably four or five years ago. First, it was excellent. He told story after story after story of his days with the Twins. He had the crowd laughing and crying, and nodding their heads with memories. He spoke for 45 minutes, and not once did he use his notes. He has given to many charities and been a spokesman for baseball. He has represented the game very well for over 55 years now. When you combine his excellent playing career with his post-career baseball history, a strong case should be made in support of Kaat’s Hall of Fame candidacy. The Veteran’s Committee will be voting one week from today, December 8. Will Tony Oliva or Jim Kaat get the opportunity to call themselves Hall of Famers? I guess we’ll find out then. His long career speaks to the changes in the game. When he first came up, pitchers hit and starters threw 250 to 300 innings. By the time he retired, the DH era had begun and bullpens became much more important. It’s never a bad thing to take a look back at the great history of baseball and of the Minnesota Twins. Kaat is arguably (though there’s little question in my mind) the best pitcher in Twins history. It’s fun to look back, and for those of us who didn’t see him pitch, a reminder of how good he was. If you want to send a last-minute letter of support for Jim Kaat, you can do so by mailing a letter to the Veteran’s Committee at: Baseball Hall of Fame Attn: Golden Era Committee 25 Main Street Cooperstown, NY 13326
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