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  1. Following Tony Oliva’s full-time move to the designated hitter role for the Twins in 1973, he was succeeded in right field by three players to finish out the 1970s. All three of these men were African-American athletes that took on their roles as right fielders quite successfully following in the footsteps of a future hall of famer. Bobby Darwin was the first of these successors to Tony Oliva, having his breakout season with the Twins in 1972. Darwin was initially signed as a pitcher to start his professional career. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Darwin lucked out being born in 1943 as he was at the ripe age of 18 when the newly-formed Los Angeles Angels expansion team entered MLB in 1961. Shortly after signing a contract with the Angels before the 1962 season, Darwin made his MLB debut on September 30, 1962, starting the game for the Halos. His first MLB start was not how Darwin likely wanted to break into the big leagues at 19 years old, only going 3 1/3 innings and giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks to Cleveland. His pitching woes continued throughout the 1960s. He had some success and several struggles on the mound. Consistency was certainly an issue in the minor leagues. Darwin returned to the majors briefly in 1969, seven years after his debut, for six games. It went so well that in 1970 he became a full-time outfielder in the Dodgers system. He had always been a good hitter for a pitcher, so it was worth trying. In 86 games that year in the minor leagues, he hit .297 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI. In 91 games in 1971 in the minors, he hit .293/.342/.517 (.859) with 17 homers and 55 RBI. He returned to the big leagues for 11 more games. He went 5-for-20 (.250) a homer in 11 games. Darwin landed in Twins territory following that 1971 season in a trade with the Dodgers for center field prospect Paul Powell. The newfound success for Darwin in the minor leagues as an outfielder was enough for the Twins to give him a chance for his first entire MLB season in 1972. Darwin didn’t miss a beat on that opportunity. Now 29, 1972 was Bobby Darwin’s breakout season. Twins manager Bill Rigney found a way to get Darwin in the lineup almost every day, leading the team in games played with 145 (out of 154 games). Darwin hit .267/.326/.442 (.769) with 20 doubles, 22 homers, and 80 RBI. He also struck out 145 times which remained the Twins single-season record until Brian Dozier struck out 148 times in his All-Star 2015 season. A year later, Miguel Sano struck out 178 times, and last season he topped that mark with 183 strikeouts. In 1973, Darwin again played in 145 games. He hit .252/.309/.391 (.701) with 20 doubles, 18 homers, and 90 RBI. Despite 52 more plate appearances, Darwin struck out 137 times. For the third straight season, Bobby Darwin led the Twins in strikeouts, this time with 127 strikeouts in 630 plate appearances. In 152 games in 1974, he hit .264/.322/.442 (.764) with 13 doubles, seven triples, 25 homers, and 94 RBI. Only Rod Carew played in more games than Darwin, and he played in 153 games. He began the 1975 season with the Twins. In 48 games, he hit .219/.307/.343 (650) with six doubles and five homers in 48 games. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in mid-June for outfielder Johnny Briggs. The quick three-season peak of his career was entering its decline in those 48 games, but Darwin turned his season around with his chance in Milwaukee. Following the 1975 season, Darwin split time his final two seasons between the Brewers, Cubs, and Red Sox, retiring after the conclusion of the 1977 season. Darwin was one of the fortunate Twins from 1970 to 1972 that had the chance to be teammates with five future Hall of Famers; Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, and Jim Kaat. Darwin found himself as the successor to Oliva and started a lineage that would see an African-American player starting in right field for the Twins almost every day from 1972-1980. Those at Twins Daily would also like to wish Bobby Darwin a happy 79th birthday today! View full article
  2. Bobby Darwin was the first of these successors to Tony Oliva, having his breakout season with the Twins in 1972. Darwin was initially signed as a pitcher to start his professional career. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Darwin lucked out being born in 1943 as he was at the ripe age of 18 when the newly-formed Los Angeles Angels expansion team entered MLB in 1961. Shortly after signing a contract with the Angels before the 1962 season, Darwin made his MLB debut on September 30, 1962, starting the game for the Halos. His first MLB start was not how Darwin likely wanted to break into the big leagues at 19 years old, only going 3 1/3 innings and giving up four runs on eight hits and four walks to Cleveland. His pitching woes continued throughout the 1960s. He had some success and several struggles on the mound. Consistency was certainly an issue in the minor leagues. Darwin returned to the majors briefly in 1969, seven years after his debut, for six games. It went so well that in 1970 he became a full-time outfielder in the Dodgers system. He had always been a good hitter for a pitcher, so it was worth trying. In 86 games that year in the minor leagues, he hit .297 with 23 home runs and 70 RBI. In 91 games in 1971 in the minors, he hit .293/.342/.517 (.859) with 17 homers and 55 RBI. He returned to the big leagues for 11 more games. He went 5-for-20 (.250) a homer in 11 games. Darwin landed in Twins territory following that 1971 season in a trade with the Dodgers for center field prospect Paul Powell. The newfound success for Darwin in the minor leagues as an outfielder was enough for the Twins to give him a chance for his first entire MLB season in 1972. Darwin didn’t miss a beat on that opportunity. Now 29, 1972 was Bobby Darwin’s breakout season. Twins manager Bill Rigney found a way to get Darwin in the lineup almost every day, leading the team in games played with 145 (out of 154 games). Darwin hit .267/.326/.442 (.769) with 20 doubles, 22 homers, and 80 RBI. He also struck out 145 times which remained the Twins single-season record until Brian Dozier struck out 148 times in his All-Star 2015 season. A year later, Miguel Sano struck out 178 times, and last season he topped that mark with 183 strikeouts. In 1973, Darwin again played in 145 games. He hit .252/.309/.391 (.701) with 20 doubles, 18 homers, and 90 RBI. Despite 52 more plate appearances, Darwin struck out 137 times. For the third straight season, Bobby Darwin led the Twins in strikeouts, this time with 127 strikeouts in 630 plate appearances. In 152 games in 1974, he hit .264/.322/.442 (.764) with 13 doubles, seven triples, 25 homers, and 94 RBI. Only Rod Carew played in more games than Darwin, and he played in 153 games. He began the 1975 season with the Twins. In 48 games, he hit .219/.307/.343 (650) with six doubles and five homers in 48 games. He was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in mid-June for outfielder Johnny Briggs. The quick three-season peak of his career was entering its decline in those 48 games, but Darwin turned his season around with his chance in Milwaukee. Following the 1975 season, Darwin split time his final two seasons between the Brewers, Cubs, and Red Sox, retiring after the conclusion of the 1977 season. Darwin was one of the fortunate Twins from 1970 to 1972 that had the chance to be teammates with five future Hall of Famers; Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Tony Oliva, and Jim Kaat. Darwin found himself as the successor to Oliva and started a lineage that would see an African-American player starting in right field for the Twins almost every day from 1972-1980. Those at Twins Daily would also like to wish Bobby Darwin a happy 79th birthday today!
  3. On the field, the Twins, a team known for its power, displayed a renewed interest in running wild on the bases. In the second game in which Martin managed, he had Rod Carew steal home. Carew would do so another six times that season, which at the time apparently tied a major league record. The Twins four triple steals that year did tie the major league record. In one game on May 18th, both Carew and Cesar Tovar stole home in the same at-bat. More astounding? Killebrew was the batter. Part 2 of a 12-part series that breaks Twins history into fun-sized chunks.You can find more here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Martin’s well-known aggression off the field boiled over in early August, when it was revealed that he had become involved in a bar fight in Detroit–against his own player. And not just any player, but Dave Boswell, who would go on to win 20 games that season. Both Boswell and Martin required stitches from the incident. But there is no question that the team responded to Martin. They finished with 97 wins, capturing the newly formed West Division by nine games. The postseason was not as kind. In the first American League Championship series, the Orioles swept the Twins, who lost two extra-inning affairs in Baltimore. When they came back to the Met, Martin started journeyman Bob Miller over Jim Kaat. The Twins lost that game 11-2, and Martin was fired at the end of one exhilarating season amid media and fan outrage. Replacing Martin was Bill Rigney, a former player and manager for the Minneapolis Millers. He could rely on several outstanding performances in his first year as manager. Oliva (.325 batting average) and Killebrew (41 home runs) finished 2nd and 3rd in 1970’s AL MVP voting and Jim Perry won the Twins first AL Cy Young award with a 24-12 record, throwing 278.2 innings with a 3.04 ERA. Together, they would lead the Twins to another division in 1970, despite several significant injuries. Most detrimental were the torn ligaments in Rod Carew’s knee, limiting him to just 51 games. A different injury led to the debut of a future Hall of Fame inductee. Bert Blyleven, only nineteen years old, was called up to replace the injured Luis Tiant in the rotation. Blyleven would win that first game (despite giving up a home run to the first batter he faced) and nine more that year while throwing 164.1 innings. It was the last time he would not throw 200 innings for the rest of the decade, and he exceeded 270 innings each year he was with the Twins until he was traded in 1976. He would retire 22 years later with 287 wins, a career ERA of 3.31, and the third most strikeouts in baseball history. The Twins won the division comfortably by nine games, but again couldn’t take the pennant, which they lost in three games to the Orioles for the second year in a row. It wasn’t obvious at the time, but the team would not make another postseason appearance for 17 years. Next up: Gene Mauch, Rod Carew and the Lumber Company
  4. After a disappointing 1968 season that included a hamstring injury to Harmon 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 installed as manager. Martin’s aggressive style would make headlines on and off the field.On the field, the Twins, a team known for its power, displayed a renewed interest in running wild on the bases. In the second game in which Martin managed, he had Rod Carew steal home. Carew would do so another six times that season, which at the time apparently tied a major league record. The Twins four triple steals that year did tie the major league record. In one game on May 18th, both Carew and Cesar Tovar stole home in the same at-bat. More astounding? Killebrew was the batter. Part 2 of a 12-part series that breaks Twins history into fun-sized chunks.You can find more here: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 Martin’s well-known aggression off the field boiled over in early August, when it was revealed that he had become involved in a bar fight in Detroit–against his own player. And not just any player, but Dave Boswell, who would go on to win 20 games that season. Both Boswell and Martin required stitches from the incident. But there is no question that the team responded to Martin. They finished with 97 wins, capturing the newly formed West Division by nine games. The postseason was not as kind. In the first American League Championship series, the Orioles swept the Twins, who lost two extra-inning affairs in Baltimore. When they came back to the Met, Martin started journeyman Bob Miller over Jim Kaat. The Twins lost that game 11-2, and Martin was fired at the end of one exhilarating season amid media and fan outrage. Replacing Martin was Bill Rigney, a former player and manager for the Minneapolis Millers. He could rely on several outstanding performances in his first year as manager. Oliva (.325 batting average) and Killebrew (41 home runs) finished 2nd and 3rd in 1970’s AL MVP voting and Jim Perry won the Twins first AL Cy Young award with a 24-12 record, throwing 278.2 innings with a 3.04 ERA. Together, they would lead the Twins to another division in 1970, despite several significant injuries. Most detrimental were the torn ligaments in Rod Carew’s knee, limiting him to just 51 games. A different injury led to the debut of a future Hall of Fame inductee. Bert Blyleven, only nineteen years old, was called up to replace the injured Luis Tiant in the rotation. Blyleven would win that first game (despite giving up a home run to the first batter he faced) and nine more that year while throwing 164.1 innings. It was the last time he would not throw 200 innings for the rest of the decade, and he exceeded 270 innings each year he was with the Twins until he was traded in 1976. He would retire 22 years later with 287 wins, a career ERA of 3.31, and the third most strikeouts in baseball history. The Twins won the division comfortably by nine games, but again couldn’t take the pennant, which they lost in three games to the Orioles for the second year in a row. It wasn’t obvious at the time, but the team would not make another postseason appearance for 17 years. Next up: Gene Mauch, Rod Carew and the Lumber Company Click here to view the article
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