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  1. February is Black History Month, and over the coming weeks, Twins Daily will have a series of articles on African Americans in Minnesota Twins history. There have been award winners, All Stars, and even a couple of Hall of Famers. Today we feature two players who gave the Twins a strong start up the middle, at catcher and in center field. In 1961, center fielder Lenny Green and catcher Earl Battey were part of the collection of players that made the trip from Washington D.C. to Minnesota, a transition that turned the Senators into the Twins. They did so as two of three African Americans with Ron Henry being the third who Seth Stohs wrote about earlier in our series. Lenny Green Green is certainly the lesser-known of the two players in Twins history. He came to the organization in 1959 after starting his career with Baltimore. In 1961, serving as the starting center fielder for the Twins, Green played in 156 games, hit nine home runs, and drove in 50 runs. He slashed .285/.374/.400. Green played for the Twins from that inaugural 1961 season until midseason of 1964. He was the starter in center field until Jimmie Hall supplanted him during the 1963 season. That led the Twins to trade Green in the middle of the 1964 season to the Los Angeles Angels. A trade that brought back Frank Costro and Jerry Kindall. Green went on to play for Baltimore (once again), Boston, and Detroit before his career ended in 1968. 1965 was his best season after leaving the Senators/Twins organization when he was the regular starting center fielder for the Red Sox. Earl Battey If it wasn’t for some guy known for having sideburns, Battey very well would be in consideration for the title of best catcher in Twins history. He was traded to the Senators from the White Sox in 1960. At the time, the backstop was labeled as a defensive catcher. He had always seemed to have success hitting in the minors, but had not been able to get his bat to translate to the big leagues. As a member of the Twins that all changed. In that inaugural season of 1961, Battey played in 133 games, hit 17 home runs, and hit for a .302 average. That batting average ranked sixth-best in the AL by season’s end. Battey also continued with his billing as a good defensive catcher by winning a gold glove in that 1961 season. Before retiring at the end of the 1967 season, Battey won three gold gloves, was a five-time All-Star, and figured into the MVP voting in three different seasons. He certainly was part of a solid core of hitters that had him often overshadowed by the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Bob Allison. What may have shined through even more in retirement from baseball, is that Battey was a really good person. Immediately after his career finished, he was part of a company where one of his main duties was getting free Yankees tickets in the hands of inner-city kids and then attending the game with them. He was the "answer man" for all of the children's questions. The former catcher also became a high school teacher and baseball coach in Florida. Battey passed away in 2003 from cancer. It was the following season, 2004, that Battey entered into the Twins Hall of Fame. Battey is remembered as a great teammate and storyteller. -- A Pennant for the Twins Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins was considered in writing this post View full article
  2. In 1961, center fielder Lenny Green and catcher Earl Battey were part of the collection of players that made the trip from Washington D.C. to Minnesota, a transition that turned the Senators into the Twins. They did so as two of three African Americans with Ron Henry being the third who Seth Stohs wrote about earlier in our series. Lenny Green Green is certainly the lesser-known of the two players in Twins history. He came to the organization in 1959 after starting his career with Baltimore. In 1961, serving as the starting center fielder for the Twins, Green played in 156 games, hit nine home runs, and drove in 50 runs. He slashed .285/.374/.400. Green played for the Twins from that inaugural 1961 season until midseason of 1964. He was the starter in center field until Jimmie Hall supplanted him during the 1963 season. That led the Twins to trade Green in the middle of the 1964 season to the Los Angeles Angels. A trade that brought back Frank Costro and Jerry Kindall. Green went on to play for Baltimore (once again), Boston, and Detroit before his career ended in 1968. 1965 was his best season after leaving the Senators/Twins organization when he was the regular starting center fielder for the Red Sox. Earl Battey If it wasn’t for some guy known for having sideburns, Battey very well would be in consideration for the title of best catcher in Twins history. He was traded to the Senators from the White Sox in 1960. At the time, the backstop was labeled as a defensive catcher. He had always seemed to have success hitting in the minors, but had not been able to get his bat to translate to the big leagues. As a member of the Twins that all changed. In that inaugural season of 1961, Battey played in 133 games, hit 17 home runs, and hit for a .302 average. That batting average ranked sixth-best in the AL by season’s end. Battey also continued with his billing as a good defensive catcher by winning a gold glove in that 1961 season. Before retiring at the end of the 1967 season, Battey won three gold gloves, was a five-time All-Star, and figured into the MVP voting in three different seasons. He certainly was part of a solid core of hitters that had him often overshadowed by the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Bob Allison. What may have shined through even more in retirement from baseball, is that Battey was a really good person. Immediately after his career finished, he was part of a company where one of his main duties was getting free Yankees tickets in the hands of inner-city kids and then attending the game with them. He was the "answer man" for all of the children's questions. The former catcher also became a high school teacher and baseball coach in Florida. Battey passed away in 2003 from cancer. It was the following season, 2004, that Battey entered into the Twins Hall of Fame. Battey is remembered as a great teammate and storyteller. -- A Pennant for the Twins Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins was considered in writing this post
  3. Along the banks of the Crow Wing River sits Nimrod, Minnesota, a quaint town that bears a son of the Twins organization that saw the game of baseball come full circle. Pitch a canoe on the currents of the Crow Wing River, and you’ll stumble across Nimrod, Minnesota, population 69. A bar, church, and campground make up the bulk of the one-horse town that was once a flourishing logging community in the World War II era. Take a few steps past the bar and the sight of four bags 90 feet apart and lush green grass will christen the eyes. Dick Stigman Field, home of the Nimrod Gnats and named after the town’s most famous son. A starting pitcher for the Twins’ infancy in Minnesota, Stigman spent seven years at the Major League level. Starting with a $200 per month contract, the tall lefty grew up in Cleveland’s organization, played two years with the parent club, and spent four years with the Twins from 1962-65. Stigman finished his career with the hallowed Boston Red Sox in 1966. Stigman’s life has run full circle; A small town boy with a deep love of America’s Pastime who had the opportunity to play for the Minnesota Twins. On his 86th birthday, Stigman couldn’t be more thankful for the road that transcended from the rural pines of northern Minnesota to baseball’s biggest stage. The Booming 50’s Despite its current quaintness, Nimrod was a bustling small town at the midpoint of the 20th century with a handful of industries painting the Wadena County town. “We had two grocery stores, two gas stations, two restaurants, a blacksmith shop, a feed mill, and a creamery,” Stigman recalled. “There was a pretty good-sized lumber mill. They used to pull logs down the river. It was a great experience. We had a community.” Young Dick spent his childhood selling grit, a popular newspaper option in rural America through the 1950s. “We sold it for five cents a copy. I think I got two cents back,” he laughed. Yet in an era when many young men were being drafted for World War II, Nimrod’s isolation provided solace for Dick and his brothers; an opportunity that sprouted a lifelong love for the game of baseball. The son of a catcher, Dick and his brothers spent hours simulating game situations and playing catch. Both Dick and his older brother were southpaws. That didn’t stop them from finding a catcher’s mitt at Montgomery and Ward to compliment each other on the mound. The mound? An old tire and some plywood. “We’d put a 2 by 4 on top of a rubber tire to pitch from and simulate situations,” Stigman said. “It wasn’t very high up, but it worked.” Barren winters didn’t stop the Stigmans from practicing their craft. The boys’ mother managed the town hall, creating a pseudo-bullpen for them over the winter months. “It was a pretty decent-sized building so we’d pitch inside the hall,” Stigman said. “We'd build a fire and take care of that if there was an event and then we'd have our baseball sessions.” Stigman's love of pitching ran deep. With no team in Minnesota during his childhood he fell in love with Cleveland because of talented pitching from the likes of Bob Feller and Bob Lemon. And with a rich list of MLB names like Williams, Lemon, and Mays to look up to, Dick’s and skill level only rose with time. “There were a couple of other guys in Nimrod that were interested in baseball, but not like we were,” he recalled. That small-town talent would expand outside the silos of Nimrod to the greater Minnesota community. Stigman pitched for Sebeka High School and began to draw looks by shutting down larger schools and towns on the mound. A tournament with strong performances against the ‘big cities’ of Aitkin and Brainerd drew the eye of Cleveland scout Marv Nutting. Impressed with the small town hurler, Nutting name-dropped Stigman to Cy Slapnika, a Cleveland scout based out of Cedar Rapids who had a stellar track record. Slapnika had signed the legendary Bob Feller to Cleveland alongside other household names like Gordy Coleman and Herb Score. Slapkina made the trek up to Minnesota to watch Stigman play Legion ball against Hawley, something that Stigman wasn’t aware of at the time. “I probably would have wet my pants if I had known that someone was watching me.” Stigman was electric, striking out 21 batters in seven innings alongside racking up a few hits himself. He even struck out Rodney Skoog, the brother of Minneapolis Lakers star Whitey Skoog who was batting in the .500 range at the time. The magic had been noticed. Slapnika drove Dick and his parents to the Greystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes to sign his first professional contract for the organization he cheered for growing up. That $200 per month contract (with an additional $200 for each month with the club) was a $50 pay raise from what Stigman was receiving at his job at the lumber mill. Was the pay raise nice? Absolutely. Yet the opportunity for Dick was priceless. “I loved baseball so much that I probably would have paid to play.” Reflecting with Grace Stigman finished his MLB career with 74 wins. His best season was his first with the Twins in 1962, finishing the year with a 12-5 record and 3.66 ERA with three saves to top it off. And while the star season in his home state was memorable, the transition to the Twins from the organization that he cut his teeth in was tough. Being in Cleveland and coming up in the farm system, it was a difficult transition, Dick recalled. “I was very apprehensive about coming to Minnesota; playing in front of people that you know, there's an added expectation.” Yet when the nerves melted, the homecoming was one of joy. “It was a pleasant surprise,” Stigman said “It was great with all the attention we got, everywhere we went people knew us. And I had a really good year so that added to it.” The innings on the ground were great; the memories, comradery, and relationships were what solidified. “Earl Battey was one of my best friends. We played cards on the plane. He was just an amazing guy," Dick recalled. "Guys like Lenny Green, Don Mincher, and Jim Kaat (were incredible). Baseball isn't all about skill, it's about chemistry. Even as big of a star that Harmon (Killebrew) and Tony Oliva were, it wasn't about them. It was about winning. And we proved that with some pretty good years.” Stigman is now 55 years removed from his MLB career. After years in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, he and his wife moved to the beaming sun of Florida. He still stays knitted to the Twins through rich admiration of the organization and participation in things like Twins Fantasy Camp. A man of deep faith and humility, Stigman looks back with a sense of appreciation and gratefulness that society can admire. Yet even he recognizes the wild ride that the uncertainty and beauty of life has graced him with. “I look back and think to myself ‘did I really do that,’ coming from where I came from,” Dick recalled. “I try not to get in front of myself, I always remember where I came from and who I am.” If you're in west-central Minnesota during the summer and happen to catch a baseball game, there is a decent chance you might see the Stigman name in the lineup. View full article
  4. Pitch a canoe on the currents of the Crow Wing River, and you’ll stumble across Nimrod, Minnesota, population 69. A bar, church, and campground make up the bulk of the one-horse town that was once a flourishing logging community in the World War II era. Take a few steps past the bar and the sight of four bags 90 feet apart and lush green grass will christen the eyes. Dick Stigman Field, home of the Nimrod Gnats and named after the town’s most famous son. A starting pitcher for the Twins’ infancy in Minnesota, Stigman spent seven years at the Major League level. Starting with a $200 per month contract, the tall lefty grew up in Cleveland’s organization, played two years with the parent club, and spent four years with the Twins from 1962-65. Stigman finished his career with the hallowed Boston Red Sox in 1966. Stigman’s life has run full circle; A small town boy with a deep love of America’s Pastime who had the opportunity to play for the Minnesota Twins. On his 86th birthday, Stigman couldn’t be more thankful for the road that transcended from the rural pines of northern Minnesota to baseball’s biggest stage. The Booming 50’s Despite its current quaintness, Nimrod was a bustling small town at the midpoint of the 20th century with a handful of industries painting the Wadena County town. “We had two grocery stores, two gas stations, two restaurants, a blacksmith shop, a feed mill, and a creamery,” Stigman recalled. “There was a pretty good-sized lumber mill. They used to pull logs down the river. It was a great experience. We had a community.” Young Dick spent his childhood selling grit, a popular newspaper option in rural America through the 1950s. “We sold it for five cents a copy. I think I got two cents back,” he laughed. Yet in an era when many young men were being drafted for World War II, Nimrod’s isolation provided solace for Dick and his brothers; an opportunity that sprouted a lifelong love for the game of baseball. The son of a catcher, Dick and his brothers spent hours simulating game situations and playing catch. Both Dick and his older brother were southpaws. That didn’t stop them from finding a catcher’s mitt at Montgomery and Ward to compliment each other on the mound. The mound? An old tire and some plywood. “We’d put a 2 by 4 on top of a rubber tire to pitch from and simulate situations,” Stigman said. “It wasn’t very high up, but it worked.” Barren winters didn’t stop the Stigmans from practicing their craft. The boys’ mother managed the town hall, creating a pseudo-bullpen for them over the winter months. “It was a pretty decent-sized building so we’d pitch inside the hall,” Stigman said. “We'd build a fire and take care of that if there was an event and then we'd have our baseball sessions.” Stigman's love of pitching ran deep. With no team in Minnesota during his childhood he fell in love with Cleveland because of talented pitching from the likes of Bob Feller and Bob Lemon. And with a rich list of MLB names like Williams, Lemon, and Mays to look up to, Dick’s and skill level only rose with time. “There were a couple of other guys in Nimrod that were interested in baseball, but not like we were,” he recalled. That small-town talent would expand outside the silos of Nimrod to the greater Minnesota community. Stigman pitched for Sebeka High School and began to draw looks by shutting down larger schools and towns on the mound. A tournament with strong performances against the ‘big cities’ of Aitkin and Brainerd drew the eye of Cleveland scout Marv Nutting. Impressed with the small town hurler, Nutting name-dropped Stigman to Cy Slapnika, a Cleveland scout based out of Cedar Rapids who had a stellar track record. Slapnika had signed the legendary Bob Feller to Cleveland alongside other household names like Gordy Coleman and Herb Score. Slapkina made the trek up to Minnesota to watch Stigman play Legion ball against Hawley, something that Stigman wasn’t aware of at the time. “I probably would have wet my pants if I had known that someone was watching me.” Stigman was electric, striking out 21 batters in seven innings alongside racking up a few hits himself. He even struck out Rodney Skoog, the brother of Minneapolis Lakers star Whitey Skoog who was batting in the .500 range at the time. The magic had been noticed. Slapnika drove Dick and his parents to the Greystone Hotel in Detroit Lakes to sign his first professional contract for the organization he cheered for growing up. That $200 per month contract (with an additional $200 for each month with the club) was a $50 pay raise from what Stigman was receiving at his job at the lumber mill. Was the pay raise nice? Absolutely. Yet the opportunity for Dick was priceless. “I loved baseball so much that I probably would have paid to play.” Reflecting with Grace Stigman finished his MLB career with 74 wins. His best season was his first with the Twins in 1962, finishing the year with a 12-5 record and 3.66 ERA with three saves to top it off. And while the star season in his home state was memorable, the transition to the Twins from the organization that he cut his teeth in was tough. Being in Cleveland and coming up in the farm system, it was a difficult transition, Dick recalled. “I was very apprehensive about coming to Minnesota; playing in front of people that you know, there's an added expectation.” Yet when the nerves melted, the homecoming was one of joy. “It was a pleasant surprise,” Stigman said “It was great with all the attention we got, everywhere we went people knew us. And I had a really good year so that added to it.” The innings on the ground were great; the memories, comradery, and relationships were what solidified. “Earl Battey was one of my best friends. We played cards on the plane. He was just an amazing guy," Dick recalled. "Guys like Lenny Green, Don Mincher, and Jim Kaat (were incredible). Baseball isn't all about skill, it's about chemistry. Even as big of a star that Harmon (Killebrew) and Tony Oliva were, it wasn't about them. It was about winning. And we proved that with some pretty good years.” Stigman is now 55 years removed from his MLB career. After years in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, he and his wife moved to the beaming sun of Florida. He still stays knitted to the Twins through rich admiration of the organization and participation in things like Twins Fantasy Camp. A man of deep faith and humility, Stigman looks back with a sense of appreciation and gratefulness that society can admire. Yet even he recognizes the wild ride that the uncertainty and beauty of life has graced him with. “I look back and think to myself ‘did I really do that,’ coming from where I came from,” Dick recalled. “I try not to get in front of myself, I always remember where I came from and who I am.” If you're in west-central Minnesota during the summer and happen to catch a baseball game, there is a decent chance you might see the Stigman name in the lineup.
  5. As you know, the Twins came to Minnesota from Washington DC where they were known as the Senators. In 1961, they won just 70 games. Then they won 91 games each of the next two seasons. 1964 was disappointing as the team finished just below .500. In 1965, the Twins made it all the way to the World Series where they lost in seven games to the Dodgers. They won at least 89 games the next two seasons but then fell below .500 again in 1968. In 1969, under Billy Martin, they won 97 games. The 1960s was the Twins first decade in Minnesota. As you look through the top hitters below, you might want to ask yourself if the 1960s Twins All-Decade team might just be the best of the six decades. Share your thoughts. Who did I miss? Who would you name the player of the decade? THE HITTERS C - Earl Battey (1961-1967) 853 games, .278/.356/.409 (.765) with 115 doubles, 76 homers, 350 RBI. Battey spent parts of five seasons with the White Sox but came to the Senators in 1960. That season, he won his first Gold Glove Award. In his seven seasons in a Twins uniform, he was an All-Star in four seasons. He won two more Gold Gloves. He finished in the top ten in MVP voting twice. 1B - Harmon Killebrew - 1961-1969 1,305 games, .266/.388/.547 (.935) with 164 doubles, 362 homers, 933 RBI. When the Twins came to Minnesota, he had already spent parts of seven seasons with the Senators.In the ‘60s, he was an All-Star all but one year. His 362 homers were best in the organization by over 150 homers. He hit 39 or more homers in seven of the seasons and led the American League five times. He won the 1969 MVP award and finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting five times. 2B - Rod Carew - 1967-1969 387 games, .299/.346/.408 (.754) with 79 doubles, 17 homers, 149 RBI. Carew didn’t debut until 1967, but he made an immediate impact. He played in all three All-Star games. He was the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year. He led the league with a .332 batting average in 1969. It was just the beginning for the future Hall of Famer whom the American League batting championship is now named after. 3B - Rich Rollins - 1961-1968 888 games, .272/.333/.398 (.727) with 117 doubles, 71 homers, 369 RBI. Rollins was an All-Star (twice). He finished eighth in MVP voting. He had at least 40 extra-base hits each year from 1962 through 1964. As the decade advanced, he became more of a part-time, platoon player. SS - Zoilo Versalles - 1961-1967 1,065 games, .252/.299/.387 (.686) with 188 doubles, 86 homers, 401 RBI. Versalles had played parts of two seasons with the Senators. He became a regular in 1961. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 1963. In 1965, he was an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and the American League MVP. That season, he led the league in doubles (45) and triples (12). It was the third straight year he led the league in triples. LF - Bob Allison - 1961-1969 1,189 games, .255/.361/.482 (.843) with 162 doubles, 210 homers, 635 RBI. Allison debuted with the Senators in 1958 and was an All-Star and the AL Rookie of the Year in 1959. He was a starter throughout the 1960s. He was an All-Star in 1963 and 1964, his two best seasons. He hit over 30 homers twice and over 20 homers seven seasons in the decade. His .911 OPS led the American League. He was a leader of the 1965 World Series team and his catch is still one of the great highlights in World Series history. CF - Jimmie Hall - 1963-1966 573 games, .269/.334/.481 (.815) with 73 doubles, 98 homers, 288 RBI. Hall debuted as a 25 year old in 1963 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .260 with a career-high 33 homers. He was an All-Star in 1964 and 1965. A left-handed hitter, he started just two of the seven World Series games in 1965 because he didn’t play in the games started by Sandy Koufax or Claude Osteen. He hit 20 or more homers in all four of his Twins seasons before he was traded to California after the 1966 season. RF - Tony Oliva - 1962-1969 912 games, .308/.359/.500 (.859) with 213 doubles, 132 homers, 535 RBI. Oliva played in 16 games between 1962 and 1963. In 1964, he hit .323 and was the AL Rookie of the Year. He won batting titles his first two seasons. He was an All-Star in 1964 and for each season through the rest of the decade. He twice finished runner up in AL MVP voting, including to Versalles in 1965. He led the league in Hits four times during the decade and in Doubles four times. His 213 doubles was tops in the organization. DH - Cesar Tovar - 1965-1969 631 games, .271/.329/.371 (.700) with 108 doubles, 25 homers, 189 RBI. Obviously there wasn’t a designated hitter in the 1960s, but we are going to have one… because, well, why not? With the hitters in this lineup, Tovar likely wouldn’t be the regular DH in actual games. He would play all over the diamond with different guys DHing each game. Tovar debuted in 1965. In 1966, he became a regular. In 1967, he led the league with 164 games played (and plate appearances and at-bats). He received MVP votes each season from 1967 through 1971. What an impressive group of players, led by several Hall of Famers, Twins Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers. Check back tomorrow for the Twins Pitchers of the Decade of the 1960s.
  6. Over the coming weeks at Twins Daily, I will be digging into the history of the Minnesota Twins and presenting for you Twins teams of the decades. Tonight, we will start with my choices for the Hitters of the 1960s Twins. Tomorrow, I'll post the pitchers of that decade (five starters, five relievers).Finally, on Thursday night, I'll post a fun interview/podcast with someone who is very familiar with the Twins of the 1960s. Hopefully you are as interested in the Twins 60-year history and will discuss the players and the list.As you know, the Twins came to Minnesota from Washington DC where they were known as the Senators. In 1961, they won just 70 games. Then they won 91 games each of the next two seasons. 1964 was disappointing as the team finished just below .500. In 1965, the Twins made it all the way to the World Series where they lost in seven games to the Dodgers. They won at least 89 games the next two seasons but then fell below .500 again in 1968. In 1969, under Billy Martin, they won 97 games. The 1960s was the Twins first decade in Minnesota. As you look through the top hitters below, you might want to ask yourself if the 1960s Twins All-Decade team might just be the best of the six decades. Share your thoughts. Who did I miss? Who would you name the player of the decade? THE HITTERS C - Earl Battey (1961-1967) 853 games, .278/.356/.409 (.765) with 115 doubles, 76 homers, 350 RBI. Battey spent parts of five seasons with the White Sox but came to the Senators in 1960. That season, he won his first Gold Glove Award. In his seven seasons in a Twins uniform, he was an All-Star in four seasons. He won two more Gold Gloves. He finished in the top ten in MVP voting twice. 1B - Harmon Killebrew - 1961-1969 1,305 games, .266/.388/.547 (.935) with 164 doubles, 362 homers, 933 RBI. When the Twins came to Minnesota, he had already spent parts of seven seasons with the Senators.In the ‘60s, he was an All-Star all but one year. His 362 homers were best in the organization by over 150 homers. He hit 39 or more homers in seven of the seasons and led the American League five times. He won the 1969 MVP award and finished in the Top 5 in MVP voting five times. 2B - Rod Carew - 1967-1969 387 games, .299/.346/.408 (.754) with 79 doubles, 17 homers, 149 RBI. Carew didn’t debut until 1967, but he made an immediate impact. He played in all three All-Star games. He was the 1967 AL Rookie of the Year. He led the league with a .332 batting average in 1969. It was just the beginning for the future Hall of Famer whom the American League batting championship is now named after. 3B - Rich Rollins - 1961-1968 888 games, .272/.333/.398 (.727) with 117 doubles, 71 homers, 369 RBI. Rollins was an All-Star (twice). He finished eighth in MVP voting. He had at least 40 extra-base hits each year from 1962 through 1964. As the decade advanced, he became more of a part-time, platoon player. SS - Zoilo Versalles - 1961-1967 1,065 games, .252/.299/.387 (.686) with 188 doubles, 86 homers, 401 RBI. Versalles had played parts of two seasons with the Senators. He became a regular in 1961. He was an All-Star and Gold Glove winner in 1963. In 1965, he was an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, and the American League MVP. That season, he led the league in doubles (45) and triples (12). It was the third straight year he led the league in triples. LF - Bob Allison - 1961-1969 1,189 games, .255/.361/.482 (.843) with 162 doubles, 210 homers, 635 RBI. Allison debuted with the Senators in 1958 and was an All-Star and the AL Rookie of the Year in 1959. He was a starter throughout the 1960s. He was an All-Star in 1963 and 1964, his two best seasons. He hit over 30 homers twice and over 20 homers seven seasons in the decade. His .911 OPS led the American League. He was a leader of the 1965 World Series team and his catch is still one of the great highlights in World Series history. CF - Jimmie Hall - 1963-1966 573 games, .269/.334/.481 (.815) with 73 doubles, 98 homers, 288 RBI. Hall debuted as a 25 year old in 1963 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He hit .260 with a career-high 33 homers. He was an All-Star in 1964 and 1965. A left-handed hitter, he started just two of the seven World Series games in 1965 because he didn’t play in the games started by Sandy Koufax or Claude Osteen. He hit 20 or more homers in all four of his Twins seasons before he was traded to California after the 1966 season. RF - Tony Oliva - 1962-1969 912 games, .308/.359/.500 (.859) with 213 doubles, 132 homers, 535 RBI. Oliva played in 16 games between 1962 and 1963. In 1964, he hit .323 and was the AL Rookie of the Year. He won batting titles his first two seasons. He was an All-Star in 1964 and for each season through the rest of the decade. He twice finished runner up in AL MVP voting, including to Versalles in 1965. He led the league in Hits four times during the decade and in Doubles four times. His 213 doubles was tops in the organization. DH - Cesar Tovar - 1965-1969 631 games, .271/.329/.371 (.700) with 108 doubles, 25 homers, 189 RBI. Obviously there wasn’t a designated hitter in the 1960s, but we are going to have one… because, well, why not? With the hitters in this lineup, Tovar likely wouldn’t be the regular DH in actual games. He would play all over the diamond with different guys DHing each game. Tovar debuted in 1965. In 1966, he became a regular. In 1967, he led the league with 164 games played (and plate appearances and at-bats). He received MVP votes each season from 1967 through 1971. What an impressive group of players, led by several Hall of Famers, Twins Hall of Famers and Baseball Hall of Famers. Check back tomorrow for the Twins Pitchers of the Decade of the 1960s. Click here to view the article
  7. December 31 Happy 56th Birthday, Rick Aguilera It’s the birthday of longtime Twins closer Rick Aguilera, born in San Gabriel, CA in 1961. Aggie saved 254 games for the Twins between 1989 and ’99, second only to Joe Nathan‘s 260. He saved 42 regular season games for the 1991 World Series Champion Twins. Aggie, who hit three home runs with the Mets, pinch-hit in the 12th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, becoming the first pitcher to do so since Don Drysdale pinch-hit for Sandy Koufax vs. Jim Kaat in Game 2 of the '65 Series. The Twins acquired Aguilera on July 31, 1989 in what was perhaps the greatest trade in team history. The Twins sent ’87 World Series MVP and ’88 Cy Young winner Frank Viola to the Mets for David West, Aggie, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage (as a player to be named later on October 16). I was watching the Twins vs. Red Sox game at my grandparents' trailer near Cohasset on July 6, 1995 when Aggie was traded mid-game to Boston for pitching prospect Frankie Rodriguez and a player to be named later. Aggie re-signed with the Twins following the season. His Twins career ended for good on May 21, 1999 when he was traded along with Scott Downs to the Chicago Cubs for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan. Aguilera was announced as the 19th member of the Twins Hall of Fame on January 25, 2008, and inducted the following June 21st before a 4-1 loss to Houston. Ironically, starting pitcher Glen Perkins took the loss. Perk, of course, would become a closer himself, finishing his career with 120 saves, third in Twins history behind Aguilera and Nathan. Fun Fact: Aguilera, former Twins infielder Tim Teufel, and their Mets teammates Bobby Ojeda and Ron Darling were arrested after an altercation with off-duty cops working security at a Houston bar on July 19, 1986. The Mets went on to defeat the Astros in the NLCS that fall, and then beat Bill Buckner and the Red Sox in the infamous seven-game World Series. January 1 Happy 34th Birthday, Neil Wagner It's the birthday of 2002 Eden Prairie High School graduate Neil Wagner, born in Minneapolis in 1984. Wagner pitched for North Dakota State for three seasons before signing with Cleveland in 2005. He made his major league debut pitching for the Oakland Athletics against Cleveland on August 30, 2011. He pitched five innings over six games with the Athletics that season. He made it back to the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays, getting into 36 games in 2013, and 10 in 2014. Wagner pitched three scoreless innings over four appearances against the Twins, holding them to 1-for-11 (.091). Chris Colabello hit a seventh-inning double for the Twins' only hit off Wagner in the second game of a doubleheader at Target Field on April 14, 2014. The next inning, Blue Jays pitchers combined to give up six runs on EIGHT walks and just one hit. January 3 Happy 75th Birthday, Bob Gebhard It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher and front office exec. Bob Gebhard, born in Lamberton, Minnesota in 1943. The Twins drafted Gebhard out of the University of Iowa in the 44th round of the very first amateur draft in 1965. That summer he went 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA for the St. Cloud Rox. Gebhard pitched professionally for 11 years, including 30 relief appearances for the ’70-’71 Twins, and two innings with the ‘74 Expos. He was a player/coach with the Expos’ Triple-A club in ‘74 and ’75, Minor League Field Director and pitching coach from ’76-’81, part of the major league coaching staff in ’82, and Director of Minor League Operations through 1986. Andy MacPhail brought Gebhard home to Minnesota in 1987, hiring him as Director of Major League Personnel. Here’s a fun remembrance MacPhail shared of Gebhard’s first season back in Minnesota: “Literally we had just won the world championship and Bob Gebhard turns to me and goes ‘Damn, Andy, we won this thing. We were just trying to get organized!'” He assumed the title of Vice President of Player Personnel in ‘88. Following the 1991 World Series, Gebhard became General Manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies, who began play in 1993. He hired ’87 Twins World Series hero Don Baylor as manager, signed first baseman Andres Galarraga the day before the ’92 Expansion Draft, and pulled off a trade for slugger Dante Bichette immediately following the draft. He signed Larry Walker in the spring of ’95, and that year, just the team’s third in existence, the Rockies won the NL West. The following season the Rockies won the NL’s first-ever Wild Card spot. Gebhard resigned from the Rockies on August 20, 1999 amid speculation that he was about to be fired. Gebhard served in the St. Louis Cardinals front office from 2000-2004, and as Vice President, Special Assistant to the General Manager of the Diamondbacks from 2005-2016. Gebhard received the Roland Hemond Award from the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) in 2012 in recognition of his contributions to the community of professional baseball scouts. Gebhard makes his home in Centennial, Colorado. January 3 Happy 39th Birthday, Michael Restovich It’s the birthday of former major league outfielder Michael Restovich, born in Rochester, MN in 1979. Restovich was named Minnesota High School Baseball Player of the Year in 1997, his senior season at Rochester Mayo. That June he was selected by the Twins in the second round of the amateur draft. The Twins’ first-round draft choice that year was a Virginia high schooler named Michael Cuddyer. Restovich hit .369 in 76 games between the Rookie League Elizabethton Twins and Class-A Fort Wayne Wizards in 1998. In 1999 he hit .312 with 19 HR and 107 RBI for the Class-A Quad City River Bandits. He made his major league debut on September 18, 2002. Restovich’s first major league hit was a ninth-inning pinch-hit home run in a 14-4 Twins loss at Comiskey Park on September 21. Future-Twins closer Jon Rauch started the game and earned the victory for Chicago despite giving up lead-off home runs to David Ortiz and Corey Koskie in the second and fourth innings. Koskie hit a second lead-off homer in the sixth off of reliever Mike Porzio. Brad Radke had an uncharacteristically bad day, allowing six earned runs on nine hits in just three innings. Restovich went on to play parts of six major league seasons with the Twins ('02-'04), Rockies ('05), Pirates ('05), Cubs ('06), and Nationals ('07). He made 297 plate appearances over 152 games, hitting .239 with 28 walks, six home runs, and 21 RBI. January 4, 2002 Gardenhire Named Manager The Twins announce former third base coach Ron Gardenhire as the 12th manager in team history, succeeding Tom Kelly, who, after the team’s first winning season in nine years, announced his retirement on October 12, 2001. TK was the longest tenured manager or head coach in all of professional sports at the time of his retirement. The Twins won the AL Central in each of Gardy’s first three seasons, and in six of his first nine. They only advanced past the divisional round, however, in Gardy’s first season of 2002. After five runner-up finishes, he was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010. He managed the Twins for 13 seasons before being fired on September 29, 2014, having amassed 1,068 wins, just 72 shy of TK’s team record of 1,140. After serving as Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach in 2017, Gardy will manage the dumb Detroit Tigers in 2018. January 5, 1935 Birthdate of Earl Battey It’s the birthdate of five-time All-Star, and three-time Gold Glove catcher Earl Battey, born in Los Angeles in 1935 (83 years ago). Battey saw limited playing time with the Chicago White Sox from 1955-’59. Then, on April 4, 1960, the White Sox traded Battey and Don Mincher to the Washington Senators for 1957 AL home run leader Roy Sievers. Battey broke out that season, winning his first of three consecutive Gold Glove Awards, and even garnering some AL MVP votes. Battey scored the first walk-off run in Twins history on April 22, 1961, scoring on a Zoilo Versalles sac fly. He retired after the ‘67 season having caught 831 games in a Twins uniform. That stood as the club record until Joe Mauer surpassed him on August 27, 2012. In 1980 Battey enrolled at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, FL, graduating summa cum laude in just 2½ years. After graduation he became a high school teacher and baseball coach in Ocala, FL. Earl Battey passed away on November 15, 2003. He was just 68 years old. He was inducted as the 13th member of the Twins Hall of Fame in 2004. January 5, 2009 Pohlad Passes Away Longtime Twins owner Carl Pohlad passes away at home in Edina. He was 93 years old. Pohlad grew up dirt-poor in West Des Moines, Iowa. After high school he played football at Compton Junior College in southern California. The entertainer Bing Crosby saw Pohlad play and recruited him to his alma mater, Gonzaga University in Spokane, WA. While in school, Pohlad earned a little extra money boxing in clubs along the West Coast. He dropped out of school his senior year to focus on his lucrative side job of selling repossessed cars. Pohlad was drafted into the Army in 1942 and served as an infantryman man during World War II in France, Germany and Austria. He was wounded in battle and awarded two Bronze Stars, an Oak Leaf Cluster, and three Purple Hearts. After the war Pohlad partnered with his brother-in-law, taking control of Marquette Bank in Minneapolis in 1949, just three years out of the Army. Pohlad took sole control of the bank after his brother-in-law’s death several years later. He branched out from there, establishing a web of banking, bottling, real estate and other companies. In 1984 the billionaire financier bought the Twins from original owner Calvin Griffith for a cool $38 million, almost certainly preventing the team from leaving Minnesota. Ever the shrewd businessman, Pohlad was a frugal owner, always looking to maximize value. Rather than spending big money on acquiring -- or even retaining -- marquee talent, Pohlad emphasized building a team from the ground up through a farm system that is still regarded as one of the best in the game. His prudent approach paid dividends with World Series championships in 1987 and 1991. You can say a lot about Carl Pohlad. Here’s one thing: Carl Pohlad, the son of a dirt-poor Slovak immigrant who grew up to be the second wealthiest man in Minnesota, never retired. January 5, 2011 Blyleven Elected to Hall of Fame On his 14th ballot, Twins all-time strikeout leader (2,035) Bert Blyleven is elected to the Hall of Fame with the support of 79.7% of voters. He was inducted on July 24 alongside Roberto Alomar and 27-year GM Pat Gillick. The Twins selected the Dutch-born, SoCal-raised Blyleven out of high school in the third round of the '69 draft. Bert made his major league debut on June 2, 1970 at age 19. He would pitch for 22 seasons, 11 in Minnesota (‘70-’76, ‘85-’88), amassing 149 wins in a Twins uniform, second only to Jim Kaat’s 190 (including one as a Senator). In addition to the ’87 Twins, Bert was a member of the 1979 World Series Champion Pirates. He was an All-Star in 1973 and '85. Bert pitched three one-hitters with the Twins, two in 1973 and another in 1974 (only one of those, incidentally, was a shutout). He pitched a no-hitter in his final game as a Texas Ranger on September 22, 1977. His 3,701 career strikeouts rank fifth in major league history behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Steve Carlton. Blyleven was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame on June 1, 2002, and his number 28 was retired on July 16, 2011. January 6, 1923 Birthdate of Red Hardy It’s the birth date of Minneapolis South High School graduate Red Hardy, born in Marmarth, ND in 1923 (95 years ago). He began his professional career in 1942 with Eau Claire of the Class C Northern League before enlisting in the US Navy. After pilot training at Camp Croft in South Carolina, he saw active duty during World War II. After receiving his discharge, Hardy enrolled at the University of St. Thomas for whom he pitched in the spring of ‘46, once losing a 13-inning complete game 3-2 to the University of Minnesota. After the college season, he resumed his pro career briefly with the Minneapolis Millers, and then the St. Cloud Rox, for whom he went 7-0 with a 1.70 ERA. Hardy eventually made it to the majors in 1951, pitching 1 1/3 innings over two appearances with the New York Giants. He passed away on August 15, 2003 at age 80. For a more thorough picture, read Terry Bohn’s SABR BioProject article on Red Hardy. January 6, 2004 Molitor Elected to Hall of Fame 1974 Cretin High School grad and Golden Gophers all-time great Paul Molitor is elected to the Hall of Fame alongside legendary closer Dennis Eckersley, both on their first ballots. Molitor appeared on 85.2% of ballots, meaning a staggering 75 members of the BBWAA were complete ignoramuses. The two-time All-American Molitor was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers with the third overall pick in the 1977 draft behind Harold Baines and Bill Gullickson, who, incidentally, was born in Marshall, MN, but attended high school in Joliet, IL. In 1978 Molitor was runner-up to Detroit’s Lou Whitaker for American League Rookie of the Year. Molitor set a World Series record with five hits in Game 1 of the ‘82 Series, which the St. Louis Cardinals won in seven games. The Cards’ Albert Pujols tied that record, going 5-for-6 with six RBI, three home runs, and four runs scored in Game 3 of the 2011 World Series. Molitor stole second, third, and home consecutively in the first inning vs. Oakland on July 26, 1987. Forty-one players have pulled that off a total of 51 times in MLB history, 12 since 1940. The feat was accomplished four times in the '80s, twice in the '90s, once in the '00s, and, most recently, by Dee Gordon in 2011 and Wil Myers in 2017. The Twins’ Rod Carew did so on May 18, 1969. Molitor hit for the cycle vs. the Twins at the Metrodome on May 15, 1991, tripling on Kevin Tapani’s first pitch of the game, and homering off Tapani to complete the cycle. Despite the 4-2 loss to Milwaukee, the Twins would salvage their ‘91 season. In total he played 15 seasons for Milwaukee before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays following the ‘92 season. In ‘93, at age 37, Molitor had his first 100-RBI season, collecting 111. He was the Most Valuable Player of the 1993 World Series, hitting .500 (12-for-24) with two home runs and 10 runs scored, tying the record set by Reggie Jackson in 1977. Molitor signed with the Twins for the 1996 season, when, at age 39, he hit .341, drove in 113 runs, and led the league with a career-high 225 hits. He tied Rod Carew and Tim Teufel’s team record with five runs scored on April 24, 1996 (later matched by Luis Rivas on June 4, 2002). Molitor tripled for his 3,000th hit on September 16, 1996, exactly three years to the date after 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield collected his 3,000th off Molitor’s Hall of Fame classmate Dennis Eckersley. The 40-year-old DH went 3-for-4 with two home runs, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored on July 25, 1997. On September 3-4, now 41 years old, he homered in back-to-back games. He stole his 500th base on August 8, 1998, joining Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Eddie Collins, Lou Brock, and Rickey Henderson in the 3,000 Hit/500 Stolen Base Club. Ichiro joined the club in 2016. Molly retired following the ‘98 season. Molitor was introduced as the 13th manager in Twins history on November 4, 2014. On November 14, 2017, just one year removed from the worst season in club history, Molitor became just the second Hall of Fame player to be named Manager of the Year. Baltimore’s Frank Robinson received the award in 1989. Molitor was the second of three St. Paul natives elected to the Hall of Fame. 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield was inducted in 2001 alongside Kirby Puckett. 1973 Highland Park grad Jack Morris will be inducted this coming July. Fun Fact: Paul Molitor went 33-for-103 (.320) vs. Jack Morris, including a home run on September 20, 1987. Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter & Facebook.
  8. The Minnesota Twins first home baseball game was played on April 21st, 1961, but that 5-3 loss was the tip of a large and rocky iceberg. Minneapolis and St. Paul civic leaders, yearning for their metro area to be considered “big league,” had been chasing a major league team for almost a decade. It did not go smoothly.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 Click here to view the article
  9. 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
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