Three “Golden Era” Twins on HOF Ballot

On the heels of Bert Blyleven’s induction in to Baseball’s Hall of Fame, three more former Twins have renewed chances to join Bert, Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett in Cooperstown. Tony Oliva, Jim Kaat and Luis Tiant have been nominated for consideration by the Baseball HOF’s new “Golden Era Committee”.

Tony Oliva

The Committee, made up of 16 voters consisting of executives, veteran media members and existing HOF members, will be choosing from among ten players and executives that made their greatest contributions to the game of baseball between the years 1947 and 1972.

The committee will be meeting during MLB’s winter meetings in December and each member can vote for anywhere from zero to five candidates. It takes being included on 75% of ballots cast to gain election. This committee will be holding similar elections just every three years, so anyone who doesn’t gain election this year will have to wait another three years just to find out if they’ll be considered again. Given the age of most of these guys, that could literally be a lifetime.

Jim Kaat (photo: S. Grile/Palm Beach Post)

Oliva, Kaat and Tiant are joined on the ballot by Ron Santo, Buzzie Bavasi, Ken Boyer, Charlie Finley, Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso and Allie Reynolds. For a fan in his mid-fifties like me, those names bring back a flood of memories and it’s hard to believe that none of them are in the HOF already.

Luis Tiant

Interestingly, the three former Twins all played together, along with Blyleven, Carew and Killebrew, on the 1970 team that won the AL West Division. Think of that for a moment… it could very well turn out that the 1970 Twins included SIX future Hall of Famers!

At a time when many of us are trying to figure out how the Twins should rebuild their roster in an effort to regain some level of competitiveness, take a look at some of the numbers that members of that 1970 team put up:

Tony Oliva: .325/.364/.514 .878 OPS, 23 HR, 107 RBI in 157 games.

Harmon Killebrew:  .271/.411/.546 .957 OPS,  41 HR, 113 RBI in 157 games.

Rod Carew:  .366/.407/.524 .930 OPS, 4 HR, 28 RBI, in just  51 games.

And just to prove they weren’t the only guys hitting the ball…

Cesar Tovar: .300/.356/.442 .798 OPS, 10 HR, 54 RBI and 30 stolen bases in 161 games.

The pitchers had some pretty decent seasons, too:

Jim Kaat: 14-10, 3.56 ERA, 34 starts, 4 complete games, 230.1 IP

Bert Blyleven: 10-9, 3.18 ERA, 25 starts, 5 complete games, 164 IP

Luis Tiant: 7-3, 3.40 ERA, 17 starts, 2 complete games, 92.2 IP

Not bad, but not one of those pitchers was even the ace of that staff in 1970. That honor went to…

Jim Perry: 24-12, 3.04 ERA, 40 starts, 13 complete games, 278.2 IP… and a Cy Young Award.

Congratulations to Tony-O, Kitty-Kaat and El Tiante on their nominations and here’s hoping the voters recognize that all three of these guys are deserving of the honor to stand with their peers as among the best to ever play the game.

- JC

Harmon Killebrew Day

photo courtesy of Jim Mone/ASSOCIATED PRESS

There are a great many Twins fans heading into downtown to join with others to commemorate the life of Harmon Killebrew. Here’s all the details if you want to join Knuckleballs’ own JimCrikket and the rest. My advice is to get there as early as possible.

What: Public memorial

When: 7:10 p.m. today (broadcast coverage on FSN will begin at 6:00 pm)

Where: Target Field (gates open at 6)

Scheduled speakers: MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, Rod Carew, Paul Molitor, Jim Kaat, Tony Oliva, Michael Cuddyer, Justin Morneau

What fans should know: Event is free and open to everyone. General admission seating. Concession stands will be open. All attendees will receive a commemorative program.

Due to the solemnity of the day, Governor Dayton has declared today to be Harmon Killebrew Day here in Minnesota. I thought I would share his declaration here in it’s entirety.

Whereas:

Minnesota Twins legend and Hall of Famer, Harmon Clayton Killebrew, passed away on May 17, 2011, at the age of 74 after a courageous battle with esophageal cancer; and

Whereas:

Mr. Killebrew’s Hall-of-Fame career began when he was signed out of the ball fields of Payette, Idaho by the Washington Senators, who moved to Minnesota in 1961 and became the Minnesota Twins; and

Whereas:

Thanks to quick hands and extraordinary upper-body strength, Mr. Killebrew developed into one of the most feared power hitters of all time, amassing a staggering 573 home runs throughout his career; and

Whereas:

Mr. Killebrew dominated the game, racking up 11 all-star game appearances, named American League Most Valuable Player in 1969, and, in 1965 led the Minnesota Twins to their first World Series appearance; and

Whereas:

After retiring, Mr. Killebrew’s illustrious career was recognized by Major League Baseball, when he was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1984; and

Whereas:

Much of Mr. Killebrew’s retirement was devoted to his foundation, the Harmon Killebrew Foundation, where he worked with the Minnesota Twin Community Fund and the Miracle League to bring the joy of baseball to children; and

Whereas:

Mr. Killebrew’s life should serve as an inspiration to everyone, and his work on the baseball diamond and through his foundation will never be forgotten; and

Whereas:

Today the citizens of Minnesota join with Mr. Killebrew’s surviving family members, his many friends, and his passionate legion of fans in celebrating the man an all he accomplished throughout his life, on an off the diamond.

Now, Therefore, I, Mark Dayton, Governor of Minnesota, do hereby proclaim May 26, 2011 to be:

Harmon Killebrew Day

 

That was a truly amazing and moving service. If you were unable to watch it or attend, FSN has it divided into clips for you watch. I encourage you to take the opportunity.

Harmon Killebrew Memorial

Hi all, JC here… I agree with Babs, if you weren’t able to watch the Memorial, I highly recommend it. I was there and just thought I’d post a handful of pictures below.

Team mates, current players and other MLB & Twins execs along the 3rd base line, and members of the Killebrew family down the 1st base line

 

Rod Carew and wife Rhonda with (L to R) Michael Cuddyer, Jim Kaat, Henry Aaron

Harmon Killebrew's Autograph on the RCF wall

Jim "Mudcat" Grant sing's "What A Wonderful World", accompanied by Ric Oliva

The newly painted Killebrew watertower in behind Minnie and Paul

Killebrew team mate Jim Kaat speaks, with co-emcee Dick Bremer looking on

The Twins Tower with Killebrew's image

Killebrew's Legacy, kids who've benefitted from Miracle Field program circled the bases for Killer's 574th HR

Jim Thome shows us where Killebrew's "longest HR at Met Stadium" would have landed at Target Field.

Rest In Peace #3

 

.

Celebrate the life of Harmon Killebrew

photo courtesy of Ann Heisenfelt/AP

 

I’m not sure what kind of coincidence comes into play that the Twins are in Arizona on the same day as Gentleman Killer’s funeral but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth.  It allows Cuddyer, Morneau, Nathan, & Gardenhire to act as pallbearers for Harmon in addition to Molitor, Oliva, Carew & Quilici.  Additionally, Bert Blyleven will be giving the eulogy. I have no idea how this will effect the team as a whole but I’m sure that they are all grateful to be able to pay their respects to his family in person.

I was very glad we were able to share the funeral with anyone who was able to watch and our thanks to Kare11 for using an embeddable video code! Here is the video provided by Kare11 that you can watch at your leisure if you were unable to watch.

It was a very touching service and I am certain that no eye remained dry through it’s entirety. I know mine didn’t with all the family and friends who shared. I am so glad that the team was able to participate in Arizona. For those of us who are stuck in MN and couldn’t join the thousands at the funeral, the public memorial for Harmon is next week here at Target Field.

Memorial service (open to the public)
Thursday, May 26, 7 p.m.
Target Field
Live coverage from Target Field begins at 6:00 p.m. on FS North.

 


 


Watch re-airings of Spotlight: Harmon Killebrew Tribute on FOX Sports North 

Friday, May 20: 7:30 p.m., 1 a.m.
Satuday, May 21: 8 p.m.
Sunday, May 22: 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 24: 6 p.m.
Wednesday, May 25: 3:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 26: 2:30 p.m.
 
 

 

True Heroes Never Die

Yes, this is a second Harmon Killebrew memorial post at Knuckleballs, but I just feel compelled to share my own thoughts about Harmon.

I was three years old in the summer of 1959 when my dad got a coaching job in southern Minnesota. Two years later, the Washington Senators relocated to the Twin Cities and, with them, came Harmon Killebrew. To a young boy like me at the time, Killebrew was larger than life. My family might only make one or two trips a year up to see games at Metropolitan Stadium, but we watched Killebrew and his team mates on television every summer, all summer long.

It’s not surprising that he became my hero… my sports idol. He was the player I wanted to be “like”. But then, he was the guy we all wanted to be like. While we kids didn’t probably notice it so much at the time, his gentle and gracious demeanor towards media, fans and pretty much everyone he encountered probably resulted in him being the guy our parents hoped we would all grow up to be “like”.

Through the subsequent decades, we’ve seen one superstar after another capture our attention (and the attention of our kids) with their remarkable talents, only to turn out to be the kind of person off the field that we would never want our children to idolize. Charles Barkley even made a lot of money from his “I am not a role model” mantra.

As parents,  we’ve had to constantly remind our children that their sports heroes are “human” and they may not always be the nicest guys off the field. Spend even a single day at any Major League spring training camp (yes, including the Twins’) and you’re going to see examples of what I’m talking about. We all have had to remind our kids that their sports heroes are not “real” heroes. It’s OK to love the way they play a game, but “real” heroes are people who live their lives up to certain ethical standards and just because a person can hit a baseball 450 feet, we can’t assume he lives his life in a manner worthy of being considered a hero.

I’ve always felt a bit sad for all the kids who have grown up worshiping this home run hitter or that quarterback or this other power forward, only to realize as they get older that their hero actually was more than a little bit of a jerk. It’s just sad when a kid eventually even feels embarrassed for having admired a particular superstar. Maybe he used drugs. Maybe he abused his wife or kids, or maybe he was just a really crappy human being. I suppose there’s a lesson to be learned by kids in that situation that helps them understand the nature of human frailties. If so, it’s a lesson I’m glad I never had to learn… at least in that manner.

My hero understood and embraced his place as a role model. I’m sure Harmon Killebrew made mistakes in his life. We all do. But I’m not aware of any sports figure of his stature who has had a reputation for class and graciousness the way Killebrew has. Listen to his team mates. Listen to current players who were privileged to spend time around him as they came up in the Twins organization. Listen to people in the Twins organization that he worked with. Listen to members of the media.

I’m midway through my sixth decade on this earth and I’m still as proud as I’ve ever been to say Harmon Killebrew was my hero.

Harmon lost his battle with cancer this week and that means we won’t see him at Target Field any more, other than in a bronzed likeness. It means those of us who make the trip to spring training won’t see him around the batting cage talking with today’s players. It’s sad and our thoughts and prayers are with his family as they mourn his passing.

But Harmon will live on. When you get a legible autograph from Michael Cuddyer or one of the other Twins players that Killebrew taught to sign their names properly, Harmon will be there. When you come away from a night at a Twins Caravan impressed with how “fan friendly” the Twins players were, Harmon was there. Whenever you see an athlete conduct him or her self with class and willingly and openly embrace his or her place as a role model for young fans, Harmon will be there.

Harmon Killebrew was my hero. He was a real hero. Real heroes live on in the hearts and lives of the millions of people they touched during their time among us.

Real heroes never die.

-JC

(Photo: @MinnesotaTwins)

 

RIP Harmon!

photo courtesy of Fox 9 News

It came much faster than any of us (except maybe Harmon himself) expected.

Harmon Killebrew died this morning at the age of 74 in Scottsdale, AZ with his family by his side.

All of baseball past, present & future will feel his loss. We here at Knuckleballs can only say how sorry we are to lose him & send the best thoughts & prayers to his family and friends. I highly recommend this piece from Joe Posnanski about the Gentleman Called Killer & see the video tribute below – they’ll both bring a tear to your eye.

[update] The Twins also just released Cuddyer’s weekly blog a day early because he wrote it after Harmon announced his hospice arrangment: He was able to paint a masterpiece. The Twins have also set up a page with his biography and an opportunity for fans to leave their own memories and messages. I highly encourage anyone who wants to seek out a bit more information or share with other fans to stop by: Harmon Killebrew, 1936-2011

Lastly, the grounds crew placed Harmon’s picture underneath home plate in Target Field today. It will reside there for the rest of the season. Let’s hope that it is an encouragement for all our Twins players to do a better job to get to home during games and to play worthy of his gaze.

photo courtesy of Molly Gallatin & the Twins Grounds Crew

The Next Step for Harmon Killebrew

It breaks our hearts but Harmon Killebrew and the Twins announced this morning that the progression of his illness has now gone beyond the treatment stage. His doctors have informed him that there is nothing more they can do. He’ll be entering hospice care in order to spend his remaining days in the most comfortable way possible with his family.

I’m sure all of Twins Territory will share in sending him and his family all the best thoughts, prayers and good wishes we can. There are few players in the history of the game who have contributed to as many generations of their team as The Killer has. We can’t begin to thank him enough, not only for his time on the field as a Minnesota Twin but for all the investments into young (and some not so young) players who have followed him and to the residents of Minnesota and elsewhere. Harmon has always been known as a gentleman because of his respect for those around him. Not having him there to give the benefit of his life and experience is a huge loss for all of us.

Thanks again, Harmon!

T.G.I.F.

I realized this morning that I haven’t posted anything here in almost a week and a half. If not for Babs’ great Farewell Photo Montage, we might very well have had our first full week without a Knuckleballs post since we started this blog 11ish months ago. I realize that there has been at least a little bit of news coming out of Twinsville that I certainly could have commented about. But there’s a good reason why I haven’t.

This week has sucked and I’ve been in a really… really… bad mood.

My family and those who report to me at my place of employment apparently realized quite early in the week that this was going to be one of those weeks where they’re better off just leaving the man alone. My boss, who works in an office about 1500 miles away from where my office is, had no way of knowing it was a bad week to talk to me… especially about things he knew (or should have known) were going to piss me off even more. I believe, after a couple of mid-week conversations, he now would agree with everyone else that avoiding me was probably in everyone’s best interests.

In the middle of all this, I’m not really sure what I could have or would have written about the Twins… but there’s a good chance it wouldn’t have been very nice.

But today is, after all, Friday. The workweek is all but over. I’m still employed (for the moment, anyway). I’m not sure my family’s continued silence isn’t indicative that they’ve permanently disavowed me, but I’m relatively certain they’ll need money at some point and will break down and talk to me again.

So to honor the end of this dreadful week in the life of Jim Crikket, let’s quickly hit on a few Twins-related items before we tackle the weekend.

Twinsfest, et al.

I think the entire 2-week period leading up to Twinsfest is very cool. I know many teams have some sort of “fanfest” event in the offseason, but I don’t know of any that do it up the way the Twins do.

I’ve never attended any of the Twins Caravan stops (they don’t get within even a couple of hours of my home), but from all reports, these are great public relations events and do a lot to not only get fans thinking about baseball in January, but also to introduce some of the younger players to the Twins community. It seems to be a bit of right of passage for players who are just now beginning to live their dream of being a Big League ballplayer.

I watched some of FSN’s webcast of the Diamond Awards Banquet last night and that looks like another pretty impressive event. Again, I don’t know how many other organizations put together a charity fundraiser out of their team awards, but it’s cool thing. I have to say I was very impressed that Jesse Crain showed up to accept the team’s Community Service Award. I don’t know how many people have faced the gut-wrenching prospect of leaving the only real employer you’ve ever worked for, but as one who has, I can only say that I understand his emotions getting the best of him a bit when he spoke. It’s tough for me to “like” anyone wearing a White Sox uniform, but Crain definitely won me over a bit last night. I appreciate class in a person, regardless of the uniform, and he showed class.

Crain will also be the last Twin to wear #28 as the Twins brass announced at the event that they’ll be retiring that number in honor of Bert Blyleven. The ceremony will take place July 16 before the Twins game with the Royals that day. It’s an appropriate… and probably long overdue… honor for Bert.

As for Twinsfest itself, I’ve only been to the event once and I won’t be attending this weekend. A few years ago, my son and I attended and while I really enjoyed the event, what I remember most about it was lining up to get inside the Dome an hour or so before doors opened and standing that entire time in about 15-below-zero temperatures. I’m not saying I’ll never attend the event again, but I have to admit that when I put together a list of my preferred places to travel to in January, Minneapolis (or even Blaine) is not anywhere near the top of the list. I’ll try to be patient and wait to see the guys in Ft. Myers in March.

Oh… and for anyone still unsure, it was absolutely the right decision to tell Justin Morneau to stay on his program at home and skip Twinsfest. If you can’t see that, I’m  not sure what to say… you’re just wrong. Period. I think we should all also stop parsing every word Bill Smith says about Doc as if he’s speaking in some sort of code that needs to be deciphered. Given the issues Morneau had last season after his injury, the prudent thing to do was make sure he gave his head a lengthy rest period followed by a workout program that gradually built up to having him ready to go full tilt on Opening Day. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, that is exactly what the Twins have done.

Jim Perry, Twins Hall of Fame inductee

I haven’t paid a lot of attention to who is and isn’t in the Twins Hall of Fame. My first reaction, though, when I read that Jim Perry had been elected this year was, “How could he just now be getting elected?”

Then I was reading another blog about Perry’s election and the very first comment under it said something about picking from the “bottom of the barrel” and how they should just stop electing people if they aren’t going to give Chuck Knoblauch his due. Well that pissed me off (then again, it didn’t take much to piss me off this week).

I guess this is where I resort to being an old curmudgeon, but I think pretty much anyone who’s been following the Twins throughout their time in Minnesota, as I have, would tell you that not only should Perry have been elected to the Twins’ HOF long before a lot of the guys who are already there, but there are still a LOT of Twins from the 1960s-70s-80s who deserve that honor. With all due respect to those who have already been so honored, it’s hard for me to take seriously any Twins HOF that doesn’t already include Perry,  Camilo Pascual, Cesar Tovar, and Dave Goltz, among others. Whoever votes for this honor isn’t anywhere near the “bottom of the barrel” yet, believe me.

Things that rhyme with “itching”

Again, it may be at least partially reflective of my overall sour mood this week, but I’ve grown REAL tired of all the bitching about the pitching.

Look, I know we need to have something to talk about and I understand that the bullpen is nothing but question marks and we didn’t get the top-of-the-rotation guy many of us (including me) hoped for. But we’ve all been spending way too much effort analyzing, cross-analyzing, re-analyzing, and most of all criticizing every move the Twins make with regard to their pitching staff.

We can all pontificate for weeks about what we think the Twins’ pitching staff should be, will be or might have been… but there’s only one thing I can say on the subject with any confidence and that’s that we would ALL end up being wrong. If there’s one thing history tells us, it’s that a team’s pitching never goes exactly the way anyone expects it to. Remember… with just a week or so before the Twins wrapped up Spring Training last year, all the chatter was about whether Francisco Liriano would be the Twins’ FIFTH starter or work out of the bullpen. People who think Brian Duensing or Kevin Slowey are destined to be sent to the pen or traded mid-year to make room for Kyle Gibson might want to keep that in mind.

And I won’t even go in to how desperate we must be for something to debate about when the best we can come up with is whether or not the Twins should have risked losing Rob Delaney to pick up Dusty Hughes from the Royals’ scrapheap.

Hammond Stadium is waiting

OK, I can tell my mood is starting to affect my writing at this point, so it’s best that I stop here.

The weekend is almost here, Twinsfest is hopping over in Blaine, and we’ll have pitchers and catchers reporting to Ft. Myers in three weeks! Thank Goodness it won’t be long before we’ll have real baseball stuff to talk about!

- JC

HOF Announcement! – Bert’s IN!!!

Bert Blyleven

Well the day is here. This is the day when we finally find out whether Bert Blyleven will finally get enough votes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The action will go live today on FSN at 1 pm – as far as I know of, that is the only place to see coverage of the 2011 class announcement.  Should things go Bert’s way, there will be extended opportunities to interview him, get loads of Bert stories from some of his teammates from back in the day and general frivolity.  FSN hasn’t exactly explained what they will do if Bert isn’t included in the HOF list.  I’m sure that they, like I, unlike Jon Heyman, are standing by with optimism and hope.

Whatever the result, I’ll come back to this post after the broadcast with my reactions.

**CONTINUED**

It’s OFFICIAL!!  Congratulations to Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar on being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011!!!!

My personal feelings are that this probably should have happened a long time ago.  But whether you were an apologist or a critic of Blyleven’s candidacy, it’s good to see that this yearly discussion is finally OVER.

There is likely to be a lot of discussion about his stats yet today but from now on, they will never be used as some sort of justification or argument.  They are now simply the career stats of a Hall of Famer.

I’m watching him be interviewed by Marnie at the moment and it’s funny to hear him describe his reaction as “relief” and to admit that if it hadn’t happened for him this year, he would have been angry.  You know what? I love the honesty and the bluntness.  If it were me, yeah, after 14 years and being told no every year, I’d have been angry too but there just aren’t many out there that would be comfortable enough to admit it.  It’s very touching that his first call after being notified was to his mother.  Knowing how much his family means to him and having heard so many of the stories of his childhood, I know that it’s really important that was the first person to hear.  I know he’s happy about it but I think it all comes down to the same feeling we ALL have – we’re glad it’s done and we can go on to the next discussion now!

Congratulations Bert, I think it’s a well-deserved honor.

photo courtesy of Minnesota Twins


Here’s the official ballot results from Baseball Writers of America‘s site:

2011 Hall of Fame voting

Name Votes Pct.
Roberto Alomar 523 90.0%
Bert Blyleven 463 79.7%
Barry Larkin 361 62.1%
Jack Morris 311 53.5%
Lee Smith 263 45.3%
Jeff Bagwell 242 41.7%
Tim Raines 218 37.5%
Edgar Martinez 191 32.9%
Alan Trammell 141 24.3%
Larry Walker 118 20.3%
Mark McGwire 115 19.8%
Fred McGriff 104 17.9%
Dave Parker 89 15.3%
Don Mattingly 79 13.6%
Dale Murphy 73 12.6%
Rafael Palmeiro 64 11.0%
Juan Gonzalez 30 5.2%
Harold Baines 28 4.8%
John Franco 27 4.6%
Kevin Brown 12 2.1%
Tino Martinez 6 1.0%
Marquis Grissom 4 0.7%
Al Leiter 4 0.7%
John Olerud 4 0.7%
B.J. Surhoff 2 0.3%
Bret Boone 1 0.2%
Benito Santiago 1 0.2%
Carlos Baerga 0 0.0%
Lenny Harris 0 0.0%
Bobby Higginson 0 0.0%
Charles Johnson 0 0.0%
Raul Mondesi 0 0.0%
Kirk Rueter 0 0.0%

Note: 436 votes (75%) required for enshrinement. Induction July 24, 2011 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

A Brief Look Back at Twins History

Regular readers of our little blog here will recall that during the season, we ran a weekly (yes I know, I missed a week or two here and there… get off my back!) “Twins History Lesson” feature where we looked back at notable events in Twins history*. We haven’t done that since the season ended because, frankly, there aren’t many dates that warrant reviewing during the off-season. But on the heels of news that the Twins won the bidding for negotiating rights to Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, it may be worth noting that the Twins have, in the distant and not-so-distant past, acquired new players the old fashioned way… by trading for them.

Back in 1967, the Twins had just finished a season winning 91 games and finishing one game behind the AL champion Red Sox. They were also just a couple of seasons removed from their first World Series, having dropped the 1965 Series, four games to three, to the Dodgers. Zoilo Versalles had not only won the AL MVP Award in 1965, but hit .286 with an .833 OPS in the World Series and Jim “Mudcat” Grant started three games, winning games 1 and 6 with complete game efforts, and posted a 2.74 against the Dodgers after winning 21 games during the regular season. But in 1967, both players’ productivity dropped off considerably (Versalles hit just .200 and Grant went 5-6 on the year) and on this date, November 28, they found themselves traded to their old WS opponents, the Dodgers.

In return, the Twins received catcher John Roseboro, along with pitchers Bob Miller and Ron Perranoski. The Twins definitely won that deal. Versalles and Grant each played one season with the Dodgers without distinction. Miller and Roseboro both put in two productive, if unspectacular, years with the Twins. But the star of the trade turned out to be Perranoski, who recorded 71 saves over the next three seasons for the Twins and led the AL in that category in both 1969 and 1970, helping the Twins to Division championships both seasons.

But we don’t need to go back 33 43 (oops) years for a notable trade on November 28. Just three years ago on this date in 2007, rookie GM Bill Smith made a deal that Twins fans are still debating today when he sent SS Jason Bartlett, SP Matt Garza and minor league RP Eddie Morlan to Tampa Bay in return for OF Delmon Young, IF Brendan Harris and minor league OF Jason Pridie. The two minor leaguers, Pridie and Morlan didn’t distinguish themselves for either of their new teams, while the four major leaguers have had varying degrees of success over the past three years.

Jason Bartlett

While it’s generally perceived that the Rays got the best of this deal so far, it’s interesting to note that both Bartlett and Garza have been frequently mentioned as possible targets to be traded this off-season by the Rays. Meanwhile, Young had a break out season for the Twins after a couple of somewhat disappointing years, while Harris spent the season in Rochester after the Twins signed him to a two-year extension last off-season.

Today, the Twins find themselves in need of a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher and some relief arms to replace those departing via free agency. They could also use some more speed in the outfield, in my opinion. While there are plenty of relievers on the open market, any significant improvements to the rotation and outfield may have to come via trade. So, on this, the anniversary of a couple of major trades in Twins history, I feel compelled to ask…

What’s next, Mr. Smith?

- JC

*************************************

*As with much of the Twins History information we recounted during the season, we pulled this information from “Twins Trivia”.

Twins History Lesson: October

We are going to wrap up this season’s “Twins History Lesson*” series of posts with one final look in to the franchise’s past. Today we’ll cover the rest of the month of October.Obviously, we could fill a lengthy post with game-by-game summaries of every Twins post-season game. But instead, we’re just going to cover the events with the most historical significance.

October 4, 1969: Many of today’s Twins fans don’t remember a time when there were no “playoffs”… only a World Series between the AL and NL standings champions. But 1969 was the first year of Divisional play and the Twins were among the first four Division champions. On this date, the first Division playoff games in MLB history were played when the Mets beat the Braves 9-5 and the Twins dropped a close game to the Orioles, 4-3.

October 4, 1986: Alright, I’m not really sure how “historically significant” this is, but I thought it was very cool. On this date, Greg Gagne hit not one, but TWO inside-the-park HRs against the White Sox… the only time that’s been done by a Twin.

October 6, 1965: Jim “Mudcat” Grant became the first African-American pitcher to win a World Series game as the Twins beat the Dodgers and Don Drysdale 8-2 in the first World Series game at Metropolitan Stadium and the first since the Twins moved to Minnesota from Washington. Dodger ace Sandy Koufax refused to pitch the opening game because it was played on Jewish holiday Yom Kippur. Don Mincher and Zoilo Versalles homered for the Twins and Tony Oliva set a WS record for a right fielder with 7 put-outs.

October 6, 2009: Alexi Casilla drove in Carlos Gomez with the winning run in the 12th inning of Game 163 to lead the Twins to a 6-5 win, the AL Central Championship and a date with the Yankees in the ALDS. It was, without a doubt, the most exciting game I have ever attended in person. It was the final regular season game played at the Metrodome.

October 7, 1925: Yes… 1925. The Washington Senators, behind pitcher Walter Johnson, beat the Pirates in Game 1 of the World Series in Pittsburgh. The franchise has not won a road World Series game since, losing 14 straight since this date.

October 7, 1965: The Twins took a 2-0 lead in the World Series, as Jim Kaat beat Sandy Koufax 5-1. The highlight of the game for the Twins was an amazing Bob Allison diving catch down the left field line.

October 9, 2002: The largest home crowd in Twins history, 55,990, were on hand to see the Twins fall to the Angels 6-3 in game 2 of the ALCS.

October 11, 1900: Washington, DC was awarded a franchise in the soon-to-be-formed American League. In another 60 years, this franchise would become our Minnesota Twins.

October 12, 1987: The Twins beat Detroit 9-5 at Tiger Stadium to claim their first AL pennant in 22 years behind pitcher Bert Blyleven. Upon arriving back in Minnesota, the Twins find 50,000 fans at the Metrodome waiting to show their appreciation and celebrate with the team.

October 12, 2001: Manager Tom Kelly retired with the most wins (1140) of any manager in Twins history.

October 13, 1965: After dropping 3 games to the Dodgers in Los Angeles to fall behind 3 games to 2, the Twins tied the series and sent it to a seventh game. Once again, Mudcat Grant was the winning pitcher. This time, however, he also added offensive support with a home run. Bob ALlison also homered.

October 13, 1991: The Twins claimed the AL pennant with an 8-5 series clinching win over the Blue Jays. David West got the win and Kirby Puckett launched his second HR of the series.

October 14, 1965: Pitching on 2 days rest, Sandy Koufax beat Jim Kaat 2-0 as the Dodgers claimed the 1965 World Series title over the Twins. 50, 596 fans, the largest crowd in Met Stadium history, attended the game.

October 17, 1987: The Twins beat the Cardinals 10-1 behind Dan Gladden’s grand slam home run in the first ever indoor World Series game.

October 19, 1991: The Twins jumped out to a 1-0 series lead on the Braves behind Jack Morris’ pitching and home runs by Greg Gagne and Kent Hrbek in a 5-2 win.

October 25, 1987: The Twins won their first World Series title with a 4-2 win over the Cardinals, the first time all seven games of a World Series had been won by the home team.

October 26, 1991: Kirby Puckett’s 11th inning home run to win the game may be the most famous HR in Twins history.

October 27, 1991: Jack Morris threw a 10-inning shutout to lead the Twins to a 1-0 win over the Braves and claim the second World Series title for the Twins.

October 29, 2001: Commissioner Bud Selig announced that MLB is considering contracting two teams. One would be the Montreal Expos and the other would be either the Florida Marlins or Minnesota Twins. Of course, in the end, guys like Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Brad Radke, and Doug Mientkiewicz would have none of that. A year later, the Twins were AL Central Champions and contraction talk ancient history.

I hope others have enjoyed these weekly (sorta) trips in to the Twins history books as much as I have. The Twins came in to existence just shortly before my 5th birthday and I’ve been a fan ever since, so I suppose for me this has been an opportunity to re-live a few memories.

Now, let’s sit back and watch this year’s Twins make new post season memories for all of us! – JC

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*We pull this information from a few different sources, including (but not necessarily limited to) Dave Wright’s excellent book, “162-0, The Greatest Wins!”, as well as some  internet sites like “Twins Trivia” and “National Pastime”.