Don Mincher

March 6, 2012

ed. given the news that Don Mincher passed away this week, I thought it would be appropriate to compile some of the things I have written about him in previous posts.

Here’s my take on the trade that brought Mincher to Washington/Minnesota.

1962: 1B Don Mincher .240/.406/.488 9 HR 0.5 BFW 6 WS 1 FRAR 1.3 WARP3
Mincher was set to start at first base out of spring training, but neither Griffith nor Mele were comfortable with the 24-year-old playing every day, prompting the trade for Vic Power. Still, Mincher showed glimpses of power in his brief playing time in 1962, and would get more playing time a year later.

1963: 1B Don Mincher .258/.351/.520 17 HR 0.5 BFW 10 WS 1 FRAR 2.3 WARP3
Mele didn’t tend to use his reserves very often, but the fact that Mincher showed so much power in such little playing time meant that he was sure to get at-bats off of the Twins’ bench.

1964: 1B/OF Bob Allison .287/.404/.553 32 HR 4.5 BFW 25 WS 12 FRAR 8.4 WARP3
1B Don Mincher .237/.300/.547 23 HR 0.6 BFW 8 WS 3 FRAR 2.4 WARP3
To make room for Tony Oliva, Bob Allison was moved to first base for the 1964 season. He spent a good part of the early portion of the season adjusting to his new position, but you wouldn’t know it from his hitting stats. Allison had his best major league season at the plate, and was named the starting All Star first baseman after playing just 75 games at that position. Allison’s time as the regular first baseman was short lived. After the season, Calvin Griffith announced that he would be moving back to left field for 1965. Mincher continued to hit for power as a backup to Allison and pinch hitter.

1965: 1B Don Mincher .251/.344/.509 22 HR 0.4 BFW 17 WS 0 FRAR 2.9 WARP3
Mincher had begun to show signs of frustration in the spring of 1965, and started to make noise about wanting to be traded. With Killebrew and Allison both able to play first base, it didn’t seem as there would be any room for Mincher to play as a regular. Still, Mincher maintained a positive attitude and was willing to work in both the outfield and at third base if it would help the team. As it turned out, his number was called at his most comfortable position when Killebrew lost most of the second half of the season due to injury. Mincher responded to the regular playing time with the best season of his career so far. The biggest compliment he might have received, however, came from Killebrew before the injury. Harmon suggested to Mele that perhaps he should play another position to get Mincher in the lineup more. Sure enough, Killebrew started to show up at third base when the team faced right handed pitchers, and when he returned for the last few weeks of the season he was installed there regularly so Mincher could remain at first base for the World Series.

1966: 1B Don Mincher .251/.340/.418 14 HR 0.4 BFW 14 WS 8 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
After falling off from his numbers of the previous several seasons, Mincher was traded to the California Angels. Mincher bounced around the majors from 1967 to 1972, even posting a career best season with the Angels in 1967. He finished his 13-year major league career with 200 home runs.


Saturday July 15, 1967

January 19, 2012

The 10th place Kansas City Athletics and the 2nd place Minnesota Twins had split the first two games of a three game series with a couple of 3-2 games at Metropolitan Stadium. Cal Ermer’s Twins came back from a 2-0 deficit in the first game on Thursday by scoring a run an inning in the 6th, 7th, and 8th; the first and last of which were solo home runs by Harmon Killebrew, who brought his season’s total to 24, enough to tie Frank Howard for the AL lead.

On Friday Twins’ pitcher Jim Kaat allowed a couple of runs on four singles in the fourth inning while three Athletics pitchers held the Twins’ offense down to earn a 3-2 win.

It might have seemed improbable that the third game of the series would end with the exact same score, but that is what went down at the Met. Starter Dean Chance ran into some trouble in the top of the first. With one out, shortstop Zoilo Versalles booted a grounder by Mike Hershberger. Hershberger stole second before Chance issued a walk to the number three hitter John Donaldson. Hershberger and Donaldson advanced on a double steal putting both in scoring position for Ramon Webster’s two-RBI single that put the A’s ahead 2-0. The A’s were aggressive on the base paths, stealing four bases in the top of the first inning and seven total off of the battery of Chance and Earl Battey.

Harmon Killebrew struck with his third solo home run of the series in the bottom of the frame to cut the Kansas City lead in half.

Both Chance and Kansas City pitcher Lew Krausse settled in after the first inning. Kansas City only managed to scatter four more singles off of Chance, who at one point retired 10 consecutive batters. Krausse put his own string together, and would have retired 15 Twins in a row had it not been for an error in the bottom of the sixth. Krausse ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth when Bob Allison, pinch hitting for Chance, doubled to right with one out. After the second out was recorded and Allison moved to third, manager Al Dark went to left-handed Tony Pierce, who did his job by retiring Rod Carew with a harmless ground out to first base.

After Ron Kline pitched around a lead off single in the visitor’s half of the ninth, The Twins would send Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva to face A’s reliever Jack Aker. On consecutive pitches from Aker, Killebrew and Oliva blasted solo home runs to send the home fans away from the Met happy with a 3-2 Twins win.


Elmer Valo

November 16, 2010

When Elmer Valo joined the Washington Senators in 1959, he was already a veteran of 19 baseball seasons. Though he spent his first 15 seasons with the Philadelphia/Kansas City A’s, by the time he was signed as a free agent by the Nats in May of 1960 he had spent the previous five seasons playing for six different teams in seven different cities.

It seemed that his major league career was over in 1959. After the Czechoslovakia native seemed to get no interest from major league teams in the offseason, he began the year as player-manager for the Seattle Raniers. He caught the eye of many during his short stint in the Pacific Northwest, including famous Washington Post columnist Shirley Povich who noted in a May roundup that Valo was leading the Pacific Coast League in hitting with a .340 average.

The Senators snatched him up when the 40-year-old became available after appearing just eight times for the New York Yankees before being cut when the rosters reduced in the early part of the season. The Sporting News report indicated that Washington was interested in Valo primarily as a pinch-hitter, which turned out to be an understatement. To make room for Valo, the team sent young first baseman Don Mincher to Charleston, though manager Cookie Lavagetto insisted that Mincher had a future as a major league player.

While he appeared in 76 games for the Nats that season, Valo started in a single game. By the end of the season, he had compiled all of 20 innings in the outfield. Of his 85 plate appearances, 75 came as a pinch-hitter. When combined with the seven pinch-hitting plate appearances with the Yankees, Valo still holds the single-season American League record with 82 pinch-hitting appearances.

Valo made the move with the franchise to Minnesota. He appeared in 33 games (all as a pinch hitter) before he was released in June. Valo was picked up by the Philadelphia Phillies for the rest of the season before retiring at the age of 41.

In 108 games with the franchise, Valo made just the one start. His batting line was .240/.372/.292 thanks to a patient eye at the plate.


1961 Game 161: Detroit Tigers (100-61) @ Minnesota Twins (70-89)

September 26, 2010

Sunday October 1, 1961

Tigers 8, Twins 3

The 1961 season mercifully came to an end for the Twins with a loss to Detroit. While the eyes of the baseball world were on Roger Maris in New York, the Minnesota Twins dropped their 90th game in front of 15,723 fans who came for the final game of the season.

After dropping five runs in the top of the first inning, the game was somewhat anti-climactic. Starting pitcher Al Schroll did not last an inning, though he did see every batter in the Tiger order in that fraction of an inning. He was pulled after allowing five runs on four hits. Pedro Ramos was able to settle things down, but it was too late.

Bill Tuttle (5) and Ramos (3) both hit solo home runs in the losing effort.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               163  109   53    1  .673     -   827  612
Detroit Tigers                 163  101   61    1  .623   8.0   841  671
Baltimore Orioles              163   95   67    1  .586  14.0   691  588
Chicago White Sox              163   86   76    1  .531  23.0   765  726
Cleveland Indians              161   78   83    0  .484  30.5   737  752
Boston Red Sox                 163   76   86    1  .469  33.0   729  792
Minnesota Twins                161   70   90    1  .438  38.0   707  778
Los Angeles Angels             162   70   91    1  .435  38.5   744  784
Kansas City Athletics          162   61  100    1  .379  47.5   683  863
Washington Senators            161   61  100    0  .379  47.5   618  776

1961 Game 160: Detroit Tigers (99-61) @ Minnesota Twins (70-88)

September 25, 2010

Saturday September 30, 1961

Tigers 6, Twins 4

It might have been a good thing that the Twins decided to start the game at 10:00 AM to accommodate fans who wanted to see the Golden Gopher football game that afternoon – a good thing for Detroit. The Tigers won 6-4 in a rain-shortened game. Based on the scoring in the first few innings, it is a game which might have gone back-and-forth a few more times before the ninth inning.

As it stood, the Twins dropped another and Detroit reached the 100-win mark.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               162  108   53    1  .671     -   826  612
Detroit Tigers                 162  100   61    1  .621   8.0   833  668
Baltimore Orioles              163   95   67    1  .586  13.5   691  588
Chicago White Sox              163   86   76    1  .531  22.5   765  726
Cleveland Indians              160   77   83    0  .481  30.5   729  747
Boston Red Sox                 162   76   85    1  .472  32.0   729  791
Minnesota Twins                160   70   89    1  .440  37.0   704  770
Los Angeles Angels             161   70   90    1  .438  37.5   739  776
Washington Senators            160   61   99    0  .381  46.5   616  773
Kansas City Athletics          161   60  100    1  .375  47.5   680  861

1961 Game 159: Detroit Tigers (98-61) @ Minnesota Twins (70-87)

September 24, 2010

Friday September 29, 1961

Tigers 6, Twins 4 (10 innings)

A four-run lean turned out not to be safe against the second place team in the American League. Minnesota built a 4-0 lead after three innings. Billy Martin’s first inning home run (7) started the scoring. Martin knocked in another run with a third inning single, and later in the same inning Bob Allison knocked in two more with a single of his own.

It turned out not to be enough against the powerful Tigers, who touched up Camilo Pascual for two runs in the fifth before tying the game with two more runs in the ninth inning.

Jake Wood’s two-RBI single in the 10th would be the last pitch that Pascual would throw in the game.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               161  107   53    1  .669     -   823  611
Detroit Tigers                 161   99   61    1  .619   8.0   827  664
Baltimore Orioles              162   94   67    1  .584  13.5   687  585
Chicago White Sox              162   86   75    1  .534  21.5   762  722
Cleveland Indians              159   77   82    0  .484  29.5   723  736
Boston Red Sox                 161   76   84    1  .475  31.0   728  788
Minnesota Twins                159   70   88    1  .443  36.0   700  764
Los Angeles Angels             160   69   90    1  .434  37.5   728  770
Kansas City Athletics          160   60   99    1  .377  46.5   676  856
Washington Senators            159   60   99    0  .377  46.5   611  769

1961 Game 158: Cleveland Indians (76-81) @ Minnesota Twins (70-86)

September 23, 2010

Thursday September 28, 1961

Indians 12, Twins 5

As much as the previous game went the Twins’ way, the final game in the Cleveland series went for the visitors.

Pedro Ramos lasted just 2/3 of an inning. He allowed four runs on four hits. It was little consolation that three of the runs were unearned.

The Twins scored three in the bottom of the third, but another four-spot by the visitors in the top of the third inning essentially put the game out of reach. The only remaining highlight for the Twins was Harmon Killebrew’s 46th home run of the season in the ninth inning that made the final score 12-5.

Ramos earned the loss, hitting the “magical” 20-loss mark. He did not allow a home run, however, so his league-leading total remains at 39.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               160  106   53    1  .667     -   821  610
Detroit Tigers                 160   98   61    1  .616   8.0   821  660
Baltimore Orioles              161   93   67    1  .581  13.5   684  583
Chicago White Sox              161   86   74    1  .538  20.5   760  719
Cleveland Indians              158   77   81    0  .487  28.5   719  730
Boston Red Sox                 160   76   83    1  .478  30.0   727  786
Minnesota Twins                158   70   87    1  .446  35.0   696  758
Los Angeles Angels             159   68   90    1  .430  37.5   722  766
Kansas City Athletics          159   60   98    1  .380  45.5   676  854
Washington Senators            158   59   99    0  .373  46.5   609  769

1961 Game 157: Cleveland Indians (76-80) @ Minnesota Twins (69-86)

September 22, 2010

Wednesday September 27, 1961

Twins 10, Indians 4

The Twins put on a show for the 2,992 fans who braved the cold to see them in the final week of the inagural season in Minnesota.

Al Schroll was brilliant on the mound for the Twins. His only blemishes in the first eight innings were a pair of walks (one of which was erased by a ground ball double play), and a hit batter. Cleveland couldn’t get anything else going until the ninth inning, when a single broke up the no-hit bid and a bases-loaded triple by Tito Francona ended the shut out.

Fortunately for the Twins, there was plenty of cushion before the ninth. Billy Martin’s solo home run (5) in the bottom of the third started the outburst. After a Zolio Versalles RBI single in the fourth inning made the score 2-0, the Twins decided to bunch a few runs in the sixth inning. Six hits, a walk, a wild pitch, and a throwing error helped lead the team to a six-run inning. The Twins added a few more runs, including one on Harmon Killebrew’s 45th home run of the season.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               160  106   53    1  .667     -   821  610
Detroit Tigers                 160   98   61    1  .616   8.0   821  660
Baltimore Orioles              161   93   67    1  .581  13.5   684  583
Chicago White Sox              161   86   74    1  .538  20.5   760  719
Cleveland Indians              157   76   81    0  .484  29.0   707  725
Boston Red Sox                 160   76   83    1  .478  30.0   727  786
Minnesota Twins                157   70   86    1  .449  34.5   691  746
Los Angeles Angels             158   67   90    1  .427  38.0   709  762
Kansas City Athletics          159   60   98    1  .380  45.5   676  854
Washington Senators            157   59   98    0  .376  46.0   605  756

1961 Game 156: Cleveland Indians (75-80) @ Minnesota Twins (69-85)

September 21, 2010

Tuesday September 26, 1961

Indians 7, Twins 3

Cleveland jumped out to an early lead against Jack Kralick, scoring three runs over the first two innings. They did most of the damage with five singles, though two walks issued did not help matters for the home team.

Though Kralick settled down and held the Indians scoreless from there, he was out of the game by the seventh inning. The Twins’ bullpen picked up where he left off in the early innings. Cleveland put together a run on three more singles in the top of the seventh, then scored three in the eighth with the help of a Tito Francona double and a throwing error charged to Billy Martin.

The three-run home run by Zoilo Versalles (7) in the bottom of the eighth was too-little-too-late from a Twins’ perspective.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               159  106   52    1  .671     -   819  607
Detroit Tigers                 159   97   61    1  .614   9.0   811  658
Baltimore Orioles              160   92   67    1  .579  14.5   681  581
Chicago White Sox              160   86   73    1  .541  20.5   756  713
Cleveland Indians              156   76   80    0  .487  29.0   703  715
Boston Red Sox                 159   75   83    1  .475  31.0   721  782
Minnesota Twins                156   69   86    1  .445  35.5   681  742
Los Angeles Angels             157   66   90    1  .423  39.0   701  756
Kansas City Athletics          158   60   97    1  .382  45.5   674  844
Washington Senators            156   59   97    0  .378  46.0   599  748

1961 Game 155: Washington Senators (57-97) @ Minnesota Twins (69-84)

September 19, 2010

Sunday September 24, 1961

Senators 4, Twins 1

Jim Donovan held the Twins to just one hit, a seventh inning solo home run by Joe Altobelli (3). Aside from a pair of walks, that is all the offense the home team could muster.

Washington’s two runs in the fourth inning would have been enough. They came on four consecutive one-out singles off of Jim Kaat. The Senators added a run in the sixth and another in the eighth to make the final 4-1.

Team Name                        G    W    L    T   PCT    GB    RS   RA
New York Yankees               158  105   52    1  .669     -   816  605
Detroit Tigers                 156   96   59    1  .619   8.0   797  640
Baltimore Orioles              159   92   66    1  .582  13.5   679  578
Chicago White Sox              158   85   72    1  .541  20.0   744  701
Cleveland Indians              155   75   80    0  .484  29.0   696  712
Boston Red Sox                 157   74   82    1  .474  30.5   709  770
Minnesota Twins                155   69   85    1  .448  34.5   678  735
Los Angeles Angels             156   66   89    1  .426  38.0   699  753
Kansas City Athletics          155   58   96    1  .377  45.5   656  830
Washington Senators            155   58   97    0  .374  46.0   596  746

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