Tuesday September 5, 1978
Chicago White Sox 57-80 @ Minnesota Twins 62-76
In early September of 1978 the Twins were well out of the AL West race, and The Sporting News‘ Twins beat writer, Bob Fowler, spent a lot of column space proclaiming different Twins the team MVP. In the September 9 issue, Fowler proudly proclaimed that center fielder Dan Ford was his candidate for Twins MVP. After all, Ford was having his best season, leading the team in RBI (71) and doubles (30), and was second in home runs (all stats Fowler referred to in his article).
In the September 23 issue, Fowler proclaimed that Roy Smalley was the likely candidate for team MVP (though he also mentioned Rod Carew in passing – for the record, Carew was hitting .341/.415/.451 heading into the 9/5 game).
What changed? Fowler noted that Ford had hit an 0-for-25 slump from late August to early September, but it is likely that there was more to the story than that. On September 5 the White Sox and the Twins hooked up in the second game of a three game series (because of TSN’s issue dating, the 9/5 game occurred after the 9/9 issue hit newsstands).
Chicago White Sox Minnesota Twins 1. C Washington LF 1. R Smalley SS 2. T Bosley CF 2. B Randall 2B 3. M Squires 1B 3. W Norwood LF 4. L Johnson DH 4. D Ford CF 5. C Lemon RF 5. J Morales DH 6. E Soderholm 3B 6. L Wolfe 3B 7. G Pryor 2B 7. B Rivera RF 8. B Nahorodny C 8. C Kusick 1B 9. D Kessinger SS 9. B Wynegar C S Trout P R Erickson P
The Twins fell behind early when Claudell Washington hit a Roger Erickson pitch into the bleachers for a two-run home run in the third inning. The Sox tacked on two more runs over the course of the next four innings, taking a 4-0 lead after scoring a run in the top of the seventh.
Ford, fresh off of breaking his 0-for-25 streak with a single the night before, got another with one out in the bottom of the seventh. Chicago starter Steve Trout was removed after the Twins loaded the bases, with Ford standing on third and still only one out.
The next batter, Bombo Rivera, singled to center – a play that should have scored two runs. Ford was so certain, in fact, that he turned around and jogged backward down the base line waving to the runner on second, Jose Morales, to follow him home. Before Ford got to the plate he stopped, and signaled for Morales to score standing, while slapping his hand as he did. The only problem: Ford, who was gaining a reputation as a bit of a flaky player, didn’t touch home plate before Morales.
Ford realized his mistake and quickly touched the plate, but it was too late. The umpire called Morales out for passing Ford, though Ford’s run did put the Twins on the board. Instead of a two-run deficit with just one out, the Twins had a three-run deficit with two outs in the seventh inning.
Ford was removed from the game and ultimately fined his day’s pay by manager Gene Mauch, who reportedly was pacing angrily in the clubhouse after the game.
The Twins managed a rally in the ninth, but it fell one run short – the run that Ford had cost them earlier in the game – a fact not lost on Mauch or Calvin Griffith. The Twins lost the game 4-3.
Stars of the Game
1. Claudell Washington CHW 2-run home run
2. Bombo Rivera MIN 3-for-4, 2 RBI
3. Steve Trout CHW 6 1/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 K
Dan Ford’s days as a Twin were numbered, and he was traded to California in December of 1978. He hung around the league until 1985, and had a few good seasons with the Angels before being traded to Baltimore in 1982. Ford struggled in four seasons with the Orioles before retiring.