Sunday October 2, 1988
A few weeks ago, Tom Kelly adjusted his starting rotation a bit in order to reward Allan Anderson with an extra start, scheduled to come on the final day of the season. Neither Kelly nor Anderson anticipated that the left-hander would choose to sit out the day before.
Roy Smith will pitch for the Twins today in the season finale at the Metrodome. Allan Anderson was scheduled to go against the Angels but he will be sitting on the bench and on his earned-run average.
Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Teddy Higuera, starting against the Athletics in Oakland on Saturday, gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings and saw his ERA move up to 2.454. That made Anderson’s ERA of 2.446 the best in the league.
A couple of Anderson’s teammates mentioned to him that by pitching he would risk losing the ERA championship. At least one veteran suggested he not pitch today. Anderson began thinking about that and became confused over what to do. When manager Tom Kelly saw Anderson’s ambivalent state, he figured it best for all concerned to send Smith out there.
“I gave him a choice of what he would like to do,” Kelly said. “He was sort of in between. He was indecisive. At that point I figured it would be better to probably use someone else.”
-Tom Powers, Pioneer Press 10/1/1988
Anderson, who earlier in the week had said that he wasn’t paying attention to his ERA, figured he might take some heat for his decision.
“I had a lot of opinions from the other ballplayers,” Anderson said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime thing. It is an honor to have that. I feel good about myself. I feel I’ve done everything possible when I went out there.”
Anderson says he knows people are going to ridicule his decision and say he backed into an ERA title.
“I just take it at face value,” he said. “If it makes them feel better, that’s fine.”
Powers reported on the Milwaukee reaction the next day.
Milwaukee pitching coach Chuck Hartenstein was philosophical when he heard Twins pitcher Allan Anderson would sit out Sunday’s finale to protect his earned-run average. Anderson thereby nipped Brewers starter Teddy Higuera for the earned-run average title, 2.446 to 2.454.
“Let each man’s conscience be his guide,” Hartenstein said when he got the news. “That kid (Anderson) worked his tail off all year to do what he did. I can understand him doing that, (he’s) a young player.
“You like to see guys who, when it comes their turn to pitch, pitch. But it’s no big deal. I’m not sure what we would have done if the shoe was on the other foot.”
“I don’t care,” Higuera said. “I’m very happy with the season I’ve had.”
With the AL ERA champion watching from the clubhouse, the Twins won the final game of the 1988 season to finish 91-71. Though the Twins won 3-2, the story of the game was the fan reaction.
The Metrodome was draped with bedsheet banners, some in anticipation of topping 3 million in attendance (“See a Game, Set a Record”), some offering suggestions to executive vice president Andy MacPhail (“Sign Bert Blyleven – If He Leaves, It Will Be Like Losing Jim Kaat”).
The game was something of a formality, although the victory allowed the Twins to finish 20 games over .500 for the first time in 18 years. A crowd of 35,952 cheered Gladden’s fence-crashing catch in the fifth inning and, after Kirby Puckett struck out for the third time, still applauded the center fielder’s terrific season.
However, the fans saved their loudest cheers for themselves: With two outs in the ninth, the scoreboard flashed the news that the Twins had become the first American League club to top 3 million in attendance, ending up with 3,030,672. Carol Hanson of Alexandria, Minn., won a drawing as the 3,000,000th fan, with prizes of airfare, hotel, rental car and a $1,000 gift certificate.
Afterward, the Twins gathered in the middle of the infield and tipped their caps to the stands. Club owner Carl Pohlad, manager Tom Kelly, Kent Hrbek, Puckett, Frank Viola and Jeff Reardon briefly thanked the fans and predicted future postseason fun. Then it was into the clubhouse and into the night.
“The last two years have been the most incredible two years I’ve ever witnessed,” said Viola, whose 24-7 record makes him a lock for the AL Cy Young Award. “Knowing what it was like here in ’82, ’83, looking up and seeing 4,000 fans in the stands, this gives me goose bumps. That’s what this game’s all about.”
-Steve Aschburner, Star Tribune 10/3/1988
Though they finished six games better than the previous year, there will be no champagne popping for the Twins in 1988.
Player of the Game
Team Name G W L T PCT GB RS RA Oakland Athletics 162 104 58 0 .642 - 800 620 Minnesota Twins 162 91 71 0 .562 13.0 759 672 Kansas City Royals 161 84 77 0 .522 19.5 704 648 California Angels 162 75 87 0 .463 29.0 714 771 Chicago White Sox 161 71 90 0 .441 32.5 631 757 Texas Rangers 161 70 91 0 .435 33.5 637 735 Seattle Mariners 161 68 93 0 .422 35.5 664 744