1973: Eddie Bane’s Debut

Wednesday July 4, 1973

On June 27, the Twins faced the Texas Rangers in a near-meaningless game between a team struggling to stay above .500 and a team that was on its way to losing 105 games in a season. Still, 35,698 turned out to see the game in Texas (where crowds below 5,000 were common) thanks to the debut of the Rangers’ top draft choice; pitcher David Clyde. The Twins lost that game 4-3, but Twins’ management, including Calvin Griffith, noticed the crowd. The announcement was made that Eddie Bane would make his debut for the Twins on July 4 at Met Stadium.

From an earlier post on Bane:

Bane finished his college career with a 41-4 record and a then NCAA record 505 strikeouts. On June 7, 1973, the Minnesota Twins made Eddie Bane their number 11 pick in the amateur draft. Three days later Bane would shut out the Dave Winfield and the Minnesota Golden Gophers in a College World Series game.

Due in part to fledgling attendance, Twins’ owner Calvin Griffith put Bane on the fast track to the big club, skipping the minor leagues all together and taking the same direct route to the majors as three other players in the draft: #1 overall pick David Clyde of Texas, Dave Winfield with San Diego, and Robin Yount with Milwaukee. In total, 18 players have made the jump directly from the draft to the majors.

To sweeten the deal for Minnesota fans who hadn’t been turning out over the past few years, the team threw in an Eddie Bane autographed picture giveaway and promised fireworks after the game. The promotion worked as a then-Met Stadium record crowd of 45,890 turned out for the game against the Royals. The game was delayed 15 minutes to allow the crowd, many of whom had waited in lines to get into the parking lot and to get tickets, time to settle in.

   Kansas City Royals            Minnesota Twins                      
1. F Patek              SS    1. R Carew              2B
2. C Rojas              2B    2. J Terrell            SS
3. A Otis               CF    3. T Oliva              DH
4. L Piniella           LF    4. B Darwin             RF
5. K Bevacqua           1B    5. S Braun              3B
6. P Schaal             3B    6. L Hisle              CF
7. H McRae              RF    7. J Lis                1B
8. J Wohlford           DH    8. G Mitterwald         C
9. F Healy              C     9. J Holt               LF 

   D Drago              P        E Bane               P

Bane looked good early, and did not allow a hit until the third inning. Hal McRae singled to start the third, and eventually scored when Fran Healy doubled off of Bane to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Bane settled down again, however, and allowed just one more Kansas City hit over the next four innings.

Dick Drago, the Royals’ starter somewhat lost in the Bane hype, looked like he was struggling most of the game, but somehow held the Twins scoreless. After seven innings, Drago had allowed eight Twins hits, but had yet to allow a run.

Bane left the game after he pitched his half of the seventh to a standing ovation and made his first, and perhaps last, major league curtain call (a move the Sporting News pointed to as demonstrating “class you don’t see from most 22-year-olds”). The rookie phenom was out of the game, and the Twins were trailing 1-0.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Twins used four consecutive hits to score three runs and take the rookie off the hook. The big blow was a Larry Hisle two-run home run off of Drago. The lead was short lived, however, and the Royals took it back in the top of the ninth off of Ray Corbin. Corbin, who was having a good year, walked four Royals and allowed four runs in the inning.

The Twins tried to mount a comeback, and got two hits off of Drago to start the ninth. By the time Drago left the game, he had allowed 14 Twins hits and was charged with four runs. Gene Garber came on to finish the game, however, and the Royals managed to win in front of the huge crowd, 5-4, despite 15 Twins hits (11 LOB).

As it turned out, Bane’s first start may have been his best. He didn’t win a game in 1973, finishing 0-5 for the season. Bane was sent the minors for the bulk of the next two seasons, and started in just 168 innings in the majors. After a rough spring in 1977 he was optioned to Tacoma and never saw the majors again.


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