1994: Metrodome Moments

Thursday July 14, 1994

With the two struggling teams meeting immediately following the All-Star Game, at least something interesting happened. According to Scott Miller in the Pioneer Press, this game was uniquely Metrodome:

So. Just another typical stop on the Twins’ 1994 Voodoo Scrounge tour. This night contained a single when Milwaukee left fielder Greg Vaughn simply couldn’t pick up the ball against the Metrodome roof (the Twins scored twice on the play), another single – this time to right field – that actually became a fielder’s choice (Brewers right fielder Matt Mieske was able to throw out Pedro Munoz at second on a Leius single) and a foul down the first base line that was caught after it struck the Metrodome roof (Kevin Seitzer did the honors).

Still, most of the coverage of the game centered around a baserunning mistake by Alex Cole. From Dennis Brackin’s story in the Strib:

Almost nothing the Twins tried paid off. Minnesota had the potential go-ahead run at third base – Alex Cole – with one out in the eighth inning and Scott Leius at the plate. With a 3-and-2 count, Cole was issued a signal that he should break for the plate when Leius made contact.

One problem: Leius struck out, and Cole was caught too far down the line for a double play.

“With the infield playing in, you’ve got to take chances in that situation,” Cole said. “You’ve got to get the best jump you can.”

Said Kelly: “Alex took an extra step or two anticipating [Leius] was going to hit the ball, and [Leius] just missed the ball,” Kelly said. “Alex was obviously too far off the bag. He was just being aggressive, maybe a little bit too much.”

There was also some sad news reported on the same day, as reported by Juan C. Rodriguez:

Cesar Tovar, a Twins outfielder from 1965 to 1972 and one of only two major leaguers to play all nine positions in one game, died Thursday afternoon after suffering a heart attack in a Caracas, Venezuela, medical clinic.

The EFE news service reported that Tovar was admitted into the clinic several days ago for renal problems. Tovar will be buried today at the East Cemetery in Caracas. He was 54.

Tovar – remembered with a moment of silence before Thursday night’s Twins-Milwaukee game at the Metrodome – became the second major leaguer to play all nine positions in one game. Against Oakland on Sept. 22, 1968, at Metropolitan Stadium, he played one inning at every position. He joined Bert Campaneris, who did it in a 13-inning game for the Kansas City Athletics on Sept. 8, 1965.

Tovar, the only position player in Twins history to start a game on the mound, pitched a scoreless first inning that included a strikeout of Reggie Jackson.

Tovar also shares the major league record, with Eddie Milner, for having his team’s only hit in a game. He did it five times, and in 1969 broke up no-hit bids in the ninth inning by Baltimore’s Mike Cuellar and Dave McNally.

“His zest for the game was great because he was always enthusiastic and always hustled,” said Twins minor league director Jim Rantz, who played with Tovar in the minor leagues in 1964. “He always came to play.”

Though Tony Oliva was his favorite player while growing up, Twins first baseman Kent Hrbek said Thursday that Tovar was one of his favorites. “I always liked him,” he said. “He was a good little hitter and always seemed to have fun playing the game.”

The Twins acquired Tovar through an offseason trade with the Cincinnati Reds in 1964 for lefthander Gerry Arrigo.

Jim Wiesner, the Twins’ 34-year equipment manager, said: “The thing that stood out in my mind when we made the deal for him was we gave up Gerry Arrigo. I’m not saying everybody was upset about the deal, but pitching is at a premium and we traded a hard-throwing lefthander for this little beanbag.

“If I remember right, the first game he played for us we had the ballgame won and he dropped a pop fly to tie the ballgame up. And then we went into extra innings and he won it with a base hit or a home run. He’s probably the best utility player we’ve ever had. When we needed a guy to play second base, he played second. When we needed a guy to play outfield. he played the outfield for you.”

Tovar, one of nine Twins to get more than 1,000 hits, ranks high in several club statistical categories: second in stolen bases (186), fifth in triples (45), seventh in hits (1,164), seventh in doubles (193), eighth in runs (646), eighth in at-bats (4,142) and 10th in total bases (1,561).

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One Response to 1994: Metrodome Moments

  1. Beau says:

    Wiesner’s memory is correct. Tovar dropped a pop fly to tie the game up.

    Funny enough, it was another drop on a flyball that helped the Twins win. In the bottom of the 11th, Allison reached third on a three-base error by Art Lopez (who had pinch-ran for Mickey Mantle and had taken his place in left). Then after two intentional walks and two blown chances by Versalles and Kindall, Tovar singled to center.

    I like it when memories like this are correct.

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