1973: CWS Semi Final

June 17, 2014

June 12, 1973

USC 8, Minnesota 7

Dave Winfield, pitcher for the Gophers, was cruising against the three-time defending national champions from USC. Through eight innings the dominant 6-foot-6-inch right hander had struck out 15 Trojans and allowed just a infield single to a team with three future major league players in the lineup.


One of those players, Roy Smalley, recalled:

“He had such a long-legged stride that when he released the ball, it looked like he was halfway to the plate,” said Smalley, now a financial advisor in Minneapolis and an occasional studio analyst for Twins games. “It seemed like he was throwing 106 miles an hour.”

The switch-hitting Smalley remembered gearing up for Winfield’s fastball on a two-strike count, but being so badly fooled on a slider that he threw his bat into the first-base dugout.

“It’s true,” Winfield said in a telephone interview.

Entering the 9th inning of that semi-final game, USC was down 7-0.

Smalley said the Trojans figured they had no chance.

“We were toast,” he said. “We knew we were done. We were all probably thinking about who we were going to play tomorrow.”

That changed when, Smalley said, the first two Gophers batters in the top of the ninth tried to bunt their way on. Smalley said that agitated the Trojans, who thought Minnesota was trying to show them up.

“I could hear Freddie Lynn yelling obscenities at them,” Smalley said. “There was a chain-link protective fence in front of our dugout and Freddie almost ripped it off. That fired everybody up.”

It looked as though the comeback would not happen. After a lead off single, the second batter in the bottom of the ninth, Creighton Tevlin, hit into what seemed to be an apparent double play. Tevlin beat the relay to first, however, in a play that was so close Minnesota manager Dick Seibert argued until he was tossed out of the game.

USC continued to claw its way back into the game against Winfield, and later reliever Bob Turnbull, ultimately winning the game 8-7 and eliminating the Gophers. Despite the loss, Winfield was named the tournment’s Most Outstanding Player.

Winfield and Smalley crossed paths again in the majors:

Smalley and Winfield were Yankee teammates from 1982 to 1984, but Smalley said he never asked Winfield about that game.

“He didn’t like to talk too much about that day, so I never pursued it,” Smalley said.


1970: A Crazy Play

April 24, 2014

From baseballlibrary.com:

Tiger P Earl Wilson fans for the 3rd out in the 7th inning against the Twins. On the 3rd strike by Jim Kaat‚ Twins C Paul Ratliff traps the ball in the dirt‚ and must either throw to 1B or tag the batter. Instead he rolls the ball back to the mound‚ ignoring the fact that ump John Rice has not signaled a K. As the Twins head for their dugout‚ Wilson begins running the bases and is around 3B when OF Brant Alyea retrieves the ball and throws to SS Leo Cardenas‚ who is standing by home. Wilson turns back to 3B but Cardenas and Alyea run him down for a 7-6-7 out on a 3rd strike. Wilson pulls a hamstring on the play and leaves‚ trailing‚ 2-1‚ and Detroit ties it up 3-3 in the 9th. But Killebrew singles home Oliva in the bottom of the 9th for the win.

Here’s the boxscore.

Wilson was told to run by third base coach Grover Resinger. When the Twins noticed the pitcher running, most of the fielders were already in the dugout. Brant Ayela was “trotting” in from left field when he noticed the play unfolding. He retrieved the ball from the pitcher’s mound and threw to Leo Cardenas, who emerged from the dugout to cover home. Cardenas returned the throw to Alyea who tagged Wilson.

Mike Lamey’s recap in TSN added some color:

If Earl Wilson had been a little faster or Twin outfielder Brant Alyea a little quicker, the Detroit pitcher might have become the first player ever to circle the bases on a strikeout.

So all Wilson has to show is a strikeout and a sore hamstring muscle that could cost him a round of turns in the pitching rotation.

April 11, 1975

April 10, 2014

Royals Stadium
Royals 8, Twins 3

Top Play:
With the score tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Freddie Patek knocked a two-run double down the left field foul line off of Twins reliever Bill Butler.

Top WPA:
Freddie Patek KC 0.23
Al Fitzmorris KC 0.17
Cookie Rojas KC 0.16

Bottom WPA:
Bill Butler MIN -0.28
John Mayberry KC -0.19
Glenn Borgmann MIN -0.16


Of course I am aware that Harmon Killebrew spent his final season with the Kansas City Royals, but it is still somewhat odd to pick a random Twins game and find him in the opposing lineup. This was Killer’s first game against the Twins. He struck out in his first plate appearance against his former team. In the game, Killebrew was 1-for-4.

It was back in December of 1974 that Calvin Griffith had called Killebrew into his office. Harmon said he expected that to be the meeting where he signed his contract for the 1975 season. Instead, the team’s all-time homerun leader was offered a choice, accept an off-the-field position with the team, or be granted permission to speak with other teams. Killebrew thought he still had some baseball left, and worked out a deal with the Kansas City Royals.

Over the course of the 1975 season, Killebrew appeared in 11 games against the Twins. His slash line was .250/.447/.500/.947 with a double and two home runs.

This was the first of a three-game series, and the home opener for the Royals. The Twins were coming off a 2-1 start in Texas, but were ultimately swept by the Royals.

In a note next to this game’s boxscore in The Sporting News, it was reported that Twins’ trainer Dick Martin intended to continue the team’s running program throughout the season. He had the backing of manager Frank Quilici and Dr. Harvey O’Phelen, the team’s physician. Apparently some players had been complaining, but Martin stuck to his guns, saying that no player on the Twins was going to get winded running from first to third.



May 26, 1971

March 15, 2014

County Stadium
Milwaukee, WI

Twins 4, Brewers 1

WPA Leaders
Bert Blyleven 0.29Leo Cardenas 0.20

WPA Goats
Skip Lockwood (MIL) -0.22
Steve Braun -0.11
Rick Auerbach (MIL) -0.11

Big Play
With the score tied at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning and Jim Holt at first base, Leo Cardenas singled in front of right fielder Bill Voss who committed a throwing error in an attempt to get Holt at third. As a result of the error, Holt scored and Cardenas moved to third base. The Twins took a 2-1 lead and never looked back.

This was the second in a three-game series at Milwaukee that wrapped up a 10-game road trip for the Twins. The first seven games were in California – four against the Angels and three versus the A’s. The Twins had won just three of those four games, prompting a pregame pep talk from Twins manager Bill Rigney prior to the opening of the Milwaukee series on May 25.

The Twins, who won the AL West in both of the previous two seasons, were 6 1/2 games out of first. According to Bob Fowler’s account of Rigney’s speech, the manager suggested that the 1971 version of the Twins was not doing “the little things” like they did in the previous two seasons. He specifically mentioned a lack of bunting and poor base running. Rigney also called for an immediate stop to clubhouse “griping and moaning” that also didn’t occur in 1969 or 1970.

The players seemed to be introspective in response to the manager’s sermon. Tony Oliva suggested that it might “bring the club back together” and a few others expressed hope that it might be a turning point.

Pre-speech, the Twins were 21-21. They won their first two games following the speech, but went 53-65 for the rest of the season, finishing in 5th place.

1974: A Royal Beating

April 4, 2012

April 6, 1974

After defeating the Royals a day earlier in the season opener, the Twins took one on the chin in game two of the 1974 season.

Bill Hands started the game on the mound for the Twins, but his day was over after just 2/3 of an inning. In that time he allowed seven runs on seven hits, including six singles and a double. Additionally, Hands hit first baseman Paul Schaal with a pitch, and allowed a stolen base to Freddie Patek. The only two outs Hands recorded both came on strikeouts.

Patek had a particularly good first inning. He singled twice, both off of Hands, knocked in two runs, and stole two bases (the second came with Ray Corbin on the mound). Corbin temporarily stopped the bleeding when he got Jim Wohlford to ground out for the third out of the inning.

After the Twins went down in order in the second inning, Corbin ran into some trouble of his own. The Royals added three more on Hal McRae’s home run. Though Corbin made it through the second, he would not return for the third with is team down 10-0.

Larry Hisle singled home a run in the top of the third. Danny Fife came in relief and finally held the Royals scoreless in the bottom of the third inning. A Steve Braun three run home run in the top of the fourth cut into the Kansas City lead, which was cut even further when Bobby Darwin hit a two run home run in the fifth. The score was 10-6 and the Twins looked as though they might make a game of it.

That all changed, however, when Danny Fife ran into trouble in the bottom of the fifth. Kansas City added six more runs to take a 16-6 lead. The Royals went on to score three more in the sixth, one in the seventh, and three again in the eighth. The final tally was a 23-6 Royals’ victory.

The 23 runs allowed was a record for the Twins that still stands today. There has been only one other occasion on which the Twins have allowed more than 20.

Eddie Bane Pitches a Perfect Game

February 29, 2012

ed. – This was originally posted in 2007. Bane is currently a scout for the Detroit Tigers.

March 2, 1973

Eddie Bane, then pitching for Arizona State, pitched a perfect game against Cal State Northridge, the only perfect game in ASU history. He went on to lead his team to the College World Series, where the Sun Devils were runners-up to champion USC for the second straight year. As a result of his dominant season, Bane was voted the Sporting News Player of the Year in 1973.

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.

Bane, $50,000 richer due to his signing bonus, made his debut on July 4, 1973 in front of a record Met crowd of 45,890 paid. Bane pitched seven innings, allowing one run on three hits, though he ultimately earned a no-decision in a game the Twins lost to the Kansas City Royals. Bane would bounce between the majors and the minors for a couple of years before ending his major league career after the 1976 season with a career 0.9 WARP3.

Eddie Bane is currently the Director of Scouting for the LA Angels (here is an interesting roundtable discussion involving Bane on the subject of Moneyball).

Other References:

“Padres expected to draft shortstop”. New York Times June 5, 1973.

Reusse, Patrick. “Bane’s debut magic; a record crowd came to the Met to see a college phenom’s start on July 4, 1973”. Star Tribune July 5, 2003.

Walsh, Jim, “Bane fondly remembers standing ovation in debut for Twins”. Star Tribune April 19, 1987

Friday May 31, 1974

February 21, 2012

“The Yankees lose so seldom you have to celebrate every single time” – WP Kinsella

It is satisfying when the random date generator generates a Twins win over the Yankees. On May 31, 1974. The Twins were 19-23 heading into a three-game weekend series with the New York Yankees, who stood at 23-26.

The Yankees had not been to the World Series in a decade, and had yet to win a division title (divisional play began in 1969). They had started slow again in 1974, and were no longer the draw that they once had been – only 7,241 fans showed at Metropolitan Stadium for the Friday night series opener, just slightly up from the average for the season so far.

Frank Quilici’s Twins jumped ahead of the Yankees early, stringing five hits together to score three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Steve Brye’s two RBI double capped an inning for the Twins in which the opposing pitcher, Dick Tidrow, only retired one batter. Rod Carew was caught stealing for the first out, and Brye was retired attempting to stretch his double into a triple. The damage was done, but it could have been an even bigger inning for the home team. By game’s end, the Twins might have thought they could have scored more than the five runs they scored on 15 hits.

In the end, however, the Yankees squandered enough scoring opportunities of their own. While they managed six hits off of Twins pitching (all at the expense of starter Joe Decker, who lasted 7 2/3 innings), they drew 7 walks. At game’s end, the Yankees had left nine men on base, and hit into three double plays.

Twins Commercials from 1978 and 1979

February 10, 2012

For your viewing pleasure, some Twins promos from the past. I wonder if anybody still has one of those jackets?

I should h/t davidwatts from the comment section at WGOM.

Wooden Shoes in the Hall

January 7, 2011

It has been written about at length, but at long last Bert Blyleven got the call from Cooperstown.

Over the past five years, there have been few questions in baseball circles that produce as much debate as Blyleven’s HOF case. It represents, in a way, the line between the traditional baseball press and the new breed of baseball bloggers (who may or may not be writing from mother’s basement). In the end, the “you had to be there” and “he never felt like a HOFer” arguments (which, I believe, were more about his reputation as uncooperative with the media – the gate keepers off the Hall can be a fickle bunch) lost out to the overwhelming statistical evidence.

While Bert’s inclusion feels like a victory for sanity, it may well be a short-lived one. The Hall of Fame voting this year signaled an entirely new wave of voter insanity – the PED witch hunt.

Well, I guess it will continue to give my favorite writers a reason to continue writing.


1974: Nolan Ryan No Hitter

September 28, 2010

September 28, 1974

Heading into play on Saturday, September 28, 1974, Nolan Ryan was a 27 year old pitcher with two no-hitters already under his belt. That day, in front of just 10,872 at Anaheim Stadium, Ryan victimized the Twins to earn his third career no-hitter.

Ryan didn’t go about getting his third career no-no the easy way. Though he struck out 15 Twins (including three times each for Hisle, Borque, and Darwin), he also walked eight (including twice each for the number one and two hitters, Brye and Carew).

At the time, only Sandy Koufax had more career no-hitters with four. Ryan joined Bob Feller, Larry Corcoran, and Jim Maloney as the only pitchers to throw three career no-hitters.