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Saturday, July 23, 2016

GOTW: Vic Power, First Twin To Steal Home, July 19, 1962

It happened 54 years ago this week, July 19, 1962 (Baseball Ref Box) that Vic Power became the first Twins player to steal home. With Harmon Killebrew batting, Power streaked down the third base line to score in the 5th inning during the Twins 8-0 rout of the Cleveland Indians at Met Stadium.

Here you see Tribe catcher Johnny Romano's futile effort to apply the tag, while home plate ump Nestor Chylak is all set for action. I guess I could be upset that my Dad didn't take me to this one-yes, I was an infant at the time, granted - - but it's the principle of the thing.

Hurt feelings aside, here’s your play-by-play context, courtesy of Baseball Reference:

Jim Kaat had grounded out, first baseman Tito Francona to pitcher Bill Dailey covering. Bill Tuttle followed with a single to left. Then, Power stroked an opposite field double to rightfield, Tuttle reaching third; Rich Rollins moved both baserunners ahead with a sac fly to center, making the score 5-0 for the Twins; and, then, with Killebrew at the plate, the thief Power broke for home. He clearly touched home plate ahead of catcher Romano’s tag, as the above photo demonstrates. Sweet revenge upon his old team! Vic had had a stormy, "on-again/off-again" relationship with the Indians management dating back several years, receiving fines and reprimands that were often a result of his passionate, instinctive nature. Not your 1950s "company man" that team owners expected, especially from a Latino black man.

Vic Power batting in a June, 1963 game. Again, Harmon Killebrew is on-deck (right, by inscription).Six summers would pass before another Twins player - Rod Carew in 1969 - Would create similar excitement on the bases at Metropolitan Stadium. And then, again, with Harmon Killebrew still batting in the three hole(photo), for a nice piece of ironic, synchronized history.

Vic Power actually had quite a history of doing this (see BBRef table below), perhaps THE most exciting play in baseball. He stole home TWICE for the Cleveland Indians, for example, on August 14, 1958 (Google News Archive links) in a regular season game (BBRef Box), and then again in a spring training game on March 22, 1960*, again as an Indian. It would also be the last steal of home for Power in his career. In twelve years, he stole 45 bases - and 8 of them were steals of home...a full 17%!! By comparison, the all-time leader of steals of home, Ty Cobb did this 54 times, 6% of his lifetime 897.

* - scroll above headline to see Power photo

Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H HR RBI SB
3 1959-04-18 CLE KCA W 13-4 5 4 3 3 1 1 1
12 1962-07-19 MIN CLE W 8-0 4 3 2 1 0 0 1
20 1961-05-19 CLE NYY W 9-7 5 4 2 3 0 1 1
Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H HR RBI SB
33 1959-05-03 (1) CLE WSH W 5-0 4 3 1 1 0 1 1
34 1959-04-25 CLE CHW L 6-8 5 5 2 3 0 1 2
36 1958-08-14 CLE DET W 10-9 6 6 3 3 0 1 2
39 1957-07-28 (1) KCA WSH W 6-2 4 4 1 1 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 7/22/2016.
Only 1 of his steals in 1959-04-25 game was a steal of home.

Regarding his baserunning instincts, his manager from his Cleveland days, Joe Gordon offered: Vic isn’t particularly fast, but he’s got baseball instinct. He bluffed the pitchers beautifully – rushing up the line, pausing long enough to make them relax and then, poof – streaking all the way in (Cleveland Press, August 5, 1958).This was an interesting dimension (I would call it a "Negro League style") that the charismatic Puerto Rican brought to the young, conventional Twins.



SEE This Classic Minnesota Twins! Vic Power Post From 2013!

TRADING FOR VIC POWER - APRIL 6, 2015 - Originally published 4/2/13 In-season trades are rare occurrences for the Minnesota Twins. And even rarer are those that actually impacted the fortunes positively for the home nine.
As I think about it, Vic Power has been the focal point of at least 3 of my blog posts, an inordinately large number for a player who was a Twin for parts of only three seasons. I submit two reasons for that level of fascination with him:

*He was unique for his time (nearly became the first dark-skinned player on the Yankees!),* in that he was a multi-dimensional player in an era when first basemen were sloth-like creatures who were expected to hit the ball out of the park and field with little range. In contrast, Power, besides being a consistent offensive contributor, ran the bases well, and played his position quite unconventionally, like Adrian Beltre plays third today. That and the fact that he was a charismatic extrovert (see his obit!) in a time when players were rather drone-like.

*That honor would go to the relatively taciturn Elston Howard

*He also intrigues me for having visited my hometown sometime during that 1962-64 period, and greeting kids and other Twins fans at our local movie theatre. This affair was attended by my oldest brother (again, cue my personal envy, bitterness), who recalls it being an occasion to encourage clean living, participation in sports, besides being an autograph-signing session. As a dark-skinned man, I am certain he stood out in what was then an all-white community, perhaps prompting surprise or disappointment for some who may have come out to see if the basestealer would hock some movie candy from the lobby on his way out.

As far as that visit by Power and his teammates to the theatre...do I sense a future blog post sequel coming....?

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Game Of The Week: #1 Pick Eddie Bane Debuts For The Twins-July 4, 1973

It was 43 years ago this week, Wednesday, July 4, 1973  that Eddie Bane, the Twins sparkly and sizzling draft pick in Round One of the 1973 MLB Amateur Draft, made his debut less than one month after he was drafted (June 7, 1973). The Sporting News chose him as that spring's College Player Of The Year  (see link!) over players that would eventually be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall Of Fame. But he is an example of an individual whose talent could not live up to the hype, as a junkballing, Luis Tiant clone.


[above] Interesting, odd juxtaposition "photoshopping" Bane into crowd: was the Star Trib implying Bane imbibed before his debut? Or that he'd gone into the stands drunkenly believing he could pitch just fine, thank you, from that spot to the KC lineup? (Steve Schluter photo: Minneapolis Star, Thursday, July 5, 1973)
By the time the ’73 season rolled around, it had already seemed a lifetime since the Twins had last been to the postseason. Following their loss to Baltimore in the 1970 ALCS, the Twins had finished in 5th place (1971), and 3rd (1972) in the six team American League West.
Yes, it was only $55,000 in 1973 money. But Bane sure had the satisfied look of a man who’d just gotten away with a bank robbery. And, in a way, he had…[photo VIA Minnesota Twins, from "The Twins At The Met," Bob Showers, 2009).
The Hype

The talent pool in the Minors had become shallow, with Steve Braun, Jim Holt, Steve Brye and Dave Goltz showing only mixed promise in their brief stints in the Majors.  Attendance at The Met was slacking off, alarmingly. Those mustachioed sluggers from Oakland had won the ’72 World Series, and the Royals were steadily stockpiling talent down in K.C.
Something had to give. And in a move that was never contemplated in the modern cases of Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, and Mike Trout (whom Eddie scouted and recommended signing when he was with the Angels), Gerritt Cole, David Price, et. al, the Twins went against common practice – long, steady seasoning through years in the minors – and decided to plug him into the starting rotation while the publicity iron was hot. It wasn’t without precedent, however.

My friend John Swol at the superb Twins Trivia site (THANK YOU, JOHN!!) contributes this entertaining excerpt of a conversation he had with Eddie a couple years ago. As it sometimes happens, the recorded phone interview suffers from a less-than-perfect feed, a bit of tinny, trebly reception. But once you get past that, it is a wonderful first-person account of his debut by the man himself, who shows himself to be a humble, nice guy. He compares himself most deprecatingly to fellow rookie David Clyde as saying "the Twins didn't hamper my development at all by starting me immediately, I was as good as I was going to be anyhow..." to paraphrase his words. He explains the reason for his relative success in college versus the Majors, with reference to his curveball deserting him after he got to the show. I think you'll enjoy this bit! If I'm you, I'd head to his site, and go to his "Interview Archives" to hear the whole interview!

The Twins went all-out, handed out
this promotional photo card on debut night

The Twins were following the lead of the Texas Rangers, who just 8 days previously sent their top pick, the aforementioned 18-year old Texas high school phenom David Clyde (no. 1 overall) to the mound against the Twins in Arlington (see draft chart below). Bane was the eleventh overall pick in the nation out of Arizona State.  New Padres pick Dave Winfield (no. 4 overall) had played his first game nearly three weeks earlier, going 1 for 4 against the Astros Jerry Reuss in a 7-3 loss. I guess in the meantime, then, Bane had slow, steady seasoning in the bullpen workouts in front of coaches Vern Morgan and Al Worthington, by comparison...

He came to Minnesota with alluring numbers: 15-1 as a senior, 192 strikeouts in 140 innings pitched, and a 1.93 ERA.  Overall, he'd compiled a 41-4 record in three seasons against college hitters.  He was selected as The Sporting News Player of The Year, and became the Twins pick, right after Pat Rockett was chosen at no. 10 by the Braves. He thus came to Minnesota with a hunka hunka huge hype and with all the expectations that come with it. 
After that, The Twins must have felt a measure of justification when Bane shut out the Minnesota Golden Gophers and fellow draftee Dave Winfield 3-0, in the College World Series

The Game
Eddie Bane 7 3 1 1 3 3 0 1.29 26 67 0.244 1.06 2.5
Ray Corbin, L (2-4) 1.2 2 4 4 4 2 0 2.42 11 0 -0.410 2.94 -1.8
Bill Hands 0.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 4.63 2 2 -0.375 3.72 -1.2
Team Totals 9 6 5 5 7 5 0 5.00 39 67 2 -0.541 1.71 -0.5
Generated 7/4/2016.

I will merely give some basics, with the Winona Daily News of July 5, 1973  as well as the Jefferson City Post Tribune linked to supply extra detail. The start of the game was delayed, as Owner Cal Griffith ordered the field staff and umpires to wait until the turnstiles finally saw an ebb in the walkup rate. Then, Bane went out that and threw seven good innings, gave up only three hits, three walks, one run, and one run earned. But, laughingly, my mentality as a young fan was such that I was disappointed he didn't A. get the win, and B. that he didn't toss a complete game shutout - - so, I was definitely a sucker for the hype. But Bane's performance was actually all the more impressive for the fact he had not pitched in a actual game in weeks other than the bullpen sessions with the Twins. In facing 26 Royals batters, 13 of his outs came via the groundball (including one double play), and only three outfield chances (one flyout to left field, two to center), one lineout that Bane caught, and one runner caught stealing. The rest were strikeouts, three. The only trouble he encountered was Fran Healy's one out RBI double to right, scoring Hal McRae in the third, who had reached on a single. And that was about it for K.C. fireworks that evening.

My only other memory of that game was when Bane struck out Lou Piniellahis first, in the top of the second; I also took it as a point of pride that it took until the third for Hal MaCrae to record Kansas City's first hit, that single to left. He had a STELLAR first outing against the nucleaus of what would become the Royal's first championship team (in 1976). He was replaced by Ray Corbin in the start of the 8th inning. He pitched a scoreless 8th, but then allowed Kansas City to storm ahead with four runs in the 9th, to give them a 5-4 win.

For the remainder of that year, Twins management couldn't have been at all encouraged by Eddie's output. Of his 23 games in 1973, he only started 5, ending up with an 0-5 record, an ERA of 4.92 (although his fielding independent pitching (FIP) was 3.84, suggesting he wasn't ably supported by his teammates in the field in the games he pitched). He pitched into 1976, compiling an underwhelming 7-13 lifetime record, with a 4.66 ERA in what was basically a pitching-dominated era. The American League collective ERA in 1976 was 3.52, so Bane lifetime was an entire run + above that. His time with Minnesota ended in November, 1977, when he was granted his free agency status, and signed with the White Sox. He never appeared in a ML game with them, however, and he would later be traded to the Royals, ironically, in 1980 - and again, never surfaced in the Majors. 

Baseball Reference listed  Bane at 5'9", 160 lb - it was as if I were on the mound. Same size, same unimposing presence.
          Note: at second base in that first game (frame 2) is Hall Of Famer Twin Rod Carew. Nice support..
The Twins did have other choices in later rounds: Fred Lynn, Len Barker, Ruppert Jones, Eddie Murray, Floyd Bannister, LaMarr Hoyt, Mike Flanigan, Matt Keough, etc., all players that became all-star caliber guys - but the Twins tabbed Bane. Well, okay then...this was a case of the Twins not having enough diverse talent evaluation. Griffith and company were obviously seduced by the above college numbers, and without a Sherry Robertson, the former farm director around to trade notes, Calvin Griffith took the bait.

OvPckTmPosSean Smith of BaseballProjection.com">WARGDrafted Out of
1RangersDavid Clyde (minors)LHP0.285Westchester HS (Houston, TX)
2PhilliesJohn Stearns (minors)C18.5810University of Colorado (Boulder, CO)
3BrewersRobin Yount (minors)SS72.42856Taft HS (Woodland Hills, CA)
4PadresDave Winfield (minors)RHP59.42973University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
5IndiansGlenn Tufts (minors)INFRaynham HS (Bridgewater, MA)
6GiantsJohnnie LeMaster (minors)SS-6.81039Paintsville HS (Paintsville, KY)
7AngelsBilly Taylor (minors)OFWindsor Forest HS (Savannah, GA)
8ExposGary Roenicke (minors)SS14.41064Edgewood HS (West Covina, CA)
9RoyalsLew Olsen (minors)RHPSan Ramon Valley HS (Danville, CA)
10BravesPat Rockett (minors)2B-5.7152Robert E. Lee HS (San Antonio, TX)
11TwinsEddie Bane (minors)LHP-1.245Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
12CardinalsJoe Edelen (minors)3B-0.927Gracemont HS (Gracemont, OK)
13YankeesDoug Heinhold (minors)RHPStroman HS (Victoria, TX)
14MetsLee Mazzilli (minors)OF13.91475Abraham Lincoln HS (Brooklyn, NY)
15OriolesMike Parrott (minors)RHP1.4119Adolfo Camarillo HS (Camarillo, CA)
16CubsJerry Tabb (minors)1B-0.874University of Tulsa (Tulsa, OK)
17Red SoxTed Cox (minors)SS-1.9272Midwest City HS (Midwest City, OK)
18DodgersTed Farr (minors)CShadle Park HS (Spokane, WA)
19TigersCharles Bates (minors)3BCalifornia State University Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)
20AstrosCalvin Portley (minors)SSLongview HS (Longview, TX)
21White SoxSteve Swisher (minors)C-2.5509Ohio University (Athens, OH)
22RedsBradford Kessler (minors)OFClaremont HS (Claremont, CA)
23AthleticsRandy Scarbery (minors)RHP0.560University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA)
24PiratesSteve Nicosia (minors)C0.8358North Miami Beach HS (Opalocka, FL)
Generated 7/4/2012.

"So Long Everybody"- Herb Carneal