Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Twins Super Fan: Devlin Clark

Devlin Clark is one of the most impressive Twins fans and collectors out there. In recent months, his posts of photos of his Twins cards with players' autograph have been coming nearly daily. You can find him on Twitter at @Devlin_clark84.

I also decided to share his 1961 Twins scorecard and program on my Classic Twins Facebook page today.

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal


Saturday, December 20, 2014

Great Pedro Ramos PDF Feature! - The Sporting News, May 3, 1961

I'm informed Pedro dressed quite
similarly to this catching team charters, etc.
[STORY LINKS NEAR BOTTOM OF POST -  INCREASE PAGE WITH MAGNIFYING GLASS - TOP OF PAGE- RIGHT]

An era in Twins history is recalled today in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama's initiative this week to normalize diplomatic ties with Cuba. This was transacted largely to free aid worker Alan Gross and exchange spy agents between the two countries. That, besides the stated intention to create commerce and establish a U.S. embassy in Havana.

As a byproduct of this development, we can expect to see an infusion of top Cuban ballplayers into the Major Leagues. This is not without precedent. By 1961, Pedro Ramos and counterparts like Connie Marrero, Camilo Pascual and Tony Oliva had become the centerpieces of the first 1950s-era Cuban invasion of American League baseball via the Washington Senators / Twins. Scout and surrogate father "Papa" Joe Cambria acted as the Griffith organization's architect in this talent migration.



The May 3, 1961 "The Sunny Senor of Slab" story on page 5 and 10 of "The Sporting News" on "Pistol" Pete by Senators beat writer Bob Addie was published as the sorry results of the Bay Of Pigs invasion were becoming apparent (see turmoil-front page of Corpus Christie Times, April 22, 1961).

This two-page piece is obviously loaded with ethnic references that wouldn't fly in today's race-conscious, politically-charged atmosphere. But, that doesn't lessen it's impact or usefulness as an historical document about the Twins (and U.S. international relations) in their first month of existence in April to May, 1961. There is some hilarious, interesting stuff here!! [CLICK NEWS PIECE BELOW TO ENLARGE]
Lethbridge (Alberta) Herald 4/18/61
It must have been a hoot for the beat writers to cover Ramos and the Twins back then. See the top portion of the "Patriots Invade Cuba," from the Montana Standard, April 18, 1961 story, right under the banner.

The Ramos line in '61...

Year Age Tm W L ERA G GS CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO ERA+ FIP WHIP BB9 SO9 SO/W
1961 26 MIN 11 20 3.95 42 34 9 3 2 264.1 265 134 116 39 79 174 107 4.12 1.301 2.7 5.9 2.20
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/20/2014.

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Luis Tiant's Short And Ultimately Unsatisfying Twins Career, 1970

I elaborated about "El Tiante," Luis Tiant in a Facebook Post (by Classic Minnesota Twins).  Please enjoy all my deep thoughts.

Here's a link to a Sporting News pdf, quoting Tiant discussing how he enjoyed playing with the Twins, and detailing the day he injured his shoulder blade pitching against the Brewers at the Met in an 11-2 blowout (Baseball Ref. box). Such a pity. He was 6-0 at the time he injured his wing, and he would never recover well enough to pitch until after he joined the 1971 Louisville Colonels, a AAA minor league farm club of the Red Sox. His injury and time in Minnesota get focus in this clip from The Lost Son Of Havana, a 2007 film.







Luis's injury forced Minnesota to bring up this guy, can't recall name...
Flybeggen...Curt Schmyfleggen?






So, it's all true Virginia. Luis didn't always look like this.
There's Boston for ya. Bright lights, big city.



Tiant appeared with Jim Grant and Ferguson Jenkins this past July
 at the All-Star Fan Fest in big Minneapple.

To quote the Great Herb: "So long everybody!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

All Star Moments: Rod Carew & His 2 Triples, July 11, 1978


1978 Topps card of the guy previously honored in a blog post in July, 2010

July, 1978: It was the last summer of my teenaged life as an unabashed baseball card buyer - the more vital pursuit of discovering girls hadn't taken me over yet; disco music had reached its peak of popularity, and was headed for a fiery backlash shortly - though no one realized it at the time. The Jimmy Carter presidency was mired in an inert pile of goo, as the Chief Executive was exhibiting a maddening inability to get both houses of Congress to work with him. But none of that remotely mattered to me. For me, 1978 was a world of sincerely idolizing '77 MVP Rodney Cline, Charlie Hustle and that oddly thin-yet-amazingly-strong outfielder from Cincinnati named George. The Thin Man was also the '77 National League MVP.

A short time ago tonight, I was remembering those days and long nights of listening to the Minnesota Twins, or watching them on a few, precious televised broadcasts, with my main focus on the guy we referred to around these parts as the "Magician With A Bat." While Rod Carew was throwing out the first ball before tonight's 85th Major League Baseball All Star Game at Target Field in Minneapolis, I found it very easy to relive those days of fanaticism, and especially those two at bats that united my three favorite players in all of baseball. I kid you not.

The following wire photo scenes recall Rod Carew's 2 triples in the 1978 All Star Game (box). It was the first ever played at San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium. I leave you with very little else  hereafter besides this Indiana Gazette news pdf, and this 1978 MLB ASG Video of Carew's triples and my usual, inane asides and private jokes (that I do so well...).


Feel free to come after me, MLB - I confess to the sin of recording the CBS radio broadcast that July 11, 1978 with Brent Musberger and the great Vin Scully. I listened to the replay of it countless times for the call by Vin of Rod's triples - only to record over it later with some Neil Young music (God help me!):

Vin Scully: "We come into this game with the National League enjoying almost complete domination over the American, and, ladies and gentlemen, that is not me exaggerating...the last time the American League won the All Star Game was 1971, and before THAT you have to go all the way back to 1962 -  when John F. Kennedy was President - for the previous time the American League won an All-Star game...that my friends is a long, l-o-o-n-g time ago! And here is Vida Blue's first pitch to Rod Carew..."  No sooner were these words out of Scully's mouth before the first pitch was headed homeward, toward's The Magician's blurring bat.


Carew would immediately score on George Brett's double.




Rod has revealed in multiple, local Twin Cities interviews this past weekend that Pete Rose was notifying (more accurately yelling) to him the fact that he was the very first player in the Game's history to get two triples in the same game. A true "Mr. Tesla, meet Mr. Einstein" meeting of two great hitters still at the top of their games (Rose, you'll remember, had begun his famous 44-game hitting streak on June 14, and kept it up for another two plus weeks after the All-Star Game, finally having his streak clipped by the Braves on August 1).

 

George Foster, not normally a center fielder, was the lucky man who had to hunt down both of Carew's drives in the cavernous San Diego outfield; the first was hit into a late afternoon, sun-drenched and simultaneously shadowy southern California sky, making it doubly hard to track. I am not really sure if this shot was taken after the first or second triple, as both hits and fielding plays look nearly identical. Go ahead and see you can figure it out, re-watch the above video, let me know what you think in the "comments" section.


It was, again, another notch on the NL's victory belt, with Steve Garvey and (then) wife Cyndy getting all the pub for his heroics. Naturally. Mr. and Mrs. Perfect, I believe they were called, with not a small bit of sarcasm. I lived and died with Rod and the Twins, but had to suffer the personal indignity of watching my guy and my league suffer as the Nationals stormed back to get the "W" AND the girl as well.

It was the last All Star Game Rod Carew ever played in the uniform of Minnesota Twins. He was and still is the only player to hit two triples in the All Star Game. Fans from the North Star State would have to wait another 8 seasons (July 15, 1986, box) before another Twin started and got a hit in the big game...a certain, stout, smiling center fielder who was already capturing the hearts of the country. See if you can guess who!

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Twins Brawls (Video): Roger Erickson Vs Bobby Grich April 22, 1978

Of note: this post was largely composed live, during a sunami-like migraine - with little or no editing taking place. If that doesn't qualify me as a throwback gamer, I don't know what will. I had the feeling as if the video's principal actors were putting the hurt on ME, instead of one another at old Metropolitan Stadium. Just a small diversion from the All Star hullabaloo currently engulfing the Minneapolis area.

Left to right: (jackets) Twins Jose Morales, Geoff Zahn, (hatless) Angels starter Frank Tanana; Ron Jackson holds Twins pitching coach and legend Camilo Pascual, while Glenn Borgmann runs interference from the side.


I'd completely forgotten about this melee on Saturday, April 22, 1978 (box) and was it ever. One minute rookie Roger Erickson is tossing an errant one inside, and the next thing you know, the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention is breaking out! Bobby Grich was among the most intense, and valuable second basemen of the 1970's and 80's. He had an excellent OBP, power numbers, besides having one of the nicest, shortest swings (1972 All-Star Game video) you'll ever see. I'd choose him in a minute if compiling a fantasy all-time legends team. His SABR bio packs a pretty good punch *ahem* of info about him.


SATURDAY
The California announcers (Don Drysdale and Al Wisk? Angel fans in the house, a little help?) were correct - Grich looked ready to punch anybody - beer sellers, ticket takers, Calvin Griffith, his own teammates, besides any of the patrons sitting near the Angel dugout throwing beverages and paraphernalia at him that day. That last was my favorite part of the video.

As it was, Twin Rich Chiles came out of nowhere to put a truly huge blind side hit on Grich, while future-Twins Ken Landreaux and Ron "Papa Jack" Jackson was seemingly everywhere . Also easily seen at the fisticuff fiesta is former Twin Lyman Bostock (#10 of Angels), and Twins Tony Oliva (coach, #6), Rod Carew (#29) and shortstop Roy Smalley (#5). The Sporting News (see mischievous Mauch grin in pdf) of May 13, 1978 asserts that is was indeed Carew that got in the quick head jabs on Grich's angry skull as he lay on the ground-some deft, stop-action views confirm that claim. The Grich quotes are doubly interesting as he implicates Twins Manager Gene Mauch as the instigator of the brushback.


And you thought charging the mound was a new thing?

Amazingly, only Grich was tossed out, the game resumed, with '65 Stars Oliva and Pascual being the only people on the premises who may have required any antibiotics or band aids. Welcome to 1970s baseball everyone, where Wild West lawlessness often prevailed (see link, "Disco Demolition"). Lost in the shuffle is this: the-then 21 year old Erickson righted himself to last 8 innings, though losing to the top lefty Tanana. It was his fourth major league start ( see popup stats), and his second against the Angels.

As Herb Carneal so eloquently put it: "So long, everybody!"


Monday, June 9, 2014

Earl Battey 1961 Baseball Digest Feature


Do yourself a favor and check out this link to June 1961 Baseball Digest at my Google Docs with a superb Earl Battey article. Battey was the first Twins player ever to appear on the cover of that magazine, as the Twins first season had just begun in Minnesota just a few weeks earlier.A great piece on the first, great catcher of the Twins, who was named the top catcher on the Twins 40th Anniversary in 2000.

It's from a fantastic, mint edition which I just recently bought off Amazon. I rather fancy it as a historical document, partly because it was published just a month or so into the beginning of the first expansion era in baseball. Besides that, it really is telling as an illustration of sports journalism, circa 1961.

To wit: I truly doubt that any major sports publication today, or any magazine really, would give a damn what I thought about anything, much less pay me for ideas submitted:


[Blurb at left from "Greatest Catches" story - see table of contents in the Google scanned Table Of Contents - I wouldn't mind the money, if the offer from Baseball Digest is still valid..]

You'll notice the date stamp, "MAY 4 - 1961" on the back page, probably denoting when it was received by the store of sale. The story references the Twins first game on April 11, 1961 (BBRef box), which means the interview for the June issue was conducted very shortly after that game before it went to press.

Battey really shows himself to be an incredibly well-spoken young guy (he was 26 in 1961). I mean, this story is really chock full of intelligent, cogent, and insightful responses. The BD staff writer, Charles Dexter, included quite a few long, thoughtful quotes which made it seem at times as if Battey himself wrote the article in the first person.

My favorite sections were his insights into Twins pitchers like Camilo Pascual, Jack Kralick and Pedro Ramos, and how they comported themselves in the lockerroom. I'm only a little surprised not seeing any references to Jim Kaat. Probably indicates where the big lefty was in the staff's pecking order as the season was beginning.

An ironic section on page 15 mentions that Earl had John Roseboro as a neighbor in Compton, California at the time. Of course, all good Twins fans know that Roseboro eventually replaced Earl as the Twins everyday catcher, in 1968, after Earl and Ron Perranoski came in the Versalles/Grant trade. You can read about Earl's post-career at this SABR bio article from 2009.

I included the table of contents in the scan, plus the revised Twins and Yankees rosters as of '61 May, in addition to those for the first two expansion teams in MLB history, the California Angels and the new Washington Senators. I kid you not! If you see any articles you would like pdf scans to read, just let me know. I can try to email you a copy.

There are some nice pluses in the magazine.
See if you can recognize some of the names
of the Twins coaches (or others)
in the chart below! Yeah, just a tad jumbo, but it wasn't 
displaying well at large size!


NOTE: Check out the back side of the magazine at the end of the scan: a full-color advertisement. Rather cool!

You can get a short sample of the older Earl, at this
You Tube video from 1986 I posted a while ago. You get
some idea of the understated, but warm manner
of the man. Fairly engrossing, if I might say so.

I conclude in my best Herb Carneal-ese: "So long everybody!"

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bizzarre Fielding Video: The Metrodome's First Triple Play May 29, 1982


  • Six men in a box. Nettles retreats to 1st as Gaetti
    is arriving with ball. Lenny Faedo (12) wonders just what his
    role is in the play, while Ron Washington points at Murcer.

  • For you kids at home, score this one as a 1-2-5-3-1 triple play. "Holy Cow!," as Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto exclaimed (though Twins oldies like to credit Halsey Hall (sound file) with originating the phrase).

    The crazy play as seen in the video occurred on May 29, 1982 at the brand new H.H.H. Metrodome (humorously cynical Deadspin review). Minnesota and the Yankees were scoreless in the 2nd inning, with righthander Terry Felton on the mound for Minnesota. The weekend series against New York was the fourth homestand for the Twins at the new facility. They were in the midst of an inglorious 14-game losing streak.

    Baserunning Comedy


    The Yankees had put runners on first (Graig Nettles) and second (Bobby Murcer) with no outs. Roy Smalley then struck out on a wide 3-2 pitch from Terry Felton, with Murcer attempting to steal third base. Rifle-armed Sal Butera (right photo) threw to Gary Gaetti so far ahead of baserunning Bobby that he tried returning to second. Problem was, former Twin Nettles was standing on the bag by then (ooops!) as part of the hit and run play. He retreated back to first. 

  • Gaetti uselessly tagged Murcer after the rundown before throwing to Kent Hrbek to catch Nettles...then, Murcer, the smart ballplayer of many great years, inexplicably went back to third! Hrbek threw to Felton at third to complete the triple play, with zany left fielder Mickey Hatcher backing up the bag. None of this would ultimately matter, as the Yankees pulled off a 6-4 win with two runs in the ninth.



Trivial Trivia

Felton (see Michael Rand 2010 story update) was 0-8 coming into the game, and got a no-decision after Brad Havens came in to blow the lead in the sixth inning. He would lose another 5 to finish his career with an 0-16 record.


Bobby Murcer (left, BD photo)was the last of the 1960’s Mickey Mantle New York Yankees remaining on the roster. He, in fact, had been tabbed as the heir apparent to the Mick - always a “great” thing that, heaping expectations on a young player. The Oklahoman was good enough to earn 3 straight top-ten MVP finishes early in his career. He had been traded even up to the Giants for Bobby Bonds in the 70’s, and had also been a Cub; New York brought him back in 1979 as a part-time player.


Craig Nettles, playing the role of Fred Astaire in his sashay back to first, would go on to several more fine seasons. He was profiled earlier at this blog (“The One That Got Away.”). Former Twin Roy Smalley had been a Yankee for less than two months, while Butch Wynegar was in pinstripes for just over two weeks after six seasons as a Twin. Of the three, only Roy would again know the joys of playing regularly on the Dome's carpeted cement pile, the lucky guy, after his 1985 trade back to the Twins.

The young Twins of 1982 represented a completely different era from the teams that had occupied Met Stadium from 1961 to 1981. Even in losing, they were thoroughly entertaining. One could see the talent in the young Gaettis, Brunanskys, Laudners, etc., and the smoke wafting out of the runway of the dugout (pregame heaters) but one knew that growing pains would be the rule for some time out. Kent Hrbek was already the star of the team, building a case (link to stats coming into that game) for inclusion on the '82 All-Star team.

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal