Saturday, August 28, 2010

Twins Art On Display at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair!

Wonderful examples of "crop art" seen at the 2010 Minnesota State Fair, in the Horticulture Building. The artists, from Richfield and Bloomington (Minnesota, of course) obviously have a great eye for detail. Plus, their choices illustrate a passion for the classic aesthetic of the new and old Twins logos!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Snapshots From Twins Territory: Mudcat Grant: "I Did It My Way"

Jim Grant: capturing a proud, man at his zenith, circa spring
training, 1965.  It was the summer he won 21 games - the first
African-American to win 20 or more in major league history!
" Live simple. Live prayerful. And never ask more from a person than you would expect from yourself, " is the philosphy of life that James "Mudcat" Grant lived by. I love the picture of him at the left! He was a Twin from 1964 to 1967.

Heavily influenced by his mother, Iba, Jim Grant was perhaps the most multi-dimensional being the Twins ever had.  Musican, author ( his book, The Black Aces, publ. in 2006), athlete, philosopher - he was quite the package.

He distinguished himself very well when visiting Minnesota in 2005 for the 40th Anniversary weekend of the 1965
championship year.  He sang the National Anthem for one of the games.

There is a fine, Cool of the Evening website of author Jim Thielman that does a much better job than I can at capsulizing the man Grant. 

Fine video of Grant in his hey day at Metropolitan Stadium!

May Your Taters Fly Far! Twinkler Out!

Jim Grant,1972 Topps Card:
when Joe Mauer grows
mutton chops like this,
I'll situp and take notice!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Classic Twins Game of The Week: Carew & Co. 19-12 Beatdown of White Sox - Sunday, June 26, 1977

This great game photo, and the one below of Carew and Adams come
courtesy of Tom Shide's wonderful "Iowa Twins Fan" post of Feb., 2015.
Trust me, it's a damn side better than my post, much MUCH better.
In fact, I'm not sure what you're doing here, reading this slop.
[Last revision, June 26, 2016]

The June 26, 1977 game boxscore is a Twins fan's delight. There were 14 rbi's just for Rod Carew(6) and Glenn Adams (8, the team individual player record) alone!

Adams was bought from the San Francisco Gigantes the previous Dec. 6, to DH and play a statue-like rightfield.  This was his career game obviously, going 4 for 5, totaling 8 total bases. In my memory, he is the team all-time leader in dramatic, warning track fly outs that aroused excitement but, sadly, were mere precursors to crashing disappointment.

Our man Glenn, on his 1978 Topps Card: 
the unofficial holder of all-time Twins
 warning track flyouts!  Uncanny,
 his ability to find the fielder's glove!

This is actually one post I have a difficult time extracting game memories...I wish you could have a direct link-up to my mind, to view all the warm, fuzzy memories (if not the dirty bits). I remember being at the game on that sunshiny day with my Uncle Jake, and cousin's Bill and Bob. Jake was a wonderful guy, who would chaperone us from our little farm town in Minnesota to the comparatively cosmopolitan environs of Bloomington, Minnesota. It was marvelous timing on our part, as this was the same game in which Carew went over the .400 mark for the first time that season. The feat was announced on the team's magnificent, but cheesy, Twins-O-Gram Scoreboard (story link). Dave Wright in his excellent book "162-0: The Greatest Twins Wins" at Google Books gives some insight into this day to aid, as I am too emotionally invested (or too old!) to be of much use. I'm suggesting you make liberal use of the text enlarging + tool:

NOTE - clicking on the news images to follow will produce a larger version for reading...

Perhaps forgotten in the game recap was that Twins starter Bill Butler was removed after 2-plus innings, and St. Paul-born "closer" Tommy Johnson (who had an otherwise excellent year in '77) finished the contest with 6.2 innings of relief.  He shut down the Pale Hose with a line of 10 hits, 2 walks, 7 earned runs, 6 k's and two homeruns.  Git 'er done, indeed!

Rod and Glenn Adams, seen here sharing in the spoils of victory

The buildup to .400 had been tremendously exciting, and rival teams and managers were as captivated by Carew's hot streak as we fans:

Both above clips, Spartenburg Herald



No one ever said life was fair. Same in baseball. If it were, Rod Carew would have played in a World Series at least ONCE, and have been its MVP. As it was, players of far less talent and renown who played in this game DID go on to higher glories. Bombed Chicago starter Steve Stone would garner a 1980 All-Star Game starting nomination and AL Cy Young Award hardware to his trophy case for his out-of-nowhere performance that same season. And no less than FIVE other players would go on to enjoy Big Dance glories, including Oscar Gamble (twice with the Yankees, in '77 and '81), Chet Lemon ('84 Tigers), and quite infamously, by no fault of his own Jorge Orta (see 1985 World Series with Kansas City). And from the Twins, Dan Ford would win a ring with the 1983 Orioles, Roy Smalley with the 1987 Twins, and that's about it. Rob Wilfong got to the post-season in 1982 (ironically as an Angel teammate of Rod's), and then again with the same Halos in another, losing effort in 1986 versus the Red Sox. 

And so it goes. As far as the more meaning game we call "life," Twins winning pitcher Tommy Johnson followed his heart and faith, and with his wife, he went on to a very fruitful career as a Christian missionary (Fox Sports link). 

"So long, everybody!"" - Herb Carneal

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Snapshots From Twins Territory - Tony Oliva, Circa 1961-63

We embark on a new series with these vintage Kodaks from the early 1960's. Here's a very young Tony Oliva in what surely is his first or second spring training with the Minnesota Twins.

By the looks of him, he couldn't have been more than 22-23 years old.  A portrait of a young hitter, taken at Tinker Field, Orlando, Florida, the first spring training facility of the Twins! He would draw tons of attention by the end of 1962 in national publications, such as in this Sporting News piece from October, 1962 (which has an interesting tidbit about Harmon Killebrew, by the way!).

It was the Cold War era, with JFK in the White House, and the Viet Nam War years still out on the horizon, King and Civil Rights. All pretty remarkable, hard to take in from our vantage point in time...the dawning of the turbulent 1960's - - and in Tony-O's case, it was the dawn for a guy with incredible talent, hand-eye coordination, and passion for his sport.

These are the images of a rangy, athletic-looking  guy with his whole life, and lots of success in front of him. The inescapable thought surfaces: what could have been. Tony Oliva was well on his way to a career that was going to see him ending up with the all-time greats...his accomplishments (as listed at Tony, were layering the case for his enshrinement in the National Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. 

Tony was mentioned with the greats of the game in the period 1964-1971, right up there with Henry Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Frank Robinson, as the great rightfielders in baseball.  Run, throw, hit, with great instincts...he could do it all.  He was in the process of winning his third American League batting title in 1971 when tragedy struck.

While trying to make a diving catch of a Joe Rudi drive in 9th inning, on June 29, 1971 at Oakland, Tony injured his right knee.  He would never be the same.  Despite subsequent surgeries, the knee would never pivot and give him the same drive and support he had had in his magnificent, fluid swing.

May Your Taters Fly Far -
Twinkler Out!