Among the original Washington Senators players to become part of the new Minnesota Twins of Minneapolis/St. Paul, big Bob Allison from Raytown, Kansas, was the stellar outfielder-first baseman of the franchise from 1958 through 1970. After starring in football and baseball at the University of Kansas, he signed with the Senators organization in 1955, and spent parts of four seasons in the minors. He was the American League Rookie of The Year Award in 1959, in addition to winning the Sporting News Rookie of The Year . 1959 was also the same year his friend and teammate Harmon Killebrew won his first league home run championship. It too,was, incidentally, the year Alaska and Hawaii were awarded statehood, The Big Bopper, Richie Valens and Buddy Holly died tragically in a plane crash in an Iowa cornfield, and the year that scandal rocked the famous game show "Twenty-One."
An all-American, much-admired guy by his teammates, he played with a tight end's mentality. Between him and Frank Robinson, he spooked the Father, Son and Holy Ghost out of many an infielder in the '60's with his habit of barreling hard into second in the attempt to break up the double play. That all-out, rough and tumble style of play would eventually wear him down in his mid to late twenties, making him more succeptible to injuries - as would be the case with Gary Gaetti in a later Twins era.
Not to digress...
He appeared in this episode of The Gillette Homerun Derby with Henry Aaron in 1960:
And in this one against Willie Mays that same season!
As a young player (24), he compared favorably with Frank Thomas and Jose Cruz at a similar stages of their careers. His breakout season of '59 saw him produce 30 HR, 18 2B, 9 3B, 85 RBI, 83 runs, and 13 SB while batting .261. Over his career his offensive line puts him in a category including the likes of Roger Maris, Danny Tartabull, J.D. Drew, Jesse Barfield, Jeff Burroughs and Jay Buhner.
|Bob was a super guy, willing to do his part for charities.|
|"The Catch" - Game 2 -1965 World Series|
It typified his intense, team-leading style of play...
|Down and dirty Bob|
|1962 Post Cereal Card|
*two games at that time
Here's a video of Bob and the rest of the Silver Anniversary All-Time Twins team from the summer of 1986. I find it poignant, as it really shows a man healthy and vibrant before the onset of Ataxia, which is referenced via pop up boxes during the video scenes of Bob (starting at the 5:57 mark). Bob eventually succumbed to the disease in April, 1995. A link to the U of M Ataxia profile of him can be found here.
Here's a vintage TV commercial from the early 1960's with Bob: see if you can pick out rookie Rich Rollins, trailing Bob like a puppy...you'll also see the first homerun ever hit by a Twin in this clip:
Following his death the Minnesota Twins created the Bob Allison Award for the Twins player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field. Among its winners was Michael Cuddyer in 2009. He was elected by fan vote into the Minnesota Twins Hall Of Fame in 2003.
|Bob's last card-the 1970 Topps issue |
|Welcoming home Tony Oliva after a homer at The Met, 1969|
This photo (right) has some nice, historical appeal! It's from Opening Day (on April 18, 1960) at Griffith Stadium, Washington D.C. In it, you see (L-R) then-VP Richard "You Won't Have Tricky Dick To Kick Around" Nixon (over The Great Seal of the U.S.), Senators/Twins Pres. Calvin Griffith (white overcoat, no hat), President Eisenhauer (back to camera), Bob Allison, and Senators Manager Cookie Lavagetto.
Hope you enjoyed this retrospective on this great, classic Minnesota Twin!
May Your Taters Fly Far!