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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Camilo Pascual: Pitching For The Prez in the Twins' Pleistocene Era

I enjoy the flavor of these videos (see 2 linked below!) involving Camilo Pascual and the old Washington Senators, the ancestors of the Twins.  President Dwight Eisenhauer attends the Washington Senators home opener against the Boston Red Sox on April 18, 1960 (box score, Baseball Ref.). Besides the President, you also get the VP Richard "Milhouse" Nixon, Senators and future Minnesota Twins team president Calvin Griffith, plus managers Cookie Lavagetto (Senators) and  Billy Jurges of the Sox.  Washington baseball had been in a sad state: the Senators had not reached the postseason since 1933 (season summary), and had climbed no higher than second place just twice, in 1945 and 1943.


That said, they had the distinction and honor of playing in the nation's capitol, before the Leader of the Free World with a smidgeon of pomp and circumstance against this backdrop of mediocrity.


1957 Topps
The great curveballer, Camilo Pascual, is seen in perfect profile as he delivers the first pitch of the season.  Ted Williams is captured stroking a drive out of the yard, to the deepest reaches beyond center field.  This newsreal film is notable in that you get to see not only Pascual's delivery, but also the layout of Griffith Stadium on a beautiful spring afternoon!


It was the first home playground for the nucleus of what would become the Minnesota Twins: Bob Allison, Harmon Killebrew, Jim Lemon, Zoilo Versalles (did not arrive until September call up from AAA Charleston), Lenny GreenEarl Battey, and, of course, Pascual. Also not seen in the video is Al Worthington, future closer for the Twins in their 1960's glory years. Old "Red" was on the Red Sox roster that year, and pitched four innings in relief of starter Tom Sturdivant that day.


Everybody's just plumb happy. The President brushed back
 somebody in the first row by the dugout, I'm pretty sure (4/18/60).
1959 AL Rookie of the Year Bob Allison towers above  the 
other mortals in this vignette (see Jan. 11, 2011 post on Bob).

The following 1957 film (box, April 15, 1957) is interesting and similar as well. Here, Pres."Ike" Eisenhauer is flanked by VP Dick "Don't Call Me Slippery" Nixon, Calvin, Senators Mgr. Chuck Dressen, and Orioles Mgr. Paul Richards. When Ike throws out the first ball, watch what happens: instead of the orderly, choreographed ceremony that you would witness at a modern game, a near-scrum develops among the Senators squad over who'll get the ball! You'll see Oriole 2B and future Twins Manager Billy "Slick" Gardner ripping a basehit off the Senators Bob Chakales to open the season.  Pascual came on in relief in this game, and was tagged with the loss by giving up one measley run in 4 innings. He had started the 1956 Senators Opener, followed up by the '57 and '60 openers with President Eisenhauer.

Yes, by 1960 this pitching for the Commander-in-Chief thing may have lost its glamour for him. But I doubt it.

Eisenhower At Baseball Game - 1957



A nice time capsule piece revealing the Twins as they were constitued in the warm, fuzzy 1950's. 
As Herb Carneal would say "...and the count rides along." - TT

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