|Young Mr. Nettles (circa, 1968), the template for his|
1969 Topps Twins rookie card.
Graig Nettles is better known as one of the all-time best New York Yankee third basemen who was also a worlds class wise-ass. Don't let the "I'm-All-Business" facade fool you...there was a cackling hyena just under the surface. He was drafted in the fourth round of the 1965 Amateur Free Agent Draft.This was the first of its kind, established to limit the high bidding that had favored the more profitable Major League teams. Frank Quilici is quoted as saying the Twins probably gave up on Nettles too early, thinking a leg injury he suffered would hinder his ever becoming a solid, everyday player. So, they traded him to the Cleveland Indians on December 10, 1969. Yes, indeed, children. It seems for every Twins trade success (see "Cesar Tovar, for Gerry Arrigo, 1964", "Tom Brunansky for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong, 1982"), there has been a blunder ("Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young, 2007, or allowing David Ortiz to flee after the 2001 season - please hit me with a hammer, now!!). A good chronology of Nettles' stay in the Twins system is at the Fack Youk blog (yes, you read that correctly), with some fine graphics.
(Nettles, losing shoe while reaching reaching third base,
probably in a game against the Red Sox on August 29, 1969. Syd O'Brien
takes throw. He played left field that day for that 1969 Twins team
(team page at BBR). Photo courtesy of Minnesota Twins:
Bob Showers, "The Twins At The Met")
After Nettles was traded to the Indians, all he did in 1970 was lead the AL third basemen in fielding percentage (.967), and hit 26 homers. He and Mike Schmidt were the top third basemen in their respective leagues. He became one of the signature characters in the late 1970's with the New York Yankees, aka; The Bronx Zoo. His chief roles on that club were being the smooth, lovely-to-watch fielder, hitter with pop, and chief court jester. To wit:
"When I was a kid I wanted to play baseball and join the circus. With the Yankees, I've been able to do both."
|1969 Twins Spring Training|
Baseball Digest Feature, March, 1969