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A Maestro At First: Trading For Vic Power, April 2, 1962

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"A Tale of 4 Twins Pitchers:" Kodak Snapshot Picks, 10/30/11


Another entry in posts spotlighting candid photos of Twins players, 1961 - present.

Click on them for the larger versions.

The key here is "candid," regular, fan shots, not those glossy ones taken by the "professional" Walter Iooss-types. As is my want, the great majority of these are black and white : timeless, quaint, boring, whatever you please to call them...they're what I like!


Nineteen year-old rookie Bert Blyleven (ca, Spring, 1970) in no way, shape or form, should ever have been allowed out of his mother's house. Hanging around calloused gentlemen of the athletic persuasion has spoiled many a fine lad...nevertheless, while waifs his age in his native Netherlands were home churning out barrels of butter, young Bert was bending curveballs past some big-time hitters in his first Twins spring training. Such it was that his manager, Bill "The Cricket" Rigney wanted badly for this diamond in the rough to remain with the big team to start the season. But, the skipper was voted down, as these things happen, by the Twins braintrust (*cough* IDIOTS!). But Bert would get the callup to replace the injured Luis Tiant on the roster, pitching his debut on June 5, 1970 (boxscore and PBP), a 2-1 victory over the new Washington Senators. The first batter (guess who!) homered off him, but he pitched 7 innings, with 7 strikeouts, and 1 walk. Game time: 2:01!! According to legend, he lit up venerable teammate Bob Allison afterward for his first hotfoot!* Apocryphally, the good-natured Allison guffawed "THAT was one Hall Of Fame-worthy hotfoot, young man!
*see cool Baseball Almanac "quote about..."

Bob Miller (ca, 1969 spring training) was known to his mother as Robert Lane Germeinweiser, and he was one of 4 Bob Millers who pitched in the Majors during the '50s and '60s. He goes down as "the guy that got Twins manager Billy Martin fired."*  See, Calvin Griffith had wanted Martin to give the assignment to Jim Kaat. Martin, of course, defied him, and started poor ol' Bob in the deciding game of the 1969 ALCS..and, regrettably, Bob layed down a big, ol' stink bomb on the Met Stadium mound. It completed a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles, after which Billy was fired, setting up the hire of Rigney. Heretofore, he'd been a capable reliever for the Dodgers and Cardinals and Mets. He'd played on 2 World Championship teams, 4 division winners, and 5 pennant winners. He also played for 4 last-place, 100 loss clubs! There's some diversity for ya! He played with All-Stars, from Walker Cooper (1942) to Greg Nettles (1985), outfielders like Stan Musial (as an 18 year-old rookie in 1957) and Curt Flood (a pioneer in challenging Baseball's reserve clause), and Tony Oliva. He threw to catchers like Cooper, Choo Choo ColemanJohn Roseboroformer Twin Rick Dempsey, Manny Sanguillen, and Jerry Grote. He pitched for 3 Hall of Fame managers (Leo Durocher, Casey Stengel, Walter Alston). Interestingly, our little Johnny Appleseed / Forrest Gump played for the New York Mets in both 1962, and in their "Gotta Believe" World Series year of 1973; in the former, the Mets had what is generally regarded as the worst season ever in the modern era with a 40 win - 120 loss record. Regarding that '69 playoff loss: with all those Bob Millers on the market, is it possible Billy Martin just happened to pick the wrong one out of the litter...?


*Admittedly, punching out staff members, carousing, and being generally insubordinate could be construed as legit reasons to fire people in most lines of work.  Billy being Billy was an idea incompatible for a number of people in the Twins front office.


Camilo Pascual (ca. 1961): some say he threw a "yellow hammer"...or a yakker...an "Uncle Charlie"..."hook"..."inshoot..."big wrinkle" - go right ahead and try to use any one of these in the regular conversations of polite society - just look out for the nice men in white carrying the sleeveless jacket just for you! Then again, use the terms around your baseball friends in reference to the legendary tosses of Camilo Alberto Pascual ("Little Potato" to his family back in Cuba), and they'll buy you a beer for your obvious wordsmithery. Fidel Castro's favorite pitcher is 5th All-time (Wikip. stats) for the Twins in wins (145), games started (331), 2nd in shutouts (31), 4th in innings pitched (2,465), and 3rd in strikeouts (1,885 @ twinsbaseball.com). Put it to you this way: when you're name is oft-mentioned on the short list of the greatest curveball pitchers ever - Koufax, Blyleven, Pascual, Satchel Paige - you're entitled to all the cigars you can carry home from Havana in a wheel barrel. 


Jack Kralick, (ca. 1961) here is totally fulfilling our expectations of the off-beat lefthander (i.e., an earlier version of Bill "Spaceman" Lee). He appears to be impatiently pulling out another stick or juicy fruit. CAPTION: "Why, oh WHY do these photo hounds have to steal the time I could have otherwise devoted to hazing rookies?" In other parts of the blogosphere, his countenance has been described as "ominous," as in something wicked this way comes. Perhaps this portends later circumstances during his career in which he was a perfect pain in the axis for sportswriters to deal with. His surliness earned him one less tooth and a side order of facial lacerations compliments of future roommate Gary Bell's fist in 1965. Seems their tiff was over which television channel to watch ("Masterpiece Theatre"? "F Troop"? So many choices...). Now, we wouldn't want to paint the Twins original Black Jack as a co-defendant at the Nuremburg Trials; for a clearer view of the man, check out this superb book excerpt from Terry Pluto's "Colavito" (1994). He receives props here for throwing the first no-hitter in Twins team history, on Aug. 26, 1962. And for anticipating Ben Revere's jaunty streetcap-style 50 years early! 

Do you have any favorites among this bunch? Feel free to comment!
"So long everybody!," as our good friend at the mic Herb Carneal used to sign off - TT

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