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Harmon Killebrew On David Letterman!?

With the appearance of Joe Mauer last week on Jimmy Fallon, I was reminded of another episode of a famous Twin who appeared on late ni...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Naming of The Twins: Nov. 26, 1960

On this day 54 years ago, Calvin Griffith announced his decision to name the new Minnesota franchise that was relocating to the Minneapolis-St.Paul area for the 1961 season. Among his choices was the "Twin Cities Twins," referencing the Northstar cities straddling the Mississippi River and their joint venture to field a major league ballclub. It was Griffith's intention to placate the two cities, and create unity after years of rivalry as minor league baseball cities. He eventually compromised, settling on "Minnesota Twins," thus making the entry the first MLB team to be named after a state, and not a city. The "TC" symbol, though, was retained on the caps.*

ABOVE: Nov. 28, 1960, 
The recent relocation of the Minneapolis Lakers to L.A. in April, 1960 was unquestionably on his mind, and he didn't want discord to undermine the franchise's viability in the future. The area would indeed embrace the team of Versalles, Becquer, Allison, Killebrew, PascualKaatBattey and Lenny Green. The naming decision was published in a story by iconic Minnesota sportswriter and broadcasting legend Halsey Hall (SABR link) ten days later in "The Sporting News" edition of December 7, 1960.
Ahh! Rustic. In the quaint,
Huckleberry Finn sense.
Manager Lavagetto, May 27, 1961

* "Twenty Cubans" was Jim Kaat's tongue-in-cheek response when asked by a rival team player for the meaning of the cap symbol. The Twins were renowned for fielding rosters with multiple players of Hispanic ancestry since the 1950's.

1961 Minnie And Paul logo
courtesy of Fleer Sticker Project.

The logo was created by artist 
Ray Barton in 1961 for $15.
Details, details. The 5 and 7 year-old money figures Calvin cites at the bottom of this section undoubtedly did not match the current economic realities, inflation, etc.,in Minnesota at the time. The Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1/10/61) detailed the compensation The Twins eventually agreed to fork over for area rights. Yes, fudging details, omitting relevant info...they were Griffith's twin guns he brought to many a negotiation! Star hurler Jim Grant was quoted as saying Griffith handled nickels as if they were manhole covers, alluding to the difficulty in wringing wage increases during salary talks with the Twins President. A formidable adversary in all things economic, and a pretty fair baseball mind! As far as I am aware, the middle section is the first national sports publication reference to the Twins team logo (left). Oddly enough, the only known instance of Cal telling fans to "Keep your money" was during the team season ticket drive before the '61 season, as reported in The Sporting News of January 11, 1961.

The "Gerald" (Gerry) Arrigo acquisition is a key one in Twins history - not so much for what he did as a member of the Twins staff, but for what he was worth in trade. The Twins picked up super-sub Cesar Tovar on Dec. 4, 1964 from the Reds. This was perhaps Calvin’s greatest trade steal of the 1960’s (with the possible exception of the 1963 Jim Perry for Jack Kralick deal).

You now know the fine trivia answer "Eddie Lopat" to the question: "Who was the Twins' first pitching coach?" Take a look at several of his young Twins rookie pitchers at the April, 1961 Baseball Digest (Google Books). Carl Yastrzemski, of course, had Minnesota ties from his season as a Minneapolis Miller in 1960, playing at Metropolitan Stadium. He later would help to famously end the Twins season as a member of the Boston Red Sox with his performance during the final series of the year (game stats) in 1967. 

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Now, Minnesota fans in late 1960 could truly say they were "Big League," that, despite the fact the old Minneapolis Lakers had been an NBA dynasty in the 1940s and 50s. But that was long before basketball was truly a big-time, high-echelon American, professional sport. The expansion NFL Vikings were technically first to commit to Minnesota, back on January 28, 1960. But they wouldn't play their first game until September 17, 1961. And after the original Lakers fell on hard times and fan apathy, they moved to L.A. after their last playoff game on March 26, 1960. They left behind a territory eager for something bigger - Major League Baseball and some yet, unknown entity that would fill the void. 

Enter the Twins.

As our Hall Of Fame broadcaster Herb Carneal ended his broadcasts, I say:"So long, everybody!" - TT 

positively un-Twinlike on the day
the Minnesota Twins were truly a
reality, in their first regular season
game on April 11, 1961
in New York.


Aase said...

Geez...where are you finding this stuff??? Really, really great stuff.

TWINS TWINKLER! (so named as "TT" was title of player features in Minn. Twins game programs of 1960's) said...

Short answer: I've got a pipeline to the baseball gods. Alternate: I work like the busiest beaver in show business to track down the material. Glad you liked, Greg!