Saturday, July 23, 2011

Game of The Week: Twins Sweep Pilots On Moonlanding Day: July 20, 1969!

Edited, July 20, 2016
Click for larger image!

Historians were shocked to find this photo, hidden in an attic at the Houston Command Center.As if we didn't know they were covering things up after all these years!L-R: Harmon, Jim Perry (on mound), Buzz Aldrin giving Rod Carew the steal sign, and Jim Kaat (orbiting).

Mr. Perry: finally had breakout season, '69
A wild day in AND out of this world! July 20, 1969 marked the first Nasa moon landing (You Tube video of event). It totally dates me, but I vividly remember watching the grainy satellite images emanating from the moon on our little black and white TV with my parents and brothers that Sunday evening. 

This was wonderous, of course. But it had to compete with our fascination with the engaging team Twins that season, and the never-ending battle we brothers had to see who would cop the last can of Tom Moore soda. You had to have priorities, dig? I'm telling you now - look for a "Game Of The Week" (GOTW) post, my ode to the 1969 Twins, later this month. The first Twins game I can remember attending. It will necessarily be smothered in saccharine and corn syrupy nostalgia, to warn you.

The Twins game of Saturday,  July 19, 1969 (BRef. box) in Seattle was halted on Sunday morning at 1:00 a.m. It was resumed the next afternoon, before the regularly scheduled game. It clocked in at 5 hours, 41 minutes to play 18 innings. Immediately following this ungodly mess, the Twins had to log another 9 innings ( in 2:10) to nab a 4-0 shutout win for Jim Perry, during which time the Apollo crew safely landed on "The Big Rock." We Twins fans could then wile away some time before astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin  walked on the Lunar surface at 8:56 p.m.

For Minneapolitans only: yes, Dave Mona of Minnesota Football Golden Gopher repute was once a Twins beat reporter in a galaxy far, far away...and his report from Seattle appeared the next day, Monday, July 21, 1969. Sorry for some of the lousy scans. I can only be perfect part of the time.

First game Pilot pitcher Jim Bouton was told by manager Joe Schultz that he was starting against the Twins on Friday, the night before his start. If you check the boxscore, you'll see it wasn't a stellar affair for him. Leo Cardenas and Teddy Uhlaender each hit "moonshots" that would've grazed Armstrong were he already "out of doors."

Bouton's funny description of his performance:
"My main concern was that Carew and Tovar would be stealing on my knuckleball, so we went over the pickoff signs and hoped for the best. It wasn't good enough.  In my first start of the year, on this day of July 19, 1969, A.D., I, James Alan Bouton was creamed."

The man known as "Ass Eyes."
You're missing something if you've never read Boutons "Ball Four" (Amazon link), his terrifically funny expose on his Pilots teammates (Seattle Times story) like Steve Hovley (AKA: "Orbit")  and the 1969 season. The hapless Pilots in 1969 really only had 3 or 4 legitimate all-stars on their roster: Tommy Harper, Tommy Davis, and future stars Mike Marshall and possibly Diego Segui. Marshall would become the Twins top reliever in the late 1970's. Besides him, the former / future Twins factor was quite prevalent on the Pilots: Sandy Valdespino, Gary Roggenburk, Rich Rollins, Ron Clark, Don Mincher and Danny Walton all played either key or marginal roles on the team that season. Of note: a fellow named Jay Thomas Kelly , known more commonly as "Tom" Kelly (the future manager who would lead Minnesota to two world championships) was drafted by the Pilots in the 8th round (no. 22, 178th overall) of the 1968 amateur draft. Kelly would not surface in the majors until May 11, 1975 (see box) with the Twins. Click to see the Pilot team photo.
Tom Kelly, circa 1969

Former Twin, Rich Rollins

The '69 Pilots (team page, BBRef.) finished last (12 team league) in pitching ERA (4.35), fielding (.974), and struck out more than any other club (1,015 whiffs). However, they could claim bragging rights versus the California Angels, who were last in team batting average (.230) to Seattle's 11th place finish (.234). Silver linings can be found wherever you like, I guess.  Meanwhile, the Twins were the offensive juggernaut of the league, leading all clubs in runs scored (790), hits (1,520), batting (.268), and total bases (2,319). Mismatch.

For some of these small pieces, try clicking on the image to get a larger print.

The complete dish on the Sunday, July 20 game is at this link (Baseball Ref. box).

The expansion Pilots would go on to become the Milwaukee Brewers the next season, in 1970. Ironically enough, these illegitimate children of the Pilots would engage in an even longer battle with the Twins - 5:47 for a 22-inning game - on May 12, 1972 (BBRef box). You have to go to this link yourself to find out about THAT affair!

And here is a video of Seattle Pilots home field, where the two games were played: Sicks Stadium. It's hard for me to say if there has ever been a ballpark more aptly named. But Sicks must be on the short list of all-time worst ballparks in modern MLB history. But they sure did have a wonderful team fight song (small doses will suffice, FYI).

That's all for now! Hopefully the news bits made for some good reading! Bonus columns by Minneapolis Star writers Sid Hartman and Dick Cullum are found below...

As good, old Herb Carneal would say "...and the count rides along." - TT

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Video, 1965 World Series, Game 7: Met Stadium, Bloomington, Minn.

[ORIGINALLY POSTED- JULY 11, 2011 - additional video added, Sept. 13, 2013]

See link for unbelievably detailed scorecard, Game 7! Sandy Koufax (born "Sanford Braun") at the Met, Oct. 14, 1965 at Sports Junkie Score Card

The first video below was mined from a Korean site. It dishes a batter-by-batter capsule review of The Great Koufax' memorable 1-0 shutout win to clinch the series for L.A. The creator evidently wished to highlight every out recorded as a result of Koufax' strikeouts or fielders' putouts. The second, which is a fairly recent inclusion on MLB's You Tube Channel, is the full deal - with pregame, play-by-play, and post game interviews. Wild, wild stuff that's on the big time video site these days!

 [NOTE: video can be a slow download].

 Scroll to two minute mark, see behind home plate view of Koufax-Earl Battey confrontation. Being both obsessive AND compulsive, I hit the stop/pause buttons countless times to get a visual of standing in against Koufax. The impression? Lefty was a dominating, fast worker, great control, who would  keep you off balance with a mere two pitches.  He'd just embarrass batters by dispatching them quickly. Classic pitching.

Other Notable Things To Watch For:
* Koufax adjusting his hat after seemingly every pitch - must be a Jewish thing
* Watch how he wasn't accurately controlling his curve ball in the early going - abandons it in favor of fastball almost exclusively later (after 1-1:30 video mark)
* None of that "working the count," jazz in 1960's baseball, waiting for mistake pitches, getting walks - batters were up there to swing. Of course, pitchers like Steve Carlton, Pedro Martinez, Koufax hand you your ass if you try that (my apologies to Sister Catherine, my Grade 3 teacher at St. Wenceslaus School. I know it is very crass grammar, in addition to lazy verb-noun association. Expecting to be stuck on chalkboard eraser cleanup, post-haste)
* Putouts at first, first basemen turns to sling the ball to the catcher, backing up first - doesn't happen today - believe that all started with Joe Mauer's bilateral leg weakness
* Tony Oliva's bat throwing - he does it at least two times during the game
* On closeups of Koufax using the behind the plate camera, you can see how he hides the ball, and how difficult it could be to pick up his motion. Advantageous, especially the way he attacked hitters

No, you don't see the possible game-turning Zoilo Versalles smash that 3B Jim Gilliam converted into a force out of Frank Quilici in the 5th. Nor do you see Harmon Killebrew's  ground single bashed to left in the 9th. So, it's not perfectly complete. But you do get an idea of the quick pace and economy with which "The Left Arm of God" (see SI 1999 story) worked on that Thursday afternoon, October 14, 1965 (box score), even with the film edits. BONUS: you also get to hear broadcast greats Vin Scully (Dodgers) and Ray Scott (Twins) give the play-by-play for NBC (more You Tube audio of the two broadcasting greats from that day).

As our very own Herb Carneal would say "...and the count rides along." - TT

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rodney Cline Carew: The Art of The Inside-Out Swing!

Uploaded with

This Gif image was just too good to pass up! From the looks of things, I gather this action took place at Metropolitan Stadium, from the 1976-77 period. It perfectly illustrates why Rod was so difficult to defense: his ability to take an inside pitch to left field was extraordinary. You see from the motion how he got his hands out in front, and thus "inside-outed" a pitch on the inner half the other way.
The Magician With A Bat At Work - See this fine MLB blog Story on his 1977 bid for .400 
Lovely illustration of that rhythmic Carew swing!

As good, old Herb Carneal said, "...and the count rides along."

Sunday, July 10, 2011

All-Star Flashback: Bert Blyleven Against Bad Henry, 1973

In capsule, Bert was
  • 12-9 at the time of the All-Star Game
  • 4 of those losses were by 1 run
  • He had already thrown 5 shutouts.
  • Season record: 20-17
  • 258 strikeouts
  • 325 Innings pitched. 

Bert and the man who was about to overtake The Babe.

1973 Topps Card

Bert at Royals Stadium, 1973

 My main memory of Bert from that 1973 All-Star Game at spankin' new Royals Stadium was his pitching against Henry Aaron. In Bert's one inning of pitching (3rd) Bad Henry hit a hard grounder through the left side of the infield, scoring Joe Morgan. Meanwhile, Cesar Cedeno greedily tried going first to third, only to be thrown out by Bobby Murcer's peg to the great Brooks Robinson. Bill Singer came in to relieve Bert in the next inning. Bert was tagged with the loss, and charged with a blown save. 

Versus Cesar Cedeno

Here's Bert's take on his '73 appearance. Click image to play.
For, the record, Bert didn't face Johnny Bench in that inning,
despite his words to the contrary. It is, after all, 38 years ago.
Let's see you remember anything perfectly after that long a time.

To quote the great Herb Carneal "...and the count rides along."-TT

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jim Grant: Trailblazing Ace In Twins History

In this 2010 video while in Fargo, Jim Grant explains how he earned his nickname

Besides his multi-faceted personality, one of the things I've always appreciated about the Mudcat was his nifty, economical windup. There was no wasted motion, and he hid the ball well before whipping it towards homeplate. I think it's great that he has become an iconic figure in Twins history. You can read The Sporting News feature on Grant from Oct. 1, 1965 for a pre-World Series look at the Twins newest pitching sensation.

Jim is famous for sending that World Series to Game Seven in 1965 with his pitching and batting, as seen in this newspaper link from the Oct. 14 edition of the Sarasota Herald Tribune. Above and below are two expandable articles from The Sporting News, plus an April, 1965 column on Grant.  Together, they form a fascinating look into his character.

Just click to get a bigger, better read!

In the Sid Hartman piece, it's pretty evident Grant was not a guy to put up with any crap, racist, elitist, or otherwise. This is another insight into the thought process of an up-front Black man from 1960's America. Below is a video from local, Minneapolis TV, and presents the stirring rendition of "What A Wonderful World" by Mudcat at the Harmon Killebrew Memorial from May, 2011.

As Herb Carneal would say "...and the count rides along." - TT