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

1991 World Series Highlights Summary

For your scholarly pleasure, here is Michael Rand's capsule feature on the 1991 World Series from the Friday, Oct. 28, Minneapolis StarTribune edition. 
     
A fine group of  nuggets these are, I'd say. I'm only upset that I didn't come up with them first...alas, I have to work for a living! 


For larger print: 1-click image, 2-click "show original" (left) & 3-click image again


"So long everybody!," as Herb Carneal used to say - TT


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Remembering Kirby Puckett's Game 6 of the 1991 World Series

October 26, 1991. It was twenty years ago today...

It was the day that defined the legacy and history of Kirby Puckett's career with the Twins.

Without him carrying the Twins to the promised land and Game Seven, things could have ended so differently..."Jump on my back guys." That's what legends are supposed to say.


Heroes get remembered-but legends never die
When most non-Minnesotan's think about him, their thoughts must undeniably drift back to The Catch and The Hit during Game Six (Box score/play by play) of that epic Fall Classic . That he was able to muster  such a performance on this stage says volumes about him as a clutch, "money player."

It's odd. You can recall stalwart, talented guys like Ernie Banks, or more recently for Twins fans, Rod Carew. Their numbers are there for us to see, of course. You can read them and say "They were good." But they never got into a series. So, there was no dramatic, national, defining moment that burnished their myth and legend. Bill Clinton never got his Gulf War. Huey Lewis never got acclaim for his serious, jazz horn albums (damn that Brian Setzer!). Kind of a sad thing for those players, really. The stories told about them won't have the same resonance, the same life breath of awe, that guys like Kirby or George Brett, or Joe Carter, or even Bill Mazeroski and Jim Leyritz (for God's sake) have for coming up big on the biggest stage of them all.

I've certainly been getting
my Twins jollies, posting
scads of Twins post season
memories to
Twitpics of late!

Ah, but Kirby surely got his! Now enjoy Twins history as it was...


These calls go down as the best remembered in announcer John Gordon's career.


And here's the entire at bat, with added commentary, and Jack Buck's
famous, national television call:



As our old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, would say: "...So long, Everybody!" - TT


Photo Courtesy Heinz Kluetmeier/CBS (SI)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Harmon Killebrew: Hall Of Fame Acceptance Speech, Aug. 12,1984

Edited: Sunday, August 12, 2012

This is another installment in a series honoring the principal figure in Minnesota Twins history.

As seen at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

With fellow '84 inductees Don Drysdale,Pee Wee Reese
Rick Ferrell, and Luis Aparicio, Aug. 12, 1984.

His words speak for themselves...I always listen for his "we're raising kids" phrase, a comment his father made to his mother, complaining about the grass in the family back yard being destroyed by Harmon and his brothers' sporting exploits.

Watch, too, for the obvious, heartfelt words from Harmon, especially when he is speaking about his father.


In the beginning...
this photo from 1954 completely foreshadows what was in Harmon's future.


As our friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, would say it "...And the count rides along." - TT

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Twins Highlights for 2011: Mr. Thome's 600th In Multiview

In 2011, we Twins fans had the wonderful distraction of watching Bert Blyleven join the Hall of Fame ranks.

We beheld the sad passing of Harmon Killebrew (Homerun Derby, Hulu).

We could gaze at the tranquil, Minneapolis skyline behind the Target Field confines.

We stared in puzzlement & disappointment at the difficulties of newcomer Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

We stared some more at the Minneapolis skyline, while our team of recruits flailed...

But for sheer on-field pleasure, I don't know what kind of smoldering wreck 2011 would have been without the exploits of Gentleman Jim Thome and his quest for career homerun 600...

This photo set originally appeared at Starlins And Pinstripes blog (Tumblr)


The milestone game was at Comerica Park in Detroit, August 15th, 2011 (game log at BBRef).




Jim was traded 10 days later back to his original team, the Cleveland Indians.
It was an amicable parting of ways for him and the Twins, a means for him to
play yet with a team that was contention for the pennant. In short, it wasa way to say
 "Thanks" for all the good he did for Minnesota in his short stay with the club.

As our dear, old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, put it: "...And the count rides along." - TT

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Twins Heroes of October on Twitpics

Oct 18. '87: #Twins def #Cards, 8-4 Gm2, #Blyleven wins.... on Twitpic
I've been downloading a trove of photos from Twins postseason history, 1965, '87, 91, the 2000's, what have you. Try the title link, see if you can recall some or most of these that are online!

That wacky Carlos Gomez scoring, Game 163, 2009.

As our old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, would say "...And the count rides along." - TT


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Game Of The Week: Koufax Dominates Twins, Game 7, 10/14/65 Part 3

[Reposted, added photos, Nov. 19, 2011]


The classic form on the
Met Stadium mound,
Oct. 14, 1965...casting a
legendary shadow on that
early fall day.
Sandy Koufax was the "Left Hand of God," pitching on a cool, partly cloudy day at Met Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, on Oct. 14, 1965 (game description at BBRef). This day assured his place at the top of the list among his era's pitching greats.

If I hadn't been knee-high to a grasshopper, I would have been glued to the TV set watching this contest, forty miles away. Now, only videos like this Hall of Fame bio clip give an idea of his dominance of hitters like Oliva and Allison in that series.

Dodgers Manager Walter Alston had seriously considered pitching the team's formidable right hander, Don Drysdale, instead. That would have been the safe, logical choice, as the "Big D" had three days rest since his last start.

Chucking logic, choosing intuition, he opted for Koufax and his two days of rest for that big game against the big bats of Killebrew, Oliva, Allison, Battey, Versalles and Mincher. It payed off handsomely (view game video from previous post - July, 2011) as Koufax came through with this pitching line:



Narrative of pre/post game, the choice of Koufax as Game 7 starter at Jane Leavy's "Koufax," (Google Books)

Of Note: Koufax discovered during the early innings that he couldn't throw his world-class curveball (emulated and implemented by a then-Los Angeles-area high schooler named Bert Blyleven - a future Twin) for a strike. Fastball, curve - that was it in the Koufax repertoire. Discussing this with his catcher (future Twin John Roseboro) during a mound visit, Koufax bluntly stated "[BLANK] it, blow 'em away." Time for nothing but the cheese.

And while the Twins knew what was coming, it still didn't do them any good. Koufax went on a roll after Frank Quilici's double in the 5th inning, setting down 14 of the next 16 batters he faced. 6 of those were by way of strikeout. [Ahem] - I will suggest that THAT was not too shabby pitching.

Facing down Tony-O in Game 7. After the series, Tony
requested an eye check, worrying over why he wasn't
seeing the ball so well. "Tony," he was told, "it's not
your eyes - - it was Koufax." 

Yes, it would have been nice for the Twins to have put this game and series in their back pocket.

It would have been nice for the franchise to not have to wait another 22 years to gain their first World's Championship. Ah well. The Chicago Cubs are still waiting to play their first World Series game since '45.

And it's one thing to lose the championship, like the Red Sox did in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on a slow roller through the first baseman's legs to score the tying runs.

Koufax' emergence as the top pitcher of his era can be traced to a spring training game versus the
Twins in the spring of 1961.See the Baseball Digest story narrative from October, '61 at Google books.

(With thanks to ace photographer, Walter Iooss)
But it's another to lose to a legitimate pick as the most dominant left-hander in baseball history, like Koufax. To spout a cliche, if you're gonna lose, lose to the best. It's the stuff of legend.


As our old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, would say: "...And the count rides along." - TT

Below: cool "Boys Life" Koufax feature, the spring after he retired, March, 1967.
Increase the type size (click the "+"), then scroll around the document like a PDF.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

For You Twins Fans, A-Rod Gets his Dog Day Afternoon, Belatedly

Yes, boys and girls, I realize it's difficult to dredge up the sad past of the playoff futility for the Minnesota Twins vs. the New York Yankees in the decade of the 2000's (or, if you will, the "aughts"?). But as a point of illustration and contrast - oh, hell...I'm posting this to slake the visceral, vindictive satisfaction we Minnesotan's thirst for against the Bronx Bombers - here is Joe Nathan pitching to Alex Rodriguez in the 9th inning of Game 2 of the ALDS* at "new" Yankee Stadium on Oct. 9, 2009:
*American League Division Series
(Sorry, gotta wait out the commercials the boys in the suits put in)

O.K., hit me with a hammer, NOW! Whether it was Nick Punto or that wacky Carlos Gomez pulling bonehead moves on the basepaths, or our closer Joe throwing the ball up on a tee for A-Rod, something always went wrong, in that series, and in the seasons of 2003 and '04. And in '09. And in '10 (sigh!)....You always knew some sick house of horrors was awaiting our little train that could just around the next bend (to wit: see my Twitter post from this morning, re: Juan Rincon, 2004 Game 3).

Let's face it: our little train couldn't, not against this collection of ringers with their deep pocket book.

My God. It's as if we've been living in some spooky poem by Poe, "The Raven," driven mad with frustration and mourning.


So, here's the good stuff...

In your classic "that-was-then-this-is-now", here is the same narcissistic, self-absorbed slugger getting his oats against wacky Detroit Tiger closer Jose Valverde, from Thursday night of last week, at the end of their ALDS. And like the previous post alluding to the 1980's Twins humiliations at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, this is at least gives hope to the idea that one day Minnesota's fortunes will turn.  The Twins beat them in '87...so why not believe a modern edition can't prevail against the latest bully? We can only hope, right?

I must have sat through this video at least 25 times by now, 
drumming my fingers like Mr. Burns ("The Simpsons"),
muttering "Excellent, mmm-bu-HA-HA-HA, simply Excellent."


"Yes, Ex-cellent!"

Is it just me, or do the sad-ass faces of Yankee fans just make you happier than hell? Or as Minnesotans do, smile very privately?

As our old friend at the mic, Mr. Herb Carneal said it: "...And the count rides along." - TT

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kodak Snapshot Picks, October 8, 2011

Each of these masterpieces of film are clickable for a larger version....
Pedro Ramos & friend, circa 1961.

Presumably, it's not one of his 
gun-running, contraband buddies
(see story link)
Pedro is the answer to this Twins trivia 
question: who started and won the 
 very first Twins gameon April 11,1961

There's a man. The one everyone
thought made up his name to
sound good for baseball:
Earl Battey

As our old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal , used to say

Blockey of body Battey, before the palms.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

1987 Twins Clinch Vs Detroit Video

There is so much that is remarkable about this piece of video...it posts very well after the previous Gaetti Error Game in '84 piece on how the Twins were knocked out of the pennant chase. Yes, redemption is very, very good thing!

That's Bob Costas and Tony Kubek doing the broadcast for NBC

*As much as I liked Darryl Evans, I enjoy that he looks ready to throw up after making the first out.  Jeff Reardon looks so amped up, it's hard to believe anyone could hit him...


*You can read the astonishment on the Twins players faces (or can imagine), & how great it was to get the monkey off their back, after so many losses, like those 102 back in '82 (team page, BBRef) when they were all rookies. That includes all the pastings they took at the hands of these very SAME Tigers in the early years. Payback time. How sweet it is...


*It's so cool that 1965 heroes Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva  were in the dugout, or near it, when the final out was recorded to send this new edition of Twins into the 1987 Series. I don't remember Harmon hugging Tom Kelly after the game (above are links to Vimeo vids, their stories)...

Brawny. Bad. Sometimes bellicose.
That was Don Baylor.
*Lastly - this proves once again - big, bad Don Baylor really WAS a Twin, once upon a time...

Avoiding 100 losses is a worthwhile goal after all else has failed. Nevertheless, I have to admit to some embarassment over the celebrating. It's very hard to see any of these guys having the same pedigree as the 1987 or 1991 Twins. You never know...



That's how ( and when) you're supposed to do it, guys.


As our old friend at the mic, Herb Carneal, used to say: "...And the count rides along." - TT