Check Out This Post!

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

Saturday, July 23, 2016

GOTW: Vic Power, First Twin To Steal Home, July 19, 1962

It happened 54 years ago this week, July 19, 1962 (Baseball Ref Box) that Vic Power became the first Twins player to steal home. With Harmon Killebrew batting, Power streaked down the third base line to score in the 5th inning during the Twins 8-0 rout of the Cleveland Indians at Met Stadium.

Here you see Tribe catcher Johnny Romano's futile effort to apply the tag, while home plate ump Nestor Chylak is all set for action. I guess I could be upset that my Dad didn't take me to this one-yes, I was an infant at the time, granted - - but it's the principle of the thing.

Hurt feelings aside, here’s your play-by-play context, courtesy of Baseball Reference:


Jim Kaat had grounded out, first baseman Tito Francona to pitcher Bill Dailey covering. Bill Tuttle followed with a single to left. Then, Power stroked an opposite field double to rightfield, Tuttle reaching third; Rich Rollins moved both baserunners ahead with a sac fly to center, making the score 5-0 for the Twins; and, then, with Killebrew at the plate, the thief Power broke for home. He clearly touched home plate ahead of catcher Romano’s tag, as the above photo demonstrates. Sweet revenge upon his old team! Vic had had a stormy, "on-again/off-again" relationship with the Indians management dating back several years, receiving fines and reprimands that were often a result of his passionate, instinctive nature. Not your 1950s "company man" that team owners expected, especially from a Latino black man.

Vic Power batting in a June, 1963 game. Again, Harmon Killebrew is on-deck (right, by inscription).Six summers would pass before another Twins player - Rod Carew in 1969 - Would create similar excitement on the bases at Metropolitan Stadium. And then, again, with Harmon Killebrew still batting in the three hole(photo), for a nice piece of ironic, synchronized history.

Vic Power actually had quite a history of doing this (see BBRef table below), perhaps THE most exciting play in baseball. He stole home TWICE for the Cleveland Indians, for example, on August 14, 1958 (Google News Archive links) in a regular season game (BBRef Box), and then again in a spring training game on March 22, 1960*, again as an Indian. It would also be the last steal of home for Power in his career. In twelve years, he stole 45 bases - and 8 of them were steals of home...a full 17%!! By comparison, the all-time leader of steals of home, Ty Cobb did this 54 times, 6% of his lifetime 897.

* - scroll above headline to see Power photo

CAREER STEALS OF HOME FOR VIC POWER!
                           
Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H HR RBI SB
3 1959-04-18 CLE KCA W 13-4 5 4 3 3 1 1 1
12 1962-07-19 MIN CLE W 8-0 4 3 2 1 0 0 1
20 1961-05-19 CLE NYY W 9-7 5 4 2 3 0 1 1
Rk Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H HR RBI SB
33 1959-05-03 (1) CLE WSH W 5-0 4 3 1 1 0 1 1
34 1959-04-25 CLE CHW L 6-8 5 5 2 3 0 1 2
36 1958-08-14 CLE DET W 10-9 6 6 3 3 0 1 2
39 1957-07-28 (1) KCA WSH W 6-2 4 4 1 1 0 1 1
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com
Generated 7/22/2016.
Only 1 of his steals in 1959-04-25 game was a steal of home.

Regarding his baserunning instincts, his manager from his Cleveland days, Joe Gordon offered: Vic isn’t particularly fast, but he’s got baseball instinct. He bluffed the pitchers beautifully – rushing up the line, pausing long enough to make them relax and then, poof – streaking all the way in (Cleveland Press, August 5, 1958).This was an interesting dimension (I would call it a "Negro League style") that the charismatic Puerto Rican brought to the young, conventional Twins.

###

______________________________________________________________________________________

SEE This Classic Minnesota Twins! Vic Power Post From 2013!


TRADING FOR VIC POWER - APRIL 6, 2015 - Originally published 4/2/13 In-season trades are rare occurrences for the Minnesota Twins. And even rarer are those that actually impacted the fortunes positively for the home nine.
______________________________________________________________________________________
As I think about it, Vic Power has been the focal point of at least 3 of my blog posts, an inordinately large number for a player who was a Twin for parts of only three seasons. I submit two reasons for that level of fascination with him:


*He was unique for his time (nearly became the first dark-skinned player on the Yankees!),* in that he was a multi-dimensional player in an era when first basemen were sloth-like creatures who were expected to hit the ball out of the park and field with little range. In contrast, Power, besides being a consistent offensive contributor, ran the bases well, and played his position quite unconventionally, like Adrian Beltre plays third today. That and the fact that he was a charismatic extrovert (see his obit!) in a time when players were rather drone-like.


*That honor would go to the relatively taciturn Elston Howard

*He also intrigues me for having visited my hometown sometime during that 1962-64 period, and greeting kids and other Twins fans at our local movie theatre. This affair was attended by my oldest brother (again, cue my personal envy, bitterness), who recalls it being an occasion to encourage clean living, participation in sports, besides being an autograph-signing session. As a dark-skinned man, I am certain he stood out in what was then an all-white community, perhaps prompting surprise or disappointment for some who may have come out to see if the basestealer would hock some movie candy from the lobby on his way out.


As far as that visit by Power and his teammates to the theatre...do I sense a future blog post sequel coming....?

"So long, everybody!" - Herb Carneal

1 comment:

Michael B said...

Author and Communications guru Jim Thielman correctly pointed out in a Facebook c to this posting that Power's lifetime caught stealing record makes it "all the more fun"(he was safe 45 out of EIGHTY...a 56% success rate!!). I did say he was a "good baserunner" now, didn't I :D