December 16, 2020

Six degrees of separation with Bert, the White Sox and 2 HRs (or something like that, anyway)

I hope you read Strib columnist Patrick Reusse’s recent blog post/column about Dick Allen, the fearsome slugger, best known for his years with the Philadelphia Phillies, who recently passed away. Reusse not only touched on his contributions as a player, but also about a unique game against the Twins.

On July 31, 1972, before 13,000 fans at the Met, Allen hit two inside-the-park home runs against the Twins when he was a member of the Chicago White Sox. It was the first major league game to feature multiple inside-the-park home runs since 1932, Reusse writes.

On the mound that day was Bert Blyleven, who lasted only four-plus innings and fell to 9-14 on the season after the 8-1 drubbing. At the end of the column, Reusse notes that the next game to feature two inside-the-park home runs was played on Oct. 4, 1986, once again featuring the Twins, White Sox and one more detail: Blyleven was on the mound for that game as well.

This time, though, the Twins prevailed 7-3 after infielder, Greg Gagne, hit both home runs. And Blyleven made it stand with a complete game victory to improve to 17-14 with a 4.01 ERA to round out his ’86 season.

The year 1972 and 1986 share another similarity: the Twins changed managers in both seasons. In ’86, the team canned Ray Miller after 139 games and replaced him with Tom Kelly for the final 23 games of the season. It was another down year for the club, as so much of the 1970s and 80s were, but they won three of four games to end the ’86 campaign, including Bert’s win on Oct. 4. And then Sweet Music got the ball for the final game of the season, before only 7,200 fans at the Metrodome. Given the size of the House of Horrors, it probably felt like not a soul was there.

But those who attended saw a gem. Sweet Music tossed a complete game two-hit shutout with nine strikeouts to knock off the South Siders, 3-0. He ended the season at 16-13 (for a team that lost 91 games) with a slightly elevated ERA of 4.51. Better days were soon to come for Viola and the Twins.

And Blyleven exacted some revenge against the Chisox after he served up those two home runs to Allen in 1972. On the final day of the season, before only 3,200 fans (ouch), the Twins blasted the South Siders, 14-2. Twins player, Bobby Darwin, who had made a costly error in the July 31 loss, redeemed himself with a 4-for-5 day and Blyleven struck out 10 over six innings. Allen was not in the lineup that day.

Bert finished the season at 17-17 with a 2.73 ERA for the 77-77 Twins in 1972. Weird.

Source: Baseball-Reference.com, a never-ceases-to-amaze-me resource.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.