November 22, 2020

The year the Twins lost 2 games to start the season (yes, this is a thing)

The Minnesota Twins of the 1960s were a good team, some might even call them a great one. And this much was certain: they had left their sad-sack ways behind in Washington, D.C., and now won with regularity after their move to the upper Midwest.

Although the team won only 70 games in its inaugural season of 1961, they won 91 games in ’62 and ’63, 102 games in 1965 (and appeared in the World Series), 89 games in ’66 and it appeared the winning would continue in 1967. And then something happened that had never happened before to the young Twins franchise: they lost two games to start the season.

That’s according to “Tony Oliva: The life and times of a Minnesota Twins legend,” a 2015 book by Thom Henninger. It was the beginning of a lousy month for the Twins in April ’67, which was filled with mental mistakes and errors, including 18 gaffes over 12 games in late April through early May. By the end of the month, the Twins were 5-10.

And as talented a player as Oliva was, he made a major blunder early in the season. In that game, which was played in Detroit, the Twins’ Cesar Tovar was on base when Oliva homered; however, Tovar retreated to first base, thinking the ball was going to be caught. By then, Oliva had passed him on the base paths. Tovar was allowed to score, but Oliva was called out for his base running mistake.

The Twins struggled in April, played a little better in May and then slowly improved. By August, the Twins were on fire and reeled off 21 wins, including seven straight from Aug. 10-16. Pitcher Jim Perry, who won 215 games over a 17-season career (128 wins with the Twins) was sensational during that win streak, pitching back-to-back shutouts.

On Aug. 10 he blanked the Washington Senators 5-0, scattering five hits over nine innings with eight strikeouts. On Aug. 15 he was back on the bump, this time to face the California Angels. Once again he went the distance, giving up six hits with 10 strikeouts for a 4-0 win. Oliva backed him with three hits in four at bats, including a double.

The Twins finally moved into first place and stayed there for most of September. Their main competition was the Boston Red Sox, who were powered by Carl Yastrzemski in a season known as the “impossible dream.” It all came down to the end of the season and two games at Boston. The Twins lost 6-4 on Sept. 30 to fall into a tie with the Red Sox, then lost again 5-3 on Oct. 1 to hand the Sox the American League pennant.

Oliva finished ’67 hitting .289 with 34 doubles, which was tops in the AL that season. Despite a late flourish, it was a down season for Perry, who ended it at 8-7 with a 3.03 ERA.

November 15, 2020

The day Tony Oliva was beaned in the forehead

Tony Oliva, who spent his entire 15-season career with the Twins, had one of the best rookie campaigns of all time, and was the clear choice for AL Rookie of the Year in 1964, capturing 95 percent of the vote, according to Baseball-Reference.com. The numbers are incredible: 217 hits, 109 runs, 94 RBI, 43 doubles,... Continue Reading »

November 8, 2020

A magnanimous Calvin Griffith? Maybe

Julio Becquer, a former pinch hitter for the Twins, died this month, generating remembrances from Minnesota-based sports media. He was 88. Becquer also was Cuban, and one of a long line of Cuban ballplayers who made their way to the Washington Senators and Twins. You know the names: Pedro Ramos, Tony Oliva, Camilo Pascual and... Continue Reading »

October 31, 2020

There’s a new Sheriff in the AL Central, Twins fans

Hall of Fame manager, Tony La Russa, who began his major league managing career with the Chicago White Sox, is back where it all started after he was named the team’s new manager this week. And that means an extra level of competition for the Twins in the AL Central. The White Sox have a... Continue Reading »

October 22, 2020

The day Wayne Terwilliger was a footnote in a trade to get ‘Pafko at the Wall’

Wayne Terwilliger, the former longtime fist-base coach for the Twins, played 37 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951. The Dodgers weren’t interested in Twig, but they did want the Chicago Cubs’ Andy Pafko, so the Dodgers sent a handful of players to the Cubs and got Pafko, Twig and more in return. Pafko was... Continue Reading »

October 15, 2020

Twins killer Whitey Ford, who had career winning percentage of .690, is dead at 91

It’s hard to imagine that 2020 could get any worse, but it has after losing some of the giants of the game. In a matter of weeks, it seems, we have lost Tom Seaver, Lou Brock, Bob Gibson, Joe Morgan and longtime Yankees pitcher, Whitey Ford, the Chairman of the Board. Ford died last week... Continue Reading »

October 3, 2020

Despite the Twins’ monumental postseason failures, the future is bright. Really.

Amid the slow-moving train wreck that was the Twins’ Game 2 loss to the Houston Astros was this: Alex Kirilloff, a highly ranked prospect in the Twins organization, made his major league debut in that game and wasted no time in getting his first hit, a sharply lined single to right field. A right fielder... Continue Reading »

October 1, 2020

There is no God

If you’re a Twins fan of faith, you probably picked up the Good Book, then put it down, or perhaps even put it away. You probably also removed the cross on the wall behind the bed, and before you knelt bedside to say a few words to the almighty, you probably just sat there, head... Continue Reading »

September 30, 2020

Twins’ 17th postseason loss was about one thing: faith

Tuesday’s horrific Twins loss was not about Jorge Polanco, or Marwin Gonzalez, or Sergio Romo, or Tyler Duffey, or a lack of hitting, including 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. After all, the Twins scored the first run of the game. But it was about faith, or in this case, the lack of faith shown... Continue Reading »

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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.