Nick Coleman, a former reporter and columnist for the Pioneer Press and Star-Tribune, died this week, and the only reason I know that is because I was catching up on my Twins news when I came across his obituary in both papers. And then I learned that it was Coleman, who had attended a service club dinner in the little town of Waseca, about an hour south of the Twin Cities, when he heard former Twins owner Calvin Griffith shoot off his mouth in the worst possible way. The year was 1978.
Among the things Griffith said that day were included in Rod Carew’s autobiography, which he co-wrote with sportswriter Ira Berkow and published in 1979.
Griffith on why he moved the Washington Senators to the Twin Cities:
I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota in 1961. It was when I found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ball games, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death… We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking white people here.
That was easily the worst comment of the afternoon and Coleman reported it. Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn quickly disassociated Griffith’s comments from the baseball community, according to Carew’s book, and newspapers in the Twin Cities called on Griffith to sell the team. He would, but not until 1984.
Carew had this to say at the time:
The days of Kunta Kinte are over, he said in reference to the main character in Roots. I refuse to be a slave on this plantation and play for a bigot.
Carew eventually would be traded to the California Angels where he played out the remainder of his career. It would take years before Carew patched up his relationship with the Twins.
Coleman died at an area hospital after suffering a massive stroke at his St. Paul home, the Pioneer Press reported.
-Twins baseball was played Friday and they stunk up the joint, losing to the Milwaukee Brewers at home, 8-3. Kyle Gibson had his worst start of the year and three relievers each gave up a run, including Phil Hughes who has an ERA of 6.75. I hate to say it, but the career is over, Phil. If you can’t make it as a starter, or as a reliever, I know of no other role for a pitcher.
-The Brewers banged out 15 hits to the Twins’ eight. Unfortunately, Eduardo Escobar and Max Kepler had five of those eight hits. That’s great for them, but shows the lineup didn’t produce a lot of offense.
-Fernando Romero gets the ball Saturday.