January 28, 2019

Is there still room for Cesar Tovar in the Twins Hall of Fame?

Former reliever Joe Nathan and team president Jerry Bell are the newest inductees into the Twins Hall of Fame. I have no opinion on whether Bell deserves to be included, but Nathan certainly does.

Nathan was one of three players the Twins were able to get from the San Francisco Giants for catcher A.J. Pierzynski in 2003. Although Francisco Liriano appeared to be the early gem in that deal, it was Nathan who proved to be the much better player. Over the next seven seasons, Nathan would become one of the dominant closers in the game. He saved 260 games for the Twins and would go on to notch 377 saves over a 16-year career. I wish the Twins had never let him go (he left the team as a free agent in 2011) because he later pitched well for the Texas Rangers and Detroit Tigers.

Strib Columnist Patrick Reusse thinks Nathan and Bell are good choices, too. But he’s less enthused that infielder Cesar Tovar still has not been enshrined by the team.

Tovar spent eight of his 12-year major league career with the Twins beginning in 1965. Some of his accomplishments, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

-In 1967, he led the majors in games played (164) and plate appearances (726) and led the American League in at bats with 649.

-In 1970, he led the AL with 36 doubles and 13 triples.

-In 1971, he led the AL with 204 hits and also hit .311.

-Over his career, he stole 226 bases.

Tovar also played all nine positions in one game, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.

Tovar played all nine positions on September 22, 1968. The Twins were trailing the league-leading Detroit Tigers by 26 games at the time, and Calvin Griffith thought it would be a good promotional stunt. (The game drew a modest crowd of 11,340 to Metropolitan Stadium). He started the game on the mound – his scoreless inning featured a strikeout of Reggie Jackson, plus a walk and a balk – then went behind the plate. He then moved counter-clockwise around the infield, followed by a trip across the outfield from left to right.

After his major league career came to an end in 1976, he continued to play baseball in Mexico and his home country of Venezuela. Health problems — Tovar apparently was a longtime smoker — caught up with him in the early 1990s and he later died from pancreatic cancer.

According to SABR:

When the news (of his death in July 1994) reached Minnesota, the Twins called for a moment of silence before that night’s game. Such was Tovar’s stature in Venezuela that the nation’s president, Rafael Caldera, attended the funeral.

Extra innings…

-A sportsbook called BetOnline.ag has predicted the number of wins for the Twins this season at 84. Will you be satisfied with 84 wins? Hell no. Not with a team that includes Nelson Cruz, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Tyler Austin, C.J. Cron, Jonathan Schoop and Eddie Rosario. I want 90-plus wins and a lock on the AL Central title.

-And finally… thank you, Bill James.


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.