July 21, 2019

The day Tony Oliva hit the deck, then hit a triple

The Twins lost again Saturday to the Oakland A’s, so let’s forget about the 2019 team for the moment and turn back the clock.

During the recent Twins/Mets series, Strib columnist, Patrick Reusse, tweeted about seeing Mets pitching coach, Phil Regan, visit the mound at Target Field.

And yet nobody booed him, which led Reusse to recall the moment when Regan threw at Tony Oliva’s head in April 1964. It sent the rookie “sprawling into dirt.” But Oliva picked himself up and hit a triple to center field at old Tiger Stadium. It would be a long afternoon for Regan, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

It was Game 1 of a doubleheader and the fifth game of the 1964 season. Regan took the mound for the Tigers, while Cuban curveballer, Camilo Pascual, by then in his 10th season of major league baseball, toed the rubber for the Twins.

The Twins wasted no time against the Tigers. They scored a run in the first inning, two in the second, three in the fifth, two in the seventh and then piled on with four in the ninth for a 12-3 win on 18 hits. Not only did Oliva hit a triple, he hit two. Nearly every Twins player got into the act that day.

Third baseman, Rich Rollins, went 4-for-6 at the top of the order. Don Mincher had three hits, Harmon Killebrew had three hits, including two home runs, and Zoilo Versalles, Oliva and Pascual had two hits apiece. Pascual went 2-for-5 at the plate, including a double, and drove in two runs. He also pitched a complete game, striking out seven.

How did Regan do? He lasted all of three innings and would finish 1964 with five wins and an ERA of 5.03. Pascual would win 15 games with an ERA of 3.30 and strike out more than 200 batters for the fourth consecutive season.

Oliva, who turned 81 on Saturday, was Rookie of the Year in 1964. And what a season it was. He hit .323, with 217 hits, 109 runs, 94 RBI, 43 doubles and 32 home runs. Wow.

Extra innings…

-The Twins lost in heartbreaking fashion on Saturday. They got the early lead, gave it back, regained it to lead 4-3 late, then ace reliever, Taylor Rogers, was tagged for two runs in the top of the ninth and the Twins lost 5-4, despite loading the bases in the bottom half of the inning. Luckily, the Cleveland Indians lost, too. The lead is still three games in the AL Central.

-The best they can do is split the four game series if they win on Sunday. Michael Pineda gets the ball.

-Oh, yeah. The series with the Yankees begins Monday.

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.