March 2, 2020

It’s Twins/Yankees again, folks (my favorite obsession)

Amid the business of spring training — lineups with lots of new faces and veterans slowly working their way back from the offseason — a tweet caught my eye.

This time it was a gorgeous photo of Yankees Stadium, circa 1967, showing a capacity crowd enjoying a day game during what would be another long season for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees were terrible in 1966, and nearly as bad in 1967, including a record of 6-12 against the Twins.

One of those Twins wins was an 18-inning affair, which, incredibly, also happened to be the second game of a doubleheader at Yankee stadium on July 26, 1967. The Twins finally prevailed 3-2 before 22,000 fans. They scored a run in the second inning, another in the sixth and finally one more in the top of the 18th.

Here’s how they did it:

Second inning: Tony Oliva reaches first base on an error. Bob Allison grounds out, sending Oliva to second base, followed by a passed ball that sends Oliva to third. Another groundout brings Oliva home for the first run.

Sixth inning: Harmon Killebrew walks, Oliva singles and catcher Russ Nixon, who spent ‘66 and ‘67 with the Twins, doubles to score Killebrew.

Eighteenth inning: Rod Carew walks, steals second base, then makes it to third on a throwing error to second base. Rich Rollins singles and Carew scores to take a 3-2 lead. In the bottom of the 18th, the Yankees send four men to the plate, resulting in groundout, walk and two flyball outs. Ballgame.

The final tally: The Twins scored three runs on nine hits, while the Yanks scored two runs on 10 hits with three damaging errors. Mickey Mantle, who was a year away from leaving the game for good, walked once and struck out twice in six at bats. The hero for the Twins was starter Jim Merritt, who allowed two runs over 13 innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts. The Twins finished the ‘67 season tied for second place with 91 wins, a game behind the Boston Red Sox and their “impossible dream” season.

Extra innings…

-The Twins fell to 4-3 in Grapefruit League action on Sunday after they got knocked around pretty good by those Tampa Bay Rays, 8-2. Starter Kenta Maeda took the loss, but he was hurt by some errors behind him. He still struck out three in two-plus innings of work.

-Jhoulys Chacin was not sharp after he allowed four runs in three innings with a walk and home run. That kind of performance is going to hurt his chances of making the team.

-More encouraging has been the play of some of the Twins’ top prospects. Alex Kirilloff is hitting .800 with four hits in five at bats, plus a home run and three RBI. Oregon State University product, Trevor Larnach, also has four hits in 13 at bats, with two home runs and three RBI. And Royce Lewis finally got off the schneid on Sunday with his first hit of spring, a home run.

-Old man Nelson Cruz also has four hits in eight at bats with two home runs and three RBI. The ageless one is still pretty amazing.



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.