Utility man Cesar Tovar, former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Dan Gladden, a key fixture on the Twins’ two World Series winning teams, have been elected to the club’s Hall of Fame.
— Jeff (@MNTwinsZealot) February 2, 2022
Tovar took his utility role to a whole new level when he played all nine positions on Sept. 22, 1968, the final home game of the season. Was there a reason to play all nine positions? No. It appears to have been nothing more than a promotional stunt dreamed up by owner Calvin Griffith, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.
The Twins met the Oakland A’s that afternoon and Tovar started his day on the mound.
“Tovar delighted the crowd of 11,340 with double and triple pumps,” the Minneapolis Tribune reported.
He struck out Reggie Jackson that inning — one of Reggie’s 171 major league-leading strikeouts that season — but all that pumping got him into trouble.
“His fancy motion cost him a balk call with a man on base,” the newspaper reported. Still, he pitched a scoreless frame and the Twins went on to win the game, 2-1.
Tovar played eight of his 12 seasons with the Twins. For his career he slashed .278/.335/.368. He led the American League in hits (204) in 1971, doubles (36) and triples (13) in 1970 and led the majors in games and plate appearances in 1967, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Tovar left us too early at 54. Strib columnist Patrick Reusse, who had lobbied for Tovar’s inclusion in the Twins’ Hall of Fame, said he was an unrepentant smoker with a heart problem, but who finally died of pancreatic cancer in 1994.
-No surprise that Gardy was elected because he won 1,068 games, second most of any Twins manager, which also included several trips to the postseason.
-Gladden delivered some big moments in both of their World Series wins. He also shares radio play-by-play duties with Cory Provus, the primary voice of the Twins.
-The Sept. 22, 1968 game, a Sunday, appeared in the Monday paper under the headline, “Utility Tovar, Twins win 2-1.”
A check of the paper also shows that Molly Ivins, who later went on to become a well-known syndicated political columnist, was still a lowly reporter in those days, working the Sunday shift (most likely). She had two bylines on the front page of the Monday paper — one about the University of Minnesota, the other about Bloomington’s antiquated form of local government. Her humor wasn’t so evident in those stories, but it was on Sept. 16, 1968, under the headline “A mind-boggling 94 trip leads to drink.”
Invited to try a new section of I-94, designed to turn the Minneapolis to St. Paul commute into a 15-minute whiz, instead becomes an 80-minute nightmare.
“It is her opinion that the highway department is run by a team of Viet Cong working with the Marquis de Sade,” she wrote.