December 26, 2022

The day Tony Oliva hit a home run off a car. Or was it a house?

The Twins’ Tony Oliva was in fine form the afternoon of June 29, 1969, as the Twins hit the road to face the Kansas City Royals at Municipal Stadium.

The Tony Oliva statue at Target Field, Minneapolis, Minn.

The Twins took it on the nose in Game 1 of the doubleheader, a 7-2 loss, but came roaring back in Game 2, and no one played a bigger role in the 12-2 win than Oliva. He made five trips to the plate and came away from it with five hits, including two home runs and a double.

But it was his first home run that caught the attention of sportswriters because it traveled an estimated 517 feet and landed on Brooklyn Avenue, the Minneapolis Tribune reported.

“Tony’s smash over the right-field deck was only the 13th time it has ever been done in Municipal Stadium since the Philadelphia Athletics moved to Kansas City in 1955.”

The Tribune also reported that stadium officials rushed out to measure the blast and retrieved the ball, which had “bounded off a car on the bounce, and had presented it to Oliva in the clubhouse.”

“It was a slider,” Oliva told the Tribune, “the longest ball I ever hit in a Minnesota uniform.”

Teammate Rod Carew, however, remembered it differently, according to “Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins legend,” a 2015 book by Thom Henninger.

“Tony got up and hit it out of the stadium,” Carew recalls. “There’s a house up on a hill in right field. This lady came out and was waving a towel because the ball had hit a house.”

The Twins had plenty of power in that division-winning season of 1969. Oliva slashed .309/.355/.496 with 197 hits, 101 RBI, 39 doubles and 24 home runs. But it was the big bopper Harmon Killebrew who really made it tough on American League pitchers. The Killer, who won the AL MVP award that season, slashed .276/.427/.584 with 49 dingers, 140 RBI and 145 walks, 20 of them intentional.

The Twins won the division with a 97-65 record, nine games better than the second-place Oakland A’s.



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.