December 11, 2023

The day a Twins reliever improved to 8-1

You never know when you’re going to have a Minnesota Twins moment.

But when I do, it’s usually because of something I see on social media, and so it was as I discovered an old game film* of the Twins knocking off the Chicago White Sox 13-6 on Sept. 21, 1976, at Comiskey Park.

The Twins had an OK team that season under the guidance of manager Gene Mauch. They struggled for most of it and then went 21-8 in September and October to finish in third place with a record of 85-77.

It was during that September run that the Twins swept the Pale Hose in Chicago, including on Sept. 21. Lyman Bostock had a 4-for-4 day at the top of the order and reliever Tom Burgmeier pitched four-plus innings of relief to improve to 8-1 with a 2.50 ERA.

With Rod Carew in peak form and Bostock a rising star, the Twins had the No. 1 run-scoring offense in the American League at 743 runs. Their pitching, although good by today’s standards with a team ERA of 3.69, ranked them 10th, which means a lot of teams pitched well during that Bicentennial year. Only the White Sox had a team ERA of more than 4.00.

But in the field the Twins were a disaster, committing 172 errors to place them dead last in the league.

How did the newspapers cover the Sept. 21 game?

The Minneapolis Tribune lede, which a ran wire story of the win:

“The Minnesota Twins won but lost Tuesday night. While the Twins beat Chicago 13-6, they were mathematically eliminated from the AL West pennant race when Kansas City also won.”

The Chicago Tribune didn’t even bother to cover the Sept. 21 game. But they did report Game 3 of the series, a 3-0 Twins win over the South Siders.

“Tough-luck loser Ken Brett understandably didn’t want to delve into a lengthy discussion of the White Sox’s ninth straight defeat.

“Brett didn’t have to talk. His manager Paul Richards said it all with six terse words after Brett pitched a no-hitter into the 8th inning but lost 3-0 to the Twins.”

Watching old baseball footage from the 1970s is a reminder that it was a tough decade. Nobody looks good: player uniforms were terrible and fans appear broke, plus those aging stadiums like Comiskey Park were decrepit and on the verge of collapse. But none of us knew that then, of course. It was just another fun day at the ballpark.

*Hat tip: The X feed (formerly Twitter feed) of “Jeff,” otherwise known as the MN Twins Zealot.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Newspapers.com

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.