January 22, 2024

With nothing else to write about, let’s spend a few minutes with ‘The Klaw’

As I thought he might, Strib columnist Patrick Reusse produced a nice piece on former Twins manager and cut up Billy Gardner, who died earlier this month at 96.

Reusse recalled some of Gardner’s better quips and mannerisms over the years, including this observation of Gardner as he watched left-handed pitcher Tom Klawitter work during spring training in 1985.

“Twin Cities reporters covering 1985 spring training in Orlando were working hard to create lefthanded reliever Tom Klawitter as the much-needed hidden gem to write about,” Reusse writes.

“He became ‘The Klaw.’ And when he appeared at Tinker Field and recorded an out, we would look down at the home dugout and around the corner would come Gardner’s right hand made into a Baron von Raschke-style ‘Claw’ grip. This also continued for a time at the Metrodome.”

The operative words here are “for a time” because Klawitter wasn’t around for very long. A 19th round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1980, his entire major league career totaled seven games, including two starts with the Twins in 1985.

If you’re a pitcher, you know what will get you bounced out of the majors almost immediately? If you can’t throw strikes, and Klawitter couldn’t, walking 13 batters over nine-plus innings in his limited time with the Twins. It wasn’t much better in the minors where he produced a base on balls rate of 5 per 9 innings, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

If you want to see Klawitter in action, you can. Just Google Twins vs. Yankees on May 14, 1985, and you can watch on YouTube his short-lived first start, a 10-7 loss at Yankee stadium.

He allowed three runs, all earned, and a home run over two innings with four walks and no strikeouts. The Twins took an early 7-3 lead — Roy Smalley and Tim Teufel had six of the Twins’ 11 hits — but Klawitter didn’t figure in the decision because the bullpen coughed up seven runs late to lose the game.

Klawitter did not record a decision in his very brief major league career, exiting the game with a 6.75 ERA. His professional career came to an end the following season with a Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Extra innings …

-Tom Brunansky also homered in that May 14, 1985, loss, but it wasn’t enough to overcome a disastrous outing by the bullpen.

-Pete Filson allowed three runs, Rick Lysander walked in a run and was yanked from the game and then Curt Wardle was saddled with the blown save and loss. He secured five outs, but also walked two more batters and allowed three more runs in the process.

Twins pitching walked 10 batters in the game.

Source: Baseball-Reference.com, Star Tribune.


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.