March 12, 2024

A trip down memory lane with ex-Twin Scott Erickson

The other day I wrote about a Twins’ Billy Martin baseball card that I recently discovered. What I didn’t mention is that I also came across what I will call a Scott Erickson action pack, complete with baseball card, poster and an Erickson action figure.

Unfortunately, Erickson has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons, but he did spend six seasons with the Twins, including the World Series-winning season of 1991 in which he won 20 games. Over those six seasons, Erickson turned in three pitching performances worth mentioning here.

Although I plan to mention his no-hitter, perhaps the complete game two-hitter he tossed on June 24, 1991, is more impressive because he did it on the road at Yankee Stadium. Erickson went the distance and allowed two hits, issued one walk and struck out six to shut out the Yankees 5-0 on 102 pitches.

The Star Tribune got reaction from manager Tom Kelly.

“You can’t pitch much better than he pitched,” said Kelly, ordinarily stingy with compliments. “I can’t say enough about the kid. It’s hard to decipher some of his better starts, but this might have been the best he’s thrown.”

The following season Erickson didn’t win as many games, but was still 13-12 with a commendable 3.40 ERA. He also completed five games and tossed three shutouts, the same number of complete games and shutouts that he had in 1991.

On July 24, 1992, the Twins were in Boston and this time Erickson delivered a complete game one-hitter with two walks and three strikeouts. Like the win over the Yankees, Erickson shut out the Red Sox 5-0 on 106 pitches.

“In the first game of Friday’s doubleheader at Fenway Park, Tom Brunansky kept Scott Erickson from pitching the Twins’ first no-hitter in a quarter-century,” the Star Tribune reported.

And that win came against Red Sox ace Roger Clemens. Randy Bush homered off The Rocket and Chuck Knoblauch had a 3-for-4 day at the top of the order, including a triple. He also scored a run, drove in a run, walked and stole his 23rd base to cap an all-world kind of performance.

The next two seasons were not good ones for Erickson. He fell to 8-19 in 1993 and was 8-11 in 1994, but the ‘94 season was launched in the best possible way when he no-hit the Milwaukee Brewers on April 27.

He went the distance, issuing four walks and striking out five on 128 pitches in the 6-0 win.

The Star Tribune headline: No runs, no hits, no kidding.

“After a year and a half of sheer imperfection, after leading the league in hits allowed in 1993, this was the luxury Erickson afforded himself late Wednesday night, in a belatedly becalmed clubhouse, after pitching the first no-hitter in Metrodome history and first for the Twins since 1967,” the newspaper reported.

“I don’t know,” Erickson told the Strib with a wry grin. “I’ve been getting ragged on for two years. It’s not like I was trying to prove anything. A no-hitter is as hard to explain as it is to throw.”

Erickson got plenty of support in the no-hit victory, including a 4-for-5 effort from the one and only Kirby Puckett.

Erickson would eventually be traded to the Baltimore Orioles, a move that seemed to inject new life into his career. He won 13 games in 1996, 16 games in ‘97 and ‘98, and 15 games in 1999, although his ERA was rarely under 4.00.

Over 15 seasons, Erickson compiled a record of 142-136 with a 4.59 ERA.

Extra innings…

-Puckett always feasted on Brewers pitching. For his career against the Brew Crew, Puckett slashed .346/.386/.533 with 202 hits, 18 home runs and 94 RBI. Now that’s hitting, people.

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.