clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Coldest Games in Minnesota Twins History

Warne examines the coldest games in Minnesota Twins history.

It was bitterly cold the day Brian Dozier scored the winning run against Detroit in early April, but was it among the five coldest Twins games ever?
It was bitterly cold the day Brian Dozier scored the winning run against Detroit in early April, but was it among the five coldest Twins games ever?
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

With a paucity of Twins-related action the last few weeks -- save for continued rumors about a potential reunion with Johan Santana -- and a wave of bitter cold sweeping over the Midwest, what better time to look at the coldest games in club history?

Fangraphs contributor and pal Jeff Zimmerman pulled data from Retrosheet and helped us find the data.

No. 4 (tie) - Twins v. Mets, 4/12/2013 (34 degrees at first pitch)

Vance Worley drew another cold weather start, this time against his former divisional foes as the Twins got an early start on interleague play in 2013. The Mets drew first blood, blasting Worley to the tune of five runs in the first and another four (9 R, 7 ER) before he was chased without recording an out in the second frame. Pedro Hernandez came on to work the next 4.1 innings, and allowed just 1 earned run, but the damage was done in a 16-5 loss. Aaron Hicks went 0-4, bringing his season average down to .051. On the other side, Jon Niese wasn't particularly good, but good enough to get the win, as he went 5 innings (4 ER, 1 K, 4 BB).

Niese moved to 2-0 with the win, and hearkened back to his days in northern Ohio to remember pitching in such cold weather. "A few of them got pretty cold like this," Niese told New York Times' Mike Puma, "but I don't ever remember pitching in snow."

No. 4 (tie)- Twins at Royals, 4/3/2002 (34 degrees at first pitch)

In this game Eric Milton out-dueled Dan Reichert, as each pitcher went seven innings in a 1-0 Twins win that gave skipper Ron Gardenhire his second managerial victory. Milton was backed up by J.C. Romero and Bob Wells before the venerable Eddie Guardado shut the door on the Chuck Knoblauch and David McCarty-led Royals. McCarty had the only extra-base hit of the game.

The Twins manufactured the game's lone run in the third inning. Jacque Jones led off the inning with a single, and was bunted to second by Cristian Guzman. After a Doug Mientkiewicz grounder moved Jones to third, David Ortiz followed with a single through the hole to left to plate Jacque and the game's only run. The biggest play of the game came in the bottom of the seventh, when Royals DH Mike Sweeney hit a rocket to dead center when Torii Hunter scaled the fence and brought it back. "(He's) probably the best centerfielder in the game," Sweeney told the AP afterward. "I thought it was gone...that was as hard as I can hit a ball."

No. 3- Twins v. Angels, 4/14/1962 (33 degrees at first pitch)

This was the home opener and just the fourth game of the season for the Twins, and it pitted Jim Kaat against against Red Witt. The Twins would lose 12-5 as Kaat went just 4.2 innings, allowing 4 runs with 4 strikeouts and 6 walks. Neither starter figured in the decision, however, as Witt was sent to the showers even quicker than Kaat (3.2 innings, 4 runs all earned). Future Twin Dean Chance worked in relief of Witt -- just to face one batter -- and the famously coke bottle-bespectacled pitcher Ryne Duren -- the pride of Cazenovia, Wis. -- picked up the win. Duren was famous for his prodigious fastball, lack of control, and his affinity for the bottle.

Four run innings in the sixth and ninth for the Halos ultimately toppled the Twins, as the Angels scored 12 runs despite only 10 hits on the day.

According to the Minnesota Climatology Working Group, the low temperature that evening was 20 degrees.

No. 2- Twins v. White Sox, 4/7/2007 (31 degrees at first pitch)

Carlos Silva started for the Twins and pitched well, but the Twins offense couldn't find a block heater in a 3-0 loss at the hands of Javier Vazquez and the Pale Hose. The offense was held to just three hits, while Silva allowed just one run -- a Paul Konerko single plating Darin Erstad -- and Juan Uribe homered off Denny Reyes in the eighth. Scott Podsednik scored the final run later in the eighth when Reyes threw wildly to second on a pickoff attempt.

"Maybe Kenosha, Wisconsin. A-ball," Gardenhire told the AP when asked if he'd ever been part of a game that cold. "I think that was the last time I remember it being that cold. But you don't talk about it, you just play. We had the big heater going and guys were getting loose. The guys out in the field were feeling the effects, both teams. You can see it. Some of the swings, not the quickest at-bats. That's part of it. They got the runs and we didn't."

Rondell White was a late scratch with a bad calf. Try not to laugh too hard at that one.

No. 1- Twins v. Tigers, 4/9/1997 (30 degrees at first pitch)

And here we have it, the coldest game in Twins history. It's kind of a shame that it wasn't played in Minnesota, but what can you do? Just two nights before, and when it was just six degrees warmer, 42,000-plus packed Tiger Stadium for the club's home opener. Just 6,477 people shivered in the stands for this one as the Tigers toppled the Twins 10-5.

Control artist Bob Tewksbury started for the Twins in this one, and more or less held his own -- 5 IP, 3s across the rest of the board -- before the floodgates opened up on the quartet of Todd Ritchie, Greg Swindell, Gregg Olson, and Eddie Guardado. Ritchie would shoulder the loss. It was a similarly forgettable cast of characters whom banded together to defeat the Twins, too: Brian Moehler, Felipe Lira, John Cummings (winning pitcher), Dan Miceli, and future Twin Todd Jones.

By most accounts this game was unremarkable. Bobby Higginson hit a grand slam off Eddie Guardado in the eighth. Otherwise, there were just four more extra-base hits all night (Travis Fryman, Deivi Cruz, Denny Hocking, and Pat Meares each doubled).


Additionally, two other Twins games from 2013 cracked the top 10 list. Those games were Opening Day (April 1, which pitted Justin Verlander v. Worley) and April 13 (Matt Harvey's near no-no v. Scott Diamond).

It was also 34 degrees on April 4, 1983 when the Twins took on the Tigers at the Metrodome. That might explain why just 4,835 people turned up to see Dan Petry square off against Jack O'Connor. The game did feature some pretty prominent players however, such as Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, and Tom Brunansky. A lesser-known 26-year-old would pinch hit for the Tigers that night, too. His name was Kirk Gibson.