Believe it or not, I once regularly went to college and the gym. Crazy, I know—but it’s true.
Some ten-plus years ago I was walking down the hall at the now-bulldozed NYU Coles Sports Centers in lower Manhattan, on my way to the stair-master (because I used to be really ambitious), when I noticed a portrait of a man in a “TC” cap hanging on the wall. It made me stop dead in my tracks and look up to see who it was. Of course, it was a photo of former Twins manager, and New York University alum, Sam Mele. At the time I did not know who he was, but I took note of the name and I later called my Mom to ask her, “Who is Sam Mele?”
Sam Mele was the manager of the Minnesota Twins for their first seven years of existence. He was, hence, also the manager of the 1965 Minnesota Twins—the most successful Twins team of all time (depending on how you define success).
In case you forgot (and shame on you and your family if you did), the 1965 Twins won a franchise-record 102 games and made it all the way to Game 7 of the World Series. That was thanks to a spectacular performance by Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who not only pitched all 9 innings of the Game 6 for the Twins, but hit a three-run home run to ensure the victory as well.
Alas—as we all know, Sandy Koufax and the damn Dodgers got the better of the Twins in the end...
Damn that Sandy Koufax.
Still, through my Mom, I heard so much about the 1965 Twins my entire life it almost felt like part of my life. Grant! Killebrew! Oliva! My Mom told/reminded me who Sam Mele was, of course, so then I knew. After that, every time I passed his picture I felt like I could now say hello. How are you, Sam? How about those Twins, Sam? I could describe exactly where his portrait used to hang to anyone who’d know what I was talking about (second floor ring where you could look down on the basketball/volleyball courts below, if you are going counter-clockwise around said ring, on your right just before you hit the exercise-machine room).
I was just so proud to have someone on the wall wearing a Twins jersey. It didn’t matter that I was just surrounded by literally millions of people who couldn’t care less.