Now that we have two more players in the Hall of Fame from the great Twins teams of the 1960s, I was thinking of Jim Bouton and Ball Four. He wrote that classic book about the 1969 season, when he was a new knuckleballer relieving, mostly, for the Seattle Pilots.
On July 19, 1969, he started for the first time. He admitted that he was nervous about facing Harmon Killebrew (the "Fat Kid") and the Twins. Rightly so.
My main concern was that Carew and Tovar would be stealing on my knuckleball, so we went over the pick-off signs and hoped for the best.
It wasn't good enough.
In my first start of the year, on this day of July 19, 1969, A.D., I, James Alan Bouton, was creamed.
Five runs were scored off me before I was mercifully taken out of the game with two out in the fourth. There were two home runs, by Leo Cardenas and Ted Uhlaender. When Joe Schultz came out to get me I could only think of a line Fred Talbot delivered in similar circumstances" "What kept you?"
I was glad to have the chance to start, of course. Yet now that I've fouled everything up so royally I'm thinking of excuses. Why did they have to start me against Minnesota?...
[Bouton recalled that the Pilots rallied and the game ended in a 16 inning tie. Actually, it was finished the next day. The Twins won in 18. The same two pitchers - Jim Perry and John Gelnar - then started the scheduled July 20 game. They were the pitchers of record for back to back games.]
And I just remembered something else. When my boy Mike was still a baby and he cried I'd say to him, "Harmon Killebrew's little boy doesn't cry." Now I wonder if Harmon Killebrew ever thinks of crying.