When the glowing sphere made its downward descent upon Times Square this past weekend, it signaled—as it always does—an opportunity to look ahead to another year of possibilities (good or bad we of course cannot know). I’m going to take the opposite approach here—instead looking back on some round-number Twins anniversaries related to this new year. Throughout the next 360-or-so days, I’ll be checking in on 2013 & 2003 milestones—the ones I remember from personal experience. But for now, let’s start with those that transpired “before my time”...
1963: 91-70; 3rd in American League
- Despite the second straight strong campaign and drawing 1.4 million fans (tops in the AL), the ‘63 Twins couldn’t surpass the 104-67 Yankees (this being pre-divisional play). Camilo Pascual (21-9, 248.1 IP, 18 CG, 3 SHO, 148 ERA+) & Bill Dailey (108.2 IP, 21 SV, 183+) paced the pitching staff, while the “usual suspects” of Harmon Killebrew, Earl Battey, and Bob Allison led the offensive onslaught. Jimmie Hall (33 HR, 136 OPS+) and Rich Rollins (.307 BA, 122 OPS+) posted career-best campaigns at the dish.
1973: 81-81; 3rd in AL West
- The definition of mediocrity. Rod Carew (203 H, 41 SB, .350 BA, 144 OPS+) & Steve Braun (135 OPS+) defined the batsmen—pre-broadcast Bert Blyleven won 20, lost 17, and was the rock of the staff (325 IP, 25 CG, 9 SHO, 156 ERA+). Probably the most excitement all year was Tony Oliva becoming the first designated hitter to put one over the fence.
1983: 70-92; 5th AL West
- The early ‘80s were not kind to Twins Territory. Kent Hrbek (41 2B, 131 OPS+) and Mickey Hatcher (113 OPS+) led a generic offense and not one starter—Frank Viola, Ken Schrom, Albert Williams, Bobby Castillo, or Brad Havens—had an ERA+ above 114. Not that anyone showed up to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome to see it (12th of 14 in AL attendance).
1993: 71-91; 5th AL West
- Following the magical 1987-1992 run, the ‘93 Twins crashed hard. The offense (Kirby Puckett, Hrbek, Chuck Knoblauch, etc.) was fine, and Chip Hale became a pinch-hitting legend (213 PA, .333 BA). The pitching? It was worse than this. Kevin Tapani & Scott Erickson fell hard, and you can be forgiven for forgetting—or trying to—Willie Banks, Jim Deshaies, George Tsamis, Brett Merriman, & Pat Mahomes (not his pigskin-slinging offspring). But at least hometown boy Dave Winfield notched his 3,000th hit in Twins duds.
Not exactly four banner years in Minnesota baseball history—but perhaps you have some memories of those seasons/players?