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Minnesota Twins 2024 Anniversaries (Pt. 1 of 4): 1964

A season of moral victories

Introducing Twins Infielders Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

With all your children’s school papers now reading “23 24”, the dawning of a new calendar year brings with it similar opportunities to look at Minnesota Twins anniversaries. While I’ll be examining 2004 & 2014 in detail as per the usual, this January I’ll also take a few ganders into the archives of round-number remembrances.

60th Anniversary: 1964

Due to their relocation (from Washington) instead of expansion status, the Twins needed just one feeling-out season—1961—in the Upper Midwest before rattling off consecutive 90-win campaigns in ‘62-’63. Manager Sam Mele looked to build on that success in ‘64, and looking at the stat sheet you’d certainly think it happened.

Offensively—the team’s strong suit—every batsman with 250+ ABs had an OPS+ north of 100. Six sluggers—Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall, Don Mincher, & Zoilo Versalles—socked 20+ round-trippers. They were the Bomba Squad before it was cool! Oliva took home Rookie of the Year honors with a remarkable 719 PA, .323 BA, 217 H, 32 HR, 94 RBI, 109 R, 12 SB, .916 OPS, 150 OPS+ line. The Killer (49 HR, 111 RBI, .924 OPS, 153 OPS+) was every bit Tony-O’s equal in the box.

Minnesota Twins
Good luck getting Oliva out in ‘64!

This unit could pitch, too, led at the front end by Camilo Pascual (15-12, 267.1 IP, 3.30 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 109 ERA+) & Jim Kaat (17-11, 243 IP, 3.22 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 112 ERA+). In the bullpen, Al Worthington (41 G, 72.1 IP, 1.37 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 264 ERA+) and Johnny Klippstein (33 G, 45.2 IP, 1.97 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 184 ERA+) were transcendent. Jim Perry was hitting his sophomore swingman groove in Minnesota, while Jim “Mudcat” Grant joined mid-stream.

Minnesota Twins v Detroit Tigers
Camilo ready to unleash something nasty
Photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images

The result: a 79-83 record—20 GB the AL pennant-winning New York Yankees (urk). A 87-75 Pythagorean W/L estimate indicates a lot of bad luck for the 1964 Twins, and a 1-11 July stretch turned them from fringe contenders into disappointing pretenders despite some standout individual efforts.

Granted, a little history was made along the way. On May 2 in Kansas City, batters Oliva, Allison, Hall, & Killebrew launched home runs in order—to this day still tied for the MLB record for consecutive ding-dongs! The ‘64 squad also drew 1,207,514 paying customers—good for 3rd in American League coffers. Despite the letdown from previous winning campaigns, there was clearly still an appetite for professional baseball in the Twin Cities.

Metropolitan Stadium
Metropolitan Stadium packing ‘em in
Set Number: X9996 TK3 C2 F14