Friday, February 15, 2013

February 15- Minnesota Twins

If you didn’t read my post from January about the Minnesota Twins “M” logo cap, I highly suggest going back and checking it out before continuing with this. It’ll fill in a few gaps of back story on my personal relationship with the franchise. The most important thing to know is that my girlfriend, Angie Kinderman, is a huge Twins fan, while I am on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. Back on December 31, 2012 I flew out to Miami, Florida to visit Angie and spend a week with her before we both started up class again on January 7, 2013. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I decided to wear this cap when I flew in to put a smile on her face. Needless to say, it did the trick. Today she flew into Portland, Oregon to visit me and I decided to wear the same cap again. I suppose in this matter it’s best to leave my differences aside and do something nice for my sweetie. So now, this is my official Angie airport greeting cap.

I originally picked this hat up off of EBay, along with a few others from independent dealers. I had purchased the “M” logo cap at first, but ended up not really digging the 2010 Target Field patch in the side so I opted for a new style. I figured in this case, it’s best to go with the original. When the first incarnation of the Washington Senators moved to Minneapolis at the end of the 1960 season, the team changed its name to the Minnesota Twins, as to appease the obvious Minneapolis/St. Paul twin cities moniker. With that, the team also made the “TC”, which stands for Twin Cities, its official logo. From 1961-1986 the white “T” with a red “C” intertwined on a navy blue cap reigned throughout the league and made a reappearance prior to the 2002 season where it has remained as the team’s home field/game cap. As a fan of the classics, I had to roll with two greats when marking up this cap.

#3- The Killer himself, Harmon Killebrew is arguably the greatest Twin, and the greatest Mormon baseball player to ever take the field; however, in my humble opinion, is one of those few guys who made the Hall of Fame for having played during an interesting era. Killebrew started his career in 1954 and saw minimal playing time until 1959 when he hit a League-leading 42 home runs with the Senators. When the team made it’s debut in Minnesota Killer continued hitting bombs for the Twins by hitting at least 45 home runs for four consecutive seasons (1961-1964). His best year came in 1969 when he went .276/49/140 and won the American League MVP outright that season, the only one of his career. Killebrew made 11 All-Star appearances throughout his career and only made the World Series once in 1965 when they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games. Killebrew finished his career with 573 home runs and 1559 RBI, but only hit 2086 times with a career average of .256 in 22 years. Killebrew was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1984 and sadly passed away on May 17, 2011.

#29- Like a lot of kids from my elementary school days, the first time I heard the name Rod Carew was in Adam Sandler’s “The Hanukah Song.” As I got older I made sure to do my homework as to not besmirch his name in jest. Carew started his Hall of Fame career in 1967 and played with the Twins until the end of the 1978 season. In ’67 Carew took home the Rookie of the Year crown after going .292 with 150 hits on the year. That year and the following would be the only two years in which Carew would hit below .300. In the 12 years that Carew gave to the Twins he went .334/74/733, but he attained 2085 of his career 3053 hits while rocking the “TC.” Carew won seven batting titles, lead the league in hits three times, but only one MVP in 1977. Throughout his 19-year career, Carew only missed making an All-Star appearance once; his final season. Carew made the Hall of Fame with ease in 1991 on his first ballot.


#12- Cesar Tovar was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela where as a child, he shined shoes to earn extra income for his family. At the age of 15, he befriended Gus Gil, another Venezuelan who went on to play in Major League Baseball. In January 1959, Cincinnati Reds General Manager, Gabe Paul, attempted to sign Gil to a contract however; Gil insisted that Paul should also have Tovar sign a contract. Paul relented in order to make Gil agree to sign. Tovar began his professional baseball career when he was assigned to the Geneva Redlegs in the D-league New York-Penn League. He hit .252 in 87 games as an infielder for Geneva in 1959. That winter, he returned to Venezuela to play for the Leones del Caracas, and won the league's rookie of the year award.

In 1960, he played with the Missoula Timberjacks of the Pioneer League where he produced a promising .304 batting average along with 12 home runs and 68 RBI. After being selected to the league's All-Star team, he was rewarded by getting to play two games at the top level of the Reds' minor league system with the Seattle Rainiers. Tovar was sent back to Geneva in 1961, where he batted .338 with 19 home runs and 78 runs batted in. He stole 88 bases in 100 attempts to lead the league while setting a new league record for stolen bases. In 1962, he played for the Rocky Mount Leafs of the Carolina League, and led the league in batting with a .329 batting average along with 10 home runs and 78 runs batted in. The Reds had a promising second baseman in Pete Rose, who would win the 1963 National League Rookie of the Year Award, and with second basemen Bobby Klaus and Gus Gil in their minor league system, there was little room left for Tovar to progress. The Reds sent him on loan to play for the Minnesota Twins minor league affiliate, the Dallas-Fort Worth Rangers. In 1964, Tovar returned to the Reds organization, where he played for the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League. He helped the Padres win the league championship by hitting for a .275 with 7 home runs and 52 runs batted in, while playing as a third baseman, shortstop, second baseman, and as an outfielder.

Before the start of the 1965 season, the Twins traded pitcher Gerry Arrigo to the Reds for Tovar. The Twins had originally sought to get Tommy Helms from the Reds, but they refused to trade him and the Twins settled for Tovar. At the age of 24, Tovar made his major league debut on April 12, 1965, becoming the ninth Venezuelan to play in Major League Baseball. Tovar’s career with the Twins stretched until the end of the 1972 season, but his career ended after the 1976 season after making a few stops with the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics and New York Yankees along the way. Between 1967 and 1971 Tovar finished in the top-25 in voting for the AL MVP thanks in part to his decent average, ability to steal bases and the amount of hits he was able to rake in ever season. His 204 hits lead the AL in 1971.

As far as career notes are concerned, Tovar racked up a few records: On September 22, 1968, Tovar became the second player after Bert Campaneris (Kansas City Athletics, 1965) to play all nine fielding positions in a game. The two were later joined by Scott Sheldon (Texas Rangers, 2000) and Shane Halter (Detroit Tigers, 2000) as the only four players in MLB history to have accomplished the feat. Tovar started the game on the mound against Oakland and pitched one scoreless inning in which he struck out Reggie Jackson. As fate would have it, the first batter he faced was Campaneris.

On May 18, 1969, Tovar combined with Carew to set a major league record for most steals by a club in one inning with five. In the third inning against a Detroit battery of Mickey Lolich and Bill Freehan, Tovar stole third base and home. Carew followed by stealing second base, third base and home. The two steals of home in the same inning also tied a record

Along with Eddie Milner, Tovar is regarded as the major league's all-time leader in breaking up no-hit attempts with five. César Tovar died on July 14, 1994 of pancreatic cancer in Caracas, Venezuelan Capital District, Venezuela, at 54 years of age. Tovar was inducted into the Venezuelan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003

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