Tuesday, April 4, 2006
Before we get started today, I need to ask for your assistance again. You may remember, the last two years, I have posted the pictures and updated statistics of at least six Twins minor leaguers. It is a fun way to see how these players are doing. As I did last year, I would like your help in determining the six players that you most would like to see displayed at the left. Which Twins prospects should I include? Please e-mail me the names of up to six Twins minor leaguers that you would most like to keep updated on. I will also pick my six players. Each person's vote will be tallied. The results and the updates will start showing next week, as the team's seasons begin. Thanks for your help!
Twins Opening Day
the first fifteen
OK, so yesterday was baseball's "Official" Opening Day, but for Minnesota Twins fans, today is really Opening Day. Tonight at 6:00 our time, we will FINALLY be able to see the 2006 Minnesota Twins in action. About time? No doubt. Yesterday, I posted my thoughts on the upcoming season as well as the thoughts of many of you.
By the way, Happy Birthday to my brother Justin! He's almost as old as me, but not quite! He shares a birthday with Mr. Jennie Finch, Casey Daigle. All Star Scott "Rockin'" Rolen turns 31 today. My brother's favorite player growing up was none other than Steve Lombardozzi. So, how ironic (Twins fans) is it that my brother shares a birthday with Tom Herr?! He also shares a birthday with Ray Fosse, Jim Fregosi, Gil Hodges and Hall of Famer, Tris Speaker.
So, I can talk a little about Opening Day, but I will do that after my main article of the day. Opening Day is so fun and so important to many that I thought it would be fun to take a look at past Opening Days for the Twins. I'm sure there are numbers that could be looked up for this, but I wanted to look through all of the box scores and make some notes on each Opening Day game. I wanted to see how the team did, who they played, who hit or pitched well and more. I will try to find a few other notes about these games that I find interesting. I know. It seems like a lot, but I will try to keep things fairly brief. Also, I will break up the Twins forty-five previous Opening Days into three segments of 15 games a piece over the next couple of days. For you Twins history buffs, this should be a fun read, seeing some names of Twins players from the past that you may have forgotten about. That was fun for me. So, let's get to it and see what was found. (Box Scores available at retrosheet.org)
MINNESOTA TWINS OPENING DAYS
The First Fifteen Years
4/11/61 - Twins 6, New York Yankees 0. The first Opening Day in Minnesota Twins history was at Yankees Stadium against a very impressive Bronx Bombers squad. They Yankees' 3-4-5 hitters were Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and they started Whitey Ford. It was a great day for the Twins though. Pedro Ramos started and finished a three hit shutout. Zoilo Versailles and Bob Allison each went 2-5. Allison and 3B Reno Bertoia each hit a home run. Versailles stole two bases.
4/10/62 - Twins 2, Kansas City Athletics 4. The next year, the team traveled south to open their season at Municipal Stadium. Jack Kralick started on the mound and gave up four runs on five hits in his six innings of work. Ray Moore then came in and threw two perfect innings. However, Ed Rakow, making just his third big league start, went the distance for the A's for the win. Rich Rollins went 2-3, and Earl Battey notched a double. Jose Tartabull, father of Danny Tartabull, made his big league debut late in this game for the A's.
4/9/63 - Twins 4, Cleveland Indians 5. In Year 3, the Twins were finally able to open their season at home. The teams were tied at three until the Indians scored two in the top of the 7th. The Twins got one in the bottom of the 8th, but it wasn't enough. Camilo Pascual got the Opening Day nod for the Twins. He went seven innings, allowing all five runs on six hits (4 HR) and two walks. Bill Pleis and Ray Moore each pitched a scoreless frame. Mudcat Grant, a season before he was dealt to the Twins went the whole game for the Indians for the Win. Earl Battey led the Twins with a 2-4 day with a double and 2 RBI. Lenny Green and Vic Power each homered for the Twins. Terry Francona's dad, Tito, was 1-3 for Cleveland.
4/14/64 - Twins 7, Cleveland Indians 6. The Twins and Indians matched up again for their season openers in 1964, this time in Cleveland, and this time with the opposite result. Tony Oliva, Jimmie Hall and Harmon Killebrew each had two hits in the game. Killebrew had a doubles, and Battey knocked a three run shot in the fourth inning. Camilo Pascual again faced off against Mudcat Grant. Pascual lasted just three innings. He gave up five runs on seven hits. He was replaced by Gerry Arrigo who allowed a run in his inning. Jim Perry recorded the Win by pitching one scoreless frame. Jim Roland then recorded the Save by throwing four hitless (one walk) innings. Grant went just 4.2 innings. He also gave up five runs. Pedro Ramos later came in for the Indians and pitched 2.2 scoreless innings.
4/12/65 - Twins 5, New York Yankees 4. The Twins took on the Yankees, but this time they played them at Metropolitan Stadium. The middle of that Yankees lineup now consisted of Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard. Jim Kaat started for the Twins and went nine innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and a walk. However, because the game went 11 innings, that wasn't enough. Jerry Fosnow pitched the next two innings without giving up a run (just one walk) to record the Win. Jim Bouton, the author of Ball Four, started for the Yankees. He gave up four runs (2 earned) over just five innings. Hal Reniff and Pete Mikkelson each pitched two scoreless innings of relief. Who pitched the extra innings for the Yankees? That's right! Pedro Ramos. He pitched a scoreless 10th, but with two outs in the 11th inning, Cesar Tovar singled to score Bob Allison with the winning run. Tovar and Allison were both 2-4 on the game. Sandy Valdespino came in as a pinch hitter in the 11th inning for the Twins and was intentionally walked in his first big league plate appearance. It was a good start to a season that would lead the Twins to their first World Series appearance.
4/12/66 - Twins 2, Kansas City Athletics 1. The Twins played host to the A's in the '66 season opener. Mudcat Grant pitched the complete game for the Twins for the win. He allowed the one run on six hits and two walks. Catfish Hunter took the loss, but he gave up just the two runs in eight innings. Sandy Valdespino went 2-4 in the game with both RBI (the Twins managed just four hits). He knocked in Bernie Allen with a single in the third to give the Twins a 1-0 lead. Then, with no outs in the bottom of the 9th, Valdespino singled in Zoilo Versailles with the winning run.
4/11/67 - Twins 3, Baltimore Orioles 6. The O's scored four first inning runs off of starter Jim Kaat and it held up for an Orioles' win. Kaat lasted just four innings, giving up just the four runs. Jim Perry gave up the other two runs in just 1.2 innings. Ron Kline got two outs to get Perry out of further trouble. Finally, Al Worthington pitched two perfect innings. Dave McNally started and went just 4.2 innings. Moe Drabowsky got the win, and pitched three shutout innings before Stu Miller got the save. Tony Oliva was 2-3 with a HBP, a double and two RBI. It was the big league debut for 2B Rod Carew of the Twins. Both lineups were very strong and these teams would battle each other the next few seasons. The O's 2-5 hitters were Luis Aparicio, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson and Boog Powell. The Twins countered with Rich Rollins, Tony Oliva, Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Rod Carew and Bob Allison.
4/10/68 - Twins 2, Washington Senators 0. The Twins returned to the nation's capitol to face their former selves. The Twins came away with the win with much thanks to starter Dean Chance. The righty threw a complete game four-hit shutout, striking out eight while walking none. Tony Oliva helped by giving the Twins their first three hit performance on Opening Day. He was 3-4 with a double. Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison each hit a solo home run for the Twins runs. The home runs came off of Senators' starter, and former Twin, Camilo Pascual. The Senators were managed by former Twin Jim Lemon.
4/8/69 - Twins 3, Kansas City Athletics 4. The Twins went back to Kansas City for opening day again, this time to face the Royals (not the Athletics, who obviously moved to Oakland). Tom Hall started for the Twins and gave up three runs (1 earned) in 5.2 innings on nine hits. After Bob Miller came in and allowed two hits, Ron Perranoski came in and went the next 5.1 innings without allowing a run! Joe Grzenda started the 12th inning. He gave up a one out hit and two intentional walks. With the bases loaded, Dick Woodson came in for his big league debut. He gave up a single and the game was over. Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Rich Reese and Johnny Roseboro each went 2-5 in the game. Craig Nettles started the game for the Twins in LF. He was 1-2 with a home run. In the game, current Phillies manager (former Indians manager and Twins minor league coach) Charlie Manuel made his big league debut. He pinch hit in the 12th inning and grounded out to 2B. Also in the game, Lou Pinella started out his AL Rookie of the Year season with a nice 4-5 day.
4/7/70 - Twins 12, Chicago White Sox 0. The Twins got a big blowout win over the South Siders on this occasion. It was the Brant Alyea story, to say the least. The 6-3, 215 pound left fielder went 4-4 on the day with two runs and seven RBI. He knocked two home runs. The first was a three run homer off of Sox starter Tommy John. The second came against Danny Murphy, another three run homer. Late in the game, Jim Holt pinch hit for him and hit a single.
4/6/71 - Twins 2, Milwaukee Brewers 7. The Brewers came to Bloomington and beat the Twins. Brant Alyea was 0-3 for the Twins, but he did have a sacrifice fly! Cesar Tovar was 2-5. George Mitterwald was 2-4. Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew were both 2-3 with a walk. Oliva and Tovar each had doubles. Jim Perry made the start for the Twins. He lasted 4.2 innings and gave up three runs on seven hits and three walks. Sal Campisi got one out. Jim Kaat came in and got one out, but he also gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. The pitcher for the Brewers was Marty Pattin. The catcher for the Brewers on this day was Phil Roof. He came to the Twins later in the 1971 season and stuck with the Twins through the 1976 season. He spent many years as the manager of the Twins AAA teams.
4/15/72 - Twins 3, Oakland A's 4. The Twins headed west to start this season. Bert Blyleven made his first opening day start. He went six innings and gave up two runs on five hits and a walk. Surprisingly, he struck out just one. Wayne Granger gave up a run in an inning. Then Dave LaRoche came in and took the loss, giving up an unearned run in the 11th inning after three shutout innings. You may know, LaRoche is the father of Braves 1B Adam and Dodgers big 3B prospect Andy. Ken Holtzman started for the A's and gave up two runs in eight innings. Rollie Fingers pitched the next two innings and allowed a run. When Fingers was done, he was pinch hit for by... Brant Alyea. Cesar Tovar had two of the Twins five hits on the day. SS Danny Thompson hit a first inning homer for the Twins. By the way, if you have not read his book, E6, you really should. It is one of the best I have ever read! Harmon Killebrew hit a solo homer in the 7th inning. CF Bobby Darwin hit a two out, 9th inning homer off of Fingers to extend the game into extra frames. Reggie Jackson batted third and went 0-3 with a walk. Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan was the catcher for the A's.
4/6/73 - Twins 8, Oakland A's 3. For the second straight season, the Twins started the year with a trip to Oakland to take on the A's. Again, Bert Blyleven was on the mound for the Twins. This year, the results were different. Blyleven pitched all nine innings. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on 10 hits and two walks. He struck out seven. He was helped with some good run support against Catfish Hunter. In his first game with the Twins, Larry Hisle went 4-5 with three runs and an RBI. He also had a double and a stolen base. Tony Oliva was 2-4 with a homer and three RBI. Rod Carew was 2-5. Joe Lis was 2-4. Jim Holt also hit a home run. Rollie Fingers gave up a run in three innings of work. Tony Conigliaro was a couple of years removed from his beaning, but he never got back to the form he showed beforehand with the Red Sox. He spent 1973, his final season, with the A's.
4/5/74 - Twins 6, Kansas City Royals 4. Lots of extra inning Opening Days for the Twins, this was no exception. The Twins scored two in the 11th inning on an RBI single by Rod Carew and a sacrifice fly by Larry Hisle. Blyleven again pitched nine innings on Opening Day. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on nine hits and three walks. He struck out six. Bill Campbell pitched two shutout innings to record the win. For the Twins, Rod Carew, Bobby Darwin and Randy Hundley each had three hits. SS Sergio Ferrer went 2-4. John Mayberry was the Royals 1B and cleanup hitter this day. His son, with the same name, was a first round draft pick out of Stanford last year. Hal McRae was 2-5 as the team's DH.
4/8/75 - Twins 11, Texas Rangers 4. Another road start for the Twins. Also, the fourth straight Opening Day start for Bert Blyleven. He gave up four runs in 6.1 innings. He struck out eight before Bill Campbell came in for the final 2.2 innings and the Save. The Twins lit up HOFer Ferguson Jenkins for six runs in just 1.2 innings. Larry Hisle went 3-6 with a homer and three RBI. Danny Thompson was 3-5 with a double and two RBI. Eric Soderholm was 2-4. Tony Oliva was 2-3 with a homer and four RBI. Rod Carew, Bobby Darwin and Steve Braun each had two hits on the day. Lyman Bostock was 1-4 with two walks and three runs scored in his big league debut. Who was the leadoff hitter for the Rangers? Former Twin, Cesar Tovar, who went 2-3 with two walks and two RBI. Jeff Burroughs hit cleanup. He was league MVP in 1974, and is the father of D-Rays 3B Sean Burroughs.
There you have it, the first fifteen Twins Opening Day games. I just think is fun to go down memory lane from time to time. IF nothing else, we can see and appreciate some new names, or at least names that we have not thought about in years. Tomorrow, I will post the Opening Day notes from 1976 to 1990. If you have any thoughts, questions, or memories of any of this, please e-mail me or leave Comments below.
Again, we are finally at Opening Day. There will be much more to write about tomorrow. The Twins and Jays play tonight. I have my final Fantasy Baseball Draft tonight. Oh, and with all the excitement, don't forget that American Idol is on tonight too! So, I am going to cut this short, and hope that you have a wonderful day. If you have any thoughts on Opening Day, any performances, or anything, please e-mail me, or let's get a discussion going in the Comments.
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