This day in baseball: Joe Mauer named AL MVP

Joe Mauer was named Most Valuable Player for the American League on November 23, 2009. In spite of missing the first month of the season with a back injury, Mauer received 27 of 28 first place votes from the BBWAA to become the fifth Twin in history to earn MVP honors.

Joe Mauer in 2008 - Wikipedia

Joe Mauer in 2008 (Wikipedia)


Quote of the day

I was told I would never make it because I’m too short. Well, I’m still too short, but I’ve got 10 All-Star games, two World Series championships, and I’m a very happy and contented guy. It doesn’t matter what your height is, it’s what’s in your heart.

~Kirby Puckett

Kirby Puckett - Brittanica

Brittanica.com


“We’re Gonna Win Twins”

The song itself is almost as cheesy as the video, but I suppose for hardcore Twins fans, this might be one of the best tunes out there.


R.I.P. Jim “Mudcat” Grant

James Timothy “Mudcat” Grant was born on August 13, 1935 in Lacoochee, Florida. He was one of seven children of James Sr. and Viola Grant.

Grant was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians prior to the 1954 season. After four seasons in the minor leagues, from 1954 to 1957, he made his MLB debut on April 17, 1958, at the age of 22, winning a complete game against the Kansas City Athletics. In June 1964, he was traded to the Minnesota Twins, then in 1965, he went 21–7 for the Twins, helping to lead the team to the 1965 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unfortunately, the Twins lost the series in seven games.

During the 1965 season, Grant became the first black pitcher in the American League to win 20 games, leading the American League in victories with a 21-7 record, also posting a 3.30 ERA in 270 1/3 innings, and starting 39 games. He started three World Series games, winning two. In Game 6 at Metropolitan Stadium, he gave up only one run in a complete game, and even hit a three-run homer en route to a 5-1 victory.

Grant pitched for seven teams during his 14-year big league career and was with the Twins for four of those seasons. Over the course of that career, he had a 145–119 record in 571 games, while starting in 293 of them and throwing 89 complete games. His resumé also includes 18 shutouts, 53 saves, with 2,442 innings pitched on a 3.63 ERA.

Grant was named to the All-Star team in 1963 and 1965. He received his catfish-inspired nickname when a minor league teammate thought he was from Mississippi.

Mudcat Grant died on June 12, 2021 at the age of 85.

Rest in peace.

See the source image

This day in baseball: Garbey’s debut

On Opening Day in 1984, Tiger rookie Barbaro Garbey became the first Cuban refugee to play in Major League Baseball, having played in the Serie Nacional prior to defecting to the United States. Garbey grounded out in the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter for Dave Bergman, then would stay in the game. Garbey played first base in Detroit’s 8-1 defeat of Minnesota in the Metrodome.

Barbaro Garbey - sabr.org

sabr.org


This day in baseball: Quesada becomes owner of the Senators

On November 17, 1960, ownership of the American League’s new expansion team was awarded to Elvin Quesada, a Washington native and head of the Federal Aviation Administration. The new expansion Senators replaced the old team, which had moved to Minnesota to become the Twins.

See the source image

How Hans Became an American, by Elinor Nauen

This poem by Elinor Nauen is a bit longer, but well worth the read. It demonstrates how closely baseball gets associated with Americanism, even to those outside the nation’s borders. I especially love the line, “He goes home because he has nowhere else to go.”

*

I’ve been sitting at my desk a lot
staring at my father.
It’s a picture taken in summer
a few months before he died.
He’s looking at me
with a wry and knowing
–did he know?–
expression. He looks like a man
who needs a private joke
to get a proper snapshot.
He’s looking straight at me, even as I sit
in a cold May, a little too tired,
the Yanks getting beat 4-1 in the 5th
by Oakland out on the coast,
a lackluster they’ll-never-catch-up game
Rasmussen not getting shellacked
just doesn’t have anything
and neither do the hitters.
Gone native in his Arizona retirement
Dad is wearing a bolo tie and looks shrunken, frail.
I liked to kiss him on the top of his bony head
in the desert mornings.

He took all of us to a game only once, my first, I was ten,
Charlie was eight, Lindsay was twelve
and the baby was left home.
We drove all the way from South Dakota
up to Minneapolis
to see the Twins play the Yankees
(my team).
Daddy was a refugee from Nazi Germany
and Mom was English.
They were grownups
who’d never seen a game either. They went
because he was the father of Americans
and I was a little baseball fanatic.

Mom sat quietly for about twenty minutes
fanning herself with a straw sunhat and beaming
then asked, when does the game begin?
Look down there, we said.
It was already the second inning
but I still don’t think she spotted it.
I think she was waiting for the play by play.
The familiar radio sounds
so different in the ballpark.

Daddy wore plaid shorts over his white skinny legs
and puffed a cigar.
He began to like baseball
when he found someone
who knew less about it than he did.
He explained it all to Mom
mostly according to his own logic–
He had an accountant’s sense of symmetry
and the diamond pleased him–
the implication of infinity.
The profusion of numbers and their richness
impressed him…
and it was a damn nice summer day.
I think now of those bleachers
old Metropolitan stadium full of stolid Scandinavians
who never corrected him–
that would have spoiled their fun.
Mom would ask: Where’s that chap running off to now?
And Dad would explain:
He goes home because he has nowhere else to go…

My brother and I spent most of the time under the stands
scrapping with baby Twinkies–
Twins fans who didn’t take to our rooting for the enemy.
Charlie thinks he remembers a game-winning
Bobby Richardson grand slam.
I only recall the Yanks winning in the 10th
and the incredibly intense luxury of that lagniappe inning.

Daddy stuck with baseball too.
Like the voting
that made him proudest as a naturalized citizen
he quietly exulted
at being able to talk to his kids
about what they liked to talk about
which was sports. What pleasure
it gave him
to be able to call
(those Sunday calls!–this later
after we’d all left home)
and say, “So, Mattingly’s still leading the league”
or “I see where the Yankees aren’t doing to well.” …

But tonight there’s an amazing comeback
another 10th-inning heroic to call home about
(“I see where the Yankees are going great guns”)
thought it’s a few second basemen later
and the serene and splendid Willie Randolph
who pulls it out for the team.


“Spring Training,” by Lynn Rigney Schott

I’m still holding out hope that Spring Training won’t be the only baseball we get this year.  In the meantime, we look for other ways to stay engaged with baseball.  This piece by Lynn Rigney Schott was first published in The New Yorker on March 26, 1984.  The author’s father, Bill Rigney, had played Major League Baseball with the New York Giants from 1946 to 1953.  He then went on to serve as the manager for the Giants, making him their last manager in New York as well as the team’s first manager when they moved to San Francisco.  Rigney would also manage the Los Angeles/California Angels and the Minnesota Twins.

*

The last of the birds has returned —
the bluebird, shy and flashy.
The bees carry fat baskets of pollen
from the alders around the pond.
The wasps in the attic venture downstairs,
where they congregate on warm windowpanes.
Every few days it rains.

This is my thirty-fifth spring;
still I am a novice at my work,
confused and frightened and angry.
Unlike me, the buds do not hesitate,
the hills are confident they will be
perfectly reflected
in the glass of the river.

I oiled my glove yesterday.
Half the season is over.
When will I be ready?

On my desk sits a black-and-white postcard picture
of my father — skinny, determined,
in a New York Giants uniform —
ears protruding, eyes riveted.
Handsome, single-minded, he looks ready.

Thirty-five years of warmups.
Like glancing down at the scorecard
in your lap for half a second
and when you look up it’s done —
a long fly ball, moonlike,
into the night
over the fence,
way out of reach.

Bill_Rigney_1953

Bill Rigney, 1953 (Wikipedia)


“Thome at the Plate,” The Whipkey Three

When Jim Thome arrived in Minnesota in 2010, Twins fans were understandably excited.  One fan, Matt Whipkey from Omaha, Nebraska, was so thrilled to have Thome on the team, he decided to write a rock tribute for the slugger.  Unfortunately for Twins fans, Thome’s stint with the team didn’t last terribly long, though he at least gave them a reason to cheer while his time there lasted.


This day in baseball: First ever arbitration ruling

On February 11, 1974, Twins pitcher Dick Woodson won the first arbitration ruling in baseball history after becoming the first player to invoke the new free agency clause. Woodson asked for and was awarded $29,000 (I’ve also seen $30,000 cited as the figure), over the Twins’ offer of $23,000.

dick woodson autograph

baseball-almanac.com