April 1, 2002
Twins Hit 5 HRs on Opening Day
After a winter during which team owner Carl Pohlad openly talked contraction, Jacque Jones homered on the second pitch of the game on Opening Day in Kansas City. Jones also hit a three-run go-ahead homer in the seventh, powering the Twins to an 8-6 win.
David Ortiz, Brian Buchanan, and Torii Hunter each hit solo homers for a total of five, tying the American League Opening Day record.
The Twins are the most recent of five AL teams to hit five homers on Opening Day. The Mets set the major league Opening Day record with six home runs against the Expos in 1988. The major league record for home runs in any game is 10, by the Blue Jays against the Orioles in 1987 (full list on Baseball Almanac).
April 1, 2007
Carneal Passes Away
Legendary Twins radio broadcaster Herb Carneal passes away at age 83. Carneal spent 44 years calling Twins games, joining Ray Scott and Halsey Hall in 1962, the Twins’ second season in Minnesota. He received the Hall of Fame’s Ford C. Frick Award in 1996. He and Jim Kaat comprised the sophomore class of the Twins Hall of Fame, inducted on July 7, 2001.
On a personal note, when I was in elementary school I won a drawing at Hardee’s (true story) and got to spend an inning in the booth with Herb Carneal and John Gordon.
Happy Birthday, Tom Johnson
It’s the birthday of former Twins reliever Tom Johnson, born in St. Paul in 1951. Johnson graduated from St. Paul’s Murray High School (now a middle school) in 1969, the same year that Dave Winfield graduated from St. Paul Central. Both players accepted scholarships to play for coaches Dick Siebert and Jerry Kindall at the University of Minnesota, but Johnson backed out at the last minute and signed a professional contract with the Twins.
Johnson made his major league debut at Met Stadium on September 10, 1974 (age 23), starting the top of the 14th in relief of 1961 St. Cloud Cathedral graduate Tom Burgmeier. The Twins had a 4-1 lead entering the ninth when White Sox catcher Brian Downing hit a three-run homer off Bill Campbell to tie it up (Campbell had a historic ’76 season with the Twins, which he parlayed into a big pay day with the Red Sox following the season). Each team scored in the 11th and 13th innings for a 6-6 tie. Johnson struck out the first batter he faced, Eddie Leon. He gave up a single to the second batter, Jorge Orta. During the next at-bat, Johnson had Orta picked off first but made a throwing error, allowing Orta to advance to second. Orta later came around to score, with the run being unearned, despite the error being on Johnson himself. Trailing 7-6 in the bottom of the inning, Eric Soderholm reached on a two-out single, and scored on a Tony Oliva double. Johnson came back out to pitch a 1-2-3 top of the 15th. With one out in the bottom of the inning, Goose Gossage walked Rod Carew, who stole second, and scored on a Larry Hisle walk-off single, giving Johnson the win over future Hall of Famer Gossage.
Johnson also earned the win in his second appearance three days later (September 13), again with Carew scoring the walk-off run, this time with a home run leading off the 10th. He pitched in both halves of a doubleheader on September 14, earning a save in Game 1. He pitched seven innings total in four appearances in 1974, giving up just four hits and no walks (0.571 WHIP).
After making 18 appearances in both 1975 and ’76, Johnson had the best season of his career in 1977, going 16-7 with 15 saves, 3.13 ERA, and 1.357 WHIP in 71 games (146.2 innings pitched).
He struggled during 18 appearances in 1978, his final major league season.
Read Jim McKernon‘s SABR BioProject essay on Johnson (click here).
April 2, 1962
Twins Trade Ramos For Power and Stigman
It what is commonly considered the first major trade in team history, the Twins trade Pedro Ramos to Cleveland for four-time All-Star Vic Power and 1954 Sebeka High School graduate and 1960 All-Star Dick Stigman.
Ramos started the first regular season game in Twins history, pitching a three-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium on April 11, 1961.
He was involved in an interesting piece of Twins history on May 12, 1961, as he and Angels pitcher Eli Grba traded homers off each other. Grba homered off Ramos in the top of the fifth to give the Angels a 3-2 lead. Ramos returned the favor in the bottom of the inning to tie the game. He added a two-run single in the sixth, and the Twins held on to win 5-4, with the pitcher driving in the final three runs.
Dick Stigman went 12-5 in 40 appearances (15 starts) in 1962. 1963 was his best season. He pitched a three-hit shutout in his second start of the season on April 18, and went on to post a 15-15 record in 33 starts. That’s just three no-decisions! He posted career-bests with a 3.25 ERA, 1.207 WHIP, 15 complete games, and 193 strikeouts, finishing third in the American League in the latter two categories (Camilo Pascual led the league in both). Pedro Ramos, incidentally, was second in the AL with a 1.067 WHIP, and 8.237 strikeouts per nine innings in 1963.
April 2, 2010
First MLB Game at Target Field
The Twins and Cardinals play an exhibition game at Target Field—the first major league game at the new ballpark. Center fielder Denard Span had himself a day, collecting the stadium’s first hit (a triple, of course), first home run, and first run scored.
Jacque Jones, attempting a comeback with the club, pinch hit and received a memorable standing ovation. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.
April 3, 1982
First MLB Game in the Dumb Dome
The Twins and Phillies play an exhibition game at the Metrodome, the first major league game at the new ballpark. After Pete Rose collected the Dome’s first base hit, 1978 Bloomington Kennedy graduate Kent Hrbek hit the first AND second home runs in Metrodome history, powering the Twins to a 5-0 win.
April 3, 1997
Old Man Grand Slam
40-year-old Twins DH Paul Molitor hits a grand slam off Detroit’s Willie Blair at home in the Dome, driving in Todd Walker, Chuck Knoblauch, and Rich Becker.
It is the third and final grand slam of the 1974 Cretin High School graduate’s career. The second came off Minnesota’s Dave Stevens on July 5, 1994. The first came way back on April 22, 1981.
41-year-old Dave Winfield hit a grand slam at the Metrodome on April 4, 1993. I believe he is the oldest Twin to do so.
Atlanta’s Julio Franco became the oldest player in major league history to hit a grand slam on June 27, 2005 at age 46. Playing for the Mets, he became the oldest player to hit a home run off the Diamondbacks’s Randy Johnson on May 4, 2007 at age 48.
April 4, 1990
Twins Trade Pomeranz for Ortiz
The Twins trade future-KARE11 anchor Mike Pomeranz to the Pirates for Junior Oritz and minor league pitcher Orlando Lind.
Oritz, who wore number 0, hit .335 (57-for-170) in 71 games (47 starts) in 1990. He is best remembered at Scott Erickson‘s personal catcher during the Twins’ 1991 World Championship season. He hit .209 in 61 regular season games (41 starts), and went 1-for-8 in six postseason games.
Mike Pomeranz never made it to the majors. These days he works in San Diego, doing, among other things, Padres pre- and post-game broadcasts.
April 5, 2004
Wuertz Makes MLB Debut
1997 Austin High School graduate Michael Wuertz strikes out the first two batters he faces in his major league debut, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth in a 7-4 Cubs win in Cincinnati.
Wuertz made 426 relief appearances over eight seasons with the Cubs and Athletics.
April 5, 2014
Gardenhire Wins 1,000th
Brian Dozier homers on the second pitch of the game, leading the Twins to a 7-3 victory in Cleveland for Ron Gardenhire’s 1,000th managerial win. The milestone victory didn’t come without a new gray hair, however, as 2001 Stillwater grad Glen Perkins gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth before securing the Kyle Gibson win.
Happy Birthday, Bert Blyleven
It’s the birthday of Rik Aalbert “Bert” Blyleven, born in Zeist, Holland in 1951. He grew up in Garden Grove, CA, and was drafted by the Twins out of high school in the third round in 1969.
After only 21 minor league starts, Blyleven made his major league debut on June 2, 1970 (age 19) at RFK Stadium versus the Ted Williams-managed Senators. After Tony Oliva drove in César Tovar in the top of the first, staking the youngster to a 1-0 lead, Blyleven gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Lee Maye. He recovered, striking out the second batter for the first of 3,701 career K’s, and pitched seven strong innings, allowing just the one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven. Tovar put the Twins back on top 2-1 in the fifth, driving in Frank Quilici. Ron Perranoski pitched the final two innings, saving the first of Blyleven’s 287 major league wins (currently 27th all-time).
Blyleven earned a 7-1 complete game victory over the Brewers on July 12, 1972 for the 1,000th win in Twins history. Remarkably, he also earned the 2,000th win in Twins history on September 25, 1985.
Only July 31, 1972, Blyleven gave up two inside-the-park home runs at Met Stadium to Chicago’s Dick Allen, who went on to win the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award that season. The next player to hit two inside-the-park home runs in the same game was Greg Gagne at the Metrodome on October 4, 1986, doing so in his first two at-bats. He tripled in his third at-bat. Remarkably, Blyleven was on the mound for that game, too. More on Blyleven’s ’86 season later.
On May 23, 1973, Blyleven pitched a one-hit shutout versus the Royals at Met Stadium. He would pitch two more one-hitters on September 26, 1973, and July 4, 1974, but the first was the only shutout of the three. Jim Kaat also pitched a one-hitter in 1973.
1973 was Blyleven’s best season, posting his only 20-win season (with 17 losses), with a career-best 2.52 ERA, major league-leading 2.32 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), and a major league-leading nine shutouts in a staggering 325 innings pitched (Wilbur Wood led the majors with 359.1 innings pitched). He pitched back-to-back shutouts twice in 1973 (and once in 1971). His 25 complete games, nine shutouts, and 325 innings pitched are still Twins records. He finished the season with 258 strikeouts, a team record that would stand for 31 years until Johan Santana K’ed 265 in 2004 (Nolan Ryan led the majors with 383 K’s in 1973, 125 more than Blyleven’s team record!). Blyleven made his first of two career All-Star teams in ’73.
Blyleven earned an 11-inning 1-0 win in Milwaukee on August 27, 1975. Craig Kusick tied a major league record with three hit-by-pitches in the game. Blyleven earned a remarkable 15 1-0 complete game wins in his career.
Blyleven was involved in contentious contract negotiations with Calvin Griffith early in the 1976 season. With trade rumors swirling, Blyleven walked off the mound after the top of the ninth on May 31 trailing the Angels 3-1. Some of the 8,379 fans in attendance, frustrated by Blyleven’s refusal to sign Griffith’s latest contract offer, gave the pitcher grief, singing “bye, bye, Bertie.” Before he got to the dugout, Blyleven, visibly angry, looked to the stands and gave someone—possibly hecklers, but likely Griffith himself—the ol’ one-finger salute.
The next day, June 1, Blyleven was traded along with Danny Thompson to the Rangers for four players, including Roy Smalley and Mike Cubbage, and $250,000 cash.
Blyleven wasn’t the only player involved in the trade that had bad blood with Griffith. Contract negotiations between Danny Thompson and the owner were also at a standstill. Griffith refused to give the infielder, who had been diagnosed with leukemia prior to the 1973 season, a fair price, insisting that no other team would offer someone with cancer a contract at all. Thompson struggled in Texas, and passed away that December.
Blyleven pitched a two-hit shutout at Met Stadium in his first game against the Twins on July 26, 1976.
He pitched a no-hitter in his final start as a Ranger on September 22, 1976. The Rangers sent him to the Pirates as part of a four-team, 11-player trade on December 8. Not until the Phillies traded Cole Hamels to the Rangers during the 2015 season would another pitcher be traded after pitching a no-hitter in his final game with a team.
Blyleven made his second postseason with the Pirates in 1979 (he had pitched two innings of relief in the ALCS as a rookie in 1970). He earned a complete-game 1-0 win over the Reds in the third and decisive game of the NLCS in Pittsburgh. Johnny Bench homered for the Reds’ only run. Blyleven started Game 3 of the World Series in Baltimore, leaving after six in a 2-2 tie. The Pirates went on to win 3-2 on a Manny Sanguillen RBI single in the ninth. Down three games to one and trailing 1-0 in Game 5 in Pittsburgh, Blyleven entered in relief in the sixth and held the Orioles scoreless on just three hits over the final four innings of the game. The Pirates rallied for a 7-1 win, sending the Series back to Baltimore where they won both games.
Blyleven was traded with Manny Sanguillen to Cleveland following the 1980 season. He won 19 games with Cleveland in 1984, finishing third in AL Cy Young balloting. He finished third again in 1985, when, playing for both Cleveland and Minnesota, he led the AL with 24 complete games, five shutouts, 206 strikeouts, and 293.2 innings pitched. After making his second All-Star team that summer, the Twins reacquired Blyleven on August 1 in exchange for four players, including former first-round draft pick and future All-Star Jay Bell, who would become the 11th player to homer on his first major league pitch on September 29, 1986. The Twins’ Andre David had also homered on his first MLB pitch on June 29, 1984, as did Eddie Rosario on May 6, 2015.
The Twins put on one heckuva show at the Metrodome on August 1, 1986, as Blyleven two-hit the A’s, striking out a team record 15 (broken by Johan Santana with 17 strikeouts in just eight innings on August 19, 2007), becoming just the tenth player in major league history with 3,000 strikeouts. One of Oakland’s two hits, not surprisingly, was an Alfredo Griffin homer in the eighth. Kirby Puckett, meanwhile, hit for the seventh of ten cycles in team history, and the first at the Dome. Twins won 10-1.
On September 13, 1986, Blyleven set a team record by giving up five home runs in a 14-1 loss to the Rangers at the Metrodome. Carlos Silva tied that record with five home runs allowed on August 22, 2006.
On September 29, 1986, Blyleven gave up his 46th home run of the season, breaking Hall of Famer Robin Roberts’ 30-year-old single-season record. He would give up 50 altogether, while notching 17 wins and pitching an American League-leading 271.2 innings.
Blyleven was solid again in 1987, going 15-12 in 37 starts, pitching 267 innings. He did, however, again lead the majors with 46 home runs allowed. He beat Jack Morris in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, and earned the win the fifth and decisive game in Detroit.
He held the Cardinals to two runs over seven innings as the Twins won Game 2 of the World Series 8-4. He took his only postseason loss in his final postseason appearance, giving up three runs over six innings as the Cardinals won Game 5 4-2 to take a 3-2 Series lead. The Twins, of course, won Games 6 and 7 back in Minnesota. Altogether, Blyleven went 5-1 in eight career postseason games (six starts), with a 2.47 ERA and 1.077 WHIP.
Blyleven tied a major league record by hitting four Cleveland batters on April 22, 1988, giving up seven runs in just 4.2 innings. That wasn’t the worst thing that happened that day, though. After the game, the Twins traded Tom Brunansky to the Cardinals for clubhouse cancer Tommy frickin’ Herr.
Blyleven notched his 250th major league win on June 19, 1988. Of his eventual 287 wins, 149 came in a Twins uniform, second only to Jim Kaat‘s 190 (including one as a Senator). Blyleven holds Twins records with 141 complete games and 29 shutouts. For comparison, Brad Radke pitched 37 complete games.
1988 was a rough season overall, though, as Blyleven led the majors with 17 losses. After the season he was sent to the Angels as part of a five-player trade that brought Paul Sorrento to Minnesota.
Blyleven came roaring back in 1989, going 17-5 with a league-leading five shutouts. He finished fourth in Cy Young balloting and was named AL Comeback Player of the Year.
1992 was his final major league season. He was 41 years old. He retired with 3,701 strikeouts, fifth-most in major league history behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and 1987 teammate Steve Carlton.
Blyleven was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2011, his fourteenth year on the ballot. The Twins retired his number 28 on July 16, 2011.
April 6, 1973
Oliva Hits First HR by DH
With Rod Carew aboard in the top of the first on Opening Day, Tony Oliva hits the first regular season home run by a designated hitter in major league history off Oakland’s Catfish Hunter. Interestingly, it was Oakland owner Charlie Finley who spearheaded the movement for the AL to adopt the DH.
Bert Blyleven pitched the first of his 25 complete games of the season as the Twins won 8-3.
April 6, 1982
First Regular Season Game at Dome
The Twins opened the 1982 season versus Seattle at home in the dumb new Dome. 1977 St. Cloud Tech graduate Jim Eisenreich, making his major league debut, had the honor of being the first Twins batter to the plate. He grounded out to short. Two batters later right fielder Dave Engle homered for the first regular season hit in Metrodome history.
Gary Gaetti was thrown at at home trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park home run in his first at-bat. He put the ball over the fence in his next two at-bats, going 4-for-4 with four RBI and two runs scored in an 11-7 Twins loss.
April 6, 1993
Winfield Homers in Twins Debut
1969 St. Paul Central graduate Dave Winfield (age 41) homers in his Twins debut, a 10-5 loss to the White Sox at the Metrodome. Kirby Puckett also homered in the game.
Winfield signed with the Twins after winning a World Series in his only season with the Blue Jays. He had been sensational in 1992, hitting .290 with 26 home runs, 33 doubles, 92 runs, and 108 RBI, finishing fifth in American League MVP voting (Dennis Eckersley won the award, with Kirby Puckett coming in runner-up).
It was certainly exciting to have him in Minnesota, but his production was pretty pedestrian, hitting .270 with 21 home runs, 27 doubles, 72 runs, and 76 RBI in 143 games for a 0.2 WAR (wins above replacement). He hit another 10 of his 465 major league home runs in 77 games with the Twins in 1994. He wrapped up his 22-year Hall of Fame career with Cleveland in 1995.
April 7, 1970
Alyea Has Record-Setting Opening Day
In his first game as a Twin, outfielder Brant Alyea ties the team record with seven RBI, powering Jim Perry to a 12-0 shutout on Opening Day in Chicago. He went on to drive in 20 runs in the Twins’ first 12 games, with a remarkable 19 of those RBI coming in Perry’s first four starts. Incidentally, Jim Perry won the AL Cy Young Award in 1970, perhaps thanks in part to Alyea’s run support.
Pretty hot start to his Twins career. His Senators career got off to a hot start, too, homering on his first major league pitch on September 12, 1965.
Alyea matched the team single-game RBI record on September 7, 1970, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and driving in all seven Twins runs in a 7-6 win over the Brewers at Met Stadium. It was the beginning of a team record nine-game RBI streak.
Glenn Adams established a new team record with eight RBI on June 26, 1977. Rod Carew also made Twins history that day, going 4-for-5 with a walk and a team record (since tied) five runs scored, raising his season average to .403.
Randy Bush tied Adams’ team record with eight RBI on May 20, 1989.
April 7, 1984
Morris Pitches No-Hitter
Playing for the Tigers, 1973 Highland Park (St. Paul) graduate Jack Morris pitches a no-hitter against the White Sox in Chicago.
He got into a jam in the fourth, walking the first three batters before inducing a P-C-1B double play from DH Greg Luzinski, playing in his final major league season. Morris then struck out Ron Kittle to end the inning. He walked six White Sox batters altogether in the 4-0 Tigers win.
As luck would have it, the Saturday afternoon game was broadcast in Minnesota as NBC’s Game of the Week.
KARE11’s Jeff Passolt (currently with KMSP) was actually at the game, being in town for the North Stars versus Blackhawks playoff series.
Morris also pitched three one-hitters in his career, including against the Twins on August 21, 1980. See all four of these games on Baseball Reference.
April 7, 1987
Hrbek Hits Walk-Off in Opener
After tying the game with his second RBI groundout in the eighth, Kent Hrbek hits a walk-off single in the tenth to give the Twins a 5-4 Opening Day win over Oakland at the Metrodome. Kirby Puckett homered and doubled in the game.
April 8, 1988
Gladden Has Hot Home Opener
Dan Gladden goes 4-for-5 with two home runs, four RBI, and three runs scored including a steal of home for a 6-3 win over Toronto in the home opener. Gladden homered to lead off the Twins’ half of the first, and knocked out another in the eighth. With Kent Hrbek batting in the seventh, Gladden stole home off David Wells. It was the first of three times that Gladden would steal home in his career. He would do so again later in the 1988 season, and once more in 1989. He was caught trying to steal home five times in his career. Rod Carew stole home 17 times in his career. Paul Molitor stole home 10 times.
Gladden had also gone 4-for-5 in the Twins’ previous game in New York.
April 8, 1994
Puckett Collects 2,000th Hit
After striking out in his first at-bat, Twins right fielder Kirby Puckett collects five-straight hits, including his 2,000th hit with an opposite-field single driving in Pat Meares in the bottom of the third. Trailing 8-4 in the bottom of the eighth and Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley on the mound, Chuck Knoblauch hit a two-run double, and Puckett a two-run single in consecutive at-bats to tie the game, giving Eckersley his first blown save of the season. After Oakland took a 10-8 lead in the top of the tenth, Puckett drove in Knoblauch with a double, but the Athletics held on for a 10-9 win. Altogether Puckett went 5-for-6 with a double, 4 RBI, and a run scored in the game. 1980 New Ulm graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Terry Steinbach homered in the game for Oakland.
Puckett retired with 2,304 hits, the most in Twins history. Joe Mauer needs 100 to pass Rod Carew (2,085) for second in team history.
April 9, 1995
Allison Passes Away
Twins all-time great Bob Allison passes away from the effects of ataxia, a rare, incurable disease that affects nerve cells in the brain. He was just 60 years old.
Read Gregory H. Wolf‘s SABR BioProject biography of Allison, which first appeared in the 2015 book A Pennant for the Twin Cities: The 1965 Minnesota Twins.
April 9, 2000
Twins & Royals Go Back-to-Back-to-Back
Already up 6-0 entering the top of the sixth in Kansas City, Corey Koskie leads off the inning with a single. Ron Coomer, Jacque Jones, and Matt LeCroy then proceed to hit three consecutive home runs on four total pitches. Coomer homered again in the seventh, again with Koskie on base.
Eric Milton retired the first 20 batters in order and had a two-hit shutout going into the eighth. After retiring the first two batters, including former Twin David McCarty, Milton allowed two hits before being relieved by Eddie Guardado. Guardado gave up an RBI single and then back-to-back home runs to Carlos Beltran and Jermaine Dye before being relieved by Hector Carrasco who surrendered the Royals’ third consecutive home run to Mike Sweeney. It was the first game in major league history in which both teams hit back-to-back-to-back home runs.
The Twins are one of seven teams to have hit four consecutive home runs, with Tony Oliva, Bob Allison, Jimmie Hall, and Harmon Killebrew doing so to start the top of the 11th in Kansas City on May 2, 1964.
The Twins set an American League record by hitting five home runs in a single inning on June 9, 1966, also against Kansas City, but this time at home in Bloomington, with Rich Rollins, Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher, and Harmon Killebrew homering off three different Athletics pitchers.
Four National League teams have hit five home runs in an inning between 1939 and 2006, all four against the Cincinnati Reds.
April 9, 2010
Drew Butera Makes MLB Debut
Catcher Drew Butera makes his major league debut in Chicago, making him and his dad Sal the first father-son duo in Twins history. Drew went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and a sac bunt in a 4-3, 11-inning Twins win.
April 10, 1968
Chance Pitches Opening Day Shutout
Dean Chance pitches a four-hit shutout, while Harmon Killebrew and Bob Allison hit solo homers off Senators pitcher Camilo Pascual for a 2-0 Opening Day win in Washington.
April 10, 1971
Powell Homers for First MLB Hit
In his first major league start, 1969 first-round draft pick Paul Powell hits an eighth-inning homer for his first career hit, giving the Twins an insurance run in a 5-3 win in Chicago. It would be his only major league homer.
Powell had gotten into two prior games as a pinch runner, scoring both times.
The Twins’ Andre David hit a two-run home run on his first major league swing against Jack Morris on June 29, 1984. Like Powell, his first major league hit was also his only career home run.
April 10, 1982
Twins Deal Smalley, Acquire Gagne
The Twins trade Roy Smalley and 1975 Alexandria High School graduate Gary Serum to the Yankees for Ron Davis, Paul Boris, and Greg Gagne.
Davis, who had been an All-Star in 1981, was one of the game’s first setup men, combining for a potent 1-2 punch with Hall of Famer Goose Gossage. Davis still holds the Yankees record for consecutive strikeouts in a game with eight on May 4, 1981. Doug Fister established a new American League record with nine consecutive K’s on September 27, 2012. The major league record belongs to Tom Seaver with 10 straight on April 22, 1970.
Davis was never in All-Star form in Minnesota, however. He tied a single-season record with 14 blown saves in 1984, a dubious feat not matched since. Four pitchers had blown 14 saves in a season prior to Davis, including Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers in 1976, and Bruce Sutter in 1978. Hall of Famer Goose Gossage, incidentally, holds the record with six seasons with 10+ blown saves, followed by Rollie Fingers and Jeff Reardon with four each.
Davis’s incompetence as Twins closer is often overstated, but there’s no denying that his struggles took a mental toll on the team. When he was traded to the Cubs in August 1986, a party broke out on the team’s charter flight from Anaheim to Seattle, led by Kirby Puckett. Kent Hrbek said it was like the team had been exorcised of a demon. Hrbie conceded in retrospect that the team didn’t handle the situation too well. He personally really liked Davis. Harmon Killebrew, who was on the flight as a TV analyst, said it was one of the strangest scenes he’d ever seen.
Though Davis was the object of the Twins’ desire at the time, Greg Gagne would obviously emerge as the key figure in this transaction. He didn’t make his major league debut until 1983, and even then only played 12 games between the ‘83 and ‘84 seasons before becoming a fixture at shortstop from 1985 to 1992. He was a key component of the Twins’ 1987 and 1991 World Series Championships.
The Twins had originally acquired Roy Smalley in the 1976 trade that sent Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson to the Rangers. In July 1984 the Yankees offloaded Smalley to the White Sox in exchange for players to be named later, one of whom wound up being Doug Drabek, who, after just one season, the Yankees in turn shipped off to Pittsburgh where he would win the 1990 Cy Young Award. The White Sox traded Smalley back to Minnesota in 1985. He retired after the 1987 season.
Gary Serum was born in Fargo, and grew up in Alexandria, MN. He played two and a half major league seasons with the Twins from 1977 to ‘79. Despite posting a 9-1 record between Double-A and Triple-A in the Yankees organization, 1982 was Serum’s final professional season.
April 10, 1992
Mack Leadoff Home Run in Home Opener
In the Twins’ first at-bat at the Metrodome since Gene Larkin‘s walk-off in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, Shane Mack hits a leadoff home run. Altogether he went 4-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in the 7-1 win over the Rangers (now featuring Al Newman).
Mack posted a career-high 6.5 WAR in 1992, second on the team that season to Puckett’s career-high 7.1. Mack’s 3.6 WAR in 1991 was second-best to Kevin Tapani‘s 6.8.
April 11, 1925
Birthdate of Bob Casey
The inimitable Bob Casey was born in Minneapolis on this date in 1925. Casey was the only public address announcer in Twins history until his death in 2005. He also worked for the Minneapolis Millers, Lakers, and the Vikings.
The decorated World War II veteran is buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.
April 11, 1961
First Regular Season Game in Twins History
In the first regular season game in Twins history, Pedro Ramos pitches a three-hit shutout versus Whitey Ford and the eventual 1961 World Series Champions at Yankee Stadium. Ramos held Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, and Roger Maris to a combined 1-for-11, with Berra singling in the first. Maris, of course, would go on to establish a new single-season home run record with 61 that year. Moose Skowron and the pitcher Ford had the Yankees’ other two hits. Ramos did not allow a baserunner after the fifth inning.
Ramos and Ford were locked in a scoreless duel until Bob Allison led off the seventh with the first home run in Twins history. Ramos himself drove in Earl Battey and Reno Bertoia with a single to center later that inning, knocking Ford out of the game. Bertoia homered in the eight, driving in Battey. Killebrew added a sac fly in the ninth, driving in Zoilo Versalles to give the Twins a 6-0 Opening Day win.
They went 5-1 on the road before coming to Bloomington to play their first home game in front of a crowd already deep in the throes of pennant fever. They lost the home opener 5-3 to the new expansion Senators, and finished their inaugural season 70-90—seventh in the American League.
April 11, 1967
Carew Makes ML Debut
21-year-old second baseman Rod Carew collects two hits in his major league debut—a 6-3 loss in Baltimore. He had 150 hits on the season en route to winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award.
Tom Seaver was the National League Rookie of the Year. In a cool coincidence, Rod Carew connected for his 3,000th hit on the same day that Tom Seaver earned his 300th win—August 4, 1985. What’s more, Carew reached his milestone against the Twins (Viola), while Seaver earned the win pitching for the White Sox in New York—the city he is most-associated with as a longtime Met.
April 11, 1971
Kaat Pitches 11-Hit Shutout
Jim Kaat pitches a shutout in Chicago despite giving up 11 hits and a walk. At the plate, he went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI, and a run scored. The Twins turned two double plays in the 6-0 win.
The team record for hits allowed in a shutout is 13 by Mudcat Grant on July 15, 1964. There have been two other 11-hit shutouts in Twins history: Rick Lysander on August 1, 1983, and Carlos Silva on August 3, 2004.
April 11, 1977
Terrell Sets Double Play Record
The Twins pull out a 12-3 win at the Kingdome in their first-ever game against the Mariners, despite 1964 Waterville graduate Jerry Terrell hitting into a team record three double plays. Jose Morales tied Terrell’s record on May 17, 1980.
April 12, 1926
Birthdate of Walt Moryn
It’s the birthdate of 1944 Harding High School graduate Walt Moryn, born in St. Paul in 1926.
Moryn played 785 major league games over eight seasons with the Dodgers (1954–’55), Cubs (1956–1960), Cardinals (1960–’61), and Pirates (1961). His teammates included Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and Roberto Clemente.
He hit 101 home runs, including six off Robin Roberts. He had nine multi-home run games. He hit three on May 30, 1958, including a walk-off homer against Sandy Koufax, who entered the game in the ninth.
Moryn made his only All-Star team in 1958, but did not get into the game.
Moryn is best remembered by Cubs fans for making a dramatic shoestring catch in left for the final out of Don Cardwell’s no-hitter on May 15, 1960. Biographer Art Mugalian points out that Moryn had spoiled a no-hitter a month earlier, hitting a two-out pinch-hit home run in the eighth off Sam Jones at Candlestick Park on April 16 (Jones completed the one-hitter for a 6-1 Giants win).
Moryn passed away on July 21, 1996 in Winfield, Il. He was 70 years old.
Read Art Mugalian’s SABR BioProject biography of Walt Moryn.
April 12, 1965
Home Opener Starter Airlifted
Jim Kaat, Dick Stigman, Rich Rollins, and Bill Bethea are marooned at their homes in Burnsville—the wrong side of the flooded Minnesota River—and have to be taken by helicopter to and from Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington for the home opener versus the Yankees.
Kaat gave up four runs on five hits and a walk over nine innings, and hit a two-RBI double. After Bob Allison got to third on an E7 leading off the 11th, the Yankees intentionally loaded the bases. They got to the first two outs on a shallow pop fly and strikeout, but César Tovar came through with a walk-off single to center off Pedro Ramos.
Ramos started the first regular season game in Twins history back in 1961, pitching a three-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium.
April 12, 2005
Twins Win on Stewart Walk-Off
After Torii Hunter drives in Jason Bartlett to tie the game in the eighth, the Twins beat the Tigers 5-4 on a Shannon Stewart walk-off ground-rule double off Troy Percival in the ninth. According to Halsey Hall SABR member John Swol‘s great site TwinsTrivia.com, Percival had not allowed an earned run versus the Twins in over 40 innings going back to 1995.
April 12, 2010
First Regular Season Game at Target Field
Carl Pavano and the Twins beat the Red Sox 5-2 in the first regular season game at Target Field. Red Sox leadoff hitter Marco Scutaro singled to center for the new stadium’s first regular season hit. With Dustin Pedroia batting, however, Scutaro was thrown out trying to steal second. Pedroia doubled on the next pitch (d’oh!). Pavano escaped the first unscathed. He gave up only one run in the game, on a David Ortiz RBI double in the fourth.
After Jon Lester walked Denard Span leading off the bottom of the first, Orlando Hudson collected the Twins’ first hit at the new ballpark. After Mauer and Morneau made the first two outs, Michael Cuddyer collected the new stadium’s first RBI, driving in Span with a single to left. Jason Kubel then drove in Hudson, giving the Twins a 2-0 first-inning lead. Joe Mauer hit an RBI double in the second, and an RBI single in the fourth. Kubel hit Target Field’s first regular season home run leading off the seventh. Jon Rauch retired Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, and Adrian Beltre in order to save the 5-2 Twins win.
April 12, 2018
Mauer Connects for 2,000th Hit
First baseman Joe Mauer collects his 2,000th career hit—a two-RBI grounder right up the middle (identical to his first career hit) in the seventh inning of a 4-0 victory over the White Sox at Target Field. Mauer also lined an RBI-single to right-center in the third inning.
April 13, 1858
Birthdate of Bill Barnes
It’s the birthdate of former major league center fielder Bill Barnes, born in Shakopee in 1858. Barnes played for the St. Paul White Caps, who, at the end of the 1884 season, played nine games as a replacement team in the Union Association, which, despite only existing for one season, is generally considered a major league. The White Caps played all nine of their Union Association games on the road.
April 13, 1962
Home Opener Snowed Out
In just the second year of major league baseball in Minnesota, the Twins’ home opener versus the Los Angeles Angels is cancelled due to six inches of snow.
April 13, 1968
Perry Pitches Shutout, Hits Homer
Jim Perry has a heckuva day, pitching a four-hit shutout, and hitting a ninth-inning home run in a 6-0 Twins win at Yankee Stadium.
The only other player in Twins history to homer while pitching a shutout is Jim Kaat, who did so on July 24, 1963 and October 1, 1970.
April 13, 1985
Davis Gives Up Walk-Off Grand Slam
Trying to protect a 7-4 lead with the bases loaded and two out in the bottom of the ninth, Twins closer Ron Davis gives up a walk-off grand slam to Mariners left fielder Phil Bradley. It was the first walk-off grand slam surrendered in team history.
April 13, 1987
Puckett Homers in Fourth-Straight
Kirby Puckett goes 1-for-3 with a walk and home run in a 6-3 loss in Oakland. It was Puckett’s fourth-straight game with a home run.
The team record for consecutive games with a home run is five, by Harmon Killebrew on two separate occasions in 1970, rookie Marty Cordova in 1995, Brian Dozier in 2016, and Nelson Cruz in 2019.
April 13, 1991
Winfield Has Historic Game versus Twins
Playing for the Angels, 1969 St. Paul Central graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Dave Winfield goes 5-for-6 with three home runs (in his first three at-bats), a double, six RBI, and four runs scored in a 15-9 win at the Metrodome.
Angels third baseman Gary Gaetti went 4-for-6 with a double and RBI.
Winfield’s 15 total bases are the most ever in a major league game played in Minnesota (Met Stadium, the Dome, or Target Field).
The Twins record is 14 by Kirby Puckett in Milwaukee on August 30, 1987.
April 13–15, 2018
The largest April snowstorm in Twin Cities history (14.9″) forces the postponement of the final three games of a four-game series versus the White Sox.
April 14, 1927
Wera Makes MLB Debut
25-year-old Winona native Julie Wera makes his major league debut at Yankee Stadium, pinch hitting for Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt against Hall of Famer Lefty Grove. (He grounded out.)
Wera played 38 games at third base for the vaunted ‘27 Yankees. He hit his one and only big league homer during a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1927 in front of a then-record crowd of 74,000.
Wera did not play in the 1927 World Series, in which the Yankees swept the Pirates. He did, however, receive the same $5,782 share of the winners’ purse as the rest of his teammates, which included Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Nice bonus, considering that Wera’s ‘27 salary was reported to be $2,400.
Read more about Wera here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/JulieWera/
April 14, 1978
Jackson Makes Successful Pro Debut
Making his professional debut at double-A Orlando, Darrell Jackson pitches nine hitless innings in a 12-inning Twins win versus Jacksonville.
He pitched a three-hit shutout in just his fourth major league start later that summer.
April 14, 1983
Snow Collapses the Dome
The largest April snowstorm in Twin Cities history (at the time) forces the postponement of a game versus the California Angels. The decision to postpone the game was made the night before out of concern that the Angels would not be able to arrive in Minnesota in time. Travel concerns were a moot point, however, as damage from the storm caused the Metrodome roof to collapse about 12 hours after the decision to postpone. The spring storm dumped 13.6 inches of snow on the metro. That record was eclipsed when 14.9″ of snow forced the postponement of three games on April 13, 14, and 15, 2018.
April 14, 1991
Morris a Bust?/Gaetti Gets Revenge
New Twins pitcher Jack Morris—the highest-paid pitcher in the majors—gives up eight runs in 5.2 innings. New Angels third baseman Gary Gaetti had four RBI spread over three plate appearances.
After starting the season 1-for-13 on the road in Seattle, Gaetti went 7-for-14 in his first-ever series against the Twins as the Angels took two of three at the Dome.
Meanwhile, by April 20 Morris had fallen to 0-3 and the Twins to 2-9. (Things got better.)
April 14, 2016
Worst Start in Twins History
The Twins are swept by the White Sox in their home-opening series, falling to 0-9 on the season, the worst start in the franchise’s 116-year history. It was the worst start by any major league team in 13 years, going back to the epically awful 2003 Tigers who finished 43-119.
Atlanta would also fall to 0-9 later that day, and finish the season 68-93. Minnesota, meanwhile, would finish 59-103—the worst record in Twins history. It was remarkably not the worst season in franchise history, however: the 1904 Washington Senators finished 38-113 (.252 winning %).
April 15–16, 1930
Fisher Gets Back to the Show
After being out of the majors for five seasons, Albany (MN) High School alumnus Showboat Fisher goes 4-for-5 with the Cardinals on Opening Day. Despite throwing out Rogers Hornsby at the plate, the Cubs still won 9-8.
Fisher connected for another four hits in the Cardinals’ second game of the season. Since at least 1908, only four players have collected four or more hits in each of his team’s first two games—Ira Flagstead (1926), Wade Boggs (1994), Dante Bichette (1998), and Emilio Bonifácio (2014).
Read more about Showboat Fisher here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/ShowboatFisher/
April 15, 1947
Robinson Breaks Color Barrier
Jackie Robinson breaks major league baseball’s longstanding color barrier, starting at first base and batting second for the Brooklyn Dodgers versus Boston at Ebbets Field.
Here’s the Minnesota angle: St. Paul Central and Hamline alumnus Howie “Stretch” Schultz replaced Robinson at first in the top of the ninth.
Schultz had played for the Dodgers since 1943. After it became abundantly clear that Robinson had first base under control, the Dodgers sold Schultz’s contract to the Phillies on May 10.
Schultz played in the majors until 1948. Later, he was a member of the 1951–’52 NBA Champion Minneapolis Lakers. (Bonus Fact: Vikings legend and accomplished townball pitcher Bud Grant played off the bench for the Lakers the previous two seasons, winning a championship during the 1949–’50 season.)
In an interesting coincidence, Frank M. White—the preeminent historian of Black baseball in Minnesota—played on a youth team coached by Schultz.
1944 St. Paul Harding graduate Walt “Moose” Moryn was teammates with Robinson when he came up as a 28-year-old rookie in 1954. Moryn went on to play parts of eight seasons in the majors, also sharing locker rooms with the likes of Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and Roberto Clemente.
April 15, 1970
Alyea Supports Perry (Again)
After tying the team single-game record with seven RBI in his first game as a Twin in support of Jim Perry on Opening Day, Brant Alyea hits a grand slam in Perry’s second start of the season. Altogether, Alyea had 19 RBI in Perry’s first four starts of the season. Perhaps not coincidentally, Perry won the AL Cy Young Award that season.
Read more about Alyea here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/BrantAlyea/
April 15, 1979
Twelve Twins Get Hits
Twelve different Twins get a hit (20 total), 11 score a run, and 10 collect an RBI in a 18-6 win in Seattle. Minnesota native Jerry Koosman enjoyed the run support, as he himself gave up six runs on 12 hits and a walk, earning a complete-game victory to improve to 2-0 on the season.
April 15, 1998
Eisenreich’s Last Home Run
Playing for the Florida Marlins, 1977 St. Cloud Tech graduate and St. Cloud State Hall of Famer Jim Eisenreich hits his final major league home run, a two-run game-winner off Curt Schilling, driving in current Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
April 15, 2000
Ripken Gets 3,000th
Cal Ripken Jr. becomes the 24th player to reach 3,000 hits in a 6-4 Orioles win at the Metrodome. Ripken entered the game sitting at 2,997, having collected one hit the night before in a wild 10-9 Twins win. Trailing 4-9, the Twins had scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth. Eddie Guardado secured the save, retiring Ripken for the final out of the game.
On this night, Ripken had already gone 2-for-3 when he came up in the seventh with the game tied, two out, and Albert Belle on third. The Twins brought in Hector Carrasco to face the Iron Man. Catcher Matt LeCroy gave up a passed ball on Carrasco’s first pitch, allowing Belle to score the go-ahead run. Ripken stroked Carrasco’s second pitch for a line-drive single to center, becoming just the seventh player in major league history to collect both 400 home runs and 3,000 hits.
Former Twin Mike Trombley earned the save for Baltimore. Noteworthy in retrospect is the fact that Midre Cummings pinch-hit for the number nine batter Torii Hunter.
After his milestone hit, Ripken was greeted by base coach Eddie Murray, who had himself collected his 3,000th hit off Mike Trombley at the Metrodome in 1995. The following season, Murray became just the third person in major league history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez have since joined the club.
1969 St. Paul Central graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Dave Winfield collected his 3,000th hit at the Metrodome in 1993. Thirty-two players have collected 3,000 hits in the 151-year history of major league baseball. Three of those reached the milestone at the Metrodome in a period of seven years. It is also noteworthy that of the 32 members of the 3,000 hit club, two (Winfield and Paul Molitor) were born in St. Paul just five years apart.
April 15, 2001
Milton K’s Eight of First 10
Hosting the White Sox, Eric Milton gets off to a hot start, striking out the side in the top of the first, including Hall of Famer Frank Thomas. Milton goes on to strike out eight of the first 10 batters he faces.
Milton completed seven innings, holding the White Sox to just two runs on a Thomas homer in the sixth—one of 521 he hit in his career, tied with Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 20th all-time. LaTroy Hawkins earned the save in the Twins 4-3 victory—their sixth-straight, improving to 9-2 on the season.
April 15, 2017
Santana Pitches One-Hit Shutout
With everyone wearing number 42 on a Saturday afternoon at Target Field, Ervin Santana one-hits the White Sox, improving to 3-0 on the season.
Chicago’s only hit was a third-inning single by catcher Omar Narváez. Santana pitched with a comfortable lead all afternoon, as the Twins scored five in the bottom of the first. Robbie Grossman added an RBI single in the eighth for a 6-0 Twins win.
Santana made his second All-Star team in 2017, and finished the season 16-8, tied with Cleveland’s Corey Kluber for the major league lead with five complete games and three shutouts.
Here is a list of all the one-hitters in Twins history on Baseball Reference, courtesy of TwinsTrivia.com’s John Swol.
April 16, 1960
Moryn Breaks Up No-Hit Bid
Playing for the Cubs, 1944 St. Paul Harding graduate Walt Moryn spoils Giants pitcher Sam Jones‘s no-hit bid with a two-out pinch-hit homer in the eighth. It was the only hit Jones surrendered in the 6-1 Giants win.
It was Jones’s second start of the season. In his first start, he only allowed three hits (again with the only run coming on a solo homer), meaning he only allowed four hits and two runs over his first 18 innings of the season.
Sam Jones Notes:
Playing for the Cubs five years earlier, Sam Jones became the first Black pitcher in MLB history to throw a no-hitter, doing so against the eventual World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates on May 12, 1955.
Believe it or not, Jones played townball in Minnesota, back when teams could pay players. After getting a couple cups of coffee in the Negro American League in 1947 and ’48, Jones pitched for the Rochester Royals in 1949, no-hitting Owatonna on August 4 and Austin on September 7.
Jones wasn’t the only great Black pitcher playing townball in Minnesota in 1949. Remarkably, that was the same season former Kansas City Monarch Hilton Smith played for Dick Reusse’s Fulda Giants. Smith, however, was on the opposite end of his career than Jones, and mostly played first base for Fulda. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001, the same class as Dave Winfield, Kirby Puckett, and Bill Mazeroski.
In addition to his brief stints in the Negro American League (officially designated a “major league” in December 2020), Jones played 12 seasons in the American and National Leagues, with a string of five truly exceptional seasons with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Giants from 1955 to ’59. He led the league in strikeouts per nine innings four-straight seasons from 1955 to ’58, and led the league in strikeouts overall (and walks) in ’55, ’56, and ’58.
In 1959, he led the NL with 21 wins, a 2.83 ERA, and four shutouts, while again leading the league in walks. (His 209 strikeouts were second to Don Drysdale’s 242.) He came in second to Chicago White Sox hurler Early Wynn in Cy Young balloting, back before there was a separate award for the AL and NL. If you want to retroactively apply WAR to the situation, Baseball Reference calculates 5.7 for Jones, and 2.8 for Wynn. (Wynn, a 300-game winner, was the Twins pitching coach from 1967 to ’69.)
Walt Moryn Notes:
As for Walt Moryn, a month after spoiling Jones’s no-hit bid, “Moose” made a dramatic shoestring catch for the final out of Cubs pitcher Don Cardwell’s no-hitter on May 15, 1960.
Moryn played parts of eight seasons in the majors, and was teammates with the likes of Jackie Robinson, Ernie Banks, Stan Musial, and Roberto Clemente.
He had three very good seasons with the Cubs from 1956 to ’58, over which he averaged 23 home runs and a 3.2 WAR. He was an All-Star in 1958.
April 16, 1961
First Grand Slam in Twins History
Bob Allison hits the first grand slam in Twins history in the top of the first in the first game of a Sunday doubleheader in Baltimore. The Orioles’ Chuck Estrada, who had tied for the league lead with 18 wins the previous season and would win 15 in 1961, walked three straight to start the game, filling the bases for the cleanup hitter Allison. After giving up a double to Jim Lemon, Estrada was pulled, ultimately being responsible for five runs. Relief pitcher John Papa didn’t fare much better, issuing consecutive two-out bases-loaded walks before Dick Hall, the third pitcher used by Baltimore in the six-run first, got the final out.
Allison added a three-run homer in the sixth, establishing a Twins single-game record with seven RBI in the 10-5 win. That record was matched four times before being broken by Glenn Adams with eight RBI on June 26, 1977. Randy Bush also had eight RBI on May 20, 1989.
Read more about 7+ RBI games in Twins history.
In addition to being the first in Twins history, Allison’s grand slam was significant in two more ways. It was the first of three he hit in 1961, still tied for the team single-season record with Rod Carew (1976), Kent Hrbek (1985), Kirby Puckett (1992), and Torii Hunter (2007).
Additionally, it was the first of eight grand slams the Twins hit during their inaugural 1961 season. That is still the team record. The other Twins to hit grand slams in 1961 were Dan Dobbek, Harmon Killebrew, Julio Becquer (a pinch-hit walk-off grand slam on the fourth of July), Ted Lepcio, and Bill Tuttle.
ByungHo Park hits a prodigious 462-foot blast over the batter’s eye at Target Field.
Fun Fact: Former Korean teammate and 2001 Duluth Denfeld graduate Ben Jukich was at the game. The former teammates used the same translator (when Jukich was in South Korea, and Park in Minnesota).
April 17, 1965
Kaat Pitches Shutout without Strikeout
Jim Kaat becomes the only pitcher in team history to throw a shutout without a single strikeout. Kitty gave up seven hits and a walk in the 3-0 Twins win over Cleveland at Met Stadium.
Allan Anderson pitched a complete game without a strikeout or walk on August 4, 1988, but gave up a solo home run in the 2-1 Twins win.
Speaking of Kaat and shutouts, he threw one in Chicago on April 11, 1971, despite giving up ELEVEN hits and a walk. (The Twins record for hits allowed in a shutout is 13 by Mudcat Grant July 15, 1964, less than a month after he was acquired from Cleveland. Grant also walked one in the game.)
And one final note on Jim Kaat shutouts: Kitty homered while pitching shutouts on April 13, 1968 and October 1, 1970. The only other Twins pitcher to do so was Jim Perry on April 13, 1968.
April 17, 1968
Best Start in Team History
Harmon Killebrew homers and doubles as the Twins beat the Senators 13-1 at D.C. Stadium, improving to 6-0—the best start in team history.
They finished the season 79-83, seventh place in the American League. The following season, the AL and NL split into East and West Divisions, and the Twins won the first two AL West pennants (before promptly being swept by Baltimore in the ALCS both years).
The worst start in franchise history, if you’re curious, was 0-9 in 2016. They finished the season 59-103, the worst record in Minnesota Twins history. It was remarkably not the worst season in franchise history, however. The 1904 Washington Senators finished 38-113 (.252 winning %).
April 17, 1970
Johnson Homers off Kaat
1954 Edina-Morningside graduate Bob “Rocky” Johnson hits his 44th and final major league home run off the Twins’ Jim Kaat at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Read more about Johnson here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/BobJohnson
April 17, 1974
Mitterwald Has Career Game (for Cubs)
In just his fifth game with the Cubs after being traded by the Twins over the offseason for fellow catcher Randy Hundley, George Mitterwald has the best game of his career, going 4-for-4 with a walk, three home runs, a double off the wall, and eight RBI in an 18-9 win over the Pirates.
Following his playing career, Mitterwald coached at the major and minor league levels. Of Minnesota interest, he managed the Orlando Twins in 1986 and ’87, and the Northern League Duluth-Superior Dukes from 1996 to ’98. Mitterwald was the skipper when Dukes pitcher Ila Borders became the first woman to win a men’s professional baseball game on July 24, 1998, pitching six scoreless innings in a 3-1 win over the Sioux Falls Canaries at Wade Stadium in Duluth.
April 17, 1977
Carew Hits Four-Run Triple
First baseman Rod Carew caps off a seven-run second-inning rally with a two-out, four-run triple (Carew scored on a throwing error). The Twins beat the Athletics 10-2 at home in Bloomington.
April 17, 1979
Ryan Shuts Out Twins
Angels ace Nolan Ryan pitches a four-hit shutout as the Twins lose their home opener 6-0.
Ryan no-hit the Twins in Anaheim on September 28, 1974. It was his third of four no-hitters over a three-year span. He threw his record seventh no-hitter on May 1, 1991, at age 44 (18 years after his first no-hitter).
Fun Fact: Harmon Killebrew and Rod Carew both hit pinch-hit home runs off Ryan in his final career relief appearance on July 28, 1974. (It was the second game of a doubleheader in Anaheim, which might explain Killer and Carew coming off the bench. Despite the home runs, the Twins still lost 12-9.) Ryan had pitched a complete game three days earlier, and would pitch a 10-inning complete game two days later. (This is where somebody chimes in with “back when men were men.”)
April 17, 2009
Kubel Hits Grand Slam to Complete Cycle
Down 9-4 to the Angels in the bottom of the eighth, the Twins score three on Mike Redmond and Denard Span hits. After Brendan Harris (who homered earlier in the game) strikes out for the second out of the inning, the Angels, still clinging to a two-run lead, intentionally walk Justin Morneau to load the bases for Jason Kubel, who is a home run shy of the cycle. Kubel hits the 0-1 pitch out of the park, completing the Twins’ seven-run eighth-inning rally. Joe Nathan retired the Angels in order in the ninth to save the 11-9 Twins win.
It was the ninth cycle in Twins history. The previous eight were Rod Carew (5/20/70), César Tovar (9/19/72), Larry Hisle (7/4/76), Lyman Bostock (7/24/76), Mike Cubbage (7/27/78), Gary Ward (9/18/80), Kirby Puckett (8/1/86), and Carlos Gómez (5/7/08). Michael Cuddyer hit for the 10th cycle in team history just over a month later, on May 22. Jorge Polanco hit for the 11th cycle in Twins history on April 5, 2019 (using Eddie Rosario‘s bat). Polanco finished a double shy of another cycle four days later.
Two players had previously completed the cycle with a grand slams. Interestingly, they were both shortstops: Tony Lazzeri in 1932, and Miguel Tejada in 2001.
April 17, 2010
Mauer Receives MVP Award
Joe Mauer receives his 2009 American League Most Valuable Player Award in a pregame ceremony at Target Field prior to a game against the Royals.
After missing the first 22 games of the 2009 season with a lower back injury, Mauer homered on his first swing back from the disabled list. He went on to hit 11 home runs and drive in 32 runs in the month of May. He set career highs with 28 home runs and 96 RBI on the season, and won his third AL batting title with a .365 average—the best by a catcher in major league history.
The Twins won the Central Division in 2009 with a dramatic 12th-inning walk-off win in Game 163 versus Detroit, but were swept by the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs.
After receiving his trophy, Mauer went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the game. Jim Thome homered. Tied 5-5 in the seventh, Orlando Hudson led off the bottom of the inning with a home run, giving the Twins a 6-5 win.
April 17, 2014
Eight-Walk Eighth Inning
After being snowed out the previous night, the Twins and Blue Jays played a frigid doubleheader on April 17. The Twins won Game 1 by a score of 7-0. The 31° gametime temperature was the coldest for a Twins home game at the time. The temperature was up to 42° by the start of Game 2.
The Twins trailed 5-3 going into the bottom of the eighth. They would score four runs before getting their first hit, and ultimately score six on just one hit in the inning. Blue Jays pitcher Steve Delebar walked Josmil Pinto and Chris Hermann to start the inning. Eduardo Núñez then dropped down a successful sacrifice bunt, moving the tying run into scoring position. That was completely unnecessary in retrospect, as Sergio Santos (replacing Delebar) and J.A. Happ combined to walk the next five Twins batters. Three(!) runs scored on Santos wild pitches, and a fourth run scored when Happ walked Chris Colabello with the bases loaded. Finally, after having already scored four runs, the Twins got their first hit of the inning, a two-run Jason Kubel single to right. Josmil Pinto then walked for the second time in the inning before the Blue Jays finally got the final two outs. Glen Perkins pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, securing a 9-5 Twins win.
April 18, 1896
Birthdate of Rip Conway
St. Thomas alumnus Rip Conway was born in White Bear Lake on this date in 1896. He got into 14 major-league games as a pinch hitter and infielder for Boston (NL) in 1918.
Hey, four major-league hits may not seem like much, but it puts him in the top 100 hitters ever born in Minnesota.
April 18, 1912
Gehring Passes Away
St. Paul native and former major-league spitballer Hank Gehring was set to pitch for the Kansas City Blues in 1912, but tragically died of kidney failure (uremia) on April 18. He was just 31 years old. Though his death was strongly felt throughout the Midwest, newspaper coverage was scant on account of the Titanic having sunk in the North Atlantic just three days earlier. He was eulogized in Sporting Life, and the St. Paul Saints and Kansas City Blues held a benefit game on May 27, donating the entire Lexington Park gate proceeds to Gehring’s widow and eight-year-old daughter. The game drew the largest weekday crowd of the season.
Gehring is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in St. Paul. Read more about him here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/January/#HankGehring
April 18, 1912
Spencer Makes Only MLB Appearance
Hack Spencer, who was born in St. Cloud and grew up in the Minneapolis area, makes his one and only major-league appearance with the St. Louis Browns, allowing two runs on two hits in the final 1.2 innings of a 12-7 loss to the White Sox.
The Browns finished the season 53-101. The only American League team with a worse record were the New York Highlanders.
Hey, it could have been worse than just 1.2 innings … three Minnesota-born pitchers never even recorded an out in their only major-league appearances: Doc Hamann, Fred Bruckbauer (both born in New Ulm), and Gordie Sundin. Furthermore, all three gave up at least one run, meaning they have career ERA’s of “infinity” (or undefined).
Happy Birthday, Jim Eisenreich
It’s the birthday of 1977 St. Cloud Tech grad, St. Cloud State all-time great, and 15-year major leaguer Jim Eisenreich, born in St. Cloud in 1959.
Eisenreich’s SCSU career overlapped with future major leaguers Bob Hegman and Dana Kiecker.
The Twins selected Eisenreich in the 16th round of the 1980 draft. He made his major league debut playing center field and batting leadoff on Opening Day 1982 (age 22). His Twins career never got off the ground, however. He played in just 48 games over three seasons, hampered by uncontrollable tics and jerks. He was misdiagnosed with agoraphobia, “the fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment.”
He did not play in 1985 or ‘86. He was selected off waivers by the Royals on October 2, 1986. It wasn’t until he was with the Royals that Eisenreich was correctly diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. With this newfound understanding of his condition, he was able to get his baseball career back on track. He played 44 games with the Royals in 1987, and 82 in 1988. He averaged 131 games per season between 1989 and 1992, hitting .286 over that four-year span.
He hit .341 over 59 career games against the Twins, his best average versus any American League team. He hit .405 in 63 career games against the Dodgers.
Eisenreich signed with Philadelphia prior to the 1993 season, and hit .324 over his four seasons there (1993–1996). He hit .361 in 1996, the highest Phillies average since Smokey Burgess hit .368 in 1954.
Eisenreich played in two World Series, first with the 1993 Phillies, and then with the 1997 Marlins. He hit clutch home runs in both Series. The Phillies lost to the Blue Jays. The Marlins beat Cleveland.
Playing for the Marlins on April 15, 1998, Eisenreich hit his final home run off former Phillies teammate Curt Schilling. It was a two-run game winner, driving in current Brewers manager Craig Counsell.
Eisenreich was involved in a blockbuster trade on May 14, 1998, as the Marlins dealt him, Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla, and prospect Manuel Barrios to the Dodgers for Mike Piazza and Todd Zeile. 1998 would be Eisenreich’s final major league season.
I’m always interested in Minnesotans facing each other in the major leagues. A cursory search of Baseball Reference shows that Eisenreich homered off 1973 Highland Park graduate Jack Morris on August 13, 1987, and off 1981 Mankato West grad Gary Mielke on August 14, 1990.
On July 15, 1990, he went 1-for-2 with a walk and double versus 1979 Fairfax grad and former St. Cloud State teammate Dana Kiecker at Fenway. It was the first time that SCSU alumni played against each other in the majors. In total, Eisenreich went 4-for-8 with a walk and two doubles versus Kiecker between 1990 and ‘91.
Read Scot Johnson’s thorough SABR BioProject biography of Eisenreich.
April 18, 1960
Pascual K’s 15 on Opening Day
Senators pitcher Camilo Pascual strikes out 15 Red Sox on Opening Day at Griffith Stadium—an Opening Day record that still stands to this day. Ted Williams—who was not one of Pascual’s strikeout victims—homered for Boston’s only run in the 10-1 Senators win.
April 18, 1963
Stigman Pitches Three-Hit Shutout
1954 Sebeka graduate Dick Stigman pitches a three-hit shutout as the Twins beat the Angels 3-0 at Met Stadium in two hours and one minute.
’63 was Stigman’s best season. He won 15 games, and finished third in the American League in both strikeouts (193) and complete games (15). Teammate Camilo Pascual led the AL with 202 K’s and 18 complete games (tied with the Yankees’ Ralph Terry). Sandy Koufax led the majors with 306 strikeouts.
April 18, 1964
Oliva’s First HR is Game-Winner
Tied 6-6 in Washington, Tony Oliva leads off the top of the 10th with his first career home run. Jerry Zimmerman drove in Bob Allison for an insurance run as the Twins won 8-6.
April 18, 1969
Hall Pitches 2-Hitter in Home Opener
After starting the season with a four-city road trip, Tom Hall pitches a two-hit shutout as the Twins beat the Angels 6-0 in their home opener.
April 18, 1976
Bostock and Wynegar’s First Career Homers
Trailing 4-2 in the ninth at Yankee Stadium, Lyman Bostock and Butch Wynegar both hit their first major league home runs off Catfish Hunter for a 5-4 Twins win.
Wynegar, who turned 20 a month earlier, was the youngest player to homer in Twins history.
April 18, 1979
Carew Goes 4-for-4 Against Twins
Angels first baseman Rod Carew goes 4-for-4 with two doubles in an 11-6 win over the Twins at Metropolitan Stadium.
He had one hit each in the first and third games of the series, going 6-for-12 (.500) with two walks, three doubles, two RBI, and four runs scored as the Angels swept in Carew’s first series in the visiting dugout at Met Stadium. (The two teams met in California a week earlier.)
Happy Birthday, Frank Viola
It’s the birthday of Twins all-time great Frank Viola, born in East Meadow, NY in 1960.
While at St. John’s, Viola was involved in perhaps the greatest college baseball game ever played, pitching 11 shutout innings to earn the win at Yale in the first-round of the NCAA tournament on May 21, 1981. Yale’s Ron Darling pitched 11 no-hit innings before St. John’s second baseman Steve Scafa led off the 12th with a bloop single. Scafa stole second and third, and, with runners on the corners, stole home on the back end of a double steal/rundown play. Reliever Eric Stampfl pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the 12th to secure the St. John’s win.
Only 2,500 people witnessed Viola and Darling lock horns in the greatest pitchers’ duel in college baseball history, but among them were legendary sportswriter Roger Angell and 91-year-old Smoky Joe Wood, who won 34 games during the 1912 regular season, and another three in the World Series.
The Twins drafted Viola in the second round less than three weeks later. The Twins’ first pick (11th overall) was Arizona State third baseman Mike Stodders. The Rangers selected Ron Darling ninth overall.
After just 25 games in the minors, Viola made his major league debut opposing Dennis Martinez and the Orioles at the Metrodome on June 6, 1982, at age 22. After four shaky but scoreless innings, Viola gave up three runs in the fifth before being pulled. The teams played to a 5-5 tie through nine innings, and the Orioles won it in 12 on a two-run Eddie Murray homer off new Twins’ closer Ron Davis, driving in former Twin “Disco” Dan Ford.
Viola had a breakout season in 1984. He pitched a four-hit shutout in Anaheim on May 8. The significance of this game? A 24-year-old center fielder wearing number 34 went 4-for-5 that day in his major league debut. Viola went 18-12 on the season and finished sixth in AL Cy Young balloting. He went on to win 93 games over the five seasons from 1984 to ‘88.
Viola gave up former Twin Rod Carew’s 3,000th hit on August 4, 1985.
He went 17-10 during the 1987 regular season, but, more importantly, he went 2-1 in the World Series, garnering Most Valuable Player honors.
His best individual season was 1988. From April 26 to May 10 he pitched 29 consecutive scoreless innings, the third-longest streak in Twins history. He made his first All-Star team in ‘88 en route to winning a major-league leading 24 games and the AL Cy Young Award. 1988 was a noteworthy year for two other Twins pitchers. Alan Anderson led the AL with a 2.45 ERA, and Bert Blyleven tied with fellow Hall of Famer Tom Glavine for the major league lead with 17 losses.
On July 31st, 1989, the Twins traded Viola to the New York Mets for pitchers Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, David West, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage. It was arguably the most successful trade in Twins history. The only other contender is the A.J. Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser trade on November 14, 2003.
Viola made the National League All-Star Team in 1990 and ‘91. He won 20 games in 1990 and finished third in NL Cy Young balloting.
He signed with the Red Sox prior to the 1992 season where he was reunited with former Twins teammate Jeff Reardon who became the major leagues’ all-time saves leader that season. After two successful seasons in Boston, Viola pitched just 15 games over his final three seasons with the Red Sox, Reds, and Blue Jays.
Viola was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame alongside Carl Pohlad in 2005 (more about Pohlad here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/CarlPohlad).
He worked as a pitching coach in the Mets organization 2011 to 2017.
April 19, 1970
Oliva Sets RBI Streak Record
Twins right fielder Tony Oliva drives in center fielder César Tovar with a sac fly in 6-3 Twins win in Oakland. It was Oliva’s tenth consecutive game with an RBI dating back to October 1, 1969. That stood as the longest RBI streak in Twins history until Kirby Puckett collected an RBI in 11-straight games from September 15 to 25, 1988.
Happy Birthday, Joe Mauer
It’s the birthday of 2001 Cretin-Derham Hall graduate, first overall draft pick, three-time American League batting champ, 2009 AL Most Valuable Player, and six-time All-Star Joseph Patrick Mauer, born in St. Paul in 1983.
No other American League catcher has ever won a batting title. The last National League catcher to win a batting title was Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi in 1942. Mauer’s .365 batting average in 2009 is the best by a catcher in major league history.
His 2,123 career hit are second-most in team history behind Kirby Puckett‘s 2,304.
April 19, 1988
Niekro Called for Three Balks
After Yankees speedster Rickey Henderson leads off the game with a single to center, Joe Niekro is called for back-to-back balks, advancing Henderson to second and third. He probably would have scored from first on Don Mattingly’s double, anyway. Henderson hit another single in the second, this time driving in 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield and catcher Don Slaught. Niekro was promptly called for his third balk of the game, moving Henderson up to second. He scored on a Bob Meacham single through the left side of the infield.
After Mike Pagliarulo hit a two-run homer to extend the Yankees lead to 7-0 in just the second inning, Tom Kelly went to the bullpen. Juan Berenguer, Keith Atherton, and Jeff Reardon held the Yankees scoreless the rest of the game. Still trailing 7-3 in the bottom of the ninth, the Twins pulled to within one on RBI hits by Kirby Puckett and Tom Brunansky, but with Mark Davidson on third representing the tying run, Kent Hrbek lined out to the first baseman Mattingly to end the game.
April 20, 1898
Crooks Homers off Young
Playing for the National League St. Louis Browns, St. Paul native Jack Crooks hits his 21st and final major league home run off Cleveland Spiders ace Cy Young, who only allowed six homers that season. Crooks also homered off Young in 1892, when Young won 36 games.
(Playing for the minor league Omaha Omahogs, Crooks had the first four-home run game in professional baseball history in his hometown of St. Paul on June 8, 1889. Read more about four-home run games in Minnesota baseball history ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/4-hr-games)
April 20, 1903
Bender Makes Debut
19-year-old Crow Wing County native Charley Albert Bender makes his major league debut with the Philadelphia Athletics, pitching six innings in relief to earn the win over the Boston Americans’ Cy Young.
He made his first start seven days later, pitching a shutout against the New York Highlanders. The Highlanders’ starting pitcher that day was Clark Griffith, who went on to own the Washington Senators until his death in 1955 when his son Calvin took over. Calvin, of course, moved the Senators to Minnesota in 1961.
Bender became the first Minnesotan inducted to the Hall of Fame in 1953. He was the only Minnesotan enshrined in Cooperstown for 48 years until 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield was inducted in 2001, alongside Twins all-time great Kirby Puckett, and Negro Leagues legend Hilton Smith, who pitched for the semi-pro Fulda, MN team in 1949.
Happy Birthday, Dan Smith
It’s the birthday of 1987 Apple Valley grad and former Rangers pitcher Dan Smith, born in St. Paul in 1969.
The Rangers selected Smith in the first round (16th overall) of 1990 draft out of Creighton University. There was a strong Minnesota presence in the 1990 draft. The Reds selected Gophers great Dan Wilson 7th overall, and the Astros selected Tom Nevers 21st overall out of Edina High School. Two Cretin-Derham Hall players were drafted: future Florida State and Carolina Panthers quarterback Chris Weinke by the Blue Jays in the second round, and Mike Vogel by the White Sox in the seventh round. The Twins selected Jamie Ogden out of White Bear Lake in the third round. The Athletics selected 1987 Brainerd grad Todd Revenig out of Minnesota State, Mankato in the 37th round. Revenig made two relief appearances with Oakland in 1992, and retired with a 0.00 major league ERA. The Twins selected 1986 New Ulm grad Brian Raabe out of the University of Minnesota in the 41st round (1,063rd overall). Raabe played 17 major league games over three seasons with the Twins, Mariners, and Rockies. He is currently the head baseball coach at Bethel.
Dan Smith made his major league debut in Texas on September 12, 1992 (age 23), opposing 1973 Highland Park grad Jack Morris and the eventual World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays. Devon White led off the game with a ground ball single and promptly stole second. Roberto Alomar bunted White over to third, and Joe Carter drove him in with a sac fly. Welcome to the big leagues, right?! Smith induced a pop out from 1969 St. Paul Central grad Dave Winfield for the final out.
Smith loaded the bases in the second inning and Devon White cleared them with a three-run double. The four runs were all Toronto would need as they beat the Rangers 4-2. For what it’s worth, Smith did strike out Devon White in the fourth inning for his first major league strikeout.
Smith pitched 14 innings over four games (two starts) in 1992, compiling an 0-3 record. He made it back to the majors with the Rangers in 1994, making 17 relief appearances. He earned his only major league win on June 8, his second appearance of the season.
April 20, 1974
Blyleven Tough-Luck Loss
Bert Blyleven strikes out 13 in Arlington, but loses 1-0. The Rangers’ Jim Spencer singled in the bottom of the ninth, moved to second on a passed ball by Twins catcher Randy Hundley, and scored on Jim Fregosi’s two-out walk-off single to left. The run was unearned. Rangers pitcher Steve Hargan held the Twins to two hits and three walks.
April 20, 1994
Puckett Season-Starting Hit Streak
Right fielder Kirby Puckett goes 1-for-4 with two RBI off Cleveland’s Dennis Martinez in a 6-5 walkoff win, extending his team record season-starting hitting streak to 15 games. Josh Willingham tied that record in 2012—and established a new record for the longest streak to start a Twins career. Brian Dozier broke Puckett’s record in 2018, hitting in the first 17 games of the season. He had hit in 24 consecutive games going back to 2017 (25 if you count the Wild Card game, in which he hit a leadoff home run in the 8-4 loss in New York).
April 20, 2019
In the first game of a Saturday doubleheader in Baltimore, Eddie Rosario hits two solo home runs in a 6-5 win, becoming the third player in team history with back-to-back multi-homer games (he hit two in a 7-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Target Field on 4/18). The first Twin with consecutive multi-homer games was Don Mincher on July 20 and 21, 1963, and the second was Kirby Puckett in Milwaukee on August 29 and 30, 1987.
In the second game of the doubleheader the Twins tied the team record with eight home runs (former Oriole All-Star Jonathan Schoop hit the eighth off position player Chris Davis in the ninth). Interesting to note that the original record was also set in a doubleheader, when the Twins hit eight in Game 1, and four in Game 2 on August 29, 1963, for a team record of 12 on the day.
Nelson Cruz, Mitch Garver, and Schoop each hit a pair. Garver also doubled, for a total of 10 total bases. He also hit for 10 total bases 11 days earlier, on April 9. The only other Twins catcher to hit for 10 total bases even once was Earl Battey on July 9, 1961. Garver did it twice in less than a month. (Tim Laudner hit for 10 total bases as a DH on May 7, 1989).
The Twins hit eight home runs again just over a month later, on May 23, becoming just the second team in major league history with two eight-home run games in one season (‘05 Rangers).
Bonus 4/20 Trivia
Former major league center fielder Charlie Jones connected for 420 major league hits with the Red Sox, White Sox, Senators, and St. Louis Browns between 1901 and 1908.
An avid fisherman, the Pennsylvania native eventually moved to and is buried in Lutsen, Minnesota. “He earned a reputation as an excellent sign painter in Cook County and worked as a tax collector for the Internal Revenue Service.”
April 21, 1961
First Home Opener in Twins History
Having started their inaugural season 5-1, the Twins came home to Bloomington to play the expansion Washington Senators. Only 24,606 fans attended the first home opener—6,000 short of a sellout despite a gametime temperature of 63 degrees.
The teams were tied 3-3 in the top of the ninth when the Senators scored two off Ray Moore for a 5-3 win.
April 21, 1985
Butcher Pitches Speedy Shutout
The Twins had lost nine a row, falling to 2-9 entering the Sunday series finale in Oakland when John Butcher hurled a remarkable three-hit, 81-pitch* shutout. Butcher faced just 28 batters, one over the minimum (caught stealing and ground-ball double play). The game was over in one hour and 55 minutes.
Leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett went 3-for-5, driving in both runs in the 2-0 victory. It was the beginning of a 10-game winning streak.
*Pitch count according to John Swol‘s great site TwinsTrivia.com.
April 21, 2007
Nineteenth Straight Steal
In the 17th game of the season, Alexi Casilla steals second for the Twins’ 19th-straight successful stolen base attempt to start the season. Torii Hunter was caught attempting to steal in the eighth, ending the streak.
Joe Nathan protected the 7-5 lead in the ninth, striking out three-straight Royals—all looking.
April 21, 2012
Willingham Extends Record Hit Streak
Big offseason free agent acquisition Josh Willingham leads off the top of the ninth with a line-drive single to center, extending his season-starting hitting streak to 15 games. The Twins lost to the Rays 4-1, but Willingham’s hit set a new record for longest streak to begin a Twins career, and tied Kirby Puckett (1994) for the longest streak to begin a season in team history.
Brian Dozier set a new team season-starting hit streak record with 17 games in 2018 (Willingham’s streak is still the longest to begin a Twins career).
Willingham had a career year in 2012, hitting .260 with 35 home runs and 110 RBI, and winning a Silver Slugger Award alongside fellow AL outfielders Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton.
April 22, 1961
First Walk-Off in Twins History
In just the second home game in team history, the Twins and new expansion Senators play to a 4-4 tie through nine. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th, Zoilo Versalles drives in Earl Battey with a sac fly to center for the first walk-off win in Twins history, improving to 6-2 on the season.
After beginning the season with a 12-game West Coast road trip, the Twins return to Bloomington for a balmy 89-degree home opener against the Angels.
Hosken Powell, Ron Jackson, and Roy Smalley each homered as Geoff Zahn earned the complete-game 8-1 win.
April 22, 1986
Tapani Pitches No-Hitter
Central Michigan University senior Kevin Tapani pitches a no-hitter at Eastern Michigan for a 10-0 win in the second game of a Tuesday doubleheader. Central Michigan would go on to win their third-straight MAC title.
Tapani was a walk-on at Central Michigan. His high school in Escanaba, MI did not have a baseball team. (He was a state champion quarterback, though.)
Read more about Tapani here on the Almanac ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/KevinTapani
April 22, 1988
Twins Day Goes From Bad to Worse
Bert Blyleven gives up seven runs on nine hits and four hit batters in just 4.2 innings. Four of those runs came on a grand slam by Cleveland right fielder Cory Snyder. Center fielder Joe Carter added a grand slam of his own off Keith Atherton in the 11-6 Cleveland win.
To add insult to injury, after the game the Twins traded Tom Brunansky to the Cardinals for clubhouse cancer Tommy frickin’ Herr.
April 23, 1863
Birthdate of Lou Galvin
Lou Galvin was born in St. Paul on this date in 1863. He went 0-2 in three starts with the 1884 St. Paul White Caps of the Union Association (generally considered a major league).
April 23, 1961
Pitcher Kralick Delivers Twins Only RBI
In the final game of the Twins’ first-ever home series, Jack Kralick pitches a four-hit shutout and drives in Billy Gardner in the fifth for the Twins’ only run in a 1-0 win over the new expansion Senators. The Twins improved to 7-2 on the season.
April 23, 1980
Landreaux Begins Record Streak
Ken Landreaux begins his team record 31-game hitting streak by breaking up Angels pitcher Bruce Kison’s no-hitter with a one-out double in the ninth. California held on to win 17-0.
April 23, 1989
Milacki Faces Minimum
Orioles rookie Bob Milacki allows five baserunners on three hits and two walks, but still faces just the minimum 27 batters in a complete-game shutout of the Twins.
(The runners were erased on a caught stealing and four double plays.)
See the game log on Baseball Reference ⇨ Baseball-Reference.com/boxes/BAL/…
April 23, 2018
Dozier Sets Season-Starting Hit Streak Record
Brian Dozier goes 1-for-4, driving in the Twins’ only run in a 14-1 loss at Yankee Stadium, extending his team record season-starting hitting streak to 17 games. The previous record had been 15 by Kirby Puckett in 1994, and Josh Willingham in 2012. Dozier had hit in 24 consecutive games going back to 2017 (25 if you count the Wild Card game, in which he hit a leadoff home run in the 8-4 loss in New York).
April 24, 1988
Laudner Hits Back-to-Back 3-Run Homers
Tim Laudner hits three-run homers in the third and fourth innings of a 13-7 win over Cleveland at home in the Dome. Kirby Puckett also homered in the game, off 1987 teammate Dan Schatzeder.
It was Laudner’s second career six-RBI game. The first came in Cleveland on July 3, 1985.
Laudner hit two solo homers in Chicago on June 6, 1988, becoming just the second catcher in Twins history with at least two multi-homer games in a season. The first was Earl Battey in 1961. Joe Mauer had a pair of two-homer games in 2009. Remarkably, Mitch Garver had five multi-homer games in 2019 alone, establishing a new career record for Twins catchers.
April 24, 1996
Five-RBI Game for Molitor and Myers
Twins DH Paul Molitor and catcher Greg Myers collect five RBI each in a 24-11 Twins win at Tiger Stadium.
Molitor went 2-for-5 with a home run, walk, reached on two fielder’s choices, and tied the team record with five runs scored. Myers went 5-for-6 with three runs scored.
Other Twins with five runs scored in a game are Rod Carew (6/26/77), Tim Teufel (9/16/83), and Luis Rivas (6/4/02).
The Twins jumped out to a 6-1 lead after two innings, but had used three pitchers by the end of the third, and trailed 10-7 at the end of four innings. But they kept adding on, outscoring the Tigers 17-1 over the final five innings. They scored in every inning except the fourth.
April 25, 1883
Birthdate of Russ Ford
Minneapolis Central alumnus and seven-year major leaguer Russ Ford was born in Brandon, Manitoba on this date in 1883. The Ford family immigrated to the United States when Russell was three years old, eventually settling in Minneapolis.
In 1910, the 27-year-old Ford had one of the all-time great rookie seasons in baseball history, going 26-6 with a 1.65 ERA and 0.881 WHIP with the New York Highlanders. He won 22 games in 1911, for a total of 48 in his first two full seasons. He won 99 major league games altogether, pitching for the Highlanders/Yankees, and Buffalo Buffeds/Blues from 1909 to 1915.
Read T. Kent Morgan and David Jones‘ SABR BioProject biography of Russ Ford ⇨ SABR.org/bioproj…
April 25, 1885
Birthdate of Hack Spencer
Hack Spencer was born in St. Cloud on this date in 1885. He grew up in the Minneapolis area. He made his one and only major league appearance for the St. Louis Browns on April 18, 1912, allowing two runs on two hits in the final 1 2/3 innings of a 12-7 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
Read Bob Tholkes‘ SABR BioProject biography of Hack Spencer ⇨ SABR.org/bioproj…
April 25, 1961
Bruckbauer Has Career ERA of Infinity
With the Twins trailing 7-2 after three in Kansas City, 22-year-old St. Mary’s High School (Sleepy Eye, MN) graduate Fred Bruckbauer makes his major league debut, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk before being pulled without recording an out. The Twins went on to lose 20-2.
Unfortunately, it was Bruckbauer’s only major league appearance, making his career ERA “infinity” (or undefined).
Fred Bruckbauer was born in New Ulm. The last New Ulm-born player to make it to the majors prior to Bruckbauer was Doc Hamann, who gave up six runs without recording an out for Cleveland on September 21, 1922. Like Bruckbauer, it was Hamann’s only major league appearance, and he retired with a career ERA of “infinity.”
In a century and a half of major league baseball, only 16 pitchers have retired with career ERAs of “infinity,” and two were born in New Ulm.
1955 Minneapolis Washburn graduate Gordie Sundin also posted a career ERA of “infinity,” making his only appearance with the Baltimore Orioles in 1956.
April 25, 1971
Kaat Pitches Two-Hit Shutout
Jim Kaat pitches a two-hit shutout for a 8-0 Twins win at Yankee Stadium. Right fielder Tony Oliva went 3-for-4 with two solo home runs and an RBI-single.
April 25, 1980
Martin Makes Rambunctious Return to Metro
From John Swol‘s TwinsTrivia.com—In his first appearance in Minnesota since the infamous marshmallow salesman fight, A’s manager Billy Martin has to be restrained by umpires from attacking a fan pelting him with marshmallows ⇨ TwinsTrivia.com/this-day-in-twins-history/april-25…
April 25–29, 1985
Twins Sweep A’s
Kirby Puckett hits a walk-off single on Thursday, Tom Brunansky hits a walk-off home run on Friday, and Mickey Hatcher strings together nine consecutive hits between Saturday and Sunday in a four-game series sweep of the Athletics.
Hatcher’s nine-straight hits tied the team record established by Tony Oliva in 1967, and matched by Todd Walker in 1998.
April 25, 1989
Molitor Has 2-HR Game vs. Twins
1974 Cretin High School graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Paul Molitor homers on Twins starter Roy Smith’s second pitch of the game, and reliever German Gonzalez’s first pitch of the eighth inning. The Brewers won 10-4 for the first of Bryan Clutterbuck’s two major league wins.
April 26, 1986
Dome Deflates, Twins Collapse
With the Twins beating the Angels 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth on a stormy night in Minneapolis, a tear causes the Metrodome roof to deflate. The L.A. Times described the scene, with “80-m.p.h. winds tearing holes in the fiberglass dome and whipping through the stadium, sending speakers and light standards swaying on their cables like yo-yos in a wind tunnel… Above the third base line, a geyser of water shot through a drainage hole in the roof, dousing a handful of spectators.” Remarkably, the roof was re-inflated with the game only being delayed nine minutes. The Twins went on to score once more in the eighth, with Mickey Hatcher driving in Steve Lombardozzi with a sacrifice fly for a 6-1 lead going into the ninth.
Frank Viola gave up a leadoff double to Brian Downing and a two-run home run to George Hendrick before giving way to closer Ron Davis, still up 6-3. Davis gave up a single and two-run home run to the first two men he faced. With one out he walked pinch-hitter Reggie Jackson, representing the tying run. After striking out Bobby Grich for the second out, Ron Davis gave up a go-ahead, two-run homer to Wally Joyner, who had made his major league debut less than three weeks earlier. Tom Brunansky, Roy Smalley, and Gary Gaetti went down in order in the bottom of the ninth for a 7-6 Twins loss.
April 26, 2007
17 Baserunners in Shutout
Starting pitcher Boof Bonser and relievers Glen Perkins, Matt Guerrier, and Joe Nathan combine to allow 17 baserunners, but shut out the Royals for 11 innings before Mike Redmond drives in Justin Morneau with a walk-off single.
Read more about high-hit shutouts in Twins history ⇨ TwinsAlmanac.com/high-hit-shutouts/
April 27, 1903
Bender Pitches Shutout in First Start
After earning a win in relief over Boston’s Cy Young in his major league debut, 19-year-old Crow Wing County native Charley Albert Bender makes his first start, pitching a shutout versus the New York Highlanders, opposing pitcher Clark Griffith (father of former Twins owner Calvin Griffith). Bender became the first Minnesotan inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1953.
April 27, 1965
Pascual Hits Second Grand Slam
Before even climbing the mound, Camilo Pascual hits the only grand slam by a pitcher in Twins history, staking himself to a 7-0 first-inning lead in Cleveland. He went on to pitch a heckuva game, allowing just two hits and two walks in an 11-1 Twins win.
Pascual hit his first grand slam in the Senators’ final season in Washington, on August 14, 1960 in a 5-4 win in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium. The Senators won the second game 6-3 in 15 innings.
April 27, 1969
Killebrew Hits 400th
With two out in the top of the first of an afternoon game in Chicago, Harmon Killebrew hits his 400th career home run. Rod Carew hit a two-run homer in the seventh to give the Twins a 4-3 win.
This was a fun boxscore to read. The top of the Twins lineup that afternoon went Tovar, Carew, Killebrew, Oliva, Alison.
All told, Killebrew hit 573 home runs, fifth-most in baseball history at the time of his retirement. He hit 84 as a member of the Washington Senators, 14 as a Kansas City Royal in 1975, and 475 in a Twins uniform.
April 27, 1994
Erickson Pitches No-Hitter
Scott Erickson pitches the first no-hitter in Metrodome history as the Twins beat the Brewers 5-0. It was the third of five no-hitters in Twins history, and the first since Dean Chance in 1967.
The Twins scored in each of the first four innings, staking Erickson to an early 5-0 lead. Milwaukee’s first baserunner, John Jaha, reached on a hit-by-pitch leading off the sixth. With two out in the ninth, Erickson walked two batters before getting the dangerous Greg Vaughn to fly out to Alex Cole in left. Erickson struck out five Brewers on the day, including the DH Greg Vaughn twice and former Twins catcher Brian Harper (who was notoriously difficult to strikeout). Kirby Puckett went 4-for-5 with an RBI.
Erickson, who led the American League with 20 wins and finished second in Cy Young balloting in 1991, was coming off a 1993 season in which he led the league with 19 losses and 266 hits allowed. He was 1-3 with a 7.48 ERA on the season prior to pitching his no-hitter.
Francisco Liriano was 1-4 with a 9.13 ERA before pitching his no-hitter on May 3, 2011.
Happy Birthday, John Gaub
It’s the birthday of 2003 South St. Paul graduate, Golden Gophers all-time great, former Cubs pitcher, and current Concordia, St. Paul assistant coach John Gaub.
He struck out the first batter he faced in his major league debut on September 12, 2011.
April 28, 1985
Hatcher Ties Oliva’s Consecutive Hits Record
Mickey Hatcher goes 4-for-5 in a 10-1 Twins win over the Athletics at the Metrodome. He had gone 5-for-5 the previous day, giving him nine consecutive hits, tying Tony Oliva‘s team record set in 1967. Todd Walker matched the feat in 1998.
April 28, 1991
Morris Wins 200th
1973 Highland Park graduate Jack Morris earns his 200th major league win as the Twins beat the Mariners 8-2 at the Metrodome. See the game log on Baseball Reference ⇨ Baseball-Reference.com/boxes/MIN/…
Morris—who the Twins had made the highest-paid pitcher in the majors over the offseason—entered the game 0-3 with a 6.38 ERA and 1.492 WHIP. Needless to say, he got things figured out.
April 28, 2010
Hughes Homers in First At-Bat
Leading off the top of the third, Australia native Luke Hughes lifts Max Scherzer’s 2-2 pitch to right for an opposite field home run in his first major league at-bat.
Hughes had originally come up to bat in the second, but Delmon Young was thrown out attempting to steal third for the third out of the inning. The Tigers won the game 11-6.
Six Twins have homered in their first major league at-bat: Rick Renick, Dave McKay, Gary Gaetti, Andre David, Hughes, and Eddie Rosario.
Between August 26 and September 20, 1981, Kent Hrbek, Tim Laudner, and Gary Gaetti each homered in their first major league game.
April 29, 1962
Twins Hit Six Solo Home Runs
The Twins hit six solo home runs in the second game of a doubleheader in Cleveland. Lenny Green, Don Mincher, Zoilo Versalles, and Bill Tuttle hit one each, and Johnny Goryl hit two. Pitcher Don Lee singled home Earl Battey for a 7-3 Twins win.
The Twins did not hit a home run in the first game, which they won 8-4.
See the game log on Baseball Reference ⇨ Baseball-Reference.com/boxes/CLE/…
April 29, 1986
Beane Goes 5-for-5
Entering the game with three hits in 17 major league games dating back to 1984 (zero hits in four games with the Twins), Billy Beane goes 5-for-5 with a walk and his first career home run in a 14-11 Twins loss at Yankee Stadium.
The five hits accounted for 7.6% of the just 66 hits the former first-round draft pick connected for over parts of six major league seasons. He had fewer than five hits total in four of his six major league seasons.
See the game log on Baseball Reference ⇨ Baseball-Reference.com/boxes/NYA/…
April 30, 1891
Birthdate of Tony Brottem
Major league catcher Tony Brottem was born in Halstad, MN on this date in 1891. He played a total of 62 major league games with the Cardinals in 1916 and ’18, and the Senators and Pirates in 1921.
April 30, 1961
Killebrew’s First HR as a Twin
Trailing the White Sox 5-2 in the bottom of the 11th in Bloomington, Harmon Killebrew hits his first home run in a Twins uniform. The White Sox held on to win 5-3, with Bob Shaw pitching all 11 innings.
April 30, 1983
With the Twins trailing the Brewers 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth, John Castino and Kent Hrbek each drive in a run before Tom Brunansky ends it with a two-out, two-run walk-off homer.
April 30, 1994
Puckett Hits in 24 of First 25 Games
Right fielder Kirby Puckett goes 2-for-5 with two RBI and two runs scored in an 11-9 home win over the Blue Jays, giving him a hit in 24 of the team’s first 25 games. He had started the season with a 15-game hitting streak.