The Twins Almanac for March 31

March 31, 1971
Twins Release Tiant

After just one season in Minnesota, the Twins released Luis Tiant at the end of spring training on this date in 1971. 

1970—Tiant’s sole season in Minnesota—was the middle of a three-year rough patch in his career. He had posted double-digit wins each of his first five seasons in Cleveland, culminating with 21 in 1968 when he led the league with a 1.60 ERA and 0.871 WHIP and came in fifth in MVP balloting.  

Keep in mind 1968 was the famed “Year of the Pitcher,” during which Detroit’s Denny McLain led the majors with 31 wins, while St. Louis’s Bob Gibson led the majors with a 1.12 ERA and 0.853 WHIP. 

But then, in 1969, he led the majors with 21 losses, leading to speculation he was pitching hurt. 

Following his lackluster ’69 season, the Twins acquired Tiant along with Stan Williams from Cleveland in exchange for Dean ChanceTed UhlaenderGraig Nettles, and Bob Miller.

Tiant got off to a very good start in Minnesota. He was 6-0 through his first 10 starts, but he left that sixth victory early with a sore shoulder and it was subsequently discovered he had a cracked bone in his throwing shoulder. He returned after 10 weeks’ rest, but was much less effective the rest of the season, including in the 1970 ALCS. 

Following his release by Minnesota, Atlanta gave Tiant a 30-day trial with their triple-A affiliate, after he which he was released again. Boston then picked him up and assigned him to Triple A, and he pitched his way back to the majors by early June. 

Though he had kept his career afloat, 1971 was the third-straight subpar season for Tiant. 

No longer able to rely on his fastball, Tiant reinvented himself as a junkballer, leading to a remarkable renaissance in Boston, beginning in 1972 when he led the majors with a 1.91 ERA. Over the five seasons from 1972 to 1976, he averaged 19 wins and received MVP votes in three of those seasons. 

Long story short, a player the Twins released became a Red Sox legend.

Thirty-one years later, the Twins released David Ortiz, but that’s a story for another day. 

Adding insult to injury, remember the Twins had given up Graig Nettles in that trade to acquire Tiant. 

Nettles, of course, went on to become a Yankees all-time great. He was MVP of the 1981 ALCS and to this day has the sixth-most home runs by a third baseman in MLB history.

He started the third-most double plays by a third baseman in MLB history. (Gary Gaetti is number four on that list.)

Nettles and Tiant have the sixth- and seventh-highest career bWARs among players who spent any amount of time in a Twins uniform. 

March 31, 1987
Twins Acquire Gladden, Release Hatcher

With less than a week remaining in spring training, the Twins released fan-favorite Mickey Hatcher and acquired the much more dynamic Dan Gladden from San Francisco in exchange for two prospects and a player to be named later on this date in 1987. 

That player to be named later turned out to be 1982 Bemidji graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Bryan Hickerson. Fun Fact: Hickerson was the recipient of the first two Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year Awards in Gophers history.

Hatcher was still owed $650,000 for 1987, and had a $100,000 buyout clause for 1988. It was the most expensive contract the Twins had eaten to date, but it proved to be a prudent business decision, as Gladden was a key contributor to the only two World Series Championships in Twins history.

A major appeal of Gladden was his game-changing speed. A newspaper headline the morning after the trade read “Popularity Sacrificed for Steals,” a motivation confirmed by Twins executive vice president Andy MacPhail, who said that “the reason we got him is he gives us speed. He can steal bases. He’s a good turf player.”

Hatcher, who had been with the Twins since 1981, and peaked in ‘84, was a pretty one-dimensional player. “He just didn’t fit in,” Tom Kelly said; “there’s no place for him to play on this team. We have better athletes. We didn’t need him as a designated hitter or a pinch hitter, either.”

Hatcher signed with the Dodgers with whom he won a World Series ring in 1988, hitting .368 with two home runs in the four-games-to-one victory over the Oakland A’s.

The Gladden trade was the third significant move of the 1987 offseason. In February, the Twins acquired Jeff Reardon and Al Newman in separate trades with Montreal. They later traded for Joe Niekro on June 6, Dan Schatzeder on June 23, Steve Carlton on July 31, and Don Baylor on September 1.

In contrast, the Twins made zero trades during the 1991 season

March 31, 2014
Mounds View Grad Makes MLB Debut

2007 Mounds View graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Seth Rosin made his major league debut with the Rangers on this date in 2014, pitching a scoreless ninth on Opening Day, striking out 2006 NL MVP Ryan Howard on three pitches for his first big-league K.



Back to Top