It’s the birthday of longtime Twins closer Rick Aguilera, born in San Gabriel, CA in 1961.
Aggie saved 254 games for the Twins between 1989 and ’99—second only to Joe Nathan‘s 260. He saved 42 regular season games for the 1991 World Series Champion Twins. Aggie, who hit three home runs with the Mets, pinch-hit in the 12th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, becoming the first pitcher to do so since Don Drysdale pinch-hit for Sandy Koufax versus Jim Kaat in Game 2 of the ’65 Series.
The Twins acquired Aguilera on July 31, 1989 in what was perhaps the greatest trade in team history. The Twins sent ’87 World Series MVP and ’88 Cy Young winner Frank Viola to the Mets for David West, Aggie, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage (as a player to be named later on October 16).
I was watching the Twins versus Red Sox game at my grandparents’ trailer near Cohasset on July 6, 1995 when Aggie was traded mid-game to Boston for pitching prospect Frankie Rodriguez and a player to be named later. Aggie re-signed with the Twins following the season. His Twins career ended for good on May 21, 1999, when he was traded along with Scott Downs to the Chicago Cubs for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.
Aguilera was announced as the 19th member of the Twins Hall of Fame on January 25, 2008, and inducted the following June 21st before a 4-1 loss to Houston. Interestingly, starting pitcher Glen Perkins took the loss. Perk, of course, would become a closer himself, finishing his career with 120 saves—third in Twins history behind Aguilera and Nathan.
Fun Fact: Aguilera, former Twins infielder Tim Teufel, and their Mets teammates Bobby Ojeda and Ron Darling were arrested after an altercation with off-duty cops working security at a Houston bar on July 19, 1986. The Mets went on to defeat the Astros in the NLCS that fall, and then beat Bill Buckner and the Red Sox in the infamous seven-game World Series.
Aguilera was the winning pitcher in two of the most memorable Game 6’s in World Series history: 1986 (Buckner game), and 1991 (Puckett game).