1969 Rewind: Game One Hundred Sixty


Date:  Tuesday, September 30.

Batting stars:  Leo Cardenas was 3-for-4.  Ted Uhlaender was 2-for-2.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-5.  Jim Holt was 1-for-1 with a home run.  George Mitterwald was 1-for-3 with a home run, his fifth.

Pitching star:  Jim Perry pitched six innings, giving up one run on four hits and no walks and striking out two.

Opposition stars:  Walt Williams was 3-for-4 with two RBIs.  Tommy John pitched six innings, giving up two runs on nine hits and no walks and striking out four.

The game:  The Twins got two-out singles from Cesar Tovar and Oliva in the third, but did not score.  The White Sox got on the board in the fourth.  Williams led off with a single but was replaced on the bases by Luis Aparicio when Aparicio hit into a force out.  A ground out moved him to second and a Bill Melton single gave Chicago a 1-0 lead.

The Twins got the run back in the fourth.  Bob Allison led off with a single and went to second on a fly ball.  With two out, Cardenas delivered an RBI single to make it 1-1.  The Twins missed a chance to take the lead in the fifth, when two-out singles by Oliva and Harmon Killebrew went nowhere, but they went up 2-1 in the sixth when Mitterwald led off the inning with a home run.

The lead didn't even last a half-inning.  The first two White Sox were retired in the seventh, but then singles by Ken Berry, Bobby Knoop, and Ron Hansen loaded the bases and Williams hit a two-run single to make it 3-2 White Sox.

The Twins tied it in the eighth when Holt hit a two-out home run.  In the ninth, Rick Dempsey singled with one out.  Killebrew drew a two-out walk, and Uhlaender ended the game with a single that scored Dempsey.

WP:  Jim Kaat (14-13).  LP:  Danny Murphy (2-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Allison started the game in left field, with Uhlaender on the bench.  Uhlaender pinch-hit in the eighth inning and went to center field.  Cesar Tovar had started the game in center field, but came out of the game when Dempsey entered the game to catch.  George Mitterwald had started the game at catcher, but Graig Nettles pinch-hit for him in the eighth.  Nettles remained in the game in left field.

Cotton Nash started the game at first, with Killebrew on third.  It was his only start of 1969 and one of two starts he made in his major league career.

Frank Quilici was at second base, with Rod Carew on the bench.  Regular catcher Johnny Roseboro was also on the bench.

Holt's home run in the eighth came as a pinch-hitter.  It was the first home run of his major league career.  He hit nineteen homers in his career, eleven of them in 1973, when he was the Twins' mostly-regular left fielder.  He actually did pretty well that season, batting .297/.341/.442.  It was the only good year he had, though.  The Twins traded him to Oakland in August of 1974, and by 1976 he was out of baseball.

It seems strange that Kaat was used for three innings of relief in a meaningless game, especially when the expanded rosters allowed for more pitchers.  I'm sure Kaat was fine with it--from what I've read he'd have pitched every day if they'd let him--but it doesn't seem like it was necessarily the smartest move.

This was the first loss of Danny Murphy's career.  He had come up in the middle of August and pitched really well, going 2-1, 2.01, 1.21 WHIP in 31.1 innings (17 games).  He could not sustain it in 1970, going 2-3, 5.69, 1.26 WHIP, although he did manage to stay with the club all season.  The White Sox traded him to Boston, he was in AAA for all of 1971, and then he was done.  Murphy had actually started his major league career in 1960 as a seventeen-year-old outfielder for the Cubs.  He had been a big star in high school and received a $100,000 bonus from the Cubs--while no source actually says so, I suspect he got caught in the "bonus baby" rule that required him to be in the majors.  He was used as a reserve and clearly wasn't ready, batting .120/.175/.187 in 81 plate appearances.  He played briefly with the Cubs in 1961 and 1962 as well.  He hit well in AA in 1963 and 1964, but struggled when promoted to AAA in 1965.  He made a handful of appearances as a pitcher in 1965 but turned to it full-time in 1966, at age twenty-three.  One has to wonder what would've happened had he been allowed to make a normal progression to the major leagues, but of course we'll never know.

Record:  The Twins were 96-64, in first place in the American League West, nine games ahead of Oakland.  The Twins had clinched first place in the division.