Tag Archives: Alex Cole

Happy Birthday–August 17

Johnny Rawlings (1892)
Rudy York (1913)
Donald Honig (1931)
Jim Davenport (1933)
John Buzhardt (1936)
Diego Segui (1937)
Boog Powell (1941)
Ron Boyer (1944)
Skip Lockwood (1946)
Butch Hobson (1951)
Alex Cole (1965)
Jorge Posada (1971)
Mike Maroth (1977)
Brett Myers (1980)
Dustin Pedroia (1983)

Author Donald Honig has written nearly forty books about baseball.

Ron Boyer is the brother of Clete Boyer and Ken Boyer. He played in the Yankees’ farm system for eight years, reaching AAA.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–August 17

Random Rewind: 1995, Game Sixteen

OAKLAND 13, MINNESOTA 5 IN MINNESOTA

Date:  Saturday, May 13.

Batting stars:  Marty Cordova was 3-for-5 with a two-run homer (his third), a double, and a stolen base (his second).  Chuck Knoblauch was 3-for-5 with a double.  Scott Leius was 2-for-3 with a walk.  Jerald Clark was 2-for-4 with a double and two runs.

Pitching star:  Mo Sanford pitched 3.1 innings, giving up one run on three hits and three walks and striking out three.

Opposition stars:  Stan Javier was 3-for-5 with a home run and two RBIs.  Mark McGwire was 2-for-4 with a home run (his sixth), two walks, three runs, and three RBIs.  Terry Steinbach was 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.  Rickey Henderson was 2-for-5 with a home run (his second) and a walk.  Geronimo Berroa was 2-for-5 with a walk and three runs.  Ruben Sierra was 2-for-6 with a two-run homer (his third) and two runs.  Jim Corsi pitched 2.1 scoreless innings, giving up a hit and striking out one.  Mark Acre pitched two shutout innings, giving up a hit and three walks and striking out one.

The game:  McGwire walked leading off the second and Sierra followed with a two-run homer, giving the Athletics a 2-0 lead.  Henderson led off the third with a home run to make it 3-0.  Later in the third Berroa walked, Sierra singled, and Steinbach hit a two-out two-run double to make the score 5-0 Oakland.

The Twins got back into the game in the bottom of the third.  Knoblauch led off with a double and scored on an Alex Cole triple.  Kirby Puckett followed with an RBI single.  Clark singled, Scott Stahoviak drew a one-out walk to load the bases, and Leius walked to force in a run, making the score 5-3.  The Twins still had the bases loaded with just one out, but Matt Walbeck struck out and Pat Meares flied to left to end the inning.

Javier led off the fourth with a home run to increase the Athletics' lead to 6-3.  Oakland then loaded the bases, but could do no more damage.  The score stayed 6-3 through six.

In the seventh Steinbach doubled, went to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Javier's single to make it 7-3.  The Twins stayed in it in the bottom of the seventh, though, as Clark hit a one-out double and Cordova followed with a two-run homer to reduce the margin to 7-5.

That was as good as it got, though.  Brent Gates opened the eighth with a walk.  Singles by Berroa and McGwire followed, bringing home a run.  A sacrifice fly scored another, and an RBI double by Scott Brosius made the score 10-5.  The Athletics added three more in the ninth.  Henderson singled, went to second on a ground out, and scored on Berroa's single.  McGwire then hit a two-run homer, bringing the final score to 13-5.

WP:  Acre (1-0).  LP:  Pat Mahomes (0-2).  S:  None.

Notes:  Cole was in center.  He was the more-or-less regular centerfielder at the start of the season, but was apparently injured at the end of May.  Rich Becker would take over the centerfield job.

Clark was in right.  Kirby Puckett, the regular right fielder was moved to DH.  Pedro Munoz made the most starts at DH with 77.  Puckett was there for 28 games, Chip Hale 27, Matt Merullo 13, and Kevin Maas 12.

Cole may actually have hurt himself in this game.  He came out after grounding out to shortstop in the sixth.  David McCarty replaced him and went to right field, with Clark moving to left and Cordova to center.  There's no apparent reason to do that other than injury or illness.

Hale pinch-hit for Clark in the ninth.

The Twins' leading batter in the young season was Clark at .387.  He would finish at .339 but would play only 36 games due to injuries.  Stahoviak was batting .350--he would finish at .266.  Cole was batting .327--he would finish at 342 but would play only 28 games due to injuries.  The Twins' leading batter would be Knoblauch at .333.  Puckett batted .314 and Munoz batted .301.  The Twins were fourth in batting average at .279.  Cleveland led at .291.

Cordova led the team with 24 homers.  This was the season he won Rookie of the Year, batting .277/.352/.486 to narrowly beat out Garret Anderson.  Anderson had a higher batting average, a higher slugging percentage, and tied Cordova in OBP, but did play 31 fewer games.  Puckett was second on the team with 23 homers, Munoz hit 18, Meares 12, and Knoblauch 11.  The Twins were next-to-last in home runs with 120, beating out Kansas City by one.  Cleveland led with 207.

Mahomes started but lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing five runs on five hits and two walks and striking out two.  The Twins' rotation left a lot to be desired, to put it mildly.  The only starter with an ERA under five was Kevin Tapani, and he was just barely under at 6-11, 4.92.  Brad Radke made the most starts, 28, but went 11-14, 5.32 in his rookie season.  Mike Trombley was 4-8, 5.62; Frankie Rodriguez was 5-6, 5.38; Scott Erickson was 4-6, 5.95 before being traded to Baltimore in July.  Jose Parra was 1-5, 7.95.  The Twins were, of course, terrible in 1995, but looking at that rotation, it's surprising they weren't even worse.

What a group of forgettable (and sometimes forgotten) Twins were in this game.  Kevin Campbell.  Jerald Clark.  Alex Cole.  Chip HaleVince HorsmanMo Sanford.  Scott Stahoviak.  Other Twins that played in 1995 include Steve Dunn, Riccardo IngramKevin Maas, Dan MastellerMatt MerulloOscar MunozBrian Raabe, Erik Schullstrom, Dave Stevens, and Scott Watkins.  Good grief.

1995 featured a strike at the beginning of the season, which is why the Twins' sixteenth game was played on May 13.

This was the sixth game of a stretch in which the Twins lost six of seven.

Record:  The Twins were 5-11, in fifth (last) place in the American League Central, 5.5 games behind Cleveland.  They would finish 56-88, in fifth place, 44 games behind Cleveland.  Their winning percentage figures out to a record of 63-99 over 162 games.

The Athletics were 8-9, in third place in the American League West, two games behind Seattle.  They would finish 67-77, in fourth (last) place, 11.5 games behind Seattle.

Random record:  The Twins are 38-36 in Random Rewind games.

 

1: Not the Onliest Number

№ 1

Worn by: Reno Bertoia (1961); Billy Martin (1961, 1965–68 (as coach), & 1969 (as manager)); Bernie Allen (1963–64); Eric Soderholm (1971–72); Rich Reese (1973); Sergio Ferrer (1974–75); Jerry Terrell (1975–77); Larry Wolfe (1978); Jesus Vega (1980); Tim Corcoran (1981); Ray Smith (1982); Houston Jimenez (1983–84); Alvaro Espinoza (1984–86); John Moses (1988–90); Jarvis Brown (1991–92); Alex Cole (1994–95); Otis Nixon (1998); Jay Canizaro (2000, 2002); Jason Kubel (2004); Luis Castillo (2006–07); Orlando Hudson (2010); Tsuyoshi Nishioka (2011–12); Alex Presley (2013); Sam Fuld (2014); Jordan Schafer (2014–15)

Incumbent: none
Highest rWAR: Castillo, 3.7
Lowest rWAR: Jimenez, -1.4
Best season: Hudson, 2.9 rWAR (2010)
Worst season: Jimenez, -1.2 (1984)

Reno Bertoia came to Minnesota with the Twins in 1961, and brought the number he had worn with the Senators along in his suitcase. (Born in Italy as "Pierino," he is the only "Reno" to play in MLB.) Bertoia was the starting third baseman in the Twins' first game; they defeated the Yankees 6-0 at Old Yankee Stadium. He played 35 games, then was traded on 01 June with Golden Gopher Heismann runner-up Paul Giel — a native of Winona, Minn — to Kansas City. The same day, Milwaukee traded Billy Martin to the Twins. Both men were listed at 5' 11"; Martin took over the number. While Martin has more to his story than just that, both men are exemplars of one of the primary types of player to wear this number: banjo-hitting infielders. Another group — banjo-hitting, fleet-footed outfielders — reached its fullest expression in the late Eighties to late Nineties.

Martin, of course, is known best for his exploits & altercations while manager of the '69 Twins, who finished first in the new AL West during his only year at the helm. Much could be said about Billy Martin; suffice it to say he's a significant character in the story of the Twins' greatest period of dominance.

No Twin wore Nº 1 in 1962, but after Bernie Allen picked it back up midway through the 1963 season, the number stayed in circulation until 1970. Eric Soderholm wore it for two seasons with a 72 OPS+ over 391 PA, then switched numbers and put up a 117 OPS+ over his last remaining 1136 PA as a Twin. The guys who came after Soderholm didn't find any better success wearing it, and then Twins didn't issue the number to anyone in 1979. In 1982, Ray Smith became the first — and so far, only — catcher to wear Nº 1 for the Twins.

After another break in 1987, John Moses was issued the number and started the above-mentioned run of fast, light-hitting outfielders that ended with Otis Nixon. Moses had his career year in '88, an okay year in '89, and, along with the rest of the team, crashed to Earth hard in '90. Jarvis Brown wore Nº 1 in 1991. Had Gene Larkin not pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the tenth in Game 7, Brown might be the least-remembered position player on the Twins '91 World Series roster. (We'll get to the guy who could claim that title later in this series.) Alex Cole brought Nº 1 back into circulation with a solid year in 1994, batting .296/.375/.403 (102 OPS+) over 398 PA, with 15 doubles, 5 triples, and 29 stolen bases (78% success rate). Cole was the Twins' first primary center fielder following Kirby's move to right field, but unfortunately for him, his incumbency lasted only lasted one year. He was off to a solid start in 1995, but must've gotten injured; he missed every game from 01 June through 22 September, and apparently did not play in the minors. Three seasons later, Nº 1 was issued to Otis Nixon, who had worn the same number in Atlanta. By the time he reached the Twins, Nixon was just two years younger than Billy Martin was when he became the manager of the 1969 Twins. Nixon stole 37 bases — with an 84% success rate! — for the Twins, which nearly doubled the franchise's previous high water mark for a player 39 years old or older. (Lave Cross stole 19 bases in his age 40 season for the 1906 Senators. Paul Molitor held the post-relocation record, with 18 in 1996.)

The past twenty years have seen Nº 1 alternate between Gardenhire-era second basemen and fifth outfielders — with one exception: Jason Kubel wore it as a September call-up by the 2004 Twins. Kubel looked really impressive, hitting .300/.358/.433 (.320 BAbip, 104 OPS+) over 67 PA. He was 22. After that first cup of coffee, Kubel blew out his knee in the Arizona Fall League. When he returned to the Twins in 2006, he did so wearing a different number. One wonders what might have been.

Whether Kubel wanted a new number or not, part of the reason he wasn't reissued Nº 1 was that Luis Castillo was wearing it. Castillo came to Minnesota in a December 2005 trade from Florida — where he had worn 1 since 1997 — to fill what had been a gaping hole for the Twins since the Chuck Knoblauch trade. Castillo put up 2.3 rWAR for the best post-Knoblauch season at the keystone in his first year, and followed it up with 1.4 rWAR the next before a deadline deal sent him to the Mets. The Twins proceeded to flail around again until Orlando Hudson signed a one-year free agent deal for 2010. O-Hud put up the best single season for the № 1 jersey (in what remains the single best post-Knoblauch season at second base), and the Twins won 94 games and repeated as AL Central champs in their first year in Target Field. Hudson was allowed to walk after the season, which turned out to be his last decent year. He was known to be a chatterbox, and — if Poultry Man is a credible source — complete wore out his welcome. The Twins elected to assign № 1 to their new second baseman, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, who came over from the Chiba Lotte Marines. Nishioka had won the batting title in his last year in Japan, which lended some excitement to the Twins' first acquisition from NPB. Six games into the season, Nick Swisher broke Nishioka's left fibula with a takeout slide. Nishioka missed all of May and half of June. The Twins lost 99 games, and General Manager Bill Smith was fired in November. After a poor showing in 2012, Nishioka asked for and was given his release, despite having a third year left on his contract. He returned to Japan and played for the Hanshin Tigers until 2018.

Nick Gordon wears № 1 for the Rochester Red Wings. He appears to be the successor to the Punch and Judy infielder line, but his future in the organization is more doubtful than his draft number once suggested. The frequency with which the Nº 1 is assigned to players has also dropped since its near-ubiquity from 1961–1995. Whether this is incidental or by design is hard to say. There are only ten single-digit numbers, and the Twins have already retired three of them. Whether the Twins have gotten more selective about who gets them remains to be seen in future installments.

Who claims ownership of jersey № 1?

  • Billy Martin (58%, 7 Votes)
  • Luis Castillo (42%, 5 Votes)
  • Jarvis Brown (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Alex Cole (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Orlando Hudson (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 12

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