Tag Archives: bill rigney

Happy Birthday–January 29

Ray Hayworth (1904)
Pancho Coimbre (1909)
Bill Rigney (1918)
Hank Edwards (1919)
Frank Gravino (1923)
Bobby Bolin (1939)
Sergio Ferrer (1951)
Steve Sax (1960)
Mike Aldrete (1961)
John Habyan (1964)
Jason Schmidt (1973)
Alex Avila (1987)

Pancho Coimbre was a star in the Caribbean Leagues and the Negro leagues in the 1940s.  Roberto Clemente said that Coimbre was a better player than Clemente was.  Coimbre played two full seasons in the Puerto Rican League in which he did not strike out.

Frank Gravino played in the minors from 1940-1942 and 1946-1954.  He has been called the greatest slugger in Northern League history, hitting 108 home runs in two seasons there.

We would also like to wish a very happy birthday to Beau's son.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–January 29

May 9, 1972: Random Day in Twins History

I used a random number generator to pick a season from the past with the idea that I would quickly highlight the Twins history that occurred today in that year.  The generator sent me to the year 1972.

Twins 4, Yankees 2 - BR Boxscore

The Twins improved to 13-4 on the young season (only seventeen games played at this point because it was the first year ever with games missed due to a work stoppage).  Jim Kaat kept the Yankees at bay for more than eight innings relying primarily on his fastball (he did not have the feel for a screwball he had developed during the offseason) while Phil Roof scored and drove in a run during a spot start (and was replaced by a pinch-runner who scored an additional run).  Those two, combined with some Yankee frustration, pushed the Twins to victory.
Besides Roof, Bobby Darwin was the other offensive star for the Twins with both a double and a triple hit to the opposite field.  Darwin had entered the game in a 1-for-15 slump after hitting 432/500/864 through the team's first twelve games.  Darwin told Sid Hartman, "In the past I've hit a lot of balls to right field but this spring I only hit one before tonight.  I came out early, took some extra batting practice, and I got myself straightened out."  It is unclear whether sixteen year-old Dick Bremer, sitting somewhere in Central Minnesota, took note of Darwin's approach and determined that it was the solution to every hitting slump a Twin would ever face.
Thurman Munson had a rough day for the Yankees.  In the second inning, he was picked off by Kaat while Felipe Alou was at bat.  After Munson's blunder, Alou homered.  The bottom of the seventh proved to be even more frustrating for the future Yankee captain.  With a runner on third, Munson was crossed-up on a pitch out as the Yankees thought Cesar ovar might be asked to squeeze.  Munson was able to block the pitch.  Tovar ultimately drew a walk.  On ball four, the pitch eluded Munson allowing Nettles to score and Tovar ran all the way to third base.  After the game, manager Ralph Houk attempted to cover for Munson by explaining that the catcher simply had lost track of the count and did not realize the pitch was ball four.
Veteran Yankee Horace Clarke provided a scouting report on Kaat: "His fastball velocity probably hasn't the velocity it had [in 1966], but he moves it so well that makes up for it."  Kaat, rather than crediting his fastball or screwball for the win, said, "My best pitch was the at-'em ball."  Kaat ended up pitching very effectively for the 1972 Twins with a 10-2 record and 2.06 ERA, but he broke his hand sliding into second base on July 2 and missed the remainder of the season.
On example of his at-'em ball working well occurred during the top of the eighth inning when Rusty Torres hit a ball sharply up the middle until it ricocheted off Kaat's leg to first baseman Rich Reese for the out.  The following inning, Kaat walked Munson with one out promptly manager Bill Rigney to call on Wayne Granger.  After the game, Houk was second-guessed for not pinch-hitting for Alou with Ron Blomberg, but he defended himself by explaining, "If I sent in Blomberg, Rigney would have brought in [left-handed reliever Dave] LaRoche."  Of course, Rigney could not have removed Granger until after he pitched to at least one batter, so Houk's explanation made no sense.  Granger ended up retiring both batters he faced for his fourth save (LaRoche already had five saves as Rigney mixed and matched the end of games).
Something I never knew: Granger got off to a ridiculously strong start that season.  Through June 25, Granger pitched 36.2 innings with a 0.49 ERA and a opposing slash line of 168/216/184.

Other Twins notes: Just 6,446 fans - the smallest ever to see the Yankees play in Minnesota - attended the game.  Bill Hengen of the Minneapolis Star lamented that there simply was no longer a thrill having the Yankees in town because the team was no longer "menacing or arrogant" like in the 1960s.

Kaat and Roof roomed together on the road (along with Bert Blyleven).  Kaat and Roof were such good bridge players that teammates Eric Soderholm and LaRoche never allowed the two to be partners.

Other history notes: Without venturing too much into the forbidden zone, the news on this day forty years ago was full of interesting stories for a history nerd.  For example, seventeen people were arrested during a protest in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood against both Vietnam and "urban renewal."  Also, the Duluth Board of Education announced it was dropping its plans to desegregate the school district that fall because of public pressure.  Five different schools in Duluth failed to comply with state guidelines for integration, and the abandoned plan would have required busing 900 more children than the status quo.  Sometimes it is hard to believe that school desegregation was an issue a) in Minnesota, and b) eighteen years after Brown v. Board of Education.

Along the same lines, reigning NFL MVP Alan Page was frustrated that he had not received a single endorsement offer during the offseason.  Quarterback Fran Tarkenton, on the other hand, received an offer "just seven minutes after the season" (whatever that means).  The Minneapolis Star worried that Page was being harmed because of his race.