Al Reach (1840)
Lip Pike (1845)
Tip O’Neill (1858)
Joe Judge (1894) Martin Dihigo (1905)
Lindsey Nelson (1919)
Bill Sharman (1926)
Jim Marshall (1931)
W. P. Kinsella (1935) Glenn Borgmann (1950) John Montefusco (1950)
Bob Knepper (1954)
Kerwin Danley (1961)
Bill Haselman (1966) Dave Hollins (1966)
Joey Eischen (1970) Todd Walker (1973) Miguel Tejada (1974)
Chris Young (1979)
Scott Hairston (1980) Jason Kubel (1982) Eric Young (1985)
Pat Dean (1989)
Neil Ramirez (1989)
Al Reach played major league baseball from 1871-1875. He later founded the A. J. Reach Company, which was the largest sporting goods company in the United States at one time (it eventually merged with Spalding). This company also published the Reach Guide, an influential baseball publication, from 1883-1927.
Martin Dihigo was a star in the Negro Leagues, winning 250 games as a pitcher and also winning two batting titles.
Lindsey Nelson was one of the most famous broadcasters in the country at one time. He broadcast New York Mets games from 1962-1978 and San Francisco Giants games from 1979-1981.
Basketball Hall of Famer Bill Sharman was a minor league outfielder from 1950-1953 and in 1955, reaching AAA with St. Paul.
W. P. Kinsella has written several books on baseball, most notably "Shoeless Joe" the book on which the movie "Field of Dreams" was based.
Kerwin Danley has been a major league umpire since 1998.
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.
I didn't watch a bit of this game today. I barely paid attention to it online. But, I was glad to see they won it in the extra frame. Obviously, my ideas and enthusiasm for recapping games this season were tapped out by the end of July. I would apologize to the WGOM Nation for that, but I don't think the Twins are going to be apologizing to me any time soon, so we'll all just have to live with it.
Without going into too many specific points or breakdowns, I will say that I am not at this time particularly optimistic about this organization's chances for success in the near-term going forward. I was on record (privately, but I know I told this to at least one Citizen) before the season as believing the Twins would definitely not win the division or make the playoffs. I didn't foresee a collapse this large, but I didn't foresee the injury disasters of this season, either. However, I don't believe the injuries alone account for the weaknesses of this roster's construction. I believed in March, and I still do, that this roster, even at full strength, was not as good as last year's team and not good enough to make the playoffs. I hope the organization takes some major steps this offseason to address turning the team back around. I'm not sure I have much faith in the current regime's ability to do that meaningfully and successfully, though. I hope they prove me wrong.
Since this is the last Sunday recap of the season, I tallied up my non-joke Hitter and Pitcher of the Week awards. I now present you with the Second Annual DK Hitters and Pitcher of the Season.
Co-Hitters: Jim Thome and Jason Kubel each were awarded weekly honors five times. It's hard to remember (for me, anyway), but for a couple of months before he got hurt and the Team MVP took over, Kubel basically was the Twins' entire offense. I think all but one of his awards came in April or May. Thome, meanwhile, is the sentimental and very deserving pick for reaching a career milestone in a Twins uniform.
Pitcher: Scott Baker was also named five times this season. This, too, may be hard to remember, since he was shelved by injury for almost the entire second half, but Light Rail was by far the best starting pitcher the Twins had, showing, I hope, those who doubt him that he really can be a very valuable piece of the rotation puzzle when he's healthy.
Lowest WPA, hitter: Delmon, -.188 (0-4, saw only 10 pitches in 4 AB) | Lowest WPA, pitcher: Blackburn, -.509 (6.0 IP, 7 H, 2 HR 5 ER, BB, 3 K)
Kubel is listed as day-to-day with a sprained right foot
Rene Rivera is whiffing in 40% of his at bats. Over his career Jim Thome has gotten on base in more than 40% of his at bats.
In case you didn't read it elsewhere already, Francisco Liriano was placed on the DL. Kubel is day-to-day. Meanwhile, according to the 4ltr's recap, Mauer is now able to throw from home to second. I didn't know bilateral leg weakness affected the arms, too.
Usually I watch Monday's game so I can write a recap, but this week I was down at my mother-in-law's place in Chicagoland, where the connection speed isn't particularly great. If the Twins were playing well I might have been tempted to watch the game anyway, but I figured I didn't need the frustration of the spotty DSL connection, plus terrible baseball. I suppose I could watch it now that I'm home, but I've decided not to waste my time. In the limited time I have on this earth, going back to watch yet another Twins loss isn't high on my list of priorities. Thus concludeth the game wrap.
Let's be honest: If you're even reading this, the View from the Ballpark is probably why you are here. Well, let's dispense with the pleasantries (if that's the appropriate word for recapping another loss) and get right down to it:
The Twins are consistently running out a lot of players who are either just very bad (the catchers, most of the bullpen, Casilla/Tolbert) or some combination of pretty limited and in over their heads (Hughes, Revere, Tosoni, probably Plouffe - although he's been great offensively in all of three games, that will come down to earth, and I'm not sold on his defense at all). Those are all pretty frustrating, but they can only concern me to a point. If all of those guys get lots of playing time because others are hurt, the Twins are probably not going anywhere this season. If, however, many of those guys get replaced by the proper starters, the Twins are still going to most likely need contributions towards success from two guys I am a little more concerned about: Carl Pavano and Justin Morneau.
Pavano went a second straight entire game without striking anyone out today. I harp on this a lot, but it's just a lot less likely to be successful as a pitcher without getting strikeouts. He seems to be getting a little over-hammered - I have his FIP right now at about two runs less than his ERA, but a 4.6-ish FIP still isn't quite where he was at the past couple of years. Morneau, on the other hand, has me concerned that he's not physically back together yet. I have his line after today at .202/.269/.293 so far. I'm a little reminded of the beginning of 2006, when there was much gnashing of teeth over how lost he looked at the plate over the first month, before Gardenhire famously gave him "The Talk" that turned him into a (not-quite-worthy) MVP. His line over March/April that year was .208/.274/.416 - basically the same, except back then he still hit a few homers.
At least one other guy whose physical state/all-the-way-back-ness has been a concern, Joe Nathan, had a pretty good outing today.
Hitter of the Week: Jason Kubel is still pretty close to the only horse in this race.
Pitcher of the Week: Duh.
If the Twins had somehow lost this one, I was seriously considering whipping up a Downfall parody video in which ol' Adolph would have cursed the days of birth of Alexi Casilla, Steve Liddle, and whichever pitcher ended up coughing up the lead. Thankfully I can save that one in the DK Box of Tricks for some later date.
Things are starting to look up (he says, hopefully). First series win of the season; first series sweep (basically) of the season. The offense is starting to pick up; Thome made contact today that sounded like it deserved eight total bases, but only got three. Meanwhile, Pavano keeps on Pavanoing. Next stop: .500 (he says, again, hopefully).
Hitter of the Week: Jason Kubel
Pitcher of the Week: You think, when a guy gives up zero runs, only one walk, and strikes out nine, I'm going to give it to anyone else? It's again yours, Scott Baker.