Everyone can recall the Killebrews, the Pucketts, and the Carews. But there have been hundreds of players for the Twins over the years, and not all of them are remembered. I’m taking a little time today to recognize some of the guys who history left behind. This is my All Time Obscure Twins team. One guy at each position. Some played a game or two, others played for years. They make the team not for being good, but for being forgotten.
Hopefully, when you read this you’ll smile once or twice and think “oh, yeah, I remember that guy!” But I also hope some of these guys are completely new to you. There are a lot of interesting stories buried in the depths of 51 years of Twins stat sheets.
Of those interesting stories, Bond’s story was the most incredible by far. He’s the left fielder, and you can read about him below.
Catcher: Junior Ortiz
All I remember about Junior Ortiz is that he had a scruffy beard and wore the number 0. And that he was one of my favorite players for some reason when I was 10 years old. Ortiz was a career backup with the Pirates, Mets, Twins, and Rangers, but he had a pretty good run with Minnesota. In 1990 he hit .335 in 71 games. In 1991 his average plummeted about 130 points, but he was Scott Erickson‘s personal catcher for a 20 win season, and he won a World Series ring. Not too shabby.
First Base: Dave McCarty
Like Ortiz (and unlike most others on this list), McCarty actually had a long career with a number of teams. But he was a big time draft bust for the Twins, and played just two and a half seasons with them. McCarty was the third overall pick in the 1991 draft, one pick before Dmitri Young and 10 picks before Manny Ramirez. He had 575 plate appearances in his time with the Twins and posted a .226/.275/.310 line. Fun fact: McCarty batted right handed but threw left handed, an extremely rare combination among Major League hitters.
Second Base: Jim Snyder
Snyder played from 1961 through 1964, and he had just 103 plate appearances. Interestingly, he wore number 6 before Tony Oliva came up. Oliva broke into the Majors for good in 1964, and Snyder switched to number 12. After his playing days, Snyder went into coaching. He was the Seattle Mariners’ manager for the last 105 games in 1988.
Third Base: Rick Renick
Most Twins fans over the age of 30 or so remember Renick because he was the team’s third base coach during the late ’80s, including the 1987 World Series championship season. But he also played for the Twins from 1968 through 1972. He was a utility guy, but third base was his primary position. The highlight of his career came in his very first at bat on July 11, 1968. Not only did he hit a homer in his first Major League at bat, he hit that home run off Mickey Lolich. Lolich was one of the best pitchers in the game, and he would go on to win the World Series MVP award that same year.
Shortstop: Bucky Guth
Bucky Guth is about as obscure as you can get. He had a grand total of three at bats with the Twins, all of which occurred on September 20th, 1972. He went 0 for 3. He scored a run, though, a couple weeks later, when he pinch ran for catcher Glenn Borgmann and scored on a hit by current Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. Strangely, you can actually buy autographed Bucky Guth memorabilia online. Though I won’t be digging out my checkbook any time soon, I’m glad that we live in a world where we have that option.
Right Field: Bernardo Brito
I never quite understood why Brito never got a chance to play every day for the Twins. Back in the early 90s, you couldn’t look up minor league stats online like you can now, but whenever they were printed in the paper, you would always see huge home run numbers next to Brito’s name. He mashed the ball at AAA, racking up 25 plus homers year after year. But the Twins never called him up for more than three cups of coffee – in 1992, 1993, and 1995 when he was much too old to be a real prospect. But Brito managed to have one great game in that limited time. In August of 1993 in a game at Oakland he socked two homers in a 12-5 win.
Technically, Brito never played right field for the Twins. He was a left fielder. But I really wanted him on this list, and I could not leave Walt Bond off, so I had to shift him to right. I hope nobody minds too much.
Center Field: Tack Wilson
This guy makes the list just because of his name, which sounds a lot like that of Hall of Famer Hack Wilson. Mr. Tack got into four games with the Twins in 1983, and went on to play seven more in his career, all with the Angels in 1987. The highlight of his career had to be his RBI double against Oakland on April 13, 1983. That one RBI was all he ever got, and it left him within 190 of matching Hack’s single season record.
Left Field: Walt Bond
With the Twins in ’67, Walt Bond had a stellar .313/.400/.563 slash line. Too bad that line came from just 20 plate appearances. Bond was a massively strong hitter who was 6’7″ tall but could still run pretty fast. Early in his career, he bounced from the Negro Leagues to the United States Army to the Cleveland Indians.
But the most incredible thing about Bond is that he played his career despite having been diagnosed with Leukemia in 1962. He managed to fight through the disease, putting up a couple of good seasons for the Colt 45s (“Colt 45s” is what they called the Houston Astros before they changed the name because it was too awesome). His Leukemia was not defeated, though, and it came back with a vengeance in the spring of 1967. His promising season for the Twins was cut short, and so was his life. Bond died in September of that year.
I had never heard of Bond before I started to write this post, and I was amazed at how incredible – and incredibly tragic – his story was. You can read a little more about him here.
Designated Hitter: Jose Morales
The Twins have had more than one Jose Morales on their roster. Today, most fans are probably more familiar with the catcher Jose Morales who was traded to Colorado last year. But from 1978 through 1980, a different Jose Morales served as the team’s part time designated hitter. Morales, born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, was a good hitting catcher who was a liability behind the plate. So he spent his first few years with Montreal as a backup and a pinch hitter. With the Twins, he managed a .297/.350/.414 line in three seasons, but he never got to play on a regular basis. I am not exactly sure why he didn’t get more opportunities to play for the Twins, since their rosters in the late ’70s weren’t exactly overloaded with talented hitters. But that’s the way it was.
Starting Pitcher: Frank Pastore
Frank Pastore made one start (and 32 relief appearances) with the Twins in 1986 after several unimpressive years as a starter with Cincinnati. In that start against Oakland, he gave up two runs and was replaced in the fourth inning by Allan Anderson. I’m not entirely sure why he got such a quick hook. But Pastore has managed to carve out a second career after baseball. He has his own Christian talk show on the radio in Los Angeles.
Relief Pitcher: Dan Schatzeder
Schatzeder gets on this list because he was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1987 Series. Les Straker was getting shelled in the fourth, so Schatzeder came on in relief. He allowed a sac fly and a walk, but escaped a big jam with minimal damage. He also tossed a scoreless fifth. Later that inning, the Twins rallied to take the lead, one that was eventually padded by Kent Hrbek’s grand slam. Other than that, Schatzeder was a prototypical journeyman lefty reliever. He pitched 15 seasons with nine different teams. 1987 was his only taste of the postseason.