Most of us are counting down the days until Spring Training right now, but if you pay especially close attention to the Twins, you might be interested in another, wider-reaching countdown. Dating back to 1901, when they were founded as the Washington Senators, the Twins franchise has hit 9,613 home runs. 10,000 is not far off.
It sounds like a lot, but this franchise has actually been one of the weakest homer-hitting teams for most of its existence. Over their 110 season history, the Senators/Twins have averaged just 87.39 homers per year, thanks to the Deadball era: in 1917 and 1918, the Swinging Senators hit just four home runs each year! Super-slugger Joe Judge mashed half the team’s total in 1917, a whopping two round-trippers. Our country was busy with World War I in both of those years, so perhaps the Senators were just conserving power for the War effort. Good for them.
We Canned the Kaiser long ago, but there are still 387 longballs to go before the Twins join the 10,000 club, a club that currently has 15 members. In fact, every one of the original franchises in the NL and the AL have reached the mark except the Twins. The Chicago White Sox were the most recent to reach the Big 1-0-0-0-0. Brent Lillibridge hit a solo shot last April against the A’s for that milestone. Warning: if you click that video link, you will be subjected to Hawk Harrelson’s obnoxious home run call; Puckett’s Pond is not responsible for any ruptured ear drums or decreased will to live that results from Hawk Exposure.
Prior to the Sox, the Pirates were the last to join the club. As an NL team, the Pirates have been in existence a full 19 years longer than the Twins or ‘Sox, so the Twins are arguably not the most homer-starved of MLB’s original franchises. Interestingly, the Pirates’ shot was hit by former Twin Garrett Jones. He whacked a dinger to right field off the appropriately-named Homer Bailey in September, 2009. You can see the clip here. Mr. Harrelson’s home run call is loud and annoying, but this clip was just the opposite. The announcers didn’t even seem to know and/or care that this was the Pirates’ 10,000th home run. Apparently, 127 years of franchise history isn’t such a big deal!
If you want to see the complete list of players who have hit #10,000, you can look here. They made a mistake by listing Ramon Vasquez as #10,000 for the Pirates, but we’ll assume the other names are accurate. Minnesota native and former Twin Dave Winfield was the first player on any team to hit a 10,000th homer. He did so for the Yankees in 1987.
So when will the Twins reach the 10,000 mark?
If they keep hitting home runs at last year’s pace, it might take a while. The 2011 squad hit a pathetic 103 home runs. At that pace, it would take them until late in the 2015 season to hit 10K. On the other hand, the 1963 and 1964 Twins teams each topped 220. ’63’s team set the franchise record with 225, thanks to Harmon Killebrew, Jimmie Hall, Bob Allison, and Earl Battey. At that rate, the Twins would top the 10,000 mark some time in early August of 2013.
If you split the difference, it’s probably safe to assume that the Twins will reach #10,000 some time in the 2014 season. Do you have any guesses about who will hit the lucky shot? Feel free to share them below! Just for fun, I am going to call Chris Parmelee with a 2 run shot against the Indians some time in late July, 2014. You can put it on the board.
According to my painstaking search through the records, the Twins’ 9,000th home run was hit by Torii Hunter in a 7-1 victory over the Rangers on May 22, 2007. I couldn’t find video for this one, but here’s the box score. Justin Morneau hit number 8,998 and 8,999 earlier in the game.
After the Twins reach 10,000, it will be quite some time before another club knocks on that door. The next team in line is those same Texas Rangers, who have 7,783. Considering that the Rangers didn’t start playing until 1961 – a full six decades after the Twins – that isn’t such a shabby total.
In case you’re wondering, Tampa Bay is last place in franchise homers, with 2,199. If they average a robust 200 per year, they’ll reach number 10,000 some time in 2051.