Twins Porn 2/25/13


In last week’s Twins Porn, we looked at Twins who jumped from AA to The Show, Ricky Williams the baseball player, and Tim Raines‘s cocaine-fueled past. Today, we’ll look at the only player who made it to MLB after having played in Class E, a rocker whose band and baseball team went by the same name, and a pitcher with one leg.

Eddie Rosario has started off the spring 3-5 with an RBI and two runs scored. What are the chances that the Twins take him north as their starting second baseman? None. First and foremost, it’s a minuscule sample size, and while Rosario has improved at second base over the past year–unlike Aaron Hicks–he’s nowhere close to being ready defensively.

Kent Hrbek and Jim Eisenreich both made the jump from Class A in 1982, which is pretty impressive, so I started looking around for other players who jumped from rookie ball to the pros, and I ended up digging back to the days when affiliated minor league baseball was divided into Class A, B, C, and D ball. And, for six weeks during World War II, there a Class E league—which would be a rough equivalent of today’s Dominican Summer League, if that—operating out of Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin.

Three teams from Duluth and one from Superior formed the Twin Ports League in 1943, with most of the players in the league working in wartime factories in the shipping hub. While he didn’t make the jump directly from Class E, Ernie Rudolph is the only player I could find who even played in Class E and made it to the Majors.

Rudolph pitched 15 innings over two games with a 1.80 ERA for the Superior Bays, who were leading the Twin Ports League when it folded in mid-July. He was 34 and had mostly played semi-pro and town ball before first showing up in the official records six years earlier as a pitcher for the Crookston, Minnesota Pirates.

After the Twin Ports League folded, Rudolph headed south to play for the Minneapolis Millers and St. Paul Saints. He kept playing for St. Paul in 1944 and 1945 until he was called up to the Brooklyn Dodgers on June 16 to make his MLB debut at age 36 against the Boston Braves.

Major League Baseball teams were desperate for players during the war, and Rudolph pitched seven unspectacular games between the surrenders of Germany and Japan. After 1945, he never pitched professionally again.

George Thorogood Played Baseball

The guy who sings “Bad to the Bone” and the version of “One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer” you’re familiar with played semi-pro baseball in the 70s as a second baseman for the Delaware Destroyers of the Roberto Clemente league. The Destroyers’ drummer, Jeff Simon—yes, it was also the name of Thorogood’s band—apparently played center field on the same team.

Thorogood was chosen as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1976 and kept playing baseball after starting to have success as a musician, even taking summers off from recording with the Destroyers to play second base for the Destroyers in the Clemente League. In 1979, his first two albums gained national attention and Thorogood focused his efforts on music.

He’s still a huge baseball fan, particularly of the Mets. I found a few interviews Thorogood has done about baseball over the years, but I think this quote from a Baseball Prospectus write up sums him up best:

“There’s always something at a ball game you’ve never seen before, something that turns you on; there’s always something you’ll remember….I go to the game because I’m a fan of the game more than anything else. The pennant race gets lost on me; the amount of money they make is lost on me. I’m just into the ambience [sic] of the whole thing. I like the crack of the bat. I even like the umpires.”

The photo at the top of this post is of Thorogood.

Bert Shepard was a One-Legged Pitcher

Shepard played in the minors for the Chicago White Sox and St. Louis organizations before World War II, reaching as high as Class C, but signed up as a fighter pilot following his 1942 season with the La Crosse Blackhawks. He lost a leg when his fighter was shot down over Germany in 1944 and taught himself how to walk and later pitch while in a German POW camp.

In 1945, he was hired as a pitching coach by the Washington Senators, and ended up pitching against the Boston Red Sox in the second game of the team’s fourth consecutive double header. Shepard threw five-plus innings of solid baseball, allowing a run on three hits and a walk, while striking out two. Shepard returned to the minors and played and managed at various levels over the course of the next decade. He went on to win the U.S. Amputee golf championship twice
after retiring from baseball.

This Week’s Number: 17

That’s the numbers of days in a row the Twins have games this spring before a day off.

This Week’s Fact:

The Twins play the Boston Red Sox eight times this spring, more than any other club. Dating back to their time as the Senators, the Twins have traded with the Red Sox 61 times, also more than any other club.

What I Did This Week: I thoroughly enjoyed being outside more in the past week than at any other point in the past three months. I also finally beat Renegade for the NES.

Here’s some footage of Bert Shepard and the one-armed Pete Gray:

Later this week, we’ll preview the World Baseball Classic and catch up with a couple of former Twins. It’s the first full week of Twins baseball games in, like, I don’t know, forever.

 

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Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep7:10Chicago White SoxBuy Tickets

Tags: Bert Shepard Eddie Rosario Ernie Rudolph Minnesota Twins