The Minnesota Twins were just 12 days away from spring training on February 2nd. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.
The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.
The Minnesota Twins have often had flexible players who could handle multiple positions on their rosters. However, only one has ever played all 9 in a single game, and he wore #12 for his career, Cesar Tovar.
Tovar was originally signed by the Cincinnati Reds before the 1959 season. The Reds traded him to the Twins in December in 1964. He was up for his major league debut in 1965.
Tovar played in 134 games in 1966, playing four positions. He would have his highest MVP finish (7th) in 1967, playing in 164 games the way the schedule worked that season.
Tovar began to come into his own in 1968, establishing himself with a good contact bat and exceptional quickness on the bases. From 1968 to 1970, Tovar averaged .287/.342/.410 with 31 doubles, 8 triples, 9 home runs, and 37 steals per season.
On September 22nd, 1968, Tovar pulled off a feat that to that point had been done by just one player ever (coincidentally, a guy playing in the game against him, Bert Campaneris). Tovar not only played every position in the game, but he did them in the order around the infield and then outfield, opening the game on the mound, then moving to catcher, then first, second, shortstop, third, then to the outfield in left, center, and finally right field.
For good measure, Tovar went 1-3 with a walk, scoring one of the two runs in the game as the Twins won 2-1, stealing his 33rd base as well.
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Tovar would remain with the Twins through 1972. After the 1972 season, he was traded for three players as the Minnesota Twins entered a tough decade of rebuilding.
He would play four more seasons with four clubs, but injuries slowed him down, and he was out of the league after 1976, finishing his career with a .278 career batting average and 226 stolen bases.
For the Minnesota Twins, Tovar hit .281/.337/.377 with 193 doubles, 45 triples, 38 home runs, and 186 stolen bases. He’s got the second-highest bWAR total of any Twins player that is not in the team’s Hall of Fame (and isn’t still active, as Joe Mauer is ahead).
For 12 days to spring training, we remember a man whose talents far exceeded his physical specimen, Cesar “Pepito” Tovar.
Come soon, spring!!