Minnesota Twins Opening Day Countdown: 36, Jim Kaat

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Tony Oliva, former player with the Minnesota Twins, shakes hands with former teammates Frank Quilici and Jim Kaat during a ceremony honoring the 1965 American League Championship team (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Tony Oliva, former player with the Minnesota Twins, shakes hands with former teammates Frank Quilici and Jim Kaat during a ceremony honoring the 1965 American League Championship team (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins are just 37 days away from Opening Day in Baltimore. As we near that day, here is more Twins history related to that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectation after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card team. We will highlight numbers from team history that represent the number of days until Opening Day on March 29th in Baltimore.

This winter the Twins brought on a couple new special assistants to the front office staff. As is often the case these special assistants are former players who have a storied place in Twins history. As we count down and arrive at 36 we turn our attention to pitcher Jim Kaat.

Kaat came to the major leagues as a free agent when he was signed by the Washington Senators on June 17, 1957. He then debuted with the Senators in 1959 but didn’t really get going as an established major league pitcher until the franchise moved to Minnesota and became the Twins. Katt would remain pitching for the Twins until the 1973 season.

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In case you weren’t counting, that was 15 seasons that Kaat spent with the franchise between the Washington and Minnesota days. He was able to hold a record of 190-159 and a 3.34 ERA over that span. Kaat’s best season with the Twins may have been the 1966 season. That year he led the league in innings pitched (304.2), wins (25), games started (41), complete games (19), and walks per nine innings (1.6).

Kaat was also part of the World Series participating club in 1965. In that season to help the Twins win the American League Pennant, Katt threw 264.1 innings, went 18-11, and held a 2.83 ERA. In that 7-game World Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kaat had the privilege of going toe to toe with Sandy Koufax three times. Katt would go 1-2 in those starts allowing 6 runs in 14.1 innings, a 3.77 series ERA, and recording one complete game.

Even though Kaat lost out on his chance at a ring in 1965, he would obtain that goal in 1982 as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. He would pitch one more season in 1983 before retiring. After retiring, Kaat would take a short stint as a pitching coach under former teammate Pete Rose. He would then turn his attention to broadcasting which had been a talent of his he even showcased during his playing days.

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Kaat has filled baseball with his presence now for 7 decades. As we celebrate his career and place in Twins history maybe do so by scrolling through his Twitter account for gems. Here our countdown brings us to #36, Jim Kaat.

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