Minnesota Twins’ All-1960s Roster: The Hitters
By Greg Simbeck
We take a look back at the Minnesota Twins’ first years in Minnesota, starting with a look at a roster of the best Twins hitters of the 1960s.
The 1960’s was full of many memorable moments for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. From their arrival in the Twins Cities in 1961, to a World Series appearance in 1965, to their place in a memorable pennant race in 1967, culminating in a division championship in 1969, there was much to celebrate in this otherwise turbulent decade.
Headlining all these successes was an exceptionally talented group of players, including some Hall of Famers, some All-Stars, and some really good glue guys. With that, I introduce the Minnesota Twins All-1960s Roster.
The only criteria for this list is that all players must have worn a Minnesota Twins jersey sometime during the 1960’s and I cheated a little, adding a designated hitter position (the DH didn’t exist during this decade).
I split this in half to make it easier to read, so the pitchers will come later on. Let’s get started with the hitters.
Minnesota Twins Lineup
Catcher: Earl Battey
Very good hitter and an excellent fielding backstop. He won three Gold Glove awards, including one with the Washington Senators, from 1960-1962. Had an outstanding throwing arm. Also a four-time all-star.
A thyroid condition forced him out of the game at the age of 32. As a promise to his mother, he enrolled at Bethune-Cookman University in 1980, and completed his bachelor’s degree in two and a half years. Mentored youth during his retirement. All around class act.
First Base: Vic Power
Vic only played two years here, but they were two productive years. About as slick a fielder as you’ll ever see. Won the Twins MVP award in 1962 and Gold Gloves in 1962 and 1963. This was in the midst of a streak where he won a Gold Glove award in seven straight seasons.
Second Base: Rod Carew
Mr. Smooth. The most graceful and nuanced player I have ever seen. 18 All-Star Game appearances, 7 batting titles, and he was named the AL MVP in 1977. Heck, the guy even stole home 7 times in 1969. Has been an inspirational source in his retirement. My favorite Minnesota Twin of all time.
Third Base: Harmon Killebrew
The “Killer”. One of the best players of his era. I watched tons of his towering home runs at Met Stadium. AL League MVP in 1969. First player to make $100,000 a year for the Twins. Hit some hard times in retirement. About as gracious a person as you will ever meet.
Shortstop: Zoilo Versailles
“Zorro” was one of the backbones of the 1965 Minnesota Twins that played in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. AL MVP in 1965, 2 time All-Star, and two-time Gold Glove winner, despite being an average fielding catcher for most of his career.
Never the same player after his MVP season, injuries eventually drove him from the game in 1972. Tragically, illnesses and financial issues plagued him in retirement, and he died at the age of 65 in 1995.
Left Field: Bob Allison
With Harmon Killebrew, formed a one-two power punch for the Twins in the early to mid-60’s. A 3 time All-Star, Allison was a constant presence in the Minnesota Twins outfield in their formative years.
Twins fans have a lasting memory of him making a spectacular back-handed catch in game two of the 1965 World Series. Fifteen years into retirement, Allison was diagnosed with the debilitating condition, Ataxia, a rare degenerative neurological disease, that eventually took his life eight years later.
Center Field: Cesar Tovar
Mr. Versatile. Tovar was a valuable player for the mid-60’s-early 70’s, due to his bat, speed, and tremendous flexibility. He regularly played every outfield, second, third and short, and he and Rod Carew were the base-stealing threats for those teams. Of course, he played every position in a game in 1968 against the Athletics. Great clubhouse presence and a motivational leader.
Right Field: Tony Oliva
All around great player. A five-tool threat for much of his career. 3 batting titles, 8 All-Star Games, and two-time AL MVP runner up. Rookie of the Year Award in 1964. He also was a tremendous fielder, with a rocket throwing arm in right field.
A succession of severe knee injuries hampered his playing time, and he was a full-time DH the last four years of his career. These injuries also are the main reason that he is not a Hall of Fame inductee. I met him on a few occasions, and he was always very generous with his time.
DH: Jimmie Hall
Hall was a versatile player for the Minnesota Twins in the mid-60’s. Blessed with good power, he hit 20 home runs in four straight seasons. He also was valuable defensively because he could play all three outfield positions. His stats fell off after the 1966 season and he ended up bouncing from team to team, until his retirement in 1970.
Minnesota Twins Bench
First Base: Don Mincher
“Minch” was a consistent power source for the Twins in the mid-60’s. In 1966, in a game against the KC Athletics, Mincher was one of five Twins to hit a home run in the same inning. It’s still a major league record. After his playing days were over, he went on to become a successful minor league baseball executive.
Infield: Rich Rollins
Rollins had a tremendous rookie season, including 96 RBI’s and made both All-Star games in 1962, while finishing eighth in the MVP balloting that year. Had two more good hitting seasons after that, but then his production tapered off. Was left exposed after the 1968 season and was signed by the Seattle Pilots after they acquired him in the expansion draft.
Outfield: Ted Uhlaender
A tremendous defensive outfielder. He patrolled centerfield for the Twins from 1966-1969. His best season was the 1969 season, where he scored 93 runs and drove in 62. Was traded to Cleveland in December of 1969, as part of the Luis Tiant deal. His daughter is the former Olympic skeleton athlete, Katie Uhlaender.
Catcher: John Roseboro
“Rosy” was already an accomplished major league catcher when he came to the Twins after the 1967 season. Had a career .989 fielding percentage, and a rocket for an arm. He stabilized the Twins pitching staff, especially during the 1969 season, and was an All-Star that year. Unfortunately, he is best known for his role in one of the most violent incidents in baseball history, when Juan Marichal struck him in the head with a bat during a game in 1965.
Co-Manager: Billy Martin
I know what you’re going to say; “But Greg, he only managed the Twins for one season.” Point well taken, but it was one of the most exciting seasons in Minnesota Twins history. The Twins rolled to the American League West Championship, before flaming out against the Orioles in just three games. On top of that his fight with pitcher Dave Boswell in Detroit helped add to an already memorable season.
So what do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comment section.