I continue my look at the Minnesota Twins’ All-1960s team with a look at the top pitchers of the decade.
The 1960’s was full of many memorable moments for the Minnesota Twins and their fans. From there arrival in the Twins Cities in 1961, to a World Series appearance in 1965, a memorable pennant race in 1967, and their first 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, and other incredibly talented players. The only criteria is that all players must have worn a Minnesota Twins jersey sometime during the 1960’s. With the first part of the 1960s team in the books, let’s take a look at the pitchers.
Minnesota Twins 1960s Starting Rotation
Starter No. 1: Jim Kaat
He is the best pitcher not in the Hall of Fame. 287 wins, over 4,500 innings pitched, 2461 strikeouts, 3 All-Star games and 16 Gold Gloves. Jim was a quality starter and reliever. After retirement, Kaat became in my opinion, the best baseball television analyst ever. I wish I could have the chance to talk pitching with “Kitty” for an hour.
Starter No. 2: Jim Perry
The lesser known of the “Pitching Perry Brothers” (his brother was Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry), Jim was an outstanding MLB pitcher in his own right. They are the only brothers in MLB history to each win Cy Young Awards.
Perry racked up 128 wins and two All-Star Game appearances during his tenure in the Twins. He was the ace of the staff for the Minnesota Twins during their 1969 and 1970 division winning seasons.
Starter No. 3: Camilo Pascual
Camilo Pascual was a dominant pitcher for the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins in the early 60’s. Pascual dominated with a wicked fastball and a off-speed pitch that Ted Williams described as the “most feared curveball in the American League.”
He was a decent hitter and a particularly good defensive pitcher, as he earned 81 career RBIs and a .973 fielding percentage for his career (good numbers for a pitcher), helping “Little Potato” make 5 All-Star Games. After retiring from playing, he became a terrific international scout for several major league teams.
Starter No. 4: Dave Boswell
Hard-throwing Dave Boswell was an exciting member of the Minnesota Twins rotation in the mid-to late 60’s. Armed with a deadly fastball and fierce determination, “Bos” was a feared pitcher, who put together a very good four-year run that finished with a 20 win season in 1969.
Boswell was colorful and a clubhouse prankster, even having a pet alligator at one point in career. Unfortunately, he also had bad temper, and was involved in several fights with teammates, and finally in 1969, a brawl with Bob Allison and manager Billy Martin outside of a Detroit bar.
Starter No. 5: Mudcat Grant
James Timothy Grant was a 21-game winner for the Twins in 1965, and pitched in the All-Star Game at Met Stadium. He became the first African-America to win 20 games in the American League.
On top of that, Mudcat was also the first African-American A.L. pitcher to win a World Series game, beating the Dodgers in Game 6 of the 1965 Series. He also hit a home run in that game to help his team out. After the season, he was named the Sporting News American League Pitcher of the Year, a well-deserved award.
Minnesota Twins Relief Pitchers
Al Worthington: Al Worthington had a very up and down career until he arrived in Minnesota in 1964, where he became the team’s from 1965-1968. Armed with a wicked fastball, sinker, and curveball, he accumulated 88 wins with a .262 ERA in his six years with the club. After retiring, Worthington became a college baseball coach after his playing days were over.
Ron Perranoski: The opposite of Worthington, Perranoski was already an accomplished relief pitcher when he came to the Twins in a trade with the Dodgers. He became the Twins closer in 1969 and 1970, and contributed greatly to those division winning teams.
As he pitched back when closers used to pitch more than one inning, he racked up over 100 innings in both of those years. After his playing days were over, he became a major league pitching coach for the Dodgers and the Giants.
Bob Miller: Bob Miller pitched in the majors for10 years before coming to the Twins after the 1967 season. He was both a reliever and a starter during his tenure with the Twins, and had two good years with the team.
Unfortunately, he will always be known for getting blown out of Game 3 in the 1969 American League Championship series, where he lasted only one and two-thirds innings against the eventual AL champs, the Orioles.
Jim Merritt: Jim Merritt came up to the Twins in 1964 and immediately established himself as a pitcher with great control and a great pickoff move. The Twins were forced to make Merritt a starter due to injuries, but he did well enough to establish himself as a quality big league starter.
Johnny Klippstein: Similar to Worthington, Klippstein was a journeyman pitcher before the Twins picked him up off waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies. Twins Pitching Coach Johnny Sain taught him how to throw a quick-pitch curve, and his pitching improved greatly.
He and Worthington combined to become the best relief duo in the American League in 1965, the year the Twins went on to win the pennant. At the time of his death, Jerome Holtzman, former official historian of Major League Baseball, offered this testimony to Klippstein’s career: “He was one of the most-liked ballplayers of his time.”
Dick Stigman: Born in Nimrod, Minnesota, Dick Stigman came to the Minnesota Twins from Cleveland in a pre-season deal in 1962. Both a starter and reliever, Stigman’s best season was 1963, when he went 15-15, with 33 starts, and a 3.25 ERA. His production fell off after that, and he left baseball after the 1967 season.
Tom Hall: Known for his short stature, “The Blade” had a short but successful major league career. He was used as both a reliever and starter, and he was equipped with a hard fastball and a good slider. He pitched four years for the Twins before he was traded to the Reds after the 1971 season. He was eventually forced to leave the game early due to rotator cuff issues.
Dean Chance-The Yankee Killer, well known as the least favorite pitcher to hit against for Yankees great Mickey Mantle, Dean Chance started his career with the California Angels, where he was a 20-game winner in 1964.
He also was involved in Hollywood social circles with his lifelong buddy, the infamous Bo Belinsky, while with the Angels. A two time All-Star and a Cy Young Award winner, Chance threw 2 no-hitters in August of 1967 for the Twins, one being a five-inning perfect game.
Minnesota Twins Co-Manager (the other manager was in the last article): Sam Mele
A ten-year veteran of Major League Baseball as a player, Sam Mele became the Twins Manager in 1961. He only had two losing seasons as the Twins manager, finishing his career with a .546 winning percentage.
He also led the Twins to the 1965 World Series, where they lost in 7 games. After he was fired by the Twins in 1967, he became a special assignments scout for the Red Sox until his retirement in 1994.