Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat were two of the Minnesota Twins’ best players in team history. We actually ranked them No. 7 and No. 19 in our list of the Greatest Players in Franchise History. Now, almost forty years after Kaat finished playing, both are now in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame:
Oliva and Kaat were joined by Gil Hodges, former St. Paul Saints manager Minnie Miñoso, Bud Fowler, and Buck O’Neil in a very full class. This was a major change, as the Golden Era Committee had elected one player in two tries (Ron Santo) and the Early Days Committee’s first attempts didn’t bring in any new Hall of Fame members either.
Now, Oliva, Kaat, Hodges, and Miñoso are all in from the Golden Era Committee and Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil joining from the Early Days Committee, clearing up the ballot for future candidates like Dick Allen, Maury Wills, Ken Boyer, Vic Harris, and Jon Donaldson to have a real chance at the Hall.
In the meantime, the Minnesota Twins now have two more players into the Hall of Fame, with the committee valuing Kaat’s durability, defensive skills, and consistent performance. Oliva had a much higher peak, but a much shorter career and never won a title, but he was one of the best in baseball for his time in the game, and the committee saw fit to finally give him his due. Here he is getting the call:
Minnesota Twins fans can now rest easy, as both Oliva and Kaat’s case is now closed. Now it’s time for other Twins who are either on the ballot, into committee, or coming up shortly to have a shot at baseball’s most elite club.