About the Book
The 1960s were a heady time to come of age. The British Invasion transformed pop music and culture. The fledgling space program offered a thrilling display of modern technology. The civil rights movement and Vietnam War drew young people to American politics, spurring them to think more critically about the state of the nation. And the assassinations Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 shook the United States to the core. During these turbulent times the Minnesota Twins were the pride of the North Star State—an elite team that advanced to the World Series in 1965 and played in dramatic pennant races in the years thereafter.
After an uneven 1964 season the Twins set themselves up for a turnaround that would last the rest of the decade. At the end of his playing career with the Twins, Billy Martin was hired as third base coach in 1965, giving them a more aggressive base-running style. Mudcat Grant became the first African American pitcher to win at least twenty games in the American League, and Tony Oliva won his second batting title to help lead the Twins to the World Series, which they lost in seven games to the Dodgers. In 1967 rookie Rod Carew joined the Twins as they engaged in a historic pennant race but finished second to the Red Sox during their “Impossible Dream” season. In 1969 Martin took over as manager, and both Carew and Harmon Killebrew led the Twins to the American League Championship Series, only to lose to the Orioles, after which Martin was fired in part for a now-legendary bar fight. Bill Rigney took the helm in 1970 and steered the Twins to a second-straight division title and ALCS loss to the Orioles.
In The Pride of Minnesota Thom Henninger details these pennant races, from the key moments and games to the personalities of the players involved, in the context of state and world events. Although the Twins won only one AL pennant in this stretch and failed to win the World Series, these memorable seasons, played in remarkable and compelling times, made for an important first decade in the team’s early history.
“The Pride of Minnesota is a wonderful read, describing the early success of the Twins and the many important events that happened in the country during the era.”—Jim Kaat, longtime Twins pitcher and current assistant to the Twins president
“Thom Henninger covers the shifts and upheavals of a period that was a magical time for Minnesota baseball fans. The 1960s brought the excitement of Major League Baseball to the state and set off the most successful decade the Twins ever had. . . . A hit for baseball fans and beyond.”—Stew Thornley, Minnesota baseball historian
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: A Contender Emerges in Troubling Times
1. A New Day
2. The Fast Start
3. Taking Flight on a Bumpy Ride
4. An All-Star Summer
5. A Pennant Race in a Rocking New World
6. The Stretch Run
7. Beating the Best
8. Too Much Koufax, Not Enough Contact
9. Plymouth Avenue on Fire
10. Change in the Air
11. The Summer of Love Heats Up
12. Getting Better
13. Down to the Wire
14. A Difficult Year to Forget
15. Billy Ball Brings the Twins Back to Life
16. Killer, Carew, Two Twenty-Game Winners, and the Men on the Moon
17. Peace, Love, and a Division Title
18. In a Game of Inches, Twins Swept Away
19. Four Dead in Ohio
20. Dutch Treat Pays Dividends
21. Baseballs and Bombs
22. Twins Claim Second AL West Crown
Epilogue: What Happened to the Twins?