ANALYSIS OF THE TWINS
With the impetus from a new franchise, two good pitchers, a fine catcher and the prospect of a lot of home runs, the Twins are hopeful Milwaukee magic strikes them. Two Cuban right-handers—Camilo Pascual, who throws the best curve in the league, and Pedro Ramos, fastest runner and hardest worker on team (led league with 36 starts, 274 innings pitched)—will head a slim staff. Pascual is over arm trouble suffered in scuffle with Boston's Pete Runnels, looks hopefully this year to 20 wins. Catcher Earl Battey throws well, is aggressive, hit .270, 15 home runs in his first season as a regular, may be top catcher in AL. If Harmon Killebrew put the last part of 1960 and the front end of '59 in one season, he would have had 59 homers. Now an adequate first baseman ("He found a home," says Manager Cookie Lavagetto), ex-third baseman Killebrew can settle down and concentrate on his hitting. Jim Lemon hit 141 homers in five years. Bob Allison 45 in two. The sluggers should enjoy Metropolitan Stadium's short left-field line.
Pitching depth, bench, defense. After Pascual and Ramos, pitching staff has only junk-baller Chuck Stobbs, youngsters Don Lee, Jack Kralick. Young Dan Dobbek and old Elmer Valo are only available left-handed pinch hitters: neither will frighten a righty pitcher caught in a jam. Lemon is not a good fielder, surrounds too many balls. Last year club had worst fielding average in league.
THE BIG IFS
Until Pascual shows his old form, he has to be considered doubtful, despite firm protestations of good health. Allison was best AL rookie in '59, suffered sophomore jinx in '60. Baseball has known many one-year wonders. Twins hope Bob isn't one of them.
ROOKIES AND NEW FACES
Twins grabbed Minnesota's 1952 football All-America, Paul Giel, from Pittsburgh system, hope home town will be tonic to sputtering career. Rookie Zorro Versalles has exceptional range and arm, is considered a big-league shortstop at 20. He weighs 150 pounds, hits with good power for little fellow. Two 22-year-olds, up for a look last year, are back to stay. Left-hander Jim Kaat will be a regular starter. First Baseman Don Mincher hit .306 at Charleston, could push Killebrew back to third.
Twins could do what they couldn't do as Senators last year or any year since 1946: finish in top half of the American League. There's a catch, of course. Top half stretches down to fifth place this season.
BONIKOWSKI AND THE FUTURE
Joe Bonikowski, a 20-year-old Minnesota farm hand not even on the spring roster, had just pitched against the Pittsburgh Pirates in an exhibition game at Fort Myers. Sweat poured from his forehead and made the fuzzy, little, blond hairs on his face stand out. Only Dick Groat, the National League batting champion, had been able to get a hit off him in the three innings he had pitched.
"I watched Groat on television in the World Series last year," said Bonikowski. "He's tough. I think I fooled him on that pitch—he leaned for it. But he got a hit anyway. Down in Wilson, where I played last year, if you fooled them you had them.
"I got to run my laps now," he said. He ran out along the outfield grass and back three times before stopping. As he wiped the sleeve of his warmup jacket against his forehead he said: "That was Bob Friend running out there. I saw him on television in the Series."
Bonikowski pitched a no-hitter at Greensboro last year. "I walked only one man," he said proudly. "The umpire admitted he missed the call. After the game I celebrated. I had an extra hot dog for supper. That's all we eat down there."
He started to take deep knee bends. "Hey, I'll tell you something," he said abruptly as he came up. "This is a funny game. There's a guy on our team who was playing professional baseball before I was born. Elmer Valo. That really makes me feel young."
On Friday, April 21, the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and, indeed, the entire state of Minnesota, will welcome to Metropolitan Stadium the new major league baseball team called the Minnesota Twins, a glistening butterfly fresh from the cocoon of the old Washington Senators.
For 60 years the old Senators labored through the American League schedule, mostly clogging up the second division with inept players and impotent teams. There were a few bright years—a world championship in 1924, pennants in 1925 and 1933—and a few heroes—Walter Johnson, Joe Cronin, George Case, Cecil Travis—but mostly there was sixth place and seventh and eighth.
That legacy of defeat is gone now. There is no past, no Washington. There is only the present and the future. Minnesota farmers and businessmen await the first home run of Minnesota's Harmon Killebrew. Minnesota housewives and schoolboys are ready to ooh when Minnesota's Jim Lemon strikes out and aah when he hits one over the wall.
The players know this. "We have a good club," said Manager Cookie Lavagetto. "We hope they like us."
"I hope I have a good year for these people," said Harmon Killebrew.
"Minnesota is the big leagues," said Joe Bonikowski, the rookie.
"I never see snow before," said Camilo Pascual, the pitcher from Havana, Cuba. "Maybe I throw a snowball Opening Day, no?" Maybe Camilo doesn't throw a snowball Opening Day. Maybe he throws his good fast ball and his fine curves. Maybe he wins 20 games, and the people of Minneapolis-St. Paul adopt him.
"Maybe we can be another Milwaukee," said Herb Heft, the club's public relations man, remembering 1953.
THE FRONT OFFICE
Calvin Griffith is foster son of Hall of Famer Clark Griffith, learned baseball business from the minors up, became owner of the then Washington Senators when Clark died in 1955, moved club to Minneapolis-St. Paul last fall, cleverly named it the Minnesota Twins to make everybody happy. Sale of radio-TV rights for a reported $600,000 and an advance ticket sale of over $1 million gives Griffith—hitherto a scrambling owner—a rosy financial future. The front office is well stocked with Calvin's relatives: brother-in-law Joe Haynes, sister Thelma Haynes, brothers Sherry, Billy and Jimmy Robertson. This nepotism, though, has not hurt operational effectiveness, and Sherry Robertson has the Senators' improving farm system in its best shape since it began functioning in 1947.
THE BALL PARK
Metropolitan Stadium (30,637 capacity) is in suburban Bloomington on Minneapolis side of Mississippi River, but just about equidistant from downtown sections of St. Paul and Minneapolis. A strikingly modern stadium (triple-deck cantilever with no posts, no bad seats), it was built in 1956—supposedly for New York Giants, who moved instead to San Francisco. Will be increased to 40,108 capacity by September. Huge parking lot holds 14,000 cars. Most fans will come by car—especially those from outlying portions of the state—but bus service is adequate. Left-and left-center-field fences are 330 and 402 feet from home, considerably closer than in Washington's Griffith Stadium, a comforting thought for Twins' big right-handed sluggers: Killebrew, Lemon, Allison. Club will use Andy Frain ushers: no tipping.
1960 TEAM PERFORMANCE
1960 INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCES
RUNS BATTED IN