Sam Mele, who managed the Twins into the 1965 World Series, died Monday at age 95.
Mele managed 953 games for the Twins, taking over the team in its first season in Minnesota when Cookie Lavagetto was fired on June 26, 1961. He managed until 1967, when he was fired and replaced by Cal Ermer.
Former Twins pitcher Jim Kaat tweeted, "My thanks to Sam Mele, manager of the Minnesota Twins in early 60's he gave me the ball every 4 days for over 5 years. I'm grateful!"
The Boston Red Sox, for whom Mele worked as a scout following his retirement, said he died at his home in Quincy, Mass. Mele made his major league debut for the Red Sox in 1947.
The Twins issued a statement, saying "The former skipper was an important figure in Twins baseball history. The beloved Mele, not only led the 1965 Twins to the American League pennant, but also helped establish the importance of Major League Baseball across the Upper Midwest."
Mele's managerial record with the Twins was 522-431.
Sabath Anthony Mele got his nickname "Sam" from his initials. He played 10 seasons in the majors as an outfielder, batting .267 with 80 home runs and 544 RBI for the Red Sox, Washington, the Chicago White Sox, Baltimore, Cincinnati and Cleveland. He hit .302 as a rookie and in 1951 tied for the American League in doubles with 36. He coached and worked for Washington, then stayed with the team when it moved to Minnesota in 1961.
The 1965 Twins, behind sluggers Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Earl Battey; pitchers Mudcat Grant and Jim Kaat; and shortstop Zoilo Versalles, who was the league's MVP, rolled to a team-record 102 victories to finish seven games ahead of second-place Chicago in the American League. They ended the Yankees dynasty and captured the imagination of the baseball fans of the Upper Midwest before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a seven-game World Series.
The Twins finished second in the American League in 1966, and Mele was fired after 50 games in 1967. Ermer got the team back on track, but it lost the pennant in a season-ending series in Boston.
Mele never managed again. He worked in several capacities for the Red Sox until retiring in 1994.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.