Moments of glory series: George Tsamis' lone MLB victory

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 7, 2012 - 12:46 AM

The Saints manager pitched 41 games for the Twins in 1993, beating Oakland on an otherwise miserable day for his only MLB victory.


Former Twins pitcher George Tsamis calls himself lucky to have one win.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

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The most enduring athletes in Minnesota history are well-known. Names like Puckett, Killebrew and Tarkenton bring about images of long-term success. But what about those with local ties who only had a chance meeting with the big time? Here we remember their one victory, their one appearance -- their one moment. Today: George Tsamis' one career victory.

George Tsamis faced eight Hall of Famers, five current major league managers and a couple of young guys named Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome during his 41-game appearance for the Twins in the summer of 1993.

Yet the most memorable moment of it all?

"Just a miserable, terrible day for baseball," said Tsamis, currently the manager of the St. Paul Saints. "And I had a headache."

The dark clouds parked over the Coliseum in Oakland on May 26 foreshadowed a frustrating afternoon. Two of the most steady closers of their time -- Minnesota's Rick Aguilera and Oakland's Dennis Eckersley -- failed to shut the door on a grueling four-hour game.

After Brian Harper and Gene Larkin knocked in runs off Eckersley in the top of the eighth to put the Twins up a run, Aguilera walked in a pair and exited with the bases loaded in a steady rain. Tom Kelly brought in Tsamis to face pinch hitter Kevin Seitzer.

"TK told the umps there was no way we should be playing, but in I came," Tsamis said. "I got Seitzer looking on a 3-2 pitch. Fastball. Although, it wasn't very fast. When you throw 82 mph, I guess it's still a fastball."

An RBI triple from Pat Meares and a two-run single from Kirby Puckett put the Twins ahead by two in the ninth, leaving Tsamis with three outs to get his first big league victory.

His third pitch to leadoff batter Marcos Armas was deposited into the same outfield seats Tsamis used to occupy as a kid -- a solo shot good for Armas' first and only major league home run.

"I gave up a few that year, so it figures," Tsamis said.

The next hitter singled, and up came Rickey Henderson with a chance for a walk-off.

"I got behind in the count again but just threw him a BP fastball and he kind of got a half-swing on it," Tsamis said. "It came right back to me and we get the double play."

Seven pitches (and another single allowed) later, Tsamis got Ruben Sierra to pop up to end the 12-11 game -- his first and last victory in the majors.

"I tell you what, that was a great thing even though I got knocked around a lot," he said. "I sat in the room that night and couldn't believe it. I played with some good guys. I'm lucky. That ball is my prized possession."


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