Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

A walk down memory lane with Tony O.

Posted by: Phil Miller under Baseball Hall of Fame, MLB, Target Field, Twins offense Updated: October 12, 2012 - 2:12 PM

With the regular season winding down, and Miguel Cabrera closing in on baseball’s first Triple Crown in 45 years, I saw Tony Oliva at Target Field and asked the Twins legend what he remembers about that magical season for Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.

“Forget about ‘67,” Oliva said, with a chuckle. “What about ‘66?”

“I don’t want to hear about ‘67,” Oliva said. “I put that out of my brain when we lost. We went to Boston to win one game, and we lost both.”

Yes, this was Boston’s Impossible Dream. One of the most famous pennant races in baseball history. Four teams slugging it out through the late summer -- Twins, Red Sox, Tigers and White Sox. The Twins entered a season-ending two-game series at Fenway Park, needing just one win, but Yastrzemski helped give Boston a sweep and the American League pennant.

Yastrzemski batted .326 with 44 home runs and 121 RBI. Harmon Killebrew also hit 44 home runs, but Yaz still gets credit for the Triple Crown.

“I think that was one of those dream years, when everything went perfect,” Oliva said.

But what about ‘66? Baseball had a Triple Crown winner that year, too, when Baltimore’s Frank Robinson batted .316 with 49 and 122 RBI.

Robinson ran away with the home run title (Killebrew was second with 39) and RBI title (Killebrew was second with 110). The biggest obstacle between Robinson and the Triple Crown was Tony O., who was a two-time reigning AL batting champ after batting .323 as a rookie in ‘64 and .321 in helping the Twins win the pennant in ‘65.

A check on Baseball-Reference.com, shows that Oliva went 4-for-4 on Sept. 11, in an 11-6 win over Robinson’s Orioles at Met Stadium. Oliva was batting .320, and Robinson was at .313 with three weeks remaining.

Oliva, now 74, said he got into a fender bender and suffered whiplash sometime right around then. Though he didn’t miss a game, his success waned. He finished the year batting .307 and tipped his hat to Robinson, the league’s MVP.

“Cabrera reminds me of Frank Robinson because Robinson was a righthanded hitter, and if you pitched him away, he could hit it out of the ballpark to right field,” Oliva said. “Cabrera is a dangerous hitter like that because you can’t pitch him inside or outside.”

No doubt, and looking back, you realize that facing Tony O. was no picnic for an opposing pitcher, either.

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Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
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Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
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Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
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Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
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Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
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(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
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Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
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UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
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Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
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NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
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(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
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(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 FINAL
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 FINAL
(3) Oregon 62
(25) Washington 17 FINAL
Hawaii 16
Utah State 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
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Purdue
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Penn State
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(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
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Tulsa
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Illinois
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(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
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Kent State
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Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
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Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
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Kentucky
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Minnesota
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Northwestern
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Iowa
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So Florida
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Florida
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Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
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NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
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(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
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