Julio Becquer, a first baseman-outfielder who spent parts of seven seasons in the major leagues with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins organization, died on Sunday.
Becquer, who was in assisted living in Hopkins, was 88.
Twins president Dave St. Peter tweeted: “Sad day for the Twins family. He was one of the original Twins.”
Becquer, a native of Havana, Cuba, was signed by the Senators in 1952. He spent parts of five seasons in the majors with the Senators before the franchise relocated to Minnesota before the 1961 season.
Before that 1961 season, Becquer was selected by the Los Angeles Angels in the expansion draft and he began the year with the Angels. After the first month of the season Becquer was sent to the minors, and on June 2 the Twins purchased his contract.
Becquer batted .238 in 57 games for the Twins over the rest of the season and provided one of the highlights of the team’s first season in Minnesota.
In the first game of a July 4th doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox at Metropolitan Stadium, the lefthanded-hitting Becquer hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to lift the Twins to a 6-4 victory. It was Becquer’s third pinch-hit home run of the season.
“I’ve been working with the Twins’ clinics for 13, 14 years, and it’s amazing,” Becquer told the Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse in 2010. “No matter what town we’re in, someone will come up to me and say, ‘Julio Becquer,’ tell me where they were listening to that home run. “They were just kids then, but they will say, ‘I was at a picnic, listening with my grandpa, and you hit that grand slam, and we were so excited.’ That was 50 years ago, and people still remember.”
After the 1961 season, Becquer played in just one more major league game — in September 1963.
“I was playing for Vera Cruz in the Mexican League,” Becquer said in 2019. “Calvin Griffith called and said, ‘I’ve already bought your contract. Can you get up here?’ I said, ‘I’ll be there.’ Calvin did that for me because I was one week short of qualifying for my major league pension. You needed five years. The Twins put me on the roster for two weeks in September and that gave me my pension. I hadn’t even asked.
“I did have a lot of friends on the team — Camilo [Pascual], Zoilo [Versalles] … Tony [Oliva] was there in September, and we were like brothers. It was a great thing the Twins did for me.”
After retiring from baseball in 1964, Becquer worked for Dayton’s for 30 years. He also worked Twins clinics.
In 2016, the Twins presented Becquer the Kirby Puckett Award for Alumni Community Service.
“This is one of the greatest things I’ve ever received in my life,” he told the Star Tribune.
“He was so proud of that award and the recognition,” said daughter Frannie. “He had stayed committed to the Twins and volunteered for them.”
Becquer batted .244 with 12 home runs in seven major league seasons. He spent 13 seasons in professional baseball.
His wife, Edith, died 14 years ago. In addition to his daughter and her husband, David Osberg, he is survived by son Pedro and five grandchildren.