The major league regular season ends on Sunday, which is Oct. 1. Phil Miller, the Star Tribune’s junior baseball writer, reminded me that Sunday is also the 50th anniversary of the Twins’ devastating, final game defeat in Fenway Park.
This fulfilled Boston’s “Impossible Dream,’’ and left the Twins as unhappy losers in the American League’s Great Race, along with Detroit and the Chicago White Sox.
This was chronicled in the Star Tribune last month, along with other epic events that took place 50 years ago in Minnesota sports.
What was missing from that review is my all-time favorite note in Twins history. But first … let’s recall that on Tuesday night in Cleveland, manager Paul Molitor went to his bullpen nine times, allowing the Twins to set a team record with 10 pitchers used in a single game.
The 1967 Twins used 12 pitchers … in a single season.
The Twins actually played 164 games (there were two official ties) that season. They pitched a total of 1,461 innings. And owner Calvin Griffith employed 12 pitchers to take care of that labor.
Righthander Dwight Siebler made the last two big-league appearances of his career in April and pitched three innings. Lefthander Mel Nelson was a September call-up and pitched once, getting one out and allowing two runs.
So that’s two of your pitchers – Siebler and Nelson, a total of 3 1/3 innings – and it leaves 1,457 2/3 innings for which to be accounted.
There were two lefthanders that spent the season in the Twins bullpen: Jim Roland pitched in 25 games and totaled 35 2/3 innings. Jim Ollom pitched in 21 games (two starts) and totaled 35 innings.
That’s 70 2/3 innings, leaving 1,387 1/3 innings to be divided among eight pitchers. Ollom made two starts: the other 162 starts (ties included) went to Dean Chance (39), Jim Kaat (38), Dave Boswell (32), Jim Merritt (28), Mudcat Grant (14) and Jim Perry (11).
Perry and Grant were long relievers and spot starters in those days of a four-man rotation. The four main starters also had relief appearances – nine for Merritt, five for Boswell, four for Kaat and two for Chance.
The innings totals for the eight ironmen were as follows: Chance, 283 2/3; Kaat, 263 2/3; Merritt, 227 2/3; Boswell, 222 2/3; Perry, 130 2/3; Grant 95 1/3; stopper Al Worthington, 92; and Ron Kline, 71 2/3.
The 2017 Twins have used 36 pitchers (including catcher Chris Gimenez six times early in the season) to reach the five-team postseason of the American League. The 1967 Twins used one-third as many pitchers to lose out on the last day of the season in a 10-team league and thus failing to advance directly to the World Series.
I’m not saying it was better 50 years ago, but when it came to pitching and standards for reaching the postseason, it definitely was different.