The Twins had a pair of 91-win seasons and finished second and third in the 10-team American League in 1962 and 1963. They then fell back to 79-83 in 1964, tied for sixth and 20 games behind the New York Yankees.
This was the fifth straight pennant for the Yankees, although a seven-game loss to St. Louis left them at 2-3 in those World Series.
And then came 1965: Mudcat Grant had the season of his life to lead the starting rotation, shortstop Zoilo Versalles and right fielder Tony Oliva were the AL's two best players that summer, and the Twins were 20-plus games over .500 and the aged Yankees were in unfamiliar under-.500 territory.
New York came to Met Stadium for its last stand: a four-game series on July 9-11, with a "split doubleheader,'' day and night, on Saturday — a concept that Twins owner Calvin Griffith basically invented to get an extra gate when the Yankees came to town.
The Twins won the first two and, on Saturday night, they were leading until Clete Boyer hit a grand slam in the eighth inning to give the Yankees an 8-6 win. The winning pitcher was reliever Pete Mikkelsen, with 2⅔ innings, including twice retiring Harmon Killebrew.
Sunday was a gorgeous summer day. The turnstile count at Met Stadium was 35,253. And you know what the rest of us baseball-loving Midwesterners did that afternoon?
We listened on the radio. What would become a monumental game in Twins history wasn't on TV. We didn't even have to check on that fact. We knew the only home games on TV came on a few Friday nights in the summer.
The number of televised games on independent WTCN-TV (Ch. 11) might have grown to 50 by the Twins' fifth season, but the theory remained that putting home games on local TV was bad for business. And with Minnesota's strong strain of frugality, that was probably true.
I was sitting on the front steps of the small house in Prior Lake, listening to Ray Scott — famous for football, wonderful on baseball — describe the Twins' attempt to come back from down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth.
Mikkelsen was the pitcher. There were two outs and the count went to 3-2. Harmon fouled back a pitch and we all gasped along with Ray.
And then came Harmon's two-run home run for a 6-5 win. The Yankees were dead as doornails, 14½ back at the break.
As half of us Minnesota baseball fans whine about the absence of Twins telecasts on our streaming service, this occurred to me:
Thanks be baseball gods the Twins weren't on TV on July 11, 1965. I would've been inside watching, and missed Ray's call, the memory of which can still tingle a spine.
Recommendation that Gophers welcome St. Thomas as Division I compadres with the following:
• A season-opening hockey doubleheader at Xcel Energy Center, with the Gophers women playing the Tommies (an immediate and much-needed WCHA eighth team) and a Gophers-Tommies nonconference men's game .
• St. Thomas gets signed up to be new Gophers basketball coach Ben Johnson's first opponent in Williams Arena.
• Lindsay Whalen's Gophers pack a standing, stomping 2,000 fans into Schoenecker Arena for the Tommies' first game.