The Twins have played 60 seasons in our midst and the personnel decision among batters that holds No. 1 status for a blunder came on Dec. 16, 2002, at baseball's winter meetings in Nashville.

That was the day of the Rule 5 draft. The Twins made room on the 40-player roster for a selection by releasing David Ortiz. They selected infielder Jose Morban from Texas. He was waived, wound up in Baltimore in 2003, and hit two home runs in what became a career total of 71 at-bats.

Ortiz was signed by Boston on the cheap, was batting .200 after a month of the 2003 season, then started seeing the ball better:

A career total of 541 home runs (483 with Boston) in regular seasons and three World Series titles (2004, 2007, 2013) for a fan base that had waited since 1918.

Big Papi is No. 1 for a Twins batter blunder, no question, but this gent was my nominee for No. 2 in a recent discussion: Graig Nettles, power hitter and fantastic fielder, remembered mostly as the Yankees third baseman from 1973 to 1983.

Nettles played basketball and baseball at San Diego State. The Twins took him in the fourth round of baseball's first-ever draft in 1965.

He was called up in September 1968. In the four games of Sept. 6-9, he hit five home runs. One came vs. Denny McLain as he was winning his 28th game (of 31) for Detroit; another vs. Cleveland's Luis Tiant as he was winning a 20th game on the way to a 1.60 ERA.

Billy Martin had managed Nettles at Class AAA Denver, and then replaced Cal Ermer as Twins manager for the 1969 season.

Dave Mona was a young Twins beat writer for the Minneapolis Tribune and reported in late March that "slugger Graig Nettles is still several thousand ground balls from being major league ready" at third base.

Martin moved Nettles around in spring training and then told Tribune columnist Sid Hartman that left field was his best position.

Martin played veteran Bob Allison against lefties and three lefthanded hitters — Nettles, Ted Uhlaender and rookie Charlie Manuel — shared Billy's weird left-field platoon. Nettles started only 16 games at third base.

The winter meetings concluded in early December 1969 and then a deal was announced: Nettles, Uhlaender and pitchers Dean Chance and Bob Miller to Cleveland for Tiant and reliever Stan Williams.

You remember our guy Hartman as Mr. Positive for local teams, right? Not this time. Sid suggested in print Twins owner Calvin Griffth had been the victim of a "Brinks Robbery."

The owlishness possibly was based on Calvin having fired Martin, a Sid pal, on Oct. 22.

Nettles went on to excellence with power and grand fielding at third base in a career that ended at age 44 in Montreal in 1988.

Nettles, 76, still holds the American League record for home runs while playing third base with 311. He lasted only three years on the Hall of Fame ballot — done in by .248 career batting — but Sid had the Nettles deal labeled in December 1969:

We wuz robbed.


• Jim Nettles, Graig's brother, was also a fourth-round draftee for Twins in 1968. Played 185 games for Twins. Lefty all the way, good outfielder, not much stick.

• Graig's nickname was "Puff." Given to him by friends in honor of the way he disappeared after playing a prank.

• Graig's father was in World War II in 1944 when his son was born. Mom couldn't decide on Greg or Craig, so she went with Graig.