Sunday, December 23, 2018
Ho Ho . . . Hoot!
The day before Christmas Eve is known as Lille Julaften (Little Christmas Eve) in Norway, where my Mom's family originated. Growing up, we'd usually get to open a present from under the tree on this day, as well as get an early start on stuffing our faces with cookies. This year I am opening up a mailer from Mark from The Chronicles of Fuji as he drew my name for this year's blogging Secret Santa. Hat Tip to Jon for coordinating the festivities.
Speaking of food, first up is this Iron On Twins logo from 1970 Kellogg's Cereal. The team still breaks out this old school logo from time to time, featuring "twins" Minnie (Minneapolis) and Paul (Saint Paul) shaking hands across the Mississippi River. Target Field even has a giant version of this logo which lights up with every Twins homer and after each Twins victory.
The Twins reach across the Mighty Mississippi, but they also reach across the Pacific Ocean to find talent down under. One of the earliest of the Twins excursions to Oz netted them righty Liam Hendriks, who you may remember as the Opener in the Wild Card game between the Yankees and the Oakland A's this season. He's also wearing the Green and Gold here, representing the Australian team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
In the early 2000s, the Twins infield was all over the map - Corey Koskie was from Canada, Luis Rivas from Venezuela, Doug Mientkiewicz from the U.S., and Cristian Guzman from the Dominican Republic. Guzman was a solid defender, but by far his biggest contribution was his speed. He led the AL in triples three times, hitting 20 in 2001.
Drew Butera has 5 career triples, but he's signing this card because of his defense, not his bat. Son of former Twin Sal Butera, Drew has made a lengthy career for himself as a backup catcher all over the league. His skills behind the plate have made him an asset wherever he's played. He was a member of the Royals' World Series Championship team, and split last season between KC and the Colorado Rockies. He's a free agent currently, but don't be surprised if he finds another job soon.
This is a 1950 Bowman card of Jim Russell, an outfielder who had his best seasons with Pittsburgh in the mid forties. The 1950 Bowman set is great visually, and one of my favorite things about this card is the high wooden fence serving as the background. The Twins had a promotion when I was a kid called "The Knothole Gang," which was essentially selling upper deck tickets very cheaply to kids all summer long. It references the strategy of catching a few innings of free baseball by looking through the knotholes in these old school wooden outfield fences. I regularly took advantage of this to catch day games at the Metrodome for a few bucks as a teen. Jim Russell has a fairly interesting story, I recommend checking out his SABR bio, which is excerpted from a book of essays on the 1948 Boston Braves and Red Sox. The Article was written by Dave Williams.
Mark found one of my "Arbitrary 8!" This is another awesome 1950s Bowman card. Hoot Evers, shown here on 1954 Bowman. One of my favorite things about the sets of the 1950s are the nicknames, and Hoot is a pretty good one. Hoot has a good SABR bio as well.
Hoot was one of those guys that you might think was being booed by the home crowd, but he was actually greeted at the plate with a loud "Hoooooooooooooooot" from the fans. The nickname came from one of his favorite cowboy movie actors, Hoot Gibson. As a kid, Evers would imitate Hoot at every opportunity and eventually friends and family referred to him as Hoot as well. Evers was thought to be one healthy season away from super stardom - he played a rough and tumble outfield, and despite rarely making an error, he did find himself on the bench due to injury. He had a few great seasons for the Tigers in 1949 and 1950, but injuries ranging from a broken jaw to a broken thumb, all the way down to a fractured ankle limited his mobility going forward.
This was my favorite card of the bunch. It might not seem like much, a 1989 Topps card?
Well, it's all about potential! The card is a blank front, which means an enterprising and creative person could put almost anything on it.
I know a local artist who does a webcomic - I may commission her to try putting this photo onto the front of the card in comic form - it would be fitting for the Twins' most successful manager.
Thanks so much, Mark! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!