’62 TWINS 10, ’59 ORIOLES 2
Friday, July 21, 1978 at Metropolitan Stadium
Game EXH4 – 9/22/12
A power hitting clinic was put on display today at Metropolitan Stadium in Minneapolis, and surprisingly enough, such names as Smalley, Cubbage, and Ford were nowhere to be found on the scorecard; instead, fans were marking ‘HR’ next to Killebrew and Mincher and—appropriately enough—Power, as a squad of players from the 1962 Twins walloped the team representing the 1959 Orioles by a 10-2 score in a homer-filled, 7-inning Old Timers Game at The Met.
What began as a pitchers duel between starters Hoyt Wilhelm of the Orioles and Camilio Pascual of the Twins suddenly devolved into a long-ball barrage by both squads, beginning in the top of the third inning: with two out, O’s right fielder Gene Woodling crushed a pitch from winning pitcher Joe Bonikowski deep into the left-field seats at Metropolitan Stadium, giving the old-time Orioles a 1-0 lead.
But that advantage was definitely short-lived, as the Twins bounced back with seven runs in the last half of the inning, courtesy of Don Mincher’s 3-run pinch-hit HR, a 2-run homer from Vic Power, and RBI hits from Bernie Allen and Zoilo Versalles, giving the Twins a 7-1 advantage, and one they would never relinquish.
The Orioles responded in the top of the fourth when leadoff batter Brooks Robinson—playing in the game just one year after his retirement following the ’77 season—connected off Lee Stange for a looping round-tripper that barely cleared the wall in left-center, cutting the Baltimore deficit to 7-2. But that would be all the scoring the O’s could muster off the six Minnesota pitchers they faced this evening, collecting just three more hits over the next four innings (which included Albie Pearson’s gap triple in the final frame) to add to their six-hit total.
Meanwhile, the poke-happy Twins were far from done, scoring three more times in the sixth inning, all thanks to the long ball, this time from Johnny Goryl— pinch-hitting for relief pitcher Bill Pleis—who lofted a 2-run homer to left, and fittingly enough, from fan favorite Harmon ‘Killer’ Killebrew, who clubbed a two-out solo shot to round out the game’s scoring.
All in all, thirty players saw action in the game, including eleven pitchers, and of the fifteen total hits collected in the contest, six of those were home runs. Of the players who were unable to make the game, three had commitments that couldn’t be broken: Baltimore pitcher Ernie Johnson was announcing the Braves game in New York tonight for WTCG television, former O’s infielder Billy Gardner was busy coaching the Expos in their game against the Reds at Olympic Stadium, and pitcher Jim Kaat of the Twins was still active in the majors, the only player from either squad who hadn’t yet retired. Tonight, Kaat was at Veterans Stadium watching the game between the Phillies and Astros, charting pitches on the bench and awaiting his next start for the Phils on Sunday.
• The game was played in the afternoon at site AZ8 in Peoria, Arizona, on the living room table while I listened to nothing.
• Only one player from each team did not make it into the game: pitcher Hal Brown of the Orioles and pitcher Jack Kralick of the Twins. Sadly, I discovered a few days after playing this game that the real Jack Kralick had passed away just four days earlier. If I’d known this, I would’ve made sure he’d made it into the game to pitch an inning or two.
• The three previous SP78 exhibition games played before this one were the Sandlot Benefit Exhibition at Tiger Stadium, the Pearson Cup Game between the Blue Jays and Expos at Montreal, and the 1978 All-Star Game at San Diego Stadium.
• The ’62 Twins card set was made by Avalon Hill for one of their ‘greatest teams’ collections I’d purchased years ago, while the ’59 Orioles team cards were found as a free PDF file on-line; I made copies of the player cards, then copied those sheets onto card stock at Kinko’s and cut each card there.
• Yes, I researched every player from both teams to make sure they were still alive in 1978; thankfully, everyone was.
• I was actually hoping the Orioles would win this game, simply so I could put their old logo on my main page ‘Game of the Week’ post instead of the one for the ’62 Twins, which basically looked like their current logo. So for those of you who are interested, here’s the cooler Orioles artwork from 1959: