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Camilo Pascual

Camilo Pascual and Earl Battey

  Camilo Pascual and Earl Battey

Catcher Hal Naragon roomed with Camilo Pascual on the road. Pascual, Cuba-born, was speaking decent English in the late 1950s, but he would tell Naragon his English wasn't polished for phone conversations, so Naragon answered their hotel room phone. Until one day.

"Camilo. You speak English well enough," Naragon recalled telling him. "You've got to answer the phone sometimes."

Naragon and Pascual stayed up until about 3 a.m. re-hashing a game a few nights later. Early in the morning the phone rang in their hotel room. Pascual picked up the receiver and responded in Spanish. Naragon knew the person on the other end would ask, "Do you speak English?"

But all Naragon heard before Pascual hung up was, "Not at 8 in the morning I don't."

Pascual scowled on the mound, but he had a pleasant disposition. More importantly, he knew the game. He had wanted to be a shortstop as a kid in Cuba, but Washington Senator scout Joe Cambria told Pascual that his pitching was the ticket to the big leagues.

Three years into his Major League career, Pascual easily summed up the life of a big-league pitcher:

"After you've been around the league a little while, you get to know the batters. I have them all catalogued and I know their weaknesses. But here's what makes the game interesting. If I could put the ball where I wanted it on every pitch, no one could hit me. But the one I wanted low and outside comes in high and inside and BOOM, home run."

A bonafide three pitches

Known for an unmatched, sweeping curve and hopping fastball, Pascual also had one of the better change-ups in the game.

He began his career in the U.S. in 1951, but always pitched winter ball in Cuba with Cienfuegos. Even in the late 1950s, the Caribbean Federation, which comprised the six winter leagues, had an agreement with Major League Baseball that any player could play winter ball without permission from his big-league team.

In the winter of 1957, Senators' owner Calvin Griffith wanted Pascual to skip winter ball, but Pascual pitched some anyway. When he signed his 1958 contract, Pascual was reported to have received a $2,000 bonus to not play winter ball in the '58 off-season.

The year-round pitching took its toll. Pascual missed 34 days in '62, and 36 in '63. Despite those layoffs, spanning his last season in Washington and his first four in Minnesota, Pascual went 85-44.

Pascual remains third in Twins' history for winning percentage, and is in the top 10 in wins, earned run average and games started.

Given the fact starters rarely go nine innings anymore, he's likely to remain fourth on the Twins' career complete-game list, and third in shutouts for a very long time. Pascual had 18 career shutouts. Closest to him on the list of active or recently active Twins is Brad Radke with 10. Johan Santana has four - one since 2005.

Where are the 1965 Minnesota Twins?

Camilo Pascual was born in Havana, Cuba in January of 1934.

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