Tossed into the Roy Sievers-Earl Battey
trade when the White Sox refused to give Washington owner Calvin
Griffith the utility infielder he wanted, Don Mincher wound up being
part of one of the greater, if not the greatest, impact trades in franchise
Mincher hadn't taken a big-league swing when he, Battey and 150 grand ended
up in Washington for Sievers. By the time the franchise moved to Minnesota,
Mincher was progressing toward being a legitimate big-league starter.
The problem was that "Minch" played first base and the Twins had
Vic Power, Harmon Killebrew
and Bob Allison.
With no free agency available to him, Mincher hung in there and was vital to
the Twins' '65 pennant when Killebrew was injured for two months. He hit a home
run in his first World Series at-bat - the first Twins' player to go yard in
the World Series.
Mincher fit in with the early Twins as he was not known as a decent fielder.
But Billy Martin, a fine fielding second
baseman in his day, came aboard in '64 to scout for the Twins, and to instruct
during spring training.
Martin taught Mincher to play first base as though he were a middle
infielder, getting in front of ground balls rather than swiping at the ball or
drifting to one side. Martin claimed he hit more than a thousand ground balls
to Mincher during spring training, and also told Mincher to sing to himself in
"He was always tense in the field," Martin said, figuring anything
to loosen the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder couldn't hurt.
Make room for 'Minch'
Allison moved to first base in '64, and Mincher knew he had to crank up his
game to get some playing time -- and maybe force the Twins to move Allison back
to the outfield and keep Killebrew at third base. Mincher also worked at
By '64, he had 10 years in professional baseball and was frustrated at not
being a big-league starter. He made the Twins notice him that season when he
hit 23 homers in fewer than 300 at-bats.
Mincher liked to blame his reputation as a "streak hitter" on
irregular playing time. Actually, most hitters are streak hitters, and Mincher
certainly was. In the middle of '63, he went 19-for-32 during a 10-game hitting
streak with 8 home runs and 18 runs batted in. Those types of outbursts were
not uncommon for him.
He homered twice in a game three times in '65, and nine of his 22 home runs
that season came in July. He went on another tear in September, so pitchers
began to avoid him. He didn't have 100 plate appearances that month, but was
walked intentionally seven times.
Mincher got into his second World Series in 1972 with Oakland. A pinch-hit
single in his only at-bat that October tied the fourth game of the Series in
the ninth. The A's eventually won the game -- and the Series. It was Mincher's
last swing in the big leagues.
From the South, liked the North
Mincher played for the original Twins and, more than a decade later, the
original Texas Rangers. He was also on the Washington roster for both the end
of the Senators in 1960 and the end of the second Senators' franchise in '71.
No one else can make either claim.
Mincher began his pro career playing minor league ball in Duluth, Minn., and
thought little of making a move west when the Senators relocated to Minnesota.
He did think quite a lot of Midwesterners, though.
In 2010, he told the New York Times, I was not bad, but I was not a
Hall of Famer. If I was, Id wear a Minnesota Twins hat in there because
that was my favorite place to be. The people up there are wonderful.