Cool of the Evening


About Cool of the Evening

About the Author


Buy the Book

Excerpts from the Book

Where are they now?

Other Baseball Essays

Baseball Links

Don Mincher

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 history.

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.

wet-haired baseball players in bear hug
Own 'Cool'

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 the field.

"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 playing outfield.

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, I’d wear a Minnesota Twins hat in there because that was my favorite place to be. The people up there are wonderful.”

Where are the 1965 Minnesota Twins?

Don Mincher was born at the end of June 1938 in Huntsville, Alabama. He died in March 2012.

  © Cool of the Evening 2004 contact us