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Jerry Kindall

Light-hitting, smooth-fielding Jerry Kindall held down the Twins' second base job for most of the '65 season before giving way to Frank Quilici, who started all seven games of the '65 Series.


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The Minnesota Twins had tried 13 men at second base spanning 1961 to 1964. They picked up 29-year-old Jerry Kindall from Cleveland in 1964 in a three-team trade. He never did hit much in the big leagues after starring for the University of Minnesota's 1956 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship team.

His fine college career earned him a reported $50,000 bonus, which under the rules of Major League Baseball in 1956 forced the Chicago Cubs to keep him on the major-league roster for two seasons. After that came two minor league years in Fort Worth, Texas, before he returned to Chicago.

In 1961, he gained the distinction of replacing Hall of Famer Ernie Banks at shortstop.

The Cubs had lost 18 of 21 games as June of '61 approached. This was before Banks' days as a daily first baseman, so the Cubs moved the future Hall of Famer from shortstop to left field and replaced Banks with Kindall.

Kindall came into the '61 season as a .201 lifetime hitter, but his first five hits after the move were three home runs, a triple and a double.

Although a light-hitter, Kindall had long arms, so when he connected he was capable of 400-foot home runs. "He always could hit the ball a far piece," coach Harry Craft said.

The problem was that Kindall failed to connect very often, collecting only 439 hits in a nine-year career.

A flyball hitter

His ability to get the ball aloft put him in good company with the 1965 Twins in one department. The Twins had four players among the league-leaders in sacrifice flies that year. Tony Oliva led the league with 10, but Zoilo Versalles, Jimmie Hall and Kindall combined for 20 more.

Unfortunately, light-hitters need to put the ball on the ground and make the opposition throw and catch; big-league outfielders don't drop many flyballs.

Twins' hitting coach Jim Lemon even worked with Kindall in spring training to get his lead shoulder into the ball more. Kindall would use a heavy, 38-ounce bat during practice to force him to swing down, rather than up.

Players who fail in the major leagues got there on talent. The challenge is to reach the deep end of the pool.

Those who struggle to keep their big-league jobs often do so with their wits. That's an ingredient for a good coach. And it applied to Kindall.

A studious fellow, Kindall eventually coached college baseball for 24 years. His teams at the University of Arizona posted an 860-580 record. The winningest coach in UA history, Kindall's teams won National Collegiate Athleitic Association titles in 1976, 1980 and 1986.

 

Where are the 1965 Minnesota Twins?


Saint Paul, Minnesota, native Jerry Kindall was born in 1935.


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