All good things must come to an end. My 1961 Minnesota Twins replay, played out a little differently than I expected. I expected the 1961 Twins to struggle playing against the upper-division clubs of the American League. But other than the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox each going 12-6 vs the Twins, the Twins turned the tables on the likes of the Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles. The Twins do struggle in their closing month of 1961, going just 12-17 (compared to 13-16 actual). Overall, the Twins finish a balanced 80-80, 10 games above their actual record of 1961, 70-90. The last 33 games for the Twins (including the final 4 games of August thru the close of the season), the Twins record was just 12-21. I expected this tailspin much earlier in the season, it just did not occur until the last 33 games, thus allowing the Twins to finish 10 games above their actual 1961 mark. The single most contributing factor to the Twins being able to win 80 times in my ’61 replay was the pitching of Jack Kralick (BYZ), who finishes 23-4 with a 2.02 ERA on the season. And to think after his first 4 starts, he was just 2-2. The last loss he took was July 30th vs Detroit where he pitched 4 innings, giving up 5 runs, 4 of those earned. 3 out of his last 5 starts were no decisions, but he did win his final start of the season vs Cleveland.
Here is how the American League fared vs the Twins in my 1961 Twins replay:
The High-lights and low-lights in the month of September/Oct. …
- After losing their last 4 games of August, the Twins win their 1st 2 games in September, taking 2 of 3 vs Boston including a 1-0 walk-off win on September 2nd when Bob Allison went deep in the bottom of the 9th. Don Lee earning the CG shut-out.
- The Twins earn a 4-game series split with Chicago.
- After dropping the 1st 2 games to lowly Kansas City, the Twins win the last 2 games to earn another 4-game series split. Jack Kralick wins his 22nd game on September 10th.
- The Angels take 2 of 3 from the Twins. Camilo Pascual K’s a season-high 16 batters on September 11th, pitching 11 innings, in a 13 inning 5-3 loss.
- Another 4-game series split, this time vs Cleveland.
- Twins begin a 5-game scheduling oddity where they play 2 at Washington followed by 3 at home vs Washington. Twins drop the 2 games at Washington. Back home at Metropolitan Stadium, the Twins drop 2 of 3, including a 1-0 win by Dick Donovan of the Senators.
- The Twins continue their end-of-season 11-game home stand, and lose 2 of 3 to the Cleveland Indians. Twins drop to 1 game above .500. Jack Kralick won his 23rd in his final start of 1961.
- The season closes with a win and then 2 losses to Detroit, as the Twins finish an even 80-80. Harmon Killebrew blasts 3 homers in the final series, to finish the season with 54 (8 more than actual).
I will be posting a follow-up to this final monthly post, with stat comparisons for each player, real-life vs replay.
(Killebrew, Mantle, Lemon, Maris at Yankee Stadium)
The month of September/October:
(click on game scores below for either the REPLAY boxscore or the ACTUAL boxscore)
Series #47: Red Sox at Twins, September 1, 2, 3
TWINS RECORD: Replay (70-64) – Actual (58-76)
Don Lee, C(B*)Y, entered his start on September 2nd, with a 2-10 record having made 8 starts and 31 appearances with a 5.93 ERA. Lee pitches his 2nd CG, 1-0 shut-out of the season.
Series #48: White Sox at Twins, September 4 (2), 6 (2)
Game #137a – *Did not replay this game* – (Actual Score: TWINS 3, WHITE SOX 3 – TIE)
TWINS RECORD: Replay (72-66) – Actual (59-79)
Juan Pizzaro (BXY) finished 4th among the 1961 AL Strikeout leaders in real-life. In the September 6th replay game, White Sox at Twins, game 1 of a double dip, Pizzaro pitched a CG, 3-hit, shutout, winning 5-0, and striking out 13 Twin batters. Pizzaro also shut-out the Twins back on June 17th, pitching a CG, 2-hitter and striking out 9. In 3 appearances vs the Twins in this replay, he has 20 IP, a 0.00 ERA and has struck-out 22 batters. The White Sox finish with a 12-6 replay record over the Twins.
Series #49: Twins at Athletics, September 8, 9, 10 (2)
TWINS RECORD: Replay (74-68) – Actual (61-81)
Jack Kralick and Harmon Killebrew do what they have done all season long, win ballgames and knock the ball over the fence. Kralick wins his 22nd game of the season pitching 6 innings of shut-out ball as the Twins take the 1st of a double-header dip on September 10th, the Twins win 2-0. Killebrew blasts his 46th homer, equaling his 1961 actual output, during the 2nd game of the double-header sweep on September 10th. The A’s had won the first 2 game of the 4-game series, and they finish with an 8-10 record vs the Twins in ’61.
Series #50: Angels at Twins, September 11, 14 (2)
TWINS RECORD: Replay (75-70) – Actual (63-82)
Camilo Pascual (BX), has turned into the strike-out “highlight” reel for the Minnesota Twins in 1961. In game #143, Pascual went 11 innings, striking out 16 (a season record high for the Twins), only to see the Twins lose the game in the 13th inning. The Angels meanwhile, finish with a 10-7 record (1 rain-out not made up) over the Twins in 1961.
Series #51: Twins at Indians, September 15, 16, 17 (2)
TWINS RECORD: Replay (77-72) – Actual (66-83)
Joe Altobelli’s 1961 tenure with the Twins (41 games) was very short-lived. ’61 would be the last season Altobelli played in the Major’s after previously playing for Cleveland in 1955 and 1957. In real-life, Joe only hit 3 HR in 1961. In this ’61 Twins replay, Joe would hit #4 and #5 vs the Indians, in games 3 and 4 of this 4-game series. In game 4, Joe’s 3-run homer tied the game in the top of the 9th for the Twins, after the Twins had given up a 3-run homer to Vic Power in the bottom of the 8th. The Twins split this 4-game set with the Indians. Altobelli would go on to manage parts of 7 different seasons between 1977 and 1991 for the Giants, Orioles and Cubs.
Series #52: Twins at Senators, September 19, 21
TWINS RECORD: Replay (77-74) – Actual (68-83)
Bud Zipfel’s MLB career lasted only 2 seasons. 1961 and 1962 with the Senators. In this 2 game replay series vs the Twins, Zipfel managed to hit a HR in each game. In game 2, the homer came in the 6th off of Jack Kralick, who had a 1-0 lead going at the time. The Senators win game 2, 2-1, in 10 innings in walk-off fashion on a wild pitch by Twins reliever Bill Pleis with Willie Tasby scoring from 3rd. With the Senators sweeping 2 vs Minnesota in D.C., the teams now head to Bloomington, MN for 3 more …
Series #53: Senators at Twins, September 23 (2), 24
TWINS RECORD: Replay (78-76) – Actual (69-85)
In game #152 of the replay, Harmon Killebrew blasts his 49th homer of the season (which matches his highest real-life, 1-season total during his career). In game #154, Dick Donovan blanks the Twins, 1-0. The Senators finish with an 8-9 record (1 rain-out not made up) vs the Twins in the replay.
Series #54: Indians at Twins, September 26, 27, 28
TWINS RECORD: Replay (79-78) – Actual (70-87)
Vic Power, the slick fielding 1st-baseman for the Cleveland Indians has a career 3-game series going 8 for 12 vs his future team, as the Twins will end up acquiring Power for the 1962 season. In Power’s last 4 replay games vs the Twins in ’61, he was 11 for 18 with 2 HR’s and a triple (and 16 for 46 in 11 games vs Minnesota in ’61). Meanwhile the Cleveland Indians finish with a 10-8 record over the Twins in ’61. Jack Kralick won his 23rd in his final start of 1961, in game 1 of the series.
Series #55: Tigers at Twins, September 29, 30, Oct 1
FINAL TWINS RECORD: Replay (80-80) – Actual (70-90)
The season closes with an 8-6, 11 inning loss to Detroit. In the final series opener, Harmon Killebrew hit homers #52 and #53, and driving in all 4 Twins runs in a 4-2 win. Harmon’s homer barrage continued in game #159, as Killer hit homerun #54, in a losing cause, and the Twins dropped their final 2 games of the season, finishing an even 80-80. Harmon’s 54 replay clouts top his actual highest HR total in any season, of 49 (done in 1964 and 1969).
TWINS Final Season Stats (click on link to read):
160 ink-stained scoresheets later …
TWINS month-by-month Summaries (click on links to read past months):
SEPT/OCT (W-L): 12-17 (13-16 Actual)
The 1961 season closes with Harmon Killebrew emerging as the new Minnesota hero for generations to come.