The Minnesota Twins are an American professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and play in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The team is named after the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota. They played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome from 1982 to 2009, and moved into Target Field on December 22, 2009.
One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Washington, D.C. in 1901 as the Washington Senators. In 1905, the team changed its official name to the Washington Nationals. The name "Nationals" appeared on uniforms for only 2 seasons, and was then replaced with the "W" logo for the next 52 years. The media often shortened the nickname to "Nats". Many fans and newspapers (especially out-of-town papers) persisted in using the "Senators" nickname. Over time, "Nationals" faded as a nickname, and "Senators" became dominant. Baseball guides listed the club's nickname as "Nationals or Senators", acknowledging the dual-nickname situation.
The team name was officially changed to Washington Senators around the time that long-time team president Clark Griffith died and his son Calvin took over the team. It was not until 1959 that the word "Senators" first appeared on team shirts. "Nats" continued to be used by space-saving headline writers, even for the 1961 expansion team, which was never officially known as "Nationals".
In 1960, Major League Baseball granted the city of Minneapolis an expansion team. Calvin Griffith requested that he be allowed to move his team to Minneapolis and instead grant Washington the expansion team. MLB granted his request, and the team moved to Bloomington, Minnesota after the 1960 season, setting up shop in Metropolitan Stadium, while Washington fielded a brand new "Washington Senators" that would also end up moving—to Arlington, Texas to become the Texas Rangers prior to the 1972 season.
Through the 2013 season, the franchise has won 3 World Series Championships (1924, 1987, and 1991) and has fielded 18 American League Batting Champions.
Washington Nationals/Senators: 1901–1960
For a time, from 1911 to 1933, the Washington Senators were one of the more successful franchises in major-league baseball. The team's rosters included Hall of Famers Goose Goslin, Sam Rice, Joe Cronin, Bucky Harris, Heinie Manush and one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Walter Johnson.
In the 1924 World Series, the Senators defeated the New York Giants in seven games. The following season, they repeated as American League champions but ultimately lost the 1925 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates. After Walter Johnson’s retirement in 1927, he was hired as manager of the Senators. After enduring a few losing seasons, the team returned to contention in 1930. In 1933, Senators owner Clark Griffith returned to the formula that worked for him nine years before, and 26-year-old shortstop Joe Cronin became player-manager. The Senators posted a 99–53 record and cruised to the pennant seven games ahead of the New York Yankees, but in the 1933 World Series the Giants exacted their revenge, winning in five games. Following the loss, the Senators sank all the way to seventh place in 1934, and attendance began to fall. Despite the return of Harris as manager from 1935–42 and again from 1950–54, Washington was mostly a losing ball club for the next 25 years, contending for the pennant only during World War II. Washington came to be known as "first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League", with their hard luck being crucial to the plot of the musical and film Damn Yankees. In 1954, the Senators signed future Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. By 1959, he was the Senators’ regular third baseman, leading the league with 42 home runs and earning a starting spot on the American League All-Star team.
After Griffith's death in 1955, his nephew and adopted son Calvin took over the team presidency. He sold Griffith Stadium to the city of Washington and leased it back, leading to speculation that the team was planning to move, as the Boston Braves, St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics had all done in the early 1950s. By 1957, after an early flirtation with San Francisco, Griffith began courting Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN, a prolonged process that resulted in his rejecting the Twin Cities' first offer before agreeing to relocate. The American League opposed the move at first, but in 1960 a deal was reached: The Senators would move and would be replaced with an expansion Senators team for 1961. Thus, the old Washington Senators became the Minnesota Twins.
Minnesota Twins: 1961 to present
The name "Twins" was derived from the popular name of the region, the Twin Cities. The NBA's Minneapolis Lakers had re-located to Los Angeles in 1960 due to poor attendance which was believed to have been caused in part by the reluctance of fans in St. Paul to support the team. Griffith was determined not to alienate fans in either city by naming the team after one city or the other, so his desire was to name the team the "Twin Cities Twins", however MLB objected. Griffith therefore named the team the Minnesota Twins. However, the team was allowed to keep its original "TC" (for Twin Cities) insignia for its caps. The team's logo shows two men, one in a Minneapolis Millers uniform and one in a St. Paul Saints uniform, shaking hands across the Mississippi River. The "TC" remained on the Twins' caps until 1987, when they adopted their current uniforms. By this time, the team felt it was established enough to put an "M" on its cap without having St. Paul fans think it stood for Minneapolis. The "TC" logo was moved to a sleeve on the jerseys, and occasionally appeared as an alternate cap design. Both the "TC" and "Minnie & Paul" logos remain the team's primary insignia. As of 2010, the "TC" logo has been reinstated on the cap as their logo.
The Twins were eagerly greeted in Minnesota when they arrived in 1961. They brought a nucleus of talented players: Harmon Killebrew, Bob Allison, Camilo Pascual, Zoilo Versalles, Jim Kaat, Earl Battey, and Lenny Green. Tony Oliva, who would go on to win American League batting championships in 1964, 1965 and 1971, made his major league debut in 1962. That year, the Twins won 91 games, the most by the franchise since 1933. Behind Mudcat Grant's 21 victories, Versalles' A.L. MVP season and Oliva's batting title, the Twins won 102 games and the American League Pennant in 1965, but they were defeated in the World Series by the Los Angeles Dodgers in seven games (behind the Series MVP, Sandy Koufax, who compiled a 2–1 record, including winning the seventh game).
Heading into the final weekend of the 1967 season, when Rod Carew was named the A.L. Rookie of the Year, the Twins, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, and Detroit Tigers all had a shot at clinching the American League championship. The Twins and the Red Sox started the weekend tied for 1st place and played against each other in Boston for the final three games of the season. The Red Sox won two out of the three games, seizing their first pennant since 1946 with a 92–70 record. The Twins and Tigers both finished one game back, with 91–71 records, while the White Sox finished three games back, at 89–73. In 1969, the new manager of the Twins, Billy Martin, pushed aggressive base running all-around, and Carew set the all-time Major League record by stealing home seven times in addition to winning the first of seven A.L. batting championships. With Killebrew slugging 49 homers and winning the AL MVP Award, these 1969 Twins won the very first American League Western Division Championship, but they lost three straight games to the Baltimore Orioles, winners of 109 games, in the first American League Championship Series. The Orioles would go on to be upset by the New York Mets in the World Series. Martin was fired after the season following an August 1969 fight in Detroit with 20-game winner Dave Boswell and outfielder Bob Allison, in an alley outside the Lindell A.C. bar. However Bill Rigney led the Twins to a repeat division title in 1970, behind the star pitching of Jim Perry (24-12), the A.L. Cy Young Award winner, while the Orioles again won the Eastern Division Championship behind the star pitching of Jim Palmer. Once again, the Orioles won the A.L. Championship Series in a three-game sweep, and this time they would win the World Series.
After winning the division again in 1970, the team entered an eight-year dry spell, finishing around the .500 mark. Killebrew departed after 1974. Owner Calvin Griffith faced financial difficulty with the start of free agency, costing the Twins the services of Lyman Bostock and Larry Hisle, who left as free agents after the 1977 season, and Carew, who was traded after the 1978 season. In 1975, Carew won his fourth consecutive AL batting title, having already joined Ty Cobb as the only players to lead the major leagues in batting average for three consecutive seasons. In 1977, Carew batted .388, which was the highest in baseball since Boston's Ted Williams hit .406 in 1941; he won the 1977 AL MVP Award. He won another batting title in 1978, hitting .333.
In 1982, the Twins moved into the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, which they shared with the Minnesota Vikings, but the team continued to struggle, losing 102 games despite the .301 average, 23 homers and 92 RBI from rookie Kent Hrbek. In 1984, Griffith sold the Twins to multi-billionaire banker/financier Carl Pohlad. The Metrodome hosted the 1985 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. After several losing seasons, the team, led by Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Frank Viola (A.L. Cy Young winner in 1988), Bert Blyleven, Jeff Reardon, Tom Brunansky, Dan Gladden, and rising star Kirby Puckett, returned to the World Series, defeating Detroit in the ALCS. Tom Kelly managed the Twins to World Series victories over the St. Louis Cardinals in 1987 and the Atlanta Braves in 1991. Twins' pitcher Jack Morris was the star of the series in 1991. 1991 also marked the first time that any team that finished in last place in their division would advance to the World Series the following season; both the Twins and the Braves did this in 1991. Contributors to the 1991 Twins' improvement from 74 wins to 95 included Chuck Knoblauch, the A.L. Rookie of the Year; Scott Erickson, 20-game winner; new closer Rick Aguilera and new designated hitter Chili Davis.
The World Series in 1991 is regarded by many as one of the classics of all time. In this Series, four games were won during the teams' final at-bat, and three of these were in extra innings. The Atlanta Braves won all three of their games in Atlanta, and the Twins won all four of their games in Minnesota. The sixth game was a legendary one for Puckett, who tripled in a run, made a sensational leaping catch against the wall, and finally in the 11th inning hit the game-winning home run. The seventh game was tied 0–0 after the regulation nine innings, and marked only the second time that the seventh game of the World Series had ever gone into extra innings. The Twins won by scoring a run in the bottom of the 10th inning, and Morris had pitched a shutout for all ten innings against the Braves. The seventh game of the 1991 World Series is widely regarded as one of the greatest games in the history of professional baseball.
After a winning season in 1992 but falling short of Oakland in the division, the Twins fell into a year-long stretch of mediocrity, posting a losing record each season for the next eight: 71–91 in 1993, 50–63 in 1994, 56–88 in 1995, 78–84 in 1996, 68–94 in 1997, 70–92 in 1998, 63–97 in 1999 and 69–93 in 2000. From 1994 to 1997, a long sequence of retirements and injuries hurt the team badly, and Tom Kelly spent the remainder of his managerial career attempting to rebuild the Twins. In 1997, owner Carl Pohlad almost sold the Twins to North Carolina businessman Don Beaver, who would have moved the team to the Piedmont Triad area.
Puckett after the 1995 season was forced to retire at age 35 due to loss of vision in one eye from a central retinal vein occlusion. The 1989 A.L. batting champion, he retired as the Twins' all-time leader in career hits, runs, doubles, and total bases. At the time of his retirement, his .318 career batting average was the highest by any right-handed American League batter since Joe DiMaggio. Puckett was the fourth baseball player during the 20th century to record 1,000 hits in his first five full calendar years in Major League Baseball, and was the second to record 2,000 hits during his first ten full calendar years. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001, his first year of eligibility.
The Twins dominated the Central Division in the first decade of the new century, winning the division in six of those ten years ('02, '03, '04, '06, '09, & '10), and nearly winning it in '08 as well.. From 2001 to 2006, the Twins compiled the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons since moving to Minnesota.
Threatened with closure by league contraction in 2002, the team battled back to reach the American League Championship Series before being eliminated 4–1 by that year's World Series champion Anaheim Angels.
In 2006, the Twins won the division on the last day of the regular season (the only day all season they held sole possession of first place) but lost to the Oakland Athletics in the ALDS. Ozzie Guillén coined a nickname for this squad, calling the Twins "little piranhas". The Twins players embraced the label, and in response, the Twins Front office started a "Piranha Night", with pirhana finger puppets given out to the first 10,000 fans. Scoreboard operators sometimes played an animated sequence of piranhas munching under that caption in situations where the Twins were scoring runs playing "small ball", and the stadium vendors sold tee-shirts and hats advertising "The Little Piranhas".
The Twins also had the AL MVP in Justin Morneau, the AL batting champion in Joe Mauer, and the AL Cy Young Award winner in Johan Santana.
In 2008, the Twins finished the regular season tied with the White Sox on top of the AL Central, forcing a one-game playoff in Chicago to determine the division champion. The Twins lost that game and missed the playoffs. The game location was determined by rule of a coin flip that was conducted in mid-September. This rule was changed for the start of the 2009 season, making the site for any tiebreaker game to be determined by the winner of the regular season head-to-head record between the teams involved.
After a mediocre year where the Twins played .500 baseball for most of the season, the team won 17 of their last 21 games to tie the Detroit Tigers for the lead in the Central Division. The Twins were able to use the play-in game rule change to their advantage when they won the AL Central in 2009 after tying the Detroit Tigers at the end of the regular season and winning a 12-inning tiebreaker on a walk-off hit by Alexi Casilla. However, they failed to advance to the American League Championship Series as they lost the American League Divisional Series in three straight games to the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees. That year Joe Mauer became only the second catcher in 33 years to win the AL MVP award. Iván Rodríguez won it for the Texas Rangers in 1999, previous to that, the last catcher to win an AL MVP was the New York Yankees Thurman Munson in 1976.
The 2010 Minnesota Twins season was the 50th season for the franchise in Minnesota, and the 110th overall in the American League. It was their first season in their new stadium, Target Field, which made its regular-season debut on April 12 as the Twins defeated the Boston Red Sox 5–2. This marked the return of outdoor baseball to the state of Minnesota for the first time since the end of the 1981 season, the last played at Metropolitan Stadium.
The Twins finished the regular season with a record of 94 wins and 68 losses, clinching their sixth AL Central division championship in nine seasons on September 21 after a win against the Cleveland Indians and a Chicago White Sox loss. New regular players included rookie Danny Valencia at third base, designated hitter Jim Thome, closer Matt Capps, infielder J. J. Hardy, and infielder Orlando Hudson. In relief pitching roles were late additions Brian Fuentes and Randy Flores. On July 7, the team suffered a major blow when Justin Morneau sustained a concussion, which knocked him out for the rest of the season. They were again swept by the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series to end the season. Following the season, Ron Gardenhire received AL Manager of the Year honors after finishing as a runner up in several prior years.
After repeating as AL Central champions in 2010, the Twins entered 2011 with no players on the disabled list, and the team seemed poised for another strong season. During the off-season, the team signed Japanese shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka to fill a hole in the middle infield, re-signed Jim Thome, who was in pursuit of career home run number 600, and also re-signed Carl Pavano. However, the season was largely derailed by an extensive list of injuries. Nishioka's broken leg in a collision at second base led the way and was followed by DL stints from Kevin Slowey, Joe Mauer, Jason Repko, Thome, Delmon Young (two stints on the DL), José Mijares, Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, Jason Kubel, Denard Span (two stints), Justin Morneau, Scott Baker, and Alexi Casilla. The team's low point was arguably on May 1 when the team started 7 players who were batting below .235 in a game against Kansas City. From that day forward, the Twins made a strong push to get as close as fives games back of the division lead by the All-Star break. However, the team struggled down the stretch and fell back out of contention. The team failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and experienced their first losing season in four years. Despite an AL-worst 63-99 record, the team drew over three million fans for the second consecutive year.
Michael Cuddyer served as the Twins representative at the All-Star game, his first appearance. Bert Blyleven's number was retired during the season and he was also inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame during the month of July. On August 10, Nathan recorded his 255th save, passing Rick Aguilera for first place on the franchise's all-time saves list. On August 15, Thome hit 599th and 600th home run at Comerica Park to become the eighth player in Major League history to hit 600 home runs, joining Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Alex Rodriguez.
The team started the 2012 season with a league worst 10-24 record. In late May and early June, the team embarked on a hot streak, winning ten out of thirteen games. By mid July, the team found themselves only 10 games out of the division lead. On July 16, the Twins defeated the Baltimore Orioles 19-7, the most runs scored in the short history of Target Field. By the end of August, the Twins were more than 20 games below .500, and last in the American League. On August 29, it was announced that the Twins would host the 2014 All-Star Game. In 2013, the Twins finished in 4th place in the AL Central, with a record of 66-96. In 2014, the team finished with a 70-92 record, last in the division and accumulated the second fewest wins in the American League. As a result, Ron Gardenhire was fired on September 29, 2014.
On November 3, Paul Molitor was announced by the team as the 13th manager in Twins history.
Threatened Contraction and the future:
Over the first decade of the 2000's, the Twins have argued that the lack of a modern baseball-dedicated ballpark has stood in the way of producing a top-notch, competitive team, despite the fact that their current stadium, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, played a crucial role in their championship seasons of 1987 and 1991. The quirks of the facility, such as the turf floor and the white roof, gave the Twins a home-field advantage; the team won every one of their home games in their two World Series victories. Regardless, the Metrodome has often been considered inadequate mainly because of its relatively low income-producing power; in the 1990s and early 2000s the Twins were often rumored to be moving to such places as New Jersey, Las Vegas, Portland, Oregon, the Raleigh–Durham area, and others in search of a more financially competitive market. The team was nearly contracted (disbanded) in 2002, a move which would have eliminated the Twins and the Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals) franchises. The Twins survived largely due to a court decision which forced them to play out their lease on the Metrodome. In October 2005, the Twins went back to state court asking for a ruling that they have no long-term lease with the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the owner of the Metrodome where the Twins currently play. In February 2006, the court did rule favorably on the Twins motion. Thus, the Twins were not obligated to play in the Metrodome after the 2006 season. This removed one of the roadblocks that prevented contraction prior to the 2002 season and cleared the way for the Twins to either be relocated or disbanded prior to the 2007 season if a new deal was not reached.
Twins ownership wished to move from the Metrodome to a site behind the Target Center, claiming that the Metrodome generates too little revenue for the Twins to be competitive.
In response to the threatened loss of the Twins, the Minnesota private and public sector negotiated and approved a financing package for a replacement stadium— a baseball-only outdoor, natural turf ballpark in the Warehouse District of downtown Minneapolis, in a former parking lot, within walking distance of the Target Center — and owned by a new entity known as the Minnesota Ballpark Authority.
On May 21, 2006, the Twins' new stadium, which would later be named Target Field, received the approval of the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate on the second-to-last day of the 2006 legislative session. The bill moved on to Governor Tim Pawlenty, who signed it during a special pre-game ceremony at the Metrodome on May 26, 2006. On January 5, 2009, owner Carl Pohlad died at the age of 93. Pohlad's three sons inherited the team, with Jim Pohlad assuming control of day-to-day operations and acting as principal owner.
On September 15, 2008 the Twins announced that they had sold naming rights to the Target Corporation and that the stadium would be known as Target Field. The Hiawatha Light Rail line has been extended to the ballpark area
Target Field was constructed at a cost of $544.4 million (including site acquisition and infrastructure), utilizing the proceeds of a $392 million public bond offering based on a 0.15 percent sales tax in Hennepin County and private financing of $185 million provided by the Pohlad family. As part of the deal, the Twins also signed a 30-year lease of the new stadium, effectively guaranteeing the continuation of the team in Minnesota for a long time to come. Construction of the new field began in 2007, and was completed in December 2009, in time for the 2010 season. Target Field has the seating capacity of 39,021 seats and 66 suites.
With the new ballpark bill, a provision was signed into law that allows the state of Minnesota the right of first refusal to buy the team if it is ever sold, and requires that the name, colors, World Series' trophies and history of the team remain in Minnesota if the Twins are ever moved out of state.
Commissioner Bud Selig, who earlier had threatened to disband the team, observed that without the new stadium the Twins could not have committed to sign their star player, catcher Joe Mauer, to an unprecedented 8-year, $184 million contract extension. The first regular season game in Target Field was played against the Boston Red Sox on April 12, 2010, with Mauer driving in two runs and going 3-for-5 to help the Twins defeat the Red Sox, 5–2.
On May 18, 2011, Target Field was named "The Best Place To Shop" by Street and Smith's SportsBusiness Journal at the magazine's 2011 Sports Business Awards Ceremony in New York City. It was also named "The Best Sports Stadium in North America" by ESPN The Magazine in a ranking that included over 120 different stadiums, ballparks and arenas from around North America.