Tag Archives: Washington Senators
Thanks to an algorithm I created on the fly, my wife Amy picked Harmon Killebrew of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins as my Hall-of-Fame-or-not profile this week. Killebrew was the franchise player of the nomadic Minnesota Twins since before they moved to Minnesota. To best understand how a team came to move to Minnesota, you have to understand the following:
1. Major League Baseball awarded Minneapolis, Minnesota an expansion team in 1960.
2. Clark Griffith, nephew of the skinflint owner of the sad-sack Washington Senators, petitioned major league baseball to move the Senators to Minneapolis instead, awarding Washington an expansion franchise to immediately replace the departed club.
3. Major League Baseball actually allows this, and Griffith moves the club to Minneapolis to play in Metropolitan Stadium.
Incidentally, the new Washington Senators didn’t exactly thrive when the District was awarded an expansion franchise (also, ironically, named the Senators.) A decade of ineptitude and bad ownership by trucking executive Bob Short eventually led to the Senators being relocated to the Dallas Metroplex beginning in 1972. Major League Baseball would not return to the District until the broke, non-drawing Montreal Expos (who played for more than three decades in the decrepit warehouse known as Stade Olympique (or Olympic Stadium to all you anglophiles) moved to Washington and built a brand-new stadium in 2005.
That brings us to Killebrew, Minnesota’s first franchise icon. Killebrew was a slugger in the game’s “second dead-ball era” (see Jimmy Wynn’s episode for more on that.) A soft-spoken strongman from Payette, Idaho, Killebrew amassed 573 homers in the pitching-rich era of the mid-1960s, hitting towering home runs for the Twins under adverse circumstances. Killebrew, the 1969 American League Most Valuable Player, played on some truly terrible Twins ballclubs, winning just one pennant in his career in 1966. Nevertheless, he was one of the top fifteen home run hitters of all time, and deserves greater accolades than he receives today; the “east coast bias” is alive and well in the baseball media, and most younger fans have no idea who Harmon Killebrew was. He was UNDOUBTEDLY a Hall of Famer, but where does he rank among the following first basemen?
We also answer a fan mail question from Brad Haven: Does Will Clark belong in the Hall of Fame? I say no, because his numbers are not quite strong enough to overcome the fact that there are a LOT of first basemen in the Hall of Fame. Clark’s numbers are good, but nothing jumps off the page enough to make him get serious consideration. Since some numbers in his era of the mid 1990s may be a bit tainted, his exclusion from consideration after one year may be unfair, but ultimately he falls just short for me to vote him in.
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