Camilo Pascual and Earl Battey
Catcher Hal Naragon roomed with Camilo
Pascual on the road. Pascual, Cuba-born, was speaking decent English in the
late 1950s, but he would tell Naragon his English wasn't polished for phone
conversations, so Naragon answered their hotel room phone. Until one day.
"Camilo. You speak English well enough," Naragon recalled telling
him. "You've got to answer the phone sometimes."
Naragon and Pascual stayed up until about 3 a.m. re-hashing a game a few
nights later. Early in the morning the phone rang in their hotel room. Pascual
picked up the receiver and responded in Spanish. Naragon knew the person on the
other end would ask, "Do you speak English?"
But all Naragon heard before Pascual hung up was, "Not at 8 in the
morning I don't."
Pascual scowled on the mound, but he had a pleasant disposition. More
importantly, he knew the game. He had wanted to be a shortstop as a kid in
Cuba, but Washington Senator scout Joe Cambria told Pascual that his
pitching was the ticket to the big leagues.
Three years into his Major League career, Pascual easily summed up the life
of a big-league pitcher:
"After you've been around the league a little while, you get to know
the batters. I have them all catalogued and I know their weaknesses. But here's
what makes the game interesting. If I could put the ball where I wanted it on
every pitch, no one could hit me. But the one I wanted low and outside comes in
high and inside and BOOM, home run."
A bonafide three pitches
Known for an unmatched, sweeping curve and hopping fastball, Pascual also
had one of the better change-ups in the game.
He began his career in the U.S. in 1951, but always pitched winter ball in
Cuba with Cienfuegos. Even in the late 1950s, the Caribbean Federation, which
comprised the six winter leagues, had an agreement with Major League Baseball
that any player could play winter ball without permission from his big-league
In the winter of 1957, Senators' owner Calvin Griffith wanted Pascual
to skip winter ball, but Pascual pitched some anyway. When he signed his 1958
contract, Pascual was reported to have received a $2,000 bonus to not play
winter ball in the '58 off-season.
The year-round pitching took its toll. Pascual missed 34 days in '62, and 36
in '63. Despite those layoffs, spanning his last season in Washington and his
first four in Minnesota, Pascual went 85-44.
Pascual remains third in Twins' history for winning percentage, and is in
the top 10 in wins, earned run average and games started.
Given the fact starters rarely go nine innings anymore, he's likely to
remain fourth on the Twins' career complete-game list, and third in shutouts
for a very long time. Pascual had 18 career shutouts. Closest to him on the
list of active or recently active Twins is Brad Radke with 10. Johan
Santana has four - one since 2005.