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Cesar Tovar

Cesar Tovar in Minnesota Twins uniform
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Farm director Sherry Robertson spurred the only Twins' trade during the 1964 off-season: left-handed starting pitcher Gerry Arrigo for Cesar Tovar, a minor-league infielder. Reds' players and Cincinnati manager Dick Sisler commented laughingly at the trade -- teams didn't deal starting lefty pitchers for minor-league infielders.

Many Twins' fans were furious. Arrigo had thrown a one-hitter in 1964, and no other trades were forthcoming for a team that finished sixth in '64.

Tovar, 24, began the '65 season with the Twins only because teams carried 28 men out of spring training, then cut to the 25-man limit in early May. He played fewer than 20 games with the '65 team, then went on to become the most successful utility player in team history.

(Arrigo, 24, had the worst season of his 10-year career in '65.)

Tovar and Tony Oliva played minor-league ball and roomed together in AAA Dallas in 1963. Tovar was Reds' property on loan to Dallas. By '66, they were both with Minnesota, living in the same hotel. Oliva was a bachelor at the time, and Tovar couldn't afford to bring his wife to the U.S. from Caracas.

Plays nine positions - twice

Famous for playing all nine positions during a '68 Twins' game, he did the same thing during the Venezuelan Winter League All-Star game that off-season.

When he came to the Twins, he rarely fielded a ball cleanly at third base, but recovered quickly and had a strong arm. Although he played third, second and shortstop in addition to the outfield, he was a better outfielder than an infielder.

Tovar holds the Major League record for breaking up five no-hitters.

He also holds a Twins' record that few ever mull: fewest GIDP, or grounded into double plays. Tovar had 613 at-bats in 1968, and grounded into double plays just twice.

Tovar's father, Frank -- bigger and stronger than his 5-foot-9, 155-pound son -- played Venezuelan ball with the likes of Chico Carrasquel, Major League Baseball's first Latin American All-Star. When Frank's career was over, he gave his glove to Cesar, who used it for years.


Where are the 1965 Minnesota Twins?

 


Cesar Tovar was born midway through 1940 in Caracas, Venezuela. He died of pancreatic cancer at age 54.


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