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
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.