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CHAPTER EIGHT

On Saturday, three days before the All-Star game in Minnesota, clever Calvin Griffith counted a double gate as the Twins won the opener of a day-night doubleheader before losing the nightcap, their first loss in 10 games.

Griffith had wisely lobbied to postpone the season´s second game during April´s rain and floods, despite protests from the Yankees, who claimed Griffith was more concerned about poor attendance than unplayable conditions. The league went along with Griffith, and that decision put a bulge in his wallet because Major League Baseball had a directive that stated postponed games could be made up as part of split doubleheaders.

Twins 1966 yearbook

The postponed April game with New York was converted into the second game of the Saturday day-night doubleheader, so what might have been a crowd of perhaps 3,000 in April resulted in a huge mid-summer gate attraction, with more than 36,000 fans turning out for each game that Saturday.

There was a break of a couple hours between games to clear the crowd, wait for the parishioners from Church of the Assumption to sweep out the stands as they had since the club moved to Minnesota, and then admit ticket holders for the nightcap. The downside for the players was they had to spend more than 10 hours at Met Stadium, so the players hoped for a short day at the yard when Sunday arrived. It was getaway day for the Yankees, and players on both teams were eager to start the three-day All-Star break.

It was 78 degrees, and another crowd of about 35,000 appeared for the series finale that soft Sunday afternoon, settling into the stands to watch a pre-game ceremony in which Oliva received his Silver Slugger Award for winning the 1964 league batting title. Fans were in an upbeat mood over the presentation, the sun, and the fact New York had lost two of the first three games and was more than a dozen games behind the Twins in the standings, but the Yankees took the lead in the top of the ninth on a controversial play that disgusted the hometown crowd and caused the fans to drum long and hard on the umpires.

The game had been tied three times, first when Versalles hit his 10th home run of the season to make it 1-1 in the third. The scoring seesawed from that point before coming to rest at 4-4 in the top of the ninth when, with two out and Yankees on first and third, New York rookie outfielder Roger Repoz chopped a high, bounding ball down the first-base line.

Pitcher Jerry Fosnow raced over and lunged for the ball as Repoz sped down the baseline, making contact with Fosnow en route to first base. The ball fell to the ground and home plate umpire Ed Hurley called Repoz out for interfering with Fosnow´s ability to field the ball. It was the third out and the Twins ran off the field, hoping to stage a ninth-inning rally and go home.

harmon killebrew smiling
Yankee manager Johnny Keane charged out of the third-base dugout and insisted Fosnow had possession of the ball but dropped it, an interesting assertion in that Keane lacked an ideal view of a play on the first-base side of the field from the visitors´ third-base dugout. If Fosnow had dropped the ball, it would mean Repoz should be safe and the run that crossed the plate would count.

Umpires rarely reverse a call, but Hurley did just that after a conference with the first-base umpire. Hurley decided his view of the play had been blocked and deferred his call. Fosnow was ruled to have been in possession of the ball before it fell to the ground, and Repoz was called safe. New York´s Elston Howard scored from third on the play, the run stood and the Yankees led 5-4.

Mele charged out and argued with more animation than Keane, but lost the argument. Fosnow maintained he never had control of the ball when Repoz brushed him, and that Repoz unquestionably had interfered. Hurley dismissed the Twins´ appeal, and Mele told the umpires his team would continue the game under protest as the players were ordered back onto the field. Minnesota got the final out of the inning for what fans believed was the second time, and those customers remained agitated and dismayed as the team left the field again. Didn´t the Yankees always get these kinds of breaks?

The specter of Yankee championships remained with many baseball followers, who still considered the franchise a threat. Could this open the door? American League president Joe Cronin was in the stands, so fans howled at him in addition to the umpires and the Yankees.


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It's July of '65, and Harmon Killebrew is about to hit his dramatic home run against the Yankees.

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