The Twins and Indians were tied for first place when Dave Boswell,
barely 20, took the mound in the first game of a doubleheader against Boston
July 5, 1965. Boswell struck out 10 Red Sox, came within two outs of a complete
game and helped the Twins to a doubleheader sweep. Minnesota never trailed in
the standings the rest of the summer.
"Bos" -- originally called "Hots" because his neck grew
red when he got angry -- had been one of the last players cut during spring
training of 1964, even though his entire professional career at the time
consisted of 21 innings of Florida Instructional League pitching.
The Twins had out-maneuvered the other 19 big-league clubs to sign Boswell,
who had a 28-2 high school record.
The Twins could afford Boswell's $15,000 signing bonus because after moving
to Minnesota, owner Calvin Griffith finally had money to develop a farm
system. Boswell was a big part of that.
He spent most of the '64 season with Bismarck-Mandan of the Northern League,
which he led in strikeouts: 173 in 160 innings. He played with Charlotte in
August before the Twins called him up in September. He got four starts as a
19-year-old and never went back to the minor leagues.
In addition to a good fastball, Boswell used a slow curve as his off-speed
pitch, and now and then threw a screwball.
Into the rotation
In his first 15 innings during the spring of '65 in Orlando, he allowed two
runs and eight hits. There was no doubt: Boswell was going north with the club,
and would have a chance to work his way into the starting rotation.
After a few games in long relief, he entered the rotation and by the end of
May Boswell had a 2.12 ERA, in 34 innings. He was 2-2 and had made three
starts. Boswell would have remained in the starting rotation, but he came down
with mononucleosis and missed much of the season.
Pitching coach John Sain was so impressed
with Boswell that he said, "It is seldom you see a kid pitcher of 20 with
such poise. He's got the makings of stardom."
Boswell, of course, is known for being manager Billy Martin's punching bag during an August
1969 argument. You'll read some places that Martin had help.
You can decide for yourself:
In 1969, Martin, 41, might have been 5-foot-10, 170. Boswell, 24, stood
6-foot-3 and weighed 200 pounds. Oh. Boswell's father was a steel worker and a
former amateur heavyweight boxer.