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Jerry Kindall

Light-hitting, smooth-fielding Jerry Kindall held down the Twins' second base job for most of the '65 season before giving way to Frank Quilici, who started all seven games of the '65 Series.


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The Twins had tried 13 men at second base spanning 1961-64. They picked up Kindall from Cleveland in 1964 in a three-team trade. He never did hit much in the big leagues after starring for the University of Minnesota's 1956 National Collegiate Athletic Association championship team.

His fine college career earned him a reported $50,000 bonus, which under the rules of the game in 1956 forced the Chicago Cubs to keep him on the major-league roster for two seasons. After that came two minor league years in Fort Worth before he returned to Chicago. In 1961, he gained the distinction of replacing Hall of Famer Ernie Banks at shortstop.

The Cubs had lost 18 of 21 games as June of '61 approached. It was before Banks' days as a daily first baseman, and the Cubs moved the future Hall of Famer from shortstop to left field and replaced him with Kindall.

Kindall came into the '61 season as a .201 lifetime hitter, but his first five hits after the move were three home runs, a triple and a double.

Although a light-hitter, Kindall did have remarkable power when he connected and was capable of 400-foot home runs. "He always could hit the ball a far piece," coach Harry Craft said.

The problem was that Kindall just failed to connect very often, collecting only 439 hits in a nine-year career.

A flyball hitter

His ability to get the ball aloft put him in good company with the 1965 Twins in one department. The Twins had four players among the league-leaders in sacrifice flies that year. Tony Oliva led the league with 10, but Zoilo Versalles, Jimmie Hall and Kindall combined for 20 more.

Unfortunately, light-hitters need to put the ball on the ground and make the opposition field it: big-league outfielders don't drop many flyballs.

Twins' hitting coach Jim Lemon even worked with Kindall in spring training to get his lead shoulder into the ball more. Kindall would use a heavy, 38-ounce bat during practice to force him to swing down, rather than up.

It is often said that players who struggled to keep their big-league jobs make the better coaches. The borderline players, it is said, had to think to keep a job. This would apply to Kindall.

A studious fellow, Kindall eventually coached college baseball for 24 years. His teams at the University of Arizona posted an 860-580 record. The winningest coach in UA history, Kindall's teams won National Collegiate Athleitic Association titles in 1976, 1980 and 1986.


Where are the 1965 Minnesota Twins?

 


Saint Paul, Minnesota, native Jerry Kindall was born in 1935.


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