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.
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.