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Jimmie Hall

Because Tony Oliva was a very poor outfielder early in his professional career, the Twins kept him in the minor leagues in 1963 and brought 25-year-old outfielder Jimmie Hall to Minnesota.

Hall had ended an Army hitch, joined minor-league Vancouver and batted .313 in 68 at-bats at the end of the '62 season.

Jimmie Hall
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In mid-June of 1963, Lenny Green was forced to leave the lineup. Hall stepped in, and Green never got his center field job back.

Hall was a lean 6-footer with remarkably broad shoulders who used his whiplash swing to mash 33 home runs in '63 to break Ted Williams' 35-year-old record for rookies. The glory days were brief.

A pitch from Los Angeles' Bo Belinsky hit the left-handed hitting Hall in the right cheek during a twilight start in 1964. Hall said he never saw the ball until it was too late.

A beaning, an earflap

Hall returned to the lineup wearing a batting helmet with an ear flap, and struggled against left-handed pitching. It is often stated he never recovered from that beaning, and was gun-shy against lefties.

Although it had been Hall's ability to hit to all fields that helped him earn a spot with the Twins, Hall had never hit lefties particularly well. Despite his power, he managed just one home run against lefties in each of his first four seasons in the majors.

Ultimately, only four of his 121 career home runs came against left-handers.

Hall recognized this, and attributed his struggles with left-handed pitching to having grown up in a rural area where he rarely faced a left-hander.

Also, the lefties in the big leagues were different than in the minors. Hall became a noted pull-hitter against big-league right-handers, but never mastered going to the opposite field against curveballs from lefties.

An indication that Hall indeed was not gun-shy about his beaning came midway through '65. Hall faced five lefties in a short stretch, including New York's Al Downing twice, and Whitey Ford. Hall went 9-for-14.

The fact is, just as when he was a kid, Jimmie Hall never had that many major-league plate appearances against left-handed pitching (436), and after he left Minnesota in '66 he was labeled a platoon player for the rest of his career.

World Series spectator

Despite being named to the '65 All-Star team, Hall played sparingly in the 1965 World Series as manager Sam Mele believed that Hall's left-handed, uppercut swing would prove to be useless against lefties Sandy Koufax, who started three of the games, and Claude Osteen. Mele was probably right.

Hall started against only right-hander Don Drysdale and struck out five times in eight plate appearances. Hall's replacement, Joe Nossek, did what Mele expected him to do against the left-handers: put the ball in play against a very stingy Dodger pitching staff.

Nossek batted only .200 during the Series, but that paralleled the Twins' .195 batting average, and while the Twins struck out about once every four plate appearances, Nossek fanned only once in 20 appearances.

Where are the 1965 Minnesota Twins?

In 1938, Jimmie Hall was born in Mount Holly, North Carolina to a father named James, who was called Jim. Jimmie Hall is not James Hall, Jr., his name is Jimmie. (Hall claimed there is actually no name on his birth certificate.) But because his father was called Jim, folks back home called Jimmie by the name James.

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