The old saw about the original Senators, “First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League,” was true almost from the start, but has been greatly overinflated. When the American League declared itself a major league in 1901, it was considered important to make a good showing on the East Coast, so players from the 1900 Kansas City franchise were used to form a team in Washington, which had been a National League town until the league pared down to eight teams following the financially troubled 1899 season. The Senators finished last four times in the first nine seasons and didn’t rise above sixth place until manager Clark Griffith would bring them in second in 1912 and again in 1913.The major catalysts in the club’s improvement were the ascendance to greatness of Walter Johnson, who emerged in 1910 as the AL’s best pitcher, and the hiring of Clark Griffith. Griffith acquired first baseman Chick Gandil and pioneered the use of relief pitchers and in signing Caribbean talent.
The 1924 hiring of the team’s regular second baseman, 27-year-old Buck Harris, as player-manager brought instant results with a surprise World Championship in his first season at the helm. The foundation had been laid by Griffith, who had bought the team in 1920. Beside Harris and Johnson, the club featured offensive stars Roger Peckinpaugh (the 1924 MVP) and Hall of Famers Goose Goslin and Sam Rice. Star pitchers included Tom Zachary and Firpo Marberry,considered by most to be the first relief ace. The club repeated as AL champions in 1925 with the acquisition of Hall of Fame pitcher Stan Coveleski.
Washington finished lower than fourth place only once in the next seven years and then had the city’s best season in 1933, capturing the AL title with a team record of 99–53 under the leadership of player-manager Joe Cronin. But the club dropped to seventh place in 1934, the team’s worst showing since 1916, and Cronin (Griffith’s son-in-law) was sold to the Red Sox after the . . .
The Senators had only four more winning seasons over the next 26 years. The greater incompetence of the Browns and the Athletics generally kept them out of last place, but when the Browns won the pennant in 1944, the Senators finished last. They had finished second the year before, and second in 1945, due to the confusion of the war years, but the hardships of the Depression and the war years cut into attendance and left Griffith, never financially secure, on shaky fiscal ground.
After Griffith’s death in October 1955, the club passed to his son, Calvin. The club finished last that season, the first of four last-place finishes in the space of six years. Clark had pondered the signing of Josh Gibson and other stars of the Negro Leagues to bolster attendance in the 1930s and 1940s, but ultimately decided not to challenge the unwritten color line. Still, Calvin felt that the team’s attendance problem stemmed from Washington’s increasing black population, who were less well-off and who tended not to support the Senators, although they had often packed Griffith Stadium for Negro League games. He lobbied to be allowed to move the franchise to Minneapolis. At first the other owners refused to consider it; the nation’s lawmakers were protective of their city’s ball club and often spoke threateningly of reconsidering baseball’s anti-trust exemption should the Senators be taken from them. But the decision to expand gave the American League and Griffith a new option, and the AL expanded a year earlier than the NL to allow the Senators to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961, replacing them in the capital with the expansion Senators.
The Twins named Cookie Lavagetto to manage the team in 1961, but did a bit of flip-flopping that year. Sam Mele would replace Lavagetto when things did not go well and vice versa. Mele emerged as manager by the end of the 1961 season and went on to manage them until 1967. He had his greatest success in 1965, when the club won a record 102 games and took the AL pennant, only to be defeated in the World Series.
Besides gaining the leadership of Mele, the club’s main improvement resulted from the emergence of Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, who thrilled the fans with his booming home runs. Other great players that would follow were Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett, and fine players such as Bob Allison and Tony Oliva.
Mele was replaced by Cal Ermer in 1967 and he remained until 1968. Billy Martin was the manager in 1969 and won a division title, but was let go when he failed to win the League Championship Series. Bill Rigney took over in 1970 and he also won the division title and lost the LCS. However, Rigney remained on the job until 1972, when he was replaced by Frank Quillici, who kept his job until 1975.
Ultimately, Tom Kelly, hired in 1986, became the most successful manager of the club by winning two World Championships in 1987 and 1991. Kelly retired after the 2001 season, and gave way to Ron Gardenhire, who led the team to two division titles in 2002 and 2003.
This is the most complete record book ever written on the Washington Senators–Minnesota Twins, because it is the only one which includes every record of every player in the history of this franchise. Record keeping begins in the first year of play (1901) and extends to the present.
Typical record books eliminate old records when new ones are established, but this book adds them to existing chronology lists. In this way, no players or their records are ever forgotten and the history of club records is forever preserved.
This is a story of growth and development of the team’s history, traced by the establishing of season and career records in batting, pitching, and fielding.
This book offers four new features which are sure to stimulate the interest of fans. The first new feature are the chronology lists. These lists begin with the club’s very first Record Setter in 1901, and shows every subsequent Record Breaker that follows. The lists show how long each record lasted before broken, and all those who followed. To best understand the chronology lists, see below an example of the season Home Run record.
The list above reveals every player who has held the home run record from 1901 to the present. Mike Grade was the first champion, hitting 9 home runs in 1901. His record lasted only one year before it was broken by Ed Delahanty, who hit 10 in 1902. Joe Judge tied the record 19 years later and a new record was established by Goose Gosling in 1924, when he put 12 balls into the seats. Gosling then broke his own record in 1925 and again in 1929. Goslin thus became the first player to break 3 home run records. Zeke Bonura would become the new home run king in 1938, blasting 22 round trippers; 16 years would go by before Roy Sievers would ring up 24 homers to become the new leader. Sievers would then break his own record 3 times and become the first 4-time record breaker in club history.
In 1959, Harmon Killebrew would tie Sievers’ mark of 42 home runs and then break his own records 4 times, becoming the first and only player to have held the record 5 times. No player has been able to hit more than Killibrew’s 49 home runs and he remains the club leader to this day.
This is the complete history of the season home run record, presented completely and in an easy-to-understand format.
The second new feature of this book is the Record Holders List, where all records are totaled and appear at the end of each chapter. Now for the first time, we learn which players have the most records. Did you know Harmon Killebrew has 25 club records?
The third new feature is the individual player’s Record Profile. The club’s greatest players are now honored by posting all their records in individual profiles. If desired, fans can flip directly to these profiles to see which and how many records each player has created. This profile lists every record in chronological order, shows how long each record lasted before broken and the names of the Record Breakers.
The fourth new feature is the individual player’s Claim to Fame Profiles. This is an extension of the Record Profile, but also includes every feat accomplished by a player that has made him famous such as getting 3000 hits, 500 home runs, winning 300 games, etc. Did you know Harmon Killebrew has 74 claims to fame?
In addition to all this, the book is laced with biographies, quotes, plenty of lore and lots of photographs. Rookie and manager’s records are also included.
As former president of the American League, Bobby Brown said of this author’s books, “They are a baseball treasure.”