Herald Journal Columns
June 26, 2006, Herald Journal / Enterprise Dispatch

Twins/Dodgers’ history is brief but memorable

By Matt Kane

When the Twins play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers today and for the next two days, it will be the first meaningful meeting between the two franchises in 41 years.

The last time the two clubs got together in Minnesota was Oct. 14, 1965, when they were battling for the World Series in Game 7 at Metropolitan Stadium.

A crowd of 50,596 attended that game and saw the Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax out-dual Jim Kaat and four Twins relievers for a 2-0 win and another World Series ring. It was the third meeting between Koufax and Kaat in the series. Kaat got a complete game 5-1 win in Game 2, and Koufax shut the Twins out 7-0 in Game 5.

In forcing a seventh game, with a 5-1 win over Claude Osteen in Game 6, the Twins became the first American League (AL) team not named the Yankees to take a World Series to a seventh game. In picking up the win in Game 6, Minnesota pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant homered in the sixth inning, becoming the second AL pitcher to hit a home run in a World Series game, and the first since Jim Bagley did it with the Cleveland Indians in 1920.

Koufax’s start over Don Drysdale in Game 7, after just two days rest, was a controversial decision made by Los Angeles manager Walter Alston. But the complete game two-hitter Koufax threw at the Twins made a wise man out of his own skipper and impressed the other.

“If anyone would like to make the World Series the best five-out-of-nine games, I would be willing to go on with it right now,” Twins manager Sam Mele said. “But Koufax is murder. Great! The best I believe I have ever seen. You hate to lose, but we didn’t disgrace ourselves. We were beaten by the best pitcher that there is anywhere.”

Koufax was named the World Series MVP for the second time. He won the award in 1963 after winning two games in a four-game sweep of the New York Yankees.

Koufax’s impressive postseason put an exclamation point on his 1965 season. He finished the regular season with a 26-8 record, a 2.04 ERA, and he pitched a perfect game — the fourth and final no-hitter of his career.

The left-hander pitched one more season in the major leagues before retiring after 12 seasons. But he went out in style, posting a 27-5 record and a 1.73 ERA in 1966.

Of course, neither Koufax nor Drysdale will be in Dodger Blue over the next few days at the Metrodome, nor will hitting stars Maury Wills, Ron Fairly or Wes Parker.

The 2006 version of the Dodgers features current National League batting leader Nomar Garciaparra (batting .357 through June 22), a Metrodome veteran after spending his first nine seasons with the Boston Red Sox. Surrounding Garciaparra in the lineup are former St. Paul Saints outfielder J.D. Drew, one time NL MVP Jeff Kent, and the ageless Kenny Lofton.

Through Thursday, Los Angeles was one game behind San Diego in the NL West with a 37-35 record, a half game better than the Twins who, after beating “The Rocket,” Roger Clemens and the Astros, were 36-35.

The similar records should make for an interesting series, like four decades ago.

The Twins finished the 1965 season with a 102-60 record, and the Dodgers were five games behind at 97-65.

The history between the two teams is thin. Besides the 1965 World Series, the two teams have met for exactly one series, which dates back to June 10-12, 2005. The host Dodgers took two of three games from the Twins.

Minnesotans should know that the moniker “Twins” comes from the Twin Cities, but do you know the story behind the nickname “Dodgers?”

The Dodgers were the Brooklyn Dodgers up until the team’s relocation to Southern California in 1959. The name “Dodgers” stems from “Trolley Dodgers,” which is how Manhattanites often referred to their Brooklyn neighbors. The name comes from the vast network of streetcar lines that crossed Brooklyn. The team officially accepted “Dodgers” as its name in 1932. In the early 20th century, the team was also known as the Bridegrooms, Superbas and Robins.

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