The Twins' Class AAA farm club was in Tacoma in 1972. It was not conveniently located and the team was subject to many rainouts, but there were fine seafood restaurants and big-league Chinese place called the "Dynasties'' in the area.
I'm convinced the fine chow available was the main reason for owner Calvin Griffith and his most-trusted adviser, Howard Fox, to have the Twins affiliated with Tacoma for several seasons.
The appreciation for excellent dining was such that, a few years later, the Twins stopped in New Orleans to play the first baseball games (exhibitions) in the Superdome vs. Houston.
On departure, manager Gene Mauch alluded to the many meals with Calvin and Co. by saying: "I'm up to my ass in food and expertise.'
The shortstop for Tacoma in 1972 was Bucky Guth. He batted .218, and displayed neither speed nor power. Yet, the Twins called up Guth to Minnesota when Tacoma's season ended.
The Twins were playing the Oakland A's, a team at the start of three straight World Series championships, in front of a tiny Met Stadium crowd on Sept. 12.
The A's were leading 6-4 when Harmon Killebrew opened the sixth with a walk. The Twins were buried behind the A's in the standings. so Guth made his major league debut as a pinch-runner for Harmon.
Bobby Darwin also drew a walk, giving the Twins hope for a rally off reliever Darold Knowles. As this was taking place, the Twins-O-Gram message board on the Met's scoreboard was still rattling off its one-character-at-a-time greeting to Guth:
It was right then that Guth was picked off second base by Knowles. He rose sheepishly and ran toward the dugout. He discarded his helmet, took an emphatic stride as he reached the top step and hit his head on the dugout roof.
Simultaneously, the message was being completed on the scoreboard:
The Twins-O-Gram was very big on exclammation points, much like we find with Twitter four decades later.
Bucky would have three appearances and three at-bats for the Twins, and he was out of organized baseball after one more season in Tacoma. I'm sure that Calvin went out personally to scout him and the rest of that club, as well as to eat razorback clams and visit the Dynasties.
I had long considered Bucky's instant pickoff to be the most-embarrassing moment for a Twins player employed as a shortstop.
That changed on Friday night. Guth's pinch-running excursion was surpassed in dramatic fashion by Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the imported infielder on whom the Twins spent $14.1 million ... $14.1 million that would have better served the Twins if they had taken it next door from Target Field and had the cash incinerated at the Hennepin County garbage burner.
It is time to stop pussy-footin': This young man knows less about the basics of playing shortstop (or second base) than any big-leaguer I've ever watched.
In Friday's sixth inning, Nishioka played two consecutive double play balls off his chest. And then with Travis Hafner - Cleveland's modern-day Jim Thome - running on a slow chopper, Nishioka hurried as if he was trying to throw out Jacoby Ellsbury and booted the ball.
It wasn't that Nishioka allowed the Indians to tie the game at 1-1. He forced them to score that run.
You could see the steam coming off the neck of Carl Pavano, who had been winning a grand duel with Justin Masterson, Cleveland's stud of a sinkerball pitcher.
One inning later, Pavano's anger went from repressed to explosive. Matt Tolbert, in for the reinjured Alexi Casilla at second base, was failing to make plays left and right (mostly right).
Finally, Pavano induced a bouncer that Justin Morneau fielded going toward second base, and looked up to make the throw for the force. Nishioka was eight feet behind the bag, wandering aimlessly.
Morneau turned and made a frantic flip to Pavano, who reached back to grab the throw and get the third out by a foot at first base.
Immediately, Pavano spiked the baseball, and then he threw a dugout tantrum in which he was tossing about the Gatordade bucket. By now, Nishioka was sitting on the bench. Somehow, Pavano resistd the urge to put the bucket over Nishioka's head - throwing it instead to the far corner of the dugout.
As the Twins batted, Pavano was shown sitting in the dugout, mouthing F-bombs about the amateurish fielding from Nishioka, from Tolbert and later from Ben Revere ... but, mostly from Nishioka, who proved decisively that he has no business in the middle of a major league infield.
Bucky Guth, you're off the hook. This fellow Nishioka is a joke. On Friday, the joke was on Pavano, whom I'd guess will be interested in the future in having a designated shortstop than a designated catcher.