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Big Train and the Killer. Who else deserves to be honored?
MLB Mt. Rushmores
by Charlie Miller
The question was posed earlier this season whether Derek Jeter should be considered as part of the Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore. That certainly piqued my interest. Not really the Jeter-Yankees part, but the idea that all MLB teams should have their own Mt. Rushmores. Who are the four individuals that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple. But it isn't as easy as it sounds. Let the arguments begin.
Minnesota Twins Mt. Rushmore
The Minnesota Twins franchise began in Washington as the Senators (sometimes known as Nationals) in 1901. The team moved to Minneapolis in 1961 and became known as the Twins. The team is now in its 111th season and 51st in Minneapolis. There have been 14 first-place finishes, six pennants and three World Series titles. The Twins have just one 100-win season, which came in 1965, a year they lost the World Series in seven games to the Dodgers. The Twins hold the distinction of winning the first two AL West titles in 1969-70. They were also one of two teams in 1991 (along with the Braves) to turn a last-place team into a winner. The Twins defeated the Braves in an epic World Series, winning Game 7 1-0 in extra innings. While this season is a disappointment, the first nine seasons under current manager Ron Gardenhire produced six AL Central crowns.
The Big Train would be in the discussion for MLB Mt. Rushmore. Certainly he would appear on the Pitchers Mt. Rushmore. His 417 wins, 3,509 strikeouts and 2.17 ERA are all franchise bests — by far. He completed 531 games and pitched 110 shutouts, a major league record not likely to be broken. Of the nine 25-win seasons in team history, Johnson owns seven of them. He owns 11 of the team’s 13 best ERA seasons — all better than 1.90. No way to argue this selection.
The Killer’s career spanned Washington and Minnesota and began as an 18-year-old in 1954. Killebrew hit 559 home runs and reached base via hit or walk or HBP 3,576 times. The versatile Hall of Famer made 11 All-Star teams, but was conspicuously not selected in 1962, a year he hit 48 home runs and finished third in MVP balloting. He started six of those All-Star Games, one in left, two at third and three at first. He was the 1969 AL MVP and finished in the top 4 five other times. Killebrew owns six home runs titles.
Carew played for the Twins for 12 seasons, and 12 times was selected to the All-Star team. He missed the 1970 game due to injury, but started the other 11, getting two triples in the 1978 game, his last in a Minnesota uniform. The Hall of Famer was named Rookie of the Year and MVP as a Twin and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting six times. He won seven batting titles and was hitting .366 in 1970 when a knee injury shortened his season to just 204 plate appearances. His .334 batting average ranks first in franchise history and his 2,085 hits, fifth. Of his 19 stolen bases in 1969, seven of them were steals of home.
Before his career was cut short due to complications from glaucoma, Puckett was a favorite in Minnesota as he anchored the lineup on two World Series champs. The 10-time All-Star finished in the top seven in MVP voting seven times and was runner-up in 1992. He totaled 2,304 hits for the Twins and another 30 in 24 postseason games, including five home runs.
Sam Rice, a Hall of Famer, ranks first in runs and hits and second in games and total bases, but doesn’t carry the same excitement as the other members of the Hall.
Jim Kaat, whose career began in Washington, is second on the wins list with 190 and won 12 Gold Gloves while pitching for the Twins. He finished as high as fifth in MVP voting in 1966 with 25 wins.
One of the first stars in Minnesota, Tony Oliva was named Rookie of the Year, made eight All-Star teams, won three batting titles and was twice MVP runner-up. But he amassed just 1,917 hits and 220 home runs.
Along with Puckett, a stalwart of the 1987 and 1991 champions, Kent Hrbek had his No. 14 retired by the Twins in 1995
Recent Hall of Fame inductee, Bert Blyleven, began his career with the Twins and rejoined the team later. Now a broadcaster for the team, he won 149 games in a Minnesota uniform.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: