September 7, 2008 – How is your memory? Do you remember what happened 40 years ago this coming September 22nd? If you don’t, you should be checking my “Today in Twins History” page. On that day Cesar “Pepe” Tovar played one inning at each position for the Minnesota Twins at the Met Stadium against the Oakland A’s becoming only the second major leaguer in history to accomplish the rare feat. Bert Campaneris of the Oakland A’s was the first. Tovar became the one and only Twins position player to be a starting pitcher in Twins history as he tossed a scoreless first inning and struck out future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson along the way. Cesar went on to play C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, CF, and RF in that game. Tovar did not forget his offense either as he was 1 for 3 with a run scored and he sole a base for good measure. You can find the box score for this game on my “Twins Box Scores” page.
Tovar is regarded as the all-time AL leader in breaking up no-hit attempts with five. In April 17, 1967, Tovar’s single was the only hit against the Senator’s Barry Moore. On August 10, 1969, Mike Cuellar of the Baltimore Orioles was working on a streak of 35 consecutive batter retired before giving up a ninth inning single to Tovar and losing his no-hitter. Earlier in the same season (May 15), Tovar broke up the no-hit bid of another Baltimore pitcher, Dave McNally. Tovar was also responsible for spoiling two other no-hitters during his career: against the Washington Senators Dick Bosman on August 14, 1970 and against the Yankees Jim “Catfish” Hunter On May 31, 1975.
On May 18, 1969 Tovar and Rod Carew set a major league record for most steals by a club in one inning with 5 in the second inning against the Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich and catcher Bill Freehan. Carew stole 2nd, 3rd, and home while Tovar stole 3rd and home in front of Carew. The two base steals of home in the same inning also tied an existing record.
Cesar Tovar also became the first Twins player to hit for the cycle at Met Stadium when he accomplished that unusual feat on September 19, 1972 against the Texas Rangers in a Twins 5-3 victory.
Tovar was traded after the 1972 season to the Philadelphia Phillies for Ken Sanders, Ken Reynolds, and Joe Lis. Later in his career Tovar played for the Texas Rangers, Oakland A’s, and finally the New York Yankees before retiring after the 1976 season. Cesar Tovar passed away of pancreatic cancer at the age of 54 in Caracas, Venezuela in 1994.