This Day in Twins History – June 20, 1961

After blowing a 4-1 lead by allowing the Baltimore Orioles to score three runs in the top of the ninth on a 3-run home by Earl Robinson off Jack Kralick, the Twins come to bat in their half of the ninth inning. With the score tied 4-4, Julio Becquer is called upon by manager Sam Mele to lead off the bottom of the ninth as a pinch-hitter for Chuck Stobbs against Jack Fisher and Julio proceeds to hit a home run and become not only the first Twin to pinch hit a home run but also becomes the first Twins player in history to hit a walk-off home run as the Twins win 5-4 and 17, 851 Twins fans go home happy..

Julio Becquer 1960Becquer, born in Havana, Cuba on December 20, 1931 was signed by the Washington Senators as an amateur free agent in 1952 and played for the Senators in 1955 and 1957-1960. Primarily a utility player, Becquer was a left-handed pull hitter and was noted for his good glove at first base. Becquer played first base and some outfield during his career and he even took the mound when that was called for making him the only position player to pitch for both the Senators and the Twins. Although he played for the Senators in 1960 in their final season in Washington prior to relocating to Minnesota, he was not one of the original Minnesota Twins because on December 14, 1960 the Los Angeles Angels made Becquer the 55th selection in the 1960 expansion draft. Julio appeared in 11 games for the Angels going hitless in just 8 at bats before the Angels sold him to the Philadelphia Phillies. Becquer spent several weeks with the Phillies AAA Buffalo team before being sold again on June 2, 1960, this time to the Minnesota Twins. Julio only had 84 at bats for the 1961 Twins but a number of them were key pinch hits. As a matter of fact, Becquer was such a good pinch-hitter that he led the AL in that category in 1957 and again in 1959 as a Washington Senator. In 1962 Becquer played in Mexico and was there again in 1963 when Twins owner Calvin Griffith was informed that Becquer needed just a few weeks of big league time to qualify for a pension so Griffith re-signed Julio so that could qualify for that major league pension. Becquer appeared in just one big league game in 1963 (September 18) at Met Stadium in a 10-0 Twins win over the Detroit Tigers appearing as a pinch-runner for Earl Battey and scoring on a Bernie Allen double.

Julio Becquer lives in the Minneapolis area and can be seen frequently at Twins games at Target Field. Becquer was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997. I did an interview with Julio on May 2010 that you can listen to at http://wp.me/P1YQUj-dE .

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