Remembering 1965 – Part 6 – $50K, Trades, and the Draft

Baseball has changed so much over the years, in terms of play, the players, the rules and even the executive side. When the Twins first moved here in 1961 team owner Calvin Griffith served as his own GM. Griffith could do it all, he scouted players, he made trades and he negotiated salaries with all the players. Now days the owners are expected to sit back and sign the pay checks and for the most part keep their mouth shut.

The attached Sporting News page from March 6, 1965 shows you how different things were 50 years ago. Manager Sam Mele and Twins owner and GM Calvin Griffith publicly state their differences about team make-up and openly discuss players that the team pursued in trades as the team reports to spring training and prepares for the 1965 season. Now days baseball clubs are like the government and everything is classified and the information that they do provide is often cryptic and ambiguous. I guess with all the money involved in professional sports now days maybe more information needs to be held closer to the vest but it seems to me that as time goes on that baseball squeezes more and more fun out of the game.

Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew

In another section you can read about Harmon Killebrew becoming the first player in franchise history to sign a contract for $50,000. They used to say that Griffith threw nickels around like they were man-hole covers but I think that Harmon usually got his way with Calvin.

In 1965 when you mentioned the word “draft”  and your number you weren’t talking about the upcoming June free-agent draft, you were talking about getting drafted into the military and as they say on one of my favorite TV shows, Person of Interest, “when your number comes up, we will find you.” Today baseball and its players no longer have to deal with the military draft and service to ones country because Conscription in the United States, commonly known as the draft, was discontinued in June of 1973. Back in 1965 there was a huge concern that the Twins were going to lose Tony Oliva to the military and the man could not even speak English. About a year or so ago ThinkBlueLA did a piece called Baseball without the Draft that you might also enjoy reading. It has a cool picture of Hall of Famer Stan Musial in a Navy uniform. Boy, how times have changed, and not always for the better.Tony Oliva

Many of the stories written about the Minnesota Twins in the Sporting News in 1965 were written by Max Nichols. Here is a short bio on Max Nichols during his time in Minnesota – Minneapolis Star, Minneapolis, MN: September, 1959 to February, 1980: sports writer specializing in baseball from 1959 to 1967; Assistant City Editor from 1967 to 1969; Sports Editor from 1969 to 1974; Education Editor from 1974 to 1976; daily sports columnist from 1976 to February 1980. You can learn more about the life of Max Nichols here.

Enjoy this page of the Sporting News as you travel back in time to March 6, 1965.

1965 Twins SN 03061965

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