Remembering 1965 – Part 9 – Not all peaches and cream for Versalles or Mele

Zoilo Versalles

Zoilo Versalles

Zoilo Versalles the Minnesota Twins enigmatic shortstop of the early 60’s would go on to win the 1965 American League Most Valuable Player Award at the age of 25 and become the first player in franchise history (Senators or Twins) to win that award. Versalles however; was not the easiest player to manage and was a high maintenance player as this incident in the April 17, 1965 Sporting News describes. Manager Sam Mele and coach Billy Martin worked hard to keep Zoilo on the straight and narrow and it paid off in 1965.

I was fortunate enough to get to see Versalles play and he was a skilled shortstop but his focus was not always there and that weakness led to numerous errors on routine plays. If you want to know more about the man who Twins fans called “Zorro” you might want to check out his SABR Bio.

The Sporting News also covers Don Mincher‘s request to be traded and all the rookies that were fighting to make the Twins roster that season.

Sporting News April 17, 1965

By this date in 1965 the Twins had played five games, four of them at Met Stadium and had a 4-1 record putting them in a tie for first place. According to the “TWINS JOURNAL” (by John Snyder):

“A week before the Twins opener, Metropolitan Stadium was covered by five inches of snow. Rain and melting snow caused rivers to rise, turning the entire state into a disaster area. Twelve people died in Minnesota because of the floods. Due to a pair of postponements, the Twins opened the season by playing their first three games against three different teams, the Yankees, Tigers, and Indians”.

The temperature on opening day (April 12) at game-time was 44 degrees along with an 18 MPH wind. Flood waters forced Twins players Jim Kaat, Rich Rollins, Bill Bethea, and Dick Stigman to be brought to the stadium by helicopter due to rising flood waters of the Mississippi River. The Twins won their opener 5-4 in 11 innings in front of 15,388 shivering fans. The next three games at the Met due to the bad weather brought in “crowds” of 2,382, 4,492, and 3,273 fans. The Twins were happy to leave Minnesota behind and they went to New York where they beat the Yankees 7-2 on April 21. Due to the inclement weather the Twins played only five games during the first 10 days of the 1965 season.

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