Sunday, November 30, 2014


Hey, remember when Spud Webb played for the Timberwolves?  I don't blame you if you don't -- it was easy to miss.

Spud became an NBA phenomenon in the mid '80s after winning the 1986 Slam Dunk Contest.  He was known more for his height and dunking ability during the peak of his popularity with the Atlanta Hawks.  The best statistical years of his career came with the Sacramento Kings in the early 1990s.  He briefly returned to the Hawks in 1995 and at the 1995-96 trade deadline, he was shipped to the Wolves in a deal for Christian Laettner.


Danny Goodwin made history in 1975 when he became the first (and only) player to be drafted first overall in two separate years.  Originally selected with the top pick in 1971 by the White Sox, Goodwin opted to play college ball for Southern University and A&M.  After a brilliant career there -- one that would gain him enshrinement to the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011 -- he was taken by the Angels with the first pick in the 1975 draft.  The Twins acquired Goodwin in 1978.  He spent three years in Minnesota as a part-time DH, first baseman, and pinch hitter.

Monday, November 24, 2014


The late Gene Mauch spent 26 seasons as a major league manager.  His 1,902 career wins are the most of any skipper in history who never guided a team to the World Series, and the most of any manager who is not enshrined in Cooperstown.

Mauch spent five of those 26 seasons with the Twins, managing his nephew Roy Smalley.  Despite consistently losing his best players (Bert Blyleven, Bill Campbell, Lyman Bostock, Rod Carew) due to penny-pinching ownership, Mauch kept the Twins competitive.  They finished over .500 in three of his four full seasons.  The wheels fell off in 1980, though, and with the team at 54-71 in August, Mauch resigned.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Danny Walton was a magnificent power prospect.  He was the Sporting News' Minor League Player of the Year in 1969 while in the Houston Astros organization.  Near the end of that season, he was traded to the expansion Seattle Pilots.  In 1970, when the Pilots relocated to Milwaukee and became the Brewers, Walton was a leading contender for the AL Rookie of the Year Award during the first half of the season.  He tore up his knee during the season and, even though he played through it, he was never the same.  He spent the rest of the decade as the ultimate journeyman, appearing with five more major league teams and even spending some time in Japan.

Walton only hit .176 over his big league stints with the Twins in 1973 and 1975.  In 1974, he spent the entire season at AAA Tacoma and smashed 35 homers and 109 RBI.  Three years later, he would blast 42 homers while in the Dodgers' system.  Despite all of his ability and raw power, he would total only 28 home runs in 297 games over a nine-year major league career.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Big Brad Brown was a physical defenseman with one job: play tough.  In 138 games over three seasons with the Wild, he totaled six points (all assists) and 267 penalty minutes.  Brown also appeared in eleven playoff games during the Wild's surprise run to the 2003 Western Conference Finals -- the only playoff experience of his seven-year NHL career.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


Almost all of Gary Cuozzo's statistics during his four years as a Viking are underwhelming.  It took him 33 games to amass 3,552 passing yards.  He completed less than 50% of his passes.  He had a 18:23 touchdown:interception ratio and a 63.6 quarterback rating.

But when it comes to the only stat that truly matters, Cuozzo is at the top.  His .762 career winning percentage as a starting quarterback (16-5) is the best in Vikings history among players who started as many games as he did.  (Jeff George had an .800 percentage, but in only ten games.)

These days we would call Cuozzo a game manager -- a quarterback who plays just well enough to not lose and lets the defense and running game lead his team to the win.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Andy Maurer joined the Vikings midway through the 1974 season and was quickly installed as a starter on their offensive line.  By the end of the season, he was starting a left guard against the Steel Curtain in Super Bowl IX.  It was the first of two Super Bowls in which Maurer appeared (he also played for the Broncos against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XII).


John Verhoeven was a journeyman, rubber-armed relief pitcher who was a valuable part of the Twins' bullpen in the early 1980s.  He was never much of a strikeout pitcher, but posted nearly identical ERAs and WHIPs during his time with the Twins.  Since retiring he has put together a long career as a college pitching coach and manager.


Mike Cubbage arrived in Minnesota during the 1976 season, along with Roy Smalley, in the Bert Blyleven trade with the Rangers.  For five years, the solid contact-hitter was a fixture at the hot corner for the Twins.  After finishing his playing career with the Mets, Cubbage remained in their organization for the next decade and a half as a minor league manager and big league coach.  He also had major league coaching stints with the Astros and Red Sox, and currently serves as a big league scout for the Tampa Bay Rays.  Mike Cubbage: baseball lifer.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


The Vikings made Brad Edwards their second round draft pick in 1988.  He started six games at free safety during his rookie season, but by 1989 he was buried on the depth chart and labeled a bust.  He signed with Washington in 1990 and by 1991 he was starting in the secondary for one of the best teams in the league.  He and the Redskins would win the Super Bowl that season by demolishing the Buffalo Bills in Minneapolis.  In his triumphant return to the Metrodome, Edwards intercepted two Jim Kelly passes on football's biggest stage.


Big Butch Huskey was a strong man who had a decent five-year career with the Mets in the mid '90s.  By the time he signed with the Twins in 2000, though, he was on his fourth team in less than two years while trying to salvage his big league career.  Without question, Huskey's most memorable Twins moment came in 1999 while playing against them as a member of the Seattle Mariners.  During the notorious "Turn The Clock Forward" uniform game, he chased a Jacque Jones fly ball face-first into the left field wall.  Classic Huskey.


Following a standout college career at Arizona State, Darrell Jackson only pitched in ten minor league games before getting the call to the Twins in 1978.  He split time between the majors and minors over his first two years.  In 1980, he broke through with career-best numbers across the board: 172 innings, nine wins, and a 3.87 ERA.  Though it's not saying much, he was one of the most promising arms on the Twins staff.  Unfortunately, a shoulder injury knocked him out in 1981 and his career was never the same.  He tried coming back the next year, but was released in July after going 0-5 with a 6.25 ERA.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Northern Iowa native Mike Stensrud was drafted by the Houston Oilers in 1979 and spent seven solid season with them.  He returned to the upper midwest with the Vikings in 1986, starting four games in a nose tackle platoon with Tim "The Icebox" Newton.