Wednesday, February 26, 2014


He was known as "Fridge" and there was no mistaking his role.  Todd Fedoruk was a tough guy.  He was originally a seventh-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers who honed his physical game and became a rough 'n' tumble customer for ten seasons in the NHL.

He lived the goon life off the ice, too.  He had been clean for years before the Wild picked him up off waivers from Dallas in 2007.  In his lone year with the Wild, he had one of his most productive NHL seasons.  He had six goals and was a steady physical presence for the 2007-08 Wild club - the franchise's lone division champion to date - and stepped up his game even further in the playoffs.

He also fell off the wagon, partying 'til all hours with old friend and new teammate Derek Boogaard.  While Boogaard and fellow enforcers Rick Rypien and Wade Belak all succumbed to their demons in a short span, Fedoruk was spared.  He was a lucky one.  After his playing career ended in 2010, he got help.  He got clean.  Since then he has spent some time in coaching and has, by all accounts, stayed sober.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Fred Cox has no peer in the Minnesota Vikings scoring record book.  His 1,365 career points are more than twice as many as the second man on the Vikings all-time list (Cris Carter).  Over 15 seasons, he led the NFL in scoring twice and kicked in four Super Bowls.  In his 1963 rookie season, he even did double-duty as both kicker and punter!

Monday, February 10, 2014


Al Worthington came to the Twins as a 35 year old journeyman in 1964.  He had a 10.29 ERA through six games for the Reds that season before the Twins purchased him.  He finished the season as the Twins top relief pitcher with a sparkling 1.37 ERA and an impressive (for the era) 14 saves.

Worthington retired from the Twins after the 1969 season, but returned to the team in 1972 to serve as pitching coach for two years.

Friday, February 7, 2014


Man, I miss Denny Green.  In his ten years as the Vikings head coach, there was never a dull moment.  The smooth-jazz drumming, alleged sexual harassing, "new sheriff in town," was a sports writer's dream.

He was also a hell of a coach.

The Vikings made the playoffs in eight of his ten years and won four division championships.  He did not have a losing season through his first nine years, finishing 8-8 in 1995 and over .500 in every other season from 1992-2000.  But in 2001, his team went 5-10 and he was fired with one game left in the season.

I thought at the time that his firing was ridiculous.  Sure enough, the Vikings have not come close to that kind of sustained success since.


The Twins have a long history of bringing home Minnesota-bred superstars in the twilight of their careers.  Hell, in the '90s those were the only free agents they could draw!  (See: Morris, Jack; Winfield, Dave; Molitor, Pau; Steinbach, Terry)

They have an equally lengthy history of giving one last shot to journeymen and minor league players.  That's where Mike Mason fits in.  He had one very good year with the Rangers in 1984 (3.61 ERA, 1.14 WHIP), but posted ERAs well over 4.00 in each of his other six major league seasons prior to joining the Twins at the beginning of the 1988 season.  His audition for the Twins' 1988 LOOGY role lasted five games, and that was it for his big league career.

Since retirement, Mason has had a long and successful career as a minor league pitching coach, and spent the last six seasons serving in that role for the Iowa Cubs.

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Pete Cimino appeared in one game for the 1965 AL Champions.  He had a fine rookie season for the Twins in 1966, posting a 2.92 ERA with four saves.  During that off-season, he was packaged with Jimmie Hall and Don Mincher and shipped to the Angels for Dean Chance.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


A collegiate stud for the powerhouse Wichita State Shockers, Bryan Oelkers was drafted fourth overall by the Twins in 1982.  He is hailed today as one of the great draft busts in Twins history -- mostly because Dwight Gooden was chosen by the Mets with the very next pick.

Oelkers was rushed to the majors in 1983 and went 0-5 with an 8.65 ERA in 10 games.  He would never see the majors again with the Twins.  After spending the next two years in the minors, he was dealt to Cleveland.  He would finally resurface for one more big league season with the Indians, as a reliever, in 1986.


Gary Dotter first appeared in the majors at 19 years old for the 1961 Twins.  He spent all of 1962 in the minors before getting a second and third cup of coffee with the Twins in 1963 and 1964.  He appeared in seven games during his big league career, all with the Twins.


Following their historic 15-1 season in 1998, the Vikings reshuffled their quarterback depth chart.  Brad Johnson, the starter at the beginning of the '98 season, lost his job when he went down with an early injury and a resurrected Randall Cunningham turned in an All-Pro year.  Johnson was traded to Washington in the off-season.  The Vikings used their first pick that year on QB-of-the-future Daunte Culpepper.  Meanwhile, veteran big-armed enigma Jeff George was brought in to backup Cunningham.

Sure enough, the Vikes scuffled to a 2-4 start under Cunningham.  In full panic mode, George was given the next start.  He tossed three touchdown passes, leading the team to a 40-16 beatdown of the 49ers, and never looked back.  George went 8-2 as a starter for the 1999 Vikings, tossing 23 TD passes.  His 94.2 QB rating was a career best and he led the NFL in yards per completion.

Arguably the finest season of Jeff George's 12 year career, 1999 was his only season in purple.  In 2000, the Vikings handed the reigns over to Culpepper.  George signed with Washington (to back up Johnson) and went 1-6 as a starter over his final two NFL seasons.


Left-hander Gerry Arrigo made his major league debut for the 1961 Minnesota Twins.  He also hd briefs call-ups to the Twins in 1962 and 1963.  He broke through in 1964 as a solid swingman.  He started 12 of his 41 games that season, going 7-4 with a 3.84 ERA and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings.  That promise allowed the Twins to trade him to Cincinnati following the 1964 season for Cesar Tovar, the super utility man who would become such a valuable part of the Twins' great teams of the late '60s.


The first second-round draft pick in Timberwolves history, and their second-ever amateur draft pick (following 1989 first-round pick Pooh Richardson), Gary Leonard didn't really have any basketball skills.  But he was 7'1".  And that'll get you drafted.

In his one season in Minnesota for the inaugural Wolves, he appeared in 22 games.  He scored 32 points, grabbed 27 rebounds, and committed 26 personal fouls.  Following the 1990 addition of Felton Spencer, Leonard was waived prior to the 1990-91 season.  He spent most of that year in the CBA before resurfacing in the NBA for a couple of brief stints with the Atlanta Hawks.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Here's one of the most obscure early Twins I could find!  Jim Donohue was a big right-handed pitcher who played for three major league teams over a two year span in the early 1960s.  His final big league stop was Met Stadium, where he appeared in six games for the Twins in June of 1962.