display | more...

Tony Oliva, Minnesota Twins slugger

Pedro Oliva was born July 20, 1940 in Pinar Del Rio, Cuba, one of ten children. Signed by legendary scout "Papa Joe" Cambria, when he traveled to America, he used his brother Antonio's passport - and has been known as Tony ever since. Oliva won a Silver Slugger Award as the best minor-league hitter his first year in professional baseball.

Although Tony played 16 games for the Twins in 1962 and 1963, his official rookie season was 1964. It was also arguably his best season in the majors, though hardly his only good one. In addition to belting 32 home runs and leading the league with 43 doubles, the youngster batted .323, taking top honors over such stalwarts as Brooks Robinson, Mickey Mantle, and Carl Yastrzemski. For his outstanding effort he was name 1964's American League Rookie of the Year. He was also named to the American League All-Star Team, an honor he would repeat for the next 7 years as well.

From 1965 to 1971, Tony was a hitting wunderkind, leading the league in batting twice and hits four times. He also showed his share of potency, leading the league in doubles three times and routinely hitting 20 home runs in an era when pitchers dominated major league baseball. He also proved himself to be a more than competent outfielder, capturing a Gold Glove in 1966. Tony's efforts earned him 5 Top 10 finishes in the league's Most Valuable Player voting.

In 1971 while running after a routine fly ball, Oliva suddenly keeled over in pain. His right knee had sprained severely. Further injuries led Oliva to miss all but 10 games of the 1972 season. When he returned as a designated hitter, he simply wasn't the same batter. Although he continued to bat close to .300 his last 3 seasons in baseball, Tony had fallen victim to the cruel fortunes of professional sports.

Still, Tony's 15 years with the Twins is the most in franchise history. Since his retirement, he has had his number 6 jersey retired in 1991, and currently serves as a hitting instructor in the Twins' minor league organization. He and his wife Gordette have three children.

Career Statistics

YEAR   TEAM    G   AB   R    H   2B 3B HR RBI SB CS  BB  SO   BA
1962 MIN AL    9    9   3    4   1  0   0   3  0  0   3   2 .444
1963 MIN AL    7    7   0    3   0  0   0   1  0  0   0   2 .429
1964 MIN AL  161  672 109  217  43  9  32  94 12  6  34  68 .323
1965 MIN AL  149  576 107  185  40  5  16  98 19  9  55  64 .321
1966 MIN AL  159  622  99  191  32  7  25  87 13  7  42  72 .307
1967 MIN AL  146  557  76  161  34  6  17  83 11  3  44  61 .289
1968 MIN AL  128  470  54  136  24  5  18  68 10  9  45  61 .289
1969 MIN AL  153  637  97  197  39  4  24 101 10 13  45  66 .309
1970 MIN AL  157  628  96  204  36  7  23 107  5  4  38  67 .325
1971 MIN AL  126  487  73  164  30  3  22  81  4  1  25  44 .337
1972 MIN AL   10   28   1    9   1  0   0   1  0  0   2   5 .321
1973 MIN AL  146  571  63  166  20  0  16  92  2  1  45  44 .291
1974 MIN AL  127  459  43  131  16  2  13  57  0  1  27  31 .285
1975 MIN AL  131  455  46  123  10  0  13  58  0  1  41  45 .270
1976 MIN AL   67  123   3   26   3  0   1  16  0  0   2  13 .211
     CAREER 1676 6301 870 1917 329 48 220 947 86 55 448 645 .304
* Bold denotes led league.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.