Friday, January 28, 2022

Former Twins teammates Tony Oliva, Jim Katt are grateful to have entered the Hall of Fame together

Party planning has started half a year in advance, and oh what a party.

On July 24, 2022, Toni Oliva and Jim Katt will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, becoming the fifth and sixth players to be installed as twins. Twins fans from all over the country and Minnesota are expected to descend on Cooperstown to watch the twin legends honor the pair. https://embed.sendtonews.com/oembed/?fk=KnHnK6Ld&cid=8152&sound=off&format=json&offsetx=0&offsety=0&floatwidth=400&floatposition=bottom-right&float=on

“In our view, Tony and Jim have both been Hall of Famers for a long, long time, but (Sunday’s) news gives us all an excuse to throw a really big party in Cooperstown in July,” said Twins President and CEO Dave St. Peter said.

Leading up to Sunday, the twins didn’t know whether they would end up with one, two, or any new Hall of Famers. The two 83-year-olds, who were longtime former teammates, wound up receiving 16 out of 12 (75 percent) votes expected from the Golden Days Era committee, making it all the more special for the twins organization and Oliva and Kat.

Katt advocated for twins from 1961 to 1973 (and before that spent two years with the Washington Senators). Oliva played for the Twins from 1962–1976, really bursting onto the scene in 1964 when he won the Rookie of the Year award for a stellar season during which he led the league in hitting.

“It was special to me because Jim Katt, when I started out, was already a big league bowler,” Oliva said of being picked with Kat. “He was a superstar. He took care of me. At times it was like he was taking care of me.”

Oliva once recalled a time in Anaheim when Cat took her, then a young player who didn’t speak much English, to eat Mexican food, pay for a taxi ride, and another in Oakland when Cat took her. Used to take out to get buffalo steaks. He called Cut a model teammate – someone who took him under his wing – and a model ballplayer.

“I’ve been telling people that he should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago, for all the games he played and all the games he won and the kind of person[he is],” Oliva said. “I’m so proud that she finally made it and we’ll go to the Hall of Fame together. I think it’s going to make everything a lot easier for me because I’m a hen. You know, I get so nervous. ”

Kat spoke of Oliva with equal reverence. Last week, before she was elected, Kat said she considered Oliva and Dick Allen to be two of her favorite former teammates on the Golden Days Era ballot.

The two narrowly survived the last time they were on the ballot, with Cutt saying he was genuinely hopeful the pair would make it — and if he did it himself, it would be a bonus. While Alan misses out again, Kat is grateful to have the chance to be involved with Oliva.

“He was a complete player and a great partner,” Katt said. “I am so honored to be with him.”

Six players were voted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday – Oliva, Katt, Minnie Minoso, Gil Hodges, Buck O’Neill and Bud Fowler. Oliva and Kat are the only two survivors of that group. They could potentially be joined by players from the writers’ ballots.

But either way, there will be a different Minnesota Twins flavor on July 24 in Cooperstown.

Before the results were out, St. Peter’s predicted that an unprecedented number of Minnesotans would travel to Cooperstown this summer, especially if Oliva was to be chosen.

Now, with both Oliva and Kat, the party is really on.

“(Sunday) was a great day to be a twin, a tremendous day in our suffrage history (and) an important day for our state,” St. Peter said. “…the twins couldn’t be more proud of these two men for putting on their hats to our beloved ‘TC’ in Cooperstown.”

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