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Minnesota Twins

Of the original eight AL teams, perhaps only the St. Louis Browns suffered more than the Washington Senators. The Senators won three pennants (1924, 1925, 1933), winning the World Series in 1925 against the New York Giants.

However, they finished last ten times, and 6th or 7th on 23 occasions. That accounts for more than half of their years in the Capitol.

The Senators first posted a winning record in 1912. Not accidentally, that coincided with the emergence of Walter Johnson (the greatest right-handed pitcher in AL history) and manager Clark Griffith. Griffith managed the team through 1920, and then concentrated on his duties as owner. He or his family held majority interest in the franchise until the 1980s. The 1924-1925 Senators are one of history's most overlooked great teams. In the midst of a league which boasted the Babe Ruth Yankees, the Connie Mack A's, and the Ty Cobb Tigers, the Senators won back-to-back pennants. After vanquishing the Giants in '24, the Senators lost the Fall Classic in 1925 to Pittsburgh.

The 1933 pennant winning team set a franchise record with 99 wins (their fourth straight 90+ victory season). The team was a little bit older, with Luke Sewell, Manush, Bluege, Goslin, and Fred Schulte. The mound crew was anchored by veterans Earl Whitehill, General Crowder, and Lefty Stewart. The last time the Senators challenged for the AL pennant was in 1945, the last war year. The last winning team in Washington was in 1953 when they went 78-76.

By 1960 the owners of the old Washington Senators, the Griffith family, were ready to make a change. Dwindling attendance and the poor showings on the field prompted them to move west to Minnesota for the 1961 season. The AL appeased the fans in Washington by granting them an expansion franchise for the '61 season (which later became the Texas Rangers). The results in Minnesota were quite different. A young group of players delivered a pennant in 1965, division titles in 1969 and 1970, and three second-place finishes.

After the Dodgers took care of the Twins in the '65 Series, the team re-tooled later in the decade with Rod Carew, Bert Blyleven, Rich Reese, Cesar Tovar, and Dave Boswell. Those players helped win the 1969-1970 AL West titles, but the team couldn't manage a win in the post-season against the powerful Orioles. With Oliva and Carew the Twins claimed 10 batting titles from 1964 to 1978. Oliva overcame constant injuries to lead the circuit three times, Carew was a machine - winning seven titles in nine years. Killebrew and Carew fashioned Hall of Fame careers as Twins, Oliva may have if he could have stayed healthy.

The Twins moved indoors to the first AL dome in 1982. At the same time the farm system began to produce the stars of the future. That season Kent Hrbek, Tom Brunansky, and Gary Gaetti led a talented group of rookies. By 1984 they added Kirby Puckett and pitcher Frank Viola, and the Twins contended for the AL West title until the final weekend. In 1987 manager Tom Kelly and the Twins put it all together, especially at home, where they won more than 60% of their games. Despite a poor road record they won 85 games and edged the Royals for the division crown. Given little chance in the playoffs, the Twins shocked the Tigers in five games, led by Puckett, Gaetti, and Brunansky.

Four seasons later the Twins were back in the World Series, facing the upstart Atlanta Braves, who - like Minnesota - had finished in last place the previous season. The 1991 Twins won every home game of the World Series again, beating the Braves in seven games. Jack Morris provided one of the most clutch pitching performances in World Series history in that final game.

Puckett retired after the 1995 season due to an eye injury. In 2001 he became the first player to spend his entire career with Minnesota and be inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Twins followed up their '91 title with a solid second place finish in 1992, but within a few seasons they were back in the pack. 2000 was the Twins eighth straight losing season, all with Kelly at the helm. The quiet manager began his 15th full year in 2001 and led the team to a surprisingly good start. The Twins were in first place at the All-Star break but the young team faltered in August and was out of the race. After the season, Kelly retired, turning over a talented young club to rookie manager Ron Gardenhire.

In the off-season leading the Twins weren't sure if they'd even exist to play a game. Commissioner Bud Selig declared that MLB needed to eliminate two teams to save the crumbling game from financial ruin. He named the Montreal Expos and Minnesota Twins as his "contraction" targets. Immediately, fans all over the country were in outrage. After the Minnesota Supreme Court blocked any move to eliminate the team, Selig backed down and was forced to watch in embarrassment as the Twins ran away with the AL Central and defeated the small-market A's in the first round of the playoffs.

In 2004 the Minnesota Twins finished in 1st place in the American League Central Division with a 92-70 record. They lost in the 1st round of the playoffs to the New York Yankees.

In 2006 the Minnesota Twins finished in 1st place in the American League Central Division with a 96-66 record. They lost in the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.


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