By Joe Christensen
An interesting new book was waiting for me in the office this week, “Minnesotans in Baseball,” edited by Stew Thornley. There are chapters on well-known Minnesota baseball figures such as Paul Molitor, Kent Hrbek, Jack Morris, Dave Winfield and Joe Mauer and numerous others with lesser-known stories such as Charles Albert (Chief) Bender, Johnny Blanchard, Blix Donnelly and Dick Siebert.
The book is a collaborative effort by the Halsey Hall Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). The Star Tribune’s Joel Rippel contributed chapters on Hrbek, Mauer, Greg Olson and Robb Quinlan.
I particularly enjoyed the chapter on Jean Ann Havlish, who grew up in St. Paul, practicing alongside Jerry Kindall and Jim Rantz, before finding her own niche with the Fort Wayne Daisies of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, which was later depicted in the film, “A League of the Their Own.”
(*) I caught the end of Zack Greinke’s latest masterpiece last night, and wondered what impact he had on what looked like a robust attendance. The attendance was 21,843, and in today’s KC Star, Joe Posnanski estimates that there were about 10,000 more people in the renovated ballpark because of Greinke. Zack Mania is now officially in swing, Posnanski writes.
(*) Tonight, the Twins will face Tigers righthander Rick Porcello, the youngest player in the American League at 20 years and four months. He is 1-3 with a 6.23 ERA, but his seven-inning, one-run effort against Seattle on April 19 speaks to his potential. According to Fan Graphs, 74 percent of Porcello’s pitches this year have been fastballs, averaging 92.2 mph, with 14 percent curve balls (76.3 mph) and 11 percent change-ups (82 mph).