Minnesota Twins Press Release...
MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MN – Minnesota Twins legends Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat have been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Golden Days Era Committee, as announced by the Hall of Fame this evening. Oliva received 12 votes (75%) of the 16 ballots to win election and Kaat received 12 votes (75%) of the 16 ballots. They join Gil Hodges (Golden Days Era Committee), Minnie Miñoso (Golden Days Era Committee), Bud Fowler (Early Baseball Era Committee) and Buck O’Neil (Early Baseball Era Committee) in the Class of 2022. Induction ceremonies are scheduled for Sunday, July 24 at 12:30 p.m. CT on the grounds of the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown, New York.
Oliva and Kaat, both 83, join Harmon Killebrew (1984), Rod Carew (1991), Kirby Puckett (2001) and Bert Blyleven (2011) as the fifth and sixth Twins to be elected to the Hall of Fame, as well as the first Twins to go into the Hall of Fame in the same class. They also become the 11th and 12th people in franchise history to have plaques at the Hall, including the Washington Senators’ Goose Goslin (1968), Clark Griffith (1946), Bucky Harris (1975), Walter Johnson (1936), Heinie Manush (1964) and Sam Rice (1963).
“The Pohlad family and entire Minnesota Twins organization would like to congratulate Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat on their long-awaited and well-deserved election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame,” Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said. “From his prodigious on-field career to the broadcast booth, and in the hearts of fans everywhere in our region, ‘Tony O’ embodies what it truly means to be a Minnesota Twin and has been the greatest ambassador for this organization since his arrival in the Upper Midwest. In the same vein, ‘Kitty’ has made an indelible impact on our organization and our fans, from the 15 years he spent with the Twins/Senators franchise to his time in the broadcast booth.
“We look forward to joining Twins Territory in celebrating these tremendous honors in Cooperstown next July.”
A native of Pinar del Rio, Cuba, Oliva batted .304 (1917-for-6301) with 329 doubles, 48 triples, 220 home runs, 947 RBI, 870 runs scored, 448 walks, a .353 on-base percentage, a .476 slugging percentage and an .830 OPS in 1,676 career games across 15 major league seasons, all in a Minnesota uniform. He was signed by legendary scout Joe Cambria in 1961, made his major league debut in 1962 and was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1964. Oliva’s 1964 campaign is widely regarded as one of the best rookie seasons of all time. He batted .323 (217-for-672) with 32 home runs, 94 RBI, was tops in the majors in hits and total bases (374), and led the AL in runs scored (109), doubles (43) and batting average. His total bases mark is tied with Hal Trosky (374 in 1934) for most by a rookie in AL/NL history (1876-present), while his hit total is the fourth highest in AL/NL history among rookies.
After his standout first season, “Tony O” dominated the major league leaderboards from the mid-60s to early ’70s, leading the majors with 278 doubles from 1964-71. He also won three batting titles (1964, ’65 and ’71) and led the AL in hits five times (1964-66, ’69-70). Oliva’s 1,455 hits from 1964-71 ranked fifth in that span, behind Pete Rose (1,554) and fellow Hall of Famers Lou Brock (1,552), Billy Williams (1,516) and Roberto Clemente (1,460). He won an AL Gold Glove Award in 1966, was an All-Star in eight-straight seasons (1964-71) and finished in the top 10 in the Most Valuable Player voting five times (1964-66, ’70-71).
Every time Minnesota looks to honor the heroes of its past, Oliva’s name is always part of the conversation. His number six was retired by the club on July 14, 1991, and he was named to both the 25th Anniversary Team in 1986 and 40th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2000. Oliva joined fellow Hall of Famers Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Kirby Puckett, as well as Kent Hrbek and Calvin Griffith, in the inaugural Twins Hall of Fame class in 2000 and was recognized as one of the 50 Greatest Twins in 2010. He also received the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization in 2013, becoming the eighth recipient of that honor.
Oliva has been a fixture across Twins Territory for over half a century. He began coaching for the Twins in 1976, including serving as the hitting coach on the World Series Champion 1987 Twins and bench coach for the 1991 championship squad, and has been a mentor to generations of Minnesota hitters. Oliva’s voice has permeated households across the region, serving as the analyst on the club’s Spanish radio broadcasts since 2005. He is also a frequent participant in events benefitting the Twins Community Fund, from TwinsFest and State Fair appearances to serving as an instructor at the team’s annual Fantasy Camp. Oliva also autographs hundreds of items each year that are then donated to local nonprofit organizations to assist with fundraising.
A native of Zeeland, Michigan, Kaat went 283-237 (.544) with a 3.45 ERA (4530.1 IP, 1738 ER), 180 complete games, 31 shutouts, 17 saves, 1083 walks, 2461 strikeouts, a 1.26 WHIP and a .264 opponent batting average in 898 career games (625 starts) for Washington/Minnesota (1959-73), Chicago-AL (1973-75), Philadelphia (1976-79), New York-AL (1979-80) and St. Louis (1980-83). Kaat made his major league debut for the Washington Senators in 1959 and was a crucial part of the franchise’s starting rotation when it relocated to the Twin Cities in 1961. He won 10 or more games for the Twins in every season except for 1961, when he won nine, and is the club’s all-time leader in wins (189), games started (422) and innings pitched (2959.1), while ranking second in complete games (133), shutouts (23) and strikeouts (1824).
Kaat’s best campaign in Minnesota came in 1966, when he went 25-13 with a 2.75 ERA (304.2 IP, 93 ER), 55 walks and 205 strikeouts in 41 starts and earned the second of his three career All-Star nods (also, ’62 and ’75). The southpaw led the majors in starts that season and was tops in the American League in wins, complete games (19), innings pitched and batters faced (1227). His win total that year was tied with fellow Hall of Famer Juan Marichal for second in the majors, trailing only another Hall of Famer in Sandy Koufax (27).
These performances cemented Kaat as one of the best pitchers in franchise history. He was selected as the left-handed pitcher on the Twins 25th Anniversary Team in 1986 and 40th Anniversary All-Time Team in 2000, was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2001 and named one of the 50 Greatest Twins in 2010.
A hallmark of “Kitty’s” career was his athleticism and the longevity that came with it. He led all major league pitchers with 595 games started from 1961-78, and appeared in at least 15 games in 23 of his 25 seasons, tied with four others for the fourth-most such campaigns all time. Kaat, whose major league career spanned from 1959-83, is also one of 29 players in AL/NL history (1876-present) to appear in at least four different decades. He won 16 Gold Glove Awards in his 25 seasons – all consecutively from 1962-77 – and is tied with fellow Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson for second most all-time, behind fellow Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux (18).
Kaat found a home in the broadcast booth after his retirement from playing, winning seven Emmy Awards for his work. A natural storyteller and respected analyst, he has worked regular season games for both the Yankees (1986, 1995-2006) and Twins (1988-93, 2019-present), and over the years has taken part in national broadcast coverage of the AL Championship Series, World Series, College World Series, the Summer Olympics and the World Baseball Classic. In addition to his broadcast duties for Minnesota, he has been a fixture at TwinsFest, telling stories and creating lasting memories for Twins fans throughout the generations.