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Former Twins Kaat, Oliva miss cut for Hall of Fame

By Mike Berardino St. Paul Pioneer Press SAN DIEGO -- Tony Oliva's bid for Cooperstown fell one vote shy Monday when the Golden Era Committee failed to elect any of 10 finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Oliva, 76, and former slugge...

By Mike Berardino

St. Paul Pioneer Press

SAN DIEGO - Tony Oliva’s bid for Cooperstown fell one vote shy Monday when the Golden Era Committee failed to elect any of 10 finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Oliva, 76, and former slugger Dick Allen received 11 votes, just shy of the 75-percent support needed for induction.

“One vote - there’s got to be one vote,” said Twins bullpen coach Eddie Guardado, who was on hand for the ann-ouncement at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. “I was just thinking: One vote. Anybody with one vote. Tony has been up on that (ballot) for a while now. I agree (with the process), but it still hurts.”

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Now a special assistant in the Twins front office, Oliva played outfield for the Twins for 15 seasons (1962-76), compiling 1,917 hits and a .304 career batting average. Former Twins left-hander Jim Kaat, 76, remained stuck on 10 votes. Kaat also spent 15 years in the Washington Senators/Twins organization (1959-73) at the big-league level, winning 190 games during his time with the franchise.

“I’m disappointed we didn’t get someone elected, but I can tell you we jumped through all the hoops,” said hall of fame executive Pat Gillick, part of the 16-member committee. “These were 10 terrific candidates. It was not an easy process. It was a thorough process. It was a healthy process. It was a candid process. That’s all I can tell you.”

Aside from the final vote total, the process remains confidential, with committee members voting in secret and only one vote conducted.

“When it used to be numerous votes, there was always the speculation somebody was buying votes off somebody else,” Gillick said. “In this situation, I can tell you it’s completely confidential.”

“We were seated around the table, and I couldn’t tell you the fellow on my right or left who they voted for, and they don’t know who I voted for.”

Twins great Rod Carew, Oliva’s former Twins teammate, was part of the voting committee and made his support of Oliva public. Carew was scheduled to attend Monday’s news conference but had to return to his home in southern California earlier than expected.

“I can say everybody got a fair hearing and everybody got on the table and everybody was very candid, but most of the comments were very, very positive about this group,” Gillick said. “This happens. I did vote. I can’t divulge my vote, but I thought there were some people that deserved to be in the Hall of Fame.

“But again, you have to reach that 75-percent criteria.”

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Guardado said he knows the close call won’t leave Oliva bitter. If there’s anyone that can handle such a setback, “That’s probably the guy,” he said.

“You know Tony,” Guardado added. “I’m going to see him in spring training in February.

He’s not going to miss a heartbeat. I’m not going to say, ‘Hey, you missed it by one vote,’ but he’ll never bring it up, either. That’s the kind of guy he is.”

The Golden Era Committee isn’t scheduled to meet again for another three years, but Hall of Fame chair Jane Forbes Clark left open the possibility the veterans committee process will be re-examined.

“Hopefully they do it again in three more years,” Guardado said, “and Tony’s in good health, he’s still fighting, going strong and he does get in. Those are the kind of guys you push for - at least I do.”

Colabello claimed by Blue Jays

First baseman Chris Colabello, still healing a thumb injury suffered when he was hit by a pitch April 23, was claimed off waivers Monday by Toronto, leaving the Twins’ 40-man roster at 39.

In a text message Monday, Colabello, 31, said his right thumb “finally seems to be getting there.”

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Surgery has been ruled out after a series of doctor visits, X-rays and magnetic resonance imaging exams. The injury did cause Colabello to skip winter ball after a disappointing regular season in which he enjoyed a blazing start but was unable to sustain it.

The Pioneer Press is in a media partnership with Forum News Service.

Former Twins pitcher Tiant also misses out on HOF

Maury Wills received nine votes and Minnie Minoso got eight while Ken Boyer, Gil Hodges, Bob Howsam, Billy Pierce and Luis Tiant received three or fewer.

Committee members could vote for up to four candidates to each ballot.

The committee was comprised of a mixture of Hall of Famers, major league executives and veteran media members.

Tiant appeared in 18 games - starting 17 - for Minnesota in 1970, going 7-3 with an ERA of 3.40. The right-hander had a career record of 229-172 with an ERA of 3.30 and also had 2,416 strikeouts in 573 games.

- Sports Xchange

 

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