MINNEAPOLIS — It’s 10 minutes after the end of the SiriusXM Futures Game on Sunday, the end of his afternoon as an honorary coach for the top prospects in the game, but Twins legend Tony Oliva doesn’t want to leave the dugout.

He’s standing on the top step with his hands on his hips and his chest out, proudly displaying the World logo embroidered across his jersey and the tiny Cuban flag patch stitched on the uniform near his heart.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE- http://m.mlb.com/news/article/84749874/tony-oliva-proud-of-incredible-cuban-representation-in-all-star-game

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The Hall of Very Good™ is proud to open its proverbial doors to three new members…Boston Red Sox fan favorite Luis Tiant, Minnesota Twins legend Tony Oliva and, for the first time, The Hall’s inaugural celebrity inductee, The San Diego Chicken.

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Seattle Mariners v Minnesota TwinsTwins special assistant Tony Oliva celebrated his 76th birthday on Sunday.

The eight-time all-star remains a beloved figure inside the Twins clubhouse and throughout the team’s fan base.

“He’s huge,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Look what he’s done. He has a track record. He should be in the hall of fame. That’s probably one of the great injustices in this game as far as Minnesota goes: Tony Oliva not being in the hall of fame. This guy was a great baseball player and a great ambassador for our game.”

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The greatest players in the game converged in Minnesota for last week’s All-Star Game. Meanwhile, the greatest Minnesota Twins were also on hand to celebrate the city and baseball history — including longtime Twins’ ace Jim Kaat.

Kaat, of Zeeland, reminisced with former teammates, including outfielder Tony Oliva. Something that they didn’t talk about — but others always talk about — is the pair’s chance to make the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Both will be finalists in December’s Golden Era Committee vote — the revamped Veterans Committee.

“The neatest thing if it ever did happen would be Tony and I going in together,” Kaat said on his visit to the Jim Kaat Baseball Park in Zeeland this weekend. “That would really be cool. I would probably appreciate that more then if I just went in by myself.”

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One by one they have come through Target Field the past few seasons, wide-eyed young players making their first visit to the Twin Cities.

Each time, the same kindly septuagenarian has been there to receive them, to offer a friendly greeting and a few carefully chosen words of advice.

Twins legend Tony Oliva was welcoming them into the club.

Not in terms of Minnesota baseball, but in terms of wondrously talented hitters born in the troubled island nation of Cuba.

So, it was only fitting this week, as Yoenis Cespedes repeated as Home Run Derby champion and Yasiel Puig and Jose Abreu each made their all-star debuts, that Oliva was here to welcome them to an even more exclusive group: Cuban all-stars.

“I absolutely know the story of Tony Oliva,” Abreu, the rookie first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, said through a translator. “As Cubans we all know Tony Oliva and his story, his success here in the big leagues. He’s one of those people who, if it wasn’t for him, as Cubans, we couldn’t be here.”

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Rod Carew, the hall of famer and former Twin who was named to 18 All-Star Games and will make the ceremonial first pitch at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Target Field, served on the Expansion-Era Hall of Fame committee that in two weeks will induct ex-managers Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre in Cooperstown, N.Y.

But with a proviso.

“I told the president of the Hall of Fame that the only way I would be on that committee is if I could be on the next committee when (former Twins teammates) Tony (Oliva) and Jim (Kaat) come up (for election),” Carew said.

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MINNEAPOLIS – There he was, a 25-year-old rookie, standing among some of the best to ever play the game.

Willie Mays. Roberto Clemente. Mickey Mantle. Harmon Killebrew. Hank Aaron.

Somehow, some way, Tony Oliva wedged his way into that elite group. His numbers more than validated his selection to the 1964 All-Star Game, but the Cuba native and Twins outfielder still couldn’t believe he was among the best and brightest in Major League Baseball.

“That was a dream, to be able to be in that group of people as an All-Star,” Oliva said. “Really, you don’t know if you’re an All-Star, if you belong there. I know my numbers was great. I had great numbers that year for the All-Star (Game). But as a rookie, you never know if they’re going to pick you out for the All-Star or not.”

Not only was Oliva an All-Star that year, but he was also the American League Rookie of the Year. He finished his rookie season with a league-best 217 hits, 109 runs and a .323 average, which earned him his first of three batting titles.

Watch the video here- http://www.foxsports.com/north/story/former-twin-oliva-partaking-in-third-minnesota-all-star-game-071014?videoId=a4bef9c4-d43c-458b-b0f0-b021071386d6&from=mpl_en-us_FSRSingle_FOXSports_Video_Page&src=v5:share:titleBar^link:

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Even now, all these years later, Tony Oliva never mentions the double he hit at the 1965 All-Star Game.

Not around Bob Gibson, he doesn’t.

They are in their 70s now, but why take a chance at offending Gibson, one of the fiercest competitors the game has known?

“Many times we’ve been together,” says Oliva, now a Twins special assistant. “We used to play old-timer’s games and we’d go to dinner. We did a lot of charity events. I never bring up the double. I never say anything.”

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Watch the video here- http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/07/09/a-look-back-at-minn-s-first-all-star-game-as-told-by-tony-oliva/

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Four years after the Twins arrived in the land of 10,000 lakes, Minnesota was the center of the baseball universe. Nearly 50,000 fans crammed into Metropolitan Stadium to watch the All-Star game.

“It brings me a lot of memories,” Tony Oliva said.

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While Tony Oliva would have my vote for the Hall of Fame, those who really have a vote have not seen the light.  A look at his stats confirms…he belongs!

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