Oliva and Pascual

July 14, 2012

Camilo Pascual was front and center for the birth of Major League Baseball in Minnesota in 1961, and he was front and center again on Saturday.

The Twins’ first All-Star and 20-game winner was elected into the Twins Hall of Fame on Saturday in a pregame ceremony before Minnesota’s 9-3 loss to Oakland.

“It is a great honor for me and my family to be selected to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame,” said Pascual, who became the 24th member of the elite group. “We really appreciate this day, and we’d like to thank the administration of the Minnesota Twins.”

Standing on the Target Field infield before Saturday’s game, Pascual waved to thousands of cheering fans, many of whom had never seen the five-time All Star righty throw a single pitch.

“To you, the fans, I don’t know how many of you here tonight saw the Minnesota Twins playing in the early ’60s, when we first came here from Washington,” said Pascual, a native of Havana, Cuba. “We want to thank you all for your great support for our team and our players. Thank you very much, God bless you all. It is a great day for me. I appreciate it.”

Pascual played 13 seasons with the Twins franchise — seven of them before the Senators moved from Washington to Minnesota. But it was with the Twins that he began to make his mark.

He went 88-57 with a 3.31 ERA in his six seasons in Minnesota, ranking third in Twins history in shutouts (18), seventh in strikeouts (994), and eighth in wins (88). After pitching in Minnesota, he spent five more seasons in the Majors, bouncing around between four teams.

Known for his devastating curveball to mix with a power fastball, Pascual was an absolute workhorse, leading the league in complete games, shutouts and strikeouts three times each. Hall of Famer Ted Williams once said Pascual possessed “the most feared curveball in the American League.”

He won 20 games in 1962, pitching a three-hit shutout in the season’s final game. He then won 21 in 1963 and was a vital member of Minnesota’s first pennant winning team in 1965.

On Saturday, five current members of the Twins Hall of Fame — Rod Carew, Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva, Jim Perry and Jim Rantz — were on hand for the ceremony, and Oliva was quick to praise Pascual’s character.

“This little guy right here, Camilo Pascual, I met him in 1961, and right away, I became his shadow,” Oliva told the crowd. “Any place I’d go, he used to go. I didn’t speak any English. He spoke English very well. A very nice guy, hard worker, a professional all the way.”

Oliva then gave an anecdote showcasing the old-school approach of the right-hander.

“He was a very good teammate — the best,” Oliva said. “He protected his teammates. I remember very well because when we played in those days, the people used to knock us down. I used to hit behind Harmon Killebrew. You know, Killebrew hit the home runs and they knocked me down for sure. But if Camilo was pitching, I didn’t worry about it.”

In 1983, Pascual was elected to the Cuban Baseball Hall of Fame and in 2010 he was elected to the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame in the Dominican Republic.

In Saturday’s ceremony, the Twins presented Pascual with original artwork, and the first 5,000 fans received a Camilo Pascual Hall of Fame pin. Seventeen of Pascual’s family members, including his wife and four children, were on the field with him for the event.




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