Minnesota misses slugger Dan Dobbek

Posted March 12th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Bob Allison, Cookie Lavagetto, Dan Dobbek, Jerry Zimmerman


Once touted as the second coming of slugger Bob Allison, Dan Dobbek’s stock rose and fell quickly.

The product of Western Michigan University, he’s remembered for being a grinning member of “The Sporting News Rookie Stars of 1959” subset in that year’s Topps set. Sure enough, he uncorked 23 home runs for the Chattanooga Lookouts, earning a September debut with the Washington Senators.

Before the 1960 season, manager Cookie Lavagetto told reporters, “He is a very extraordinary rookie. He is the best fielding outfielder on the club.”

Dobbek managed 10 home runs in 110 games. He remembered one game especially, writing:

“In 1960 against K.C., I had 2 home runs the last time at bat in the first game of a doubleheader and another one the first time up in the second game. I got walked the next three times.”

When the Senators morphed into the Minnesota Twins in 1961, Dobbek greeted Metropolitan Stadium fans with a May 19 grand slam. His third-inning grand salami before home fans became the first in Twins history.

Facing the Athletics in Kansas City, Dobbek’s career faced a crossroads.

“My career ended because I ran into a concrete wall in K.C. catching a fly ball,” he added without prompting.

Just four homers and a .168 average in 72 games of part-time action foreshadowed Dobbek’s decline. Swapped to Cincinnati in the off-season for catcher Jerry Zimmerman, Dobbek would appear with the Reds only on baseball cards. He’d be out of baseball in two years.

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