Minnesota Twins Outfielder Bob Allison Dubbed Thin, Sharp Pitcher Tom Hall “Blade”

Tom still has “thin and sharp”
handwriting today! I found
this gem on twinscards.com.
It’s a must-stop for Twins fans.

Where have all the nicknames gone?

I remember the late, great Ernie Harwell saying that he believed that a shortened last name, something like “Higgy” for Bobby Higginson, didn’t compare to baseball’s greatest nicknames.

That was one reason I wrote to Tom Hall. His “Blade” nickname seemed like something Marvel Comics invented. Interestingly, it took just one teammate to create such a title. Hall explained:

“Bob Allison gave me that name when I was with the Twins in 1969. He said ‘I was so thin and sharp on the mound.'”

That same year, on Aug. 24, Hall twirled a four-hit masterpiece at home against the Yankees. What made that win memorable?

“Being able to go 9 innings as a relief pitcher.”

Never before had I asked a former player about his first highlight, just getting signed to a pro contract. I’m glad I quizzed Hall. He remembered:

“Jess Flores scouted and signed me in 1966. My mom and dad were present at the signing. It was very exciting. Yes, I did get a signing bonus, nothing like today.”

He concluded his generous letter not with an autograph, but a smiley face exclamation. I like to think of it as The Blade’s self-portrait.

Coming Wednesday: Beyond the stats of Danny Litwhiler.

Minnesota misses slugger Dan Dobbek

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.