The disappointing Orioles, 56-70 going into the game, scored three times in the top of the ninth to take a 9-8 lead. But after Twins relief ace Ron Kline had been touched for an RBI double by Davey Johnson and a two-run homer by Curt Blefary, the lefthanded-hitting Reese drilled a 410-foot, two-run shot off O’s righty Moe Drabowsky.
The Twins, according to St. Paul Pioneer Press beat writer Arno Goethel, showed “more elasticity than a matron’s spanking new girdle” in squeezing out a victory with the fifth lead change of the night.
It might not have happened without Cesar Tovar’s one-out chopper in the ninth, which took long enough to come down to allow the speedster to race across first base before Drabowsky could field it and throw. Twins skipper Cal Ermer then called on Reese to pinch-hit for catcher Jerry Zimmerman, and the rookie quickly made his skipper look like a genius.
Reese, who batted .317 (13-for-41) as a pinch-hitter in 1967, ripped a shot into the bullpen in right-center field at the Met. The homer was his fourth of the year in 87 at-bats—and his fourth game-winning blow of ’67. No. 4 kept the Twins from falling into a second-place tie with the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers, both a game-and-a-half back of the front-running Red Sox.
“Ermer kept saying ‘what a lift Reese gave us with his homer’ for nearly an hour after the game,” Goethel wrote in his game account. It was hard not to be caught up in the moment.
That kind of excitement would be a constant in a wild and wacky September.
I will post about the 1967 Twins and the wild AL pennant race all summer long, culled from the upcoming and tentatively titled The Glory Years of the Minnesota Twins: Rock ‘n’ Roll, War and Peace, the Civil Rights Movement and Baseball in the 1960s. I also post on my author page on Facebook.