By Tom Hintgen
Otter Tail County Correspondent
Rural Otter Tail County native Dick Stigman, raised at Nimrod in Wadena County, was in seventh heaven while pitching for the Minnesota Twins 60 years ago, in 1962.
Stigman, 26, won 12 games and lost 5 as the Twins took second place in the American League, with an outstanding record of 91-71.
Busloads of fans from Otter Tail County contributed to attendance of 1.4 million at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. This was the second highest total in the American League.
Stigman graduated from high school in Sebeka. His brother, Al, was a star baseball player at Perham.
The left-handed Stigman came to the Twins after playing two seasons with the Cleveland Indians. He was with Minnesota in 1965 when the Twins won the American League pennant but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers and pitcher Sandy Koufax in seven games. Stigman ended his career with the Boston Red Sox.
The 1962 Twins, 60 years ago, finished behind the New York Yankees who posted a record of 96-66, only five games better than the Twins. A star player for New York was Fargo native Roger Maris.
Statistically, as noted on the 1962 Major League baseball website, many members of the Twins had seasons in which they led the American League. Slugger Harmon Killebrew, a hit in Otter Tail County during Twins winter caravans, blasted 48 home runs and drove in 126 runs. He led the American League in both categories.
Outfielder Bob Allison hit 29 home runs and drove in 102 runs. Pitcher Camilo Pascual became the Twins’ first 20 game winner and led the American League with 206 strikeouts.
Killebrew, Pascual and Allison were members of the old Washington Senators, a team that moved to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961.
Other Twins players had outstanding seasons in 1962. First baseman Vic Power won his fifth Gold Glove Award, catcher Earl Battey won his third Gold Glove Award and pitcher Jim Kaat received the first of his many Gold Glove Awards. Third baseman Rich Rollins was a good hitter and fielder.
On Aug. 26, 1962, Twins pitcher Jack Kralick threw the first no-hitter in Minnesota Twins history, defeating the Kansas City Athletics by a score of 1-0. Kralick, during his minor league career, played for Duluth-Superior in the old Northern League of the 1950s.
Future Twins star Tony Oliva was in the minor leagues for Minnesota during most of the 1962 season. He had a few at bats in the big leagues, late in the season, and hit a phenomenal .444.
Late the following year Oliva hit .429 with the Twins. He played all season with the Twins in 1964, attaining American League Rookie of the Year honors after hitting .323 in his first full season in the major leagues.
Like Killebrew, Oliva became a hit in Otter Tail County with the Twins Winter caravans. With the passing of Killebrew in 2011, Oliva is now the dean of old-time Twins players from the early 1960s.
This summer Oliva and Kaat will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.