Goltz named to Twins Top 50 [UPDATED]Published 7:47am Thursday, September 2, 2010 Updated 5:50pm Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Early this summer, Dave Goltz, 61, who sells insurance with Midwest Insurance in Fergus Falls, got a letter in the mail. The letter asked if he, Dave Goltz, former Twins pitcher, World Series winner and erstwhile Cy Young Award candidate, could make it to Target Field on the weekend of Sept. 3 through 5.
After all, the letter read, he’d been named one of the 50 greatest Minnesota Twins players in the team’s 50-year history.
Goltz was pleasantly surprised, he said from his office on Fir Avenue. “It’s quite an honor to hit that 50.”
Goltz does not act like a used-to-be baseball star. Only a few baseball related knick-knacks line his office, and he didn’t even tell some of his coworkers about the honor right away. And yet, the official list doesn’t lie: the Rothsay-raised righty who went 96-79 in eight years with Minnesota is there, right along with Twins legends like Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett and modern day stars like Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer.
Though the 12 seasons (1972-1983) Goltz spent in the major leagues were good times, he doesn’t miss them. “It was a part of my life, but it’s not anymore,” he said, adding that the memories are great, but he’s happy with where he is now.
The Rothsay native first discovered baseball as an adolescent. “We had a summer rec program probably when we were in fifth or sixth grade,” he said. From then on, he was hooked, although he was far from a one-sport athlete.
“I played all the sports in high school,” Goltz said, joking, “My favorite was the one that was in season.”
Goltz first had the realization that he could go somewhere with his baseball talent at the end of his junior year, when he was hurling for Rothsay’s American Legion team. He played all over the area that year, and as he did, he saw baseball scouts watching him. He began nursing a dream.
That dream was granted in 1967, when Goltz was drafted by the Twins in the sixth round, right out of high school. “I knew I had a chance … but to get drafted by the Twins, that was even better,” he said.
Goltz steadily moved through the Twins’ minor league system, going to college a quarter or two at a time during the offseason. As he progressed, he honed his game.
“I threw hard and had good control,” he said. Two of his best pitches were a sinking fastball, which produced many a groundout over the years, and a killer strikeout pitch called the knuckle curve, which was a breaking pitch in which the pitcher gripped the ball with his knuckles on top.
In 1972, Goltz got his big break – literally. On July 2, while playing the Chicago White Sox, Twins pitcher Jim Kaat was running the basepaths and broke his pitching hand in the seventh inning on a slide. Kaat’s injury made room in the lineup for Goltz, who was called up midseason from Tacoma Twins in Washington.
The team was staying in Albuquerque at the time. “I had to fly back to Tacoma to get some of my clothes, and then I flew back to Minneapolis,” Goltz said. He stayed with Bert Blyleven the first night he was there before driving up to Rothsay to grab some dress clothes, as players had to be dressed up when they went on the road.
Goltz made long relief and spot start appearances with the team throughout the rest of 1972 and through 1973. It was 1974, he said, checking his baseball card he keeps in his desk drawer to make sure, when he first landed a job in the pitching rotation.
Though the Twins never made the playoffs during Goltz’ time there (back then, only two teams from each league went to the playoffs), he certainly played with some greats, including many people who made the Twins’ top 50: Blyleven, Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva among them. He added that he also loved “playing against guys I had read about and watched on TV.”
“I enjoyed all the time there,” he said, adding that he had fun playing in Minnesota and was friends with many of his teammates.
Goltz’ best year was 1977, when he went 20-11, struck out 186 and boasted an ERA of 3.36. “(My) control was excellent,” he recalled. “We had a good club that scored a lot of runs and played good defense.” He was 6th in the balloting for the Cy Young Award that year.
Goltz has many fond memories of his time in the majors, perhaps the best one of all his World Series championship with the Dodgers in 1981. Goltz pitched twice in relief during the World Series that year.
In 1983, Goltz was released by the California Angels after getting picked up by them in 1982. He spent some time selling real estate before becoming an insurance agent, and he’s been in the profession now for 23 years. He enjoys life in Otter Tail County, taking in the outdoors, spending time with his high school sweetheart Sheri and keeping up with his kids (one of his sons, Brandon, won a Northern League championship with the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks).
But he still goes back to his roots every now and then, participating in TwinsFest or making autograph appearances with the team. He’s always surprised at how many people still remember him from the ‘70s.
“I thought after so many years, you’re going to have a generation change, but there’s still a lot of (old fans) there,” he said. “It’s very gratifying.”
Goltz will be recognized as one of the greatest players on Friday. On Sunday, there will be an old-timers game, but he said his playing days are behind him – happily, fondly and thankfully.
“I threw an inning (several) months ago, and it took me nine months to put a comb in my back pocket,” he laughed.