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Former Twins pitcher Camilio Pascual was a hero to kids in ‘60s [UPDATED]

Published 8:26am Monday, July 9, 2012 Updated 12:28pm Monday, July 9, 2012

Former pitcher Camilo Pascual, elected this year to the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame, was a hero to kids in Otter Tail County a half century ago. Pascual moved with the old Washington Senators to the Twin Cities in 1961.

Pascual, who had one of the best curve balls in the American League, led the league in both complete games and strikeouts in 1962 and 1963. He helped lead the Twins to their first World Series in 1965.

I still have my 1957 Camilo Pascual baseball card, included in a pack of cards purchased at Alice’s Grocery Store on West Lincoln Avenue in Fergus Falls. That year Pascual was a 23-year-old Cuban native and pitcher with the Washington Senators. Those were his formative years as a pitcher.

Pascual, now 78, will be honored during a pregame ceremony at Target Field on July 14.

“Camilo being honored by the Twins is long overdue,” says Fergus Falls baseball hobbyist and memorabilia collector Charlie Bacon. “He was one of the best Twins players in the history of the franchise.”

Pascual was selected to the American League All-Star team five times. He was the Twins’ first pitching ace, in the early 1960s. Pascual was a member of the Griffith family-owned franchise, in Washington and Minnesota, from 1954 to 1966.

The native of Havana, Cuba, won 20 or more games in 1962 and 1963. Pascual finished his career at Cleveland in 1971, with a career record of 174-170 and a 3.63 earned run average (ERA).

“Camilo will always be remembered as one of the Twins all-time great players,” said Bacon, a retired postal employee who lives on the east side of Lake Alice in Fergus Falls.

Pascual also was a good hitter, during the years when pitchers in the American League also needed to bat ninth in the lineup. Those were the years before designated hitters.

The right-handed pitcher and batter, over 18 seasons, had 198 hits, 32 doubles, five home runs and 81 runs batted in. Pascual’s batting average of .205 was respectable for a pitcher from 1954 to 1971. He loved playing at the old Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington.

The inaugural class of Twins Hall of Famers were inducted on Aug. 12, 2000. They included Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, Tony Oliva, Kent Hrbek, Kirby Puckett and former Twins owner Calvin Griffith.

Other inductees include pitcher Jim Kaat (2001), broadcaster Herb Carneal (2001), pitcher Bert Blyleven (2002), former Twins manager Tom Kelly (2002), long-time public address announcer Bob Casey (2003), outfielder Bob Allison (2003), catcher Earl Battey (2004), pitcher Frank Viola (2005), owner Carl Pohlad (2005), shortstop Zoilo Versalles (2006), third baseman Gary Gaetti (2007), farm director Jim Rantz (2007), pitcher Rick Aguilera (2008), pitcher Brad Radke (2009), farm and scouting director George Brophy (2009), shortstop Greg Gagne (2010) and pitcher Jim Perry (2011).

While growing up in Herman during the 1950s, Bacon developed what he refers to as, “an immutable passion for the game of baseball which eventually morphed into a full-fledged addiction which I carry with me today.”

One of his favorite quotes is from George Will, who said, “Some people say baseball is just a game. True. Just like it is true that the Grand Canyon is just a hole in the ground in Arizona.”

Bacon said he’s had the good fortune to visit over 20 major league baseball parks around the country. His bucket list includes making in his words, “a pilgrimage to the remaining parks. I must say Target Field where the Minnesota Twins play ranks in the top five. It’s truly as close to heaven on earth as one can find.”

Tom Hintgen is a Fergus Falls resident.

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