Thursday, November 14, 2013

Don Mincher (#388)

Don Mincher began his career with the White Sox (I learned something new today!) in 1956. After 4 seasons on the Sox’ farm (where he hit a total of 60 home runs), Don was traded to the (old) Washington Senators (with catcher Earl Battey) for veteran 1st-sacker Roy Sievers on April 4, 1960.

Mincher started the first 20 games for the Senators in 1960, but with his batting average in the .230s by mid-June, he was sent down to the minors for the rest of the season, returning only for the last 2 weeks in September.

The Senators became the Minnesota Twins in 1961, and “Minch” was with them to start the season. This time, he only made it to the Memorial Day doubleheader before he and his .188 batting average were demoted to triple-A Buffalo.

Don returned to the big leagues to stay in 1962, although he only played in half the Twins’ games in ’62 and ’63. He was used primarily as a pinch-hitter in 1962, but started 20 games at 1st base when Vic Power needed a break. In 1963, he only made 2 starts during the first half, but started 55 of the final 75 games at first base.

In 1964, Power only started 7 games (and was shipped out in June), but Mincher had to contend with ex-rightfielder Bob Allison, who set up shop at first base in ’64 when rookie Tony Oliva joined the team as the everyday right fielder. Don only managed 65 starts to Allison’s 90, but appeared in another 55 games as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement.

Don began to establish himself in 1965. Although he only started 5 games before mid-June (Harmon Killebrew was this year’s first baseman), Mincher started most of the games after that, when Killebrew began alternating between 1st and 3rd, then Harmon missed all of August and half of September with an injury. Mincher was the team’s primary 1st baseman, although with only 89 starts. In the ’65 World Series, Don only hit .130 while playing in all 7 games.

Don’s last year with the Twins was 1966, when he set new personal highs in games played (139), games started (118), hits (108), and doubles (30), although his homer total dipped below 20. After the season, he was traded to the Angels (with pitcher Pete Cimino and outfielder Jimmie Hall) for 1964’s Cy Young Award winner Dean Chance, and reserve shortstop Jackie Hernandez.

Mincher spent 2 seasons with the Angels. In 1967, he rebounded in most offensive categories, and made his first of 2 all-star appearances. He slumped the following season, and was left unprotected in the expansion draft.

The Seattle Pilots made him their 2nd pick in the expansion draft, and he was their regular 1st baseman. He was also the clean-up batter until late-July, when he was dropped to the #5 slot. Don was the Pilots’ only all-star game representative.

In January 1970, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Lew Krausse and Ken Sanders, catcher Phil Roof, and outfielder Mike Hershberger. Mincher was Oakland’s first baseman for 1970 and the first month of 1971. In early May, he was traded to the Senators for 1st baseman Mike Epstein. Mincher was back in Washington, making him one of only 8 players to have played for both Washington Senators franchises.

In July 1972, Don’s team (now the Texas Rangers) traded him back to Oakland for infielders Vic Harris and Marty Martinez. With Epstein entrenched as the regular, Mincher was mostly used to pinch-hit, and got 2 at-bats in the 1972 post-season. He retired after the season.

In March 2012, Mincher died at age 73, in his birthplace of Huntsville, Alabama.

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