The seven Cubans in the 1967 AL pennant race

As we wait for the 2020 baseball season to get going, let’s remember one great pennant race story from the past. 

It was 1967 and 4 teams were in contention for the AL pennant entering the last weekend of the season. They were Boston, Minnesota, Detroit and Chicago. We remind you that before divisional play was introduced in 1969, the World Series, or post season, was between the AL and NL champs.  In other words, no divisions or wild cards back then. 

There were 7 Cubans playing in those 4 teams that weekend. 

The Minnesota Twins had perennial All Star Tony Olivaex-MVP Zoilo Versalles, outfielder Sandy Valdespino and back-up catcher Hank Izquierdo. Oliva led the AL with 34 doubles and hit .289 and Versalles played 160 games at shortstop. 

The Boston Red Sox had a outfielder Jose Tartabull.  His son Danny hit 252 HR in the majors later. 

The Detroit Tigers had a veteran pitcher Orlando Peña

The Chicago White Sox had a young pitcher Aurelio Monteguado

Back to the story and the amazing pennant race, as you can read in this article by Tim Wendel:

With two weeks left in the 1967 season, the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Minnesota Twins were tied for first place in the American League, with the Chicago White Sox a half-game back. Through the years, baseball has enjoyed plenty of memorable pennant chases and epic finishes. Back in August of 1948, four teams—the Yankees, Indians, Red Sox, and Athletics—were in a virtual tie for the lead. Eleven years later, the Dodgers, Giants, and Braves battled to the end, with Los Angeles winning a best-of-three playoff. All great moments, but they cannot surpass 1967, which baseball historian Rob Neyer calls the “best four-team race in major-league history.”

As Mr. Wendel explains, most experts had picked the Orioles to repeat as AL champs.    Unfortunately, the O’s had injuries and never got going.

Chicago was eliminated Friday night. Detroit was eliminated on Sunday. 

It came down to game #162 between Boston and Minnesota.   The Red Sox won and they went on to the World Series. It was very exciting and I remember watching the last two games between Boston and Minnesota on TV. 

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