Calvin Robertson Griffith (December 1, 1911 – October 20, 1999), born Calvin Griffith Robertson, was a Canadian-born American Major League Baseball team owner. As president, majority owner and de facto general manager of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins franchise of the American League from 1955 through 1984, he orchestrated the transfer of the Senators after 60 years in Washington, D.C., to Minneapolis–Saint Paul in the autumn of 1960, thus creating the Twins. He was famous for his devotion to the game and for his sayings, some of them controversial.
Calvin Robertson Griffith
Calvin Griffith Robertson
December 1, 1911
|Died||October 20, 1999 (aged 87)|
Melbourne, Florida, USA
|Occupation||Major League Baseball team owner|
|Known for||Owner of the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins|
|Relocated the Washington Senators to Minneapolis–Saint Paul to create the Minnesota Twins|
Born in Montreal, Quebec, Calvin Griffith was the son of James A. Robertson, a native of the Shetland Islands who emigrated to Canada and became a minor league baseball player. Robertson had a tryout with the Montreal Royals of the high minors before his career washed out. Troubled by alcoholism, he died in 1922, leaving a widow and seven young children in Montreal in dire circumstances. But a sister, Anne ("Addie") Robertson, had moved to the United States, where in 1900 she married Clark Griffith, a future Hall of Fame pitcher who became a manager (Chicago White Sox, New York Highlanders, Cincinnati Reds and Washington Senators) during the first two decades of the 20th century and then president and chief stockholder of the Senators after 1920.
Clark and Addie Griffith, who were childless, took Calvin and a sister, Thelma, into their Washington home in 1923. Clark Griffith raised Calvin from the age of 11, and he and his sister both took on the Griffith surname. Their mother and siblings also moved to Washington.
The senior Griffith owned the Senators until his death at age 85 in October 1955; the team then passed into the hands of Calvin, 43, who had worked his way up through a variety of positions since the 1920s. He started as a batboy; then, after attending Staunton Military Academy in Virginia and George Washington University in the U.S. capital, he was a minor league player and manager (serving a brief stint under Joe Engel and the Chattanooga Lookouts at Engel Stadium) before he joined the Washington front office, eventually becoming a vice president. Calvin and his sister, now Thelma Griffith Haynes, each inherited half of their uncle's 52 percent stake in the Senators. For the next 29 years, Thelma voted her shares along with her brother's, giving Calvin effective control of the team.
Other Robertson children also would assume important positions with the Senators. Three of Calvin's brothers — Sherry, Jimmy and Billy Robertson — and a brother-in-law, Joe Haynes, would eventually become team executives. Meanwhile, brother-in-law Joe Cronin, a Hall of Fame shortstop married to Mildred Robertson, would serve as playing manager of the Senators and Boston Red Sox, general manager of the Red Sox, and president of the American League. Calvin's son Clark Griffith II and nephews Bruce Haynes and Tom Cronin would eventually hold executive posts in the Twins' front office.
Under Calvin's ownership, the left-field dimensions of cavernous Griffith Stadium were immediately shortened. Although the distance along the left-field foul line decreased by only 14 feet (4.3 m) to 388 feet (118 m) in 1956, the left-center-field power alley was reduced to 360 feet (110 m); a 6 ft (1.8 m)-high inner fence made the new contour even friendlier to right-handed power hitters. The original dimensions were favored by the late Clark Griffith, who, as a former moundsman, built his successful early 20th-century teams on pitching, speed, gap to gap hitting and defense. The pennant-contending 1945 Senators, who finished in second place by 11⁄2 games, hit only one home run (by Joe Kuhel on September 7) in 2,601 home at bats all season. The 1955 Senators hit 20 home runs at Griffith Stadium during their 77-game home schedule.
The 1956 club, with the new dimensions in place, slugged 63 long balls at their home park, and Washington clubs of the late 1950s featured powerful right-handed hitters like Roy Sievers, Jim Lemon, Bob Allison and Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. Sievers (1957) and Killebrew (1959) would establish a new Senators' single-season home run record with 42 blasts to lead (or, in Killebrew's case, co-lead) the American League in that category. However, the Washington pitching staff bore the immediate brunt of the changes to the stadium. The 1955 Senators posted a 4.62 staff earned run average; one year later, the staff ERA jumped to 5.33—with an abysmal 5.55 ERA at home. To Griffith's credit, however, his pitching staff (led by ace right-hander Camilo Pascual) began to post respectable earned run averages beginning in 1958 and by 1960, the Senators' ERA was down to 3.77 (3.88 at Griffith Stadium).
Calvin Griffith also invested in Washington's traditionally weak farm system and scouting operations. In 1946, The Sporting News' Official Baseball Guide showed only three full-time scouts on the Senators' org chart, although one of them was Joe Cambria, who established a pipeline of playing talent from Cuba to the franchise that would endure until his death in 1962. The 1951 TSN Baseball Guide listed eight scouts on the Senators' staff. But by 1960, the team's last year in Washington, the same annual listed 23 full-time talent hunters working on the Senators' behalf. The changes to the farm system were less dramatic: the team usually fielded 6–8 affiliates throughout the 1950s, and the 1960 Senators actually sponsored one fewer team than the 1951 club. But while Clark Griffith's farm system was concentrated at the lower levels of minor league baseball (for years, Double-A Chattanooga was Washington's top farm team), Calvin added Triple-A affiliates, first in 1956 and then, for good, in 1960. He began to invest, cautiously, in bonus babies, with Killebrew a notable success. The proof of Griffith's endeavor was in the pudding: by 1960, his Senators featured home-grown players like Killebrew, Allison, Pascual, Pedro Ramos, Jim Kaat and Zoilo Versalles. He also obtained young talent like Earl Battey, who would be the team's starting catcher from 1960–67, and power-hitting prospect Don Mincher, both acquired for Sievers in April 1960, and starting pitcher Jack Kralick, signed as a minor league free agent the previous season. The trio came to Washington from the White Sox.
But the results of Griffith's efforts were initially hard to detect. The 1956–59 Senators averaged 95 losses each season, with three last place finishes in a row (1957–59). Attendance hovered below 500,000 until 1959, when it improved to 615,000. The 1954 relocation of the St. Louis Browns to nearby Baltimore as the Orioles dampened the team's regional appeal, even though the Orioles of the 1950s were also chronic residents of the second division. At the 1956 World Series, Griffith, not even a year into his tenure as the Senators' president and majority owner, began preliminary talks with Los Angeles city and county officials about a potential transfer to the West Coast. (Brooklyn Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley, learning of Griffith's interest and thwarted by New York City officials in his plans to replace his decaying ballpark, Ebbets Field, soon supplanted Griffith as Los Angeles' prime target.) Griffith's main tenants, the Washington Redskins, were poised to abandon Griffith Stadium for the publicly financed District of Columbia Stadium in the fall of 1961. And although the new facility aimed to house the Senators, too, Griffith and the district could not agree on rental terms.
Griffith began to discuss relocating his club to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis–Saint Paul in September 1959, but talks stalled. Minnesota-based owners had established a franchise in the new Continental League, and American League owners were reluctant to antagonize the United States Congress (and jeopardize baseball's exemption from antitrust laws) by removing Washington's home team without a suitable succession plan. As the Senators' future was being debated off the field, the 1960 team enjoyed new on-field success thanks to its young talent base. Although it was still a below-.500 outfit (at 73–81), the Senators rose from eighth and last place to fifth in the league, and attendance exceeded 743,000. But when the 1960 season ended, Griffith was able to come to terms with Minnesota public officials. At the same time, the American League seemingly solved the potential antitrust issue (and helped to scuttle the Continental League) by voting to add two new teams for 1961, including an expansion franchise in Washington. The new club, which carried on the Senators' name, started at square one with players discarded from the eight original AL teams; it lost 100 games in 1961, and would have only one winning season (in 1969). In 1972, it moved to Dallas–Fort Worth as the Texas Rangers. Meanwhile, Griffith took his young talent and the historical past of the 1901–60 Senators to the Twin Cities.
Just five years after his uncle's death, Calvin Griffith moved the Senators to Minneapolis–Saint Paul in 1961. The renamed Minnesota Twins established residency in suburban Bloomington at Metropolitan Stadium, which had been built five years earlier for the Triple-A Minneapolis Millers and was now expanded to house the MLB Twins. At first the Twins took a step backward, winning only 70 of 160 games in 1961's new, longer American League schedule. But they drew 1.26 million fans, 200,000 more than their most successful season in Washington. (Meanwhile, the Twins' second-largest shareholder, Washington businessman H. Gabriel Murphy, filed suit in federal court seeking to block the franchise shift; his legal battle with Griffith would last for eight years.)
Despite the poor debut of the Twins on the field, Griffith's farm system continued to bear fruit. In 1962 rookie infielders Rich Rollins and Bernie Allen joined the maturing core of the team as the Twins vaulted into second place with 91 wins, only five games behind the New York Yankees. The 1963 edition also won 91 games, but fell further behind the Yankees, placing third, 13 games out, then the 1964 Twins slumped to a below-.500 season (79–83) and seventh place in the ten-team AL. But in 1963–64, Griffith continued to add young players to the Twins' lineup: center fielder Jimmie Hall, first baseman Don Mincher, and in 1964, AL rookie of the year and batting champion Tony Oliva. Griffith also shrewdly acquired two starting pitchers, Jim Perry and Mudcat Grant, in separate transactions with the Cleveland Indians.
Griffith's efforts came together when the 1965 Twins broke the Yankees' stranglehold and won 102 games and the American League pennant. It was the franchise's first league title since 1933 (and would be Calvin Griffith's only pennant-winner as owner). Versalles was the AL Most Valuable Player, Grant won 21 games and Oliva captured his second straight batting title. Griffith was named Major League Executive of the Year by The Sporting News. In the 1965 World Series, the Twins and the Los Angeles Dodgers split the first six games, with the home club winning every game. But in Game 7 at Metropolitan Stadium, the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax shut out the Twins, 2–0, to deny Griffith a world championship.
The Twins would win 89 or more games for four of the next five seasons. In 1967, they unveiled another brilliant rookie when future Hall of Famer and seven-time AL batting champion Rod Carew became the team's starting second baseman. The 1967 Twins also drew 1.48 million fans to Metropolitan Stadium, the high-water mark for their first two decades in Minnesota. After a thrilling race, the Twins narrowly missed the pennant by dropping the season's final two games to the eventual league champion Red Sox. Then, after the American League expanded to 12 teams and two divisions, they won the first two American League West Division championships ever contested for, in 1969 and 1970. But, on both occasions, they fell to the AL East's Orioles, going winless in ALCS competition.
With the exception of future Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven, who debuted as a teenager in 1970, the team's supply of elite minor league talent began to ebb during the 1970s. Oliva and Killebrew battled injuries and age, and the Twins sank back in the standings for the rest of the decade. The striking down of the reserve clause in 1976 meant the family-owned Twins would have to compete with wealthier MLB teams to keep their stars, and some of the club's best young players, such as relief pitcher Bill Campbell and outfielder Lyman Bostock, departed as free agents. Blyleven, only 25, was traded to the Rangers for prospects and cash in June 1976 as he approached free agency. Then, in 1979, facing Carew's imminent free agency—and after the Lions Club debacle (below), when the Twins' owner's seemingly racist remarks enraged the star player—Griffith traded Carew to the California Angels for a package of prospects.
The last five full seasons of Griffith's ownership (1979–83) witnessed only two .500 or better teams, and attendance fell below one million fans at both Metropolitan Stadium and their new home, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, where the Twins moved in 1982. Behind the scenes, however, the Twins' farm system was stepping up its development of young talent. Griffith's roster in 1984, the year during which he sold the Twins, would include Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Gary Gaetti, Tim Laudner and Frank Viola, all key members of the Twins' 1987 world championship team.
Famous for his comments ("He'll either be the best manager in baseball — or the worst", he said when he gave a young Billy Martin his first manager job), one of his most infamous landed him in trouble in 1978, drawing charges of racism. Speaking at a Lions Club dinner in Waseca, Minnesota, Griffith was quoted as saying:
I'll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don't go to ballgames, but they'll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it'll scare you to death. We came here because you've got good, hardworking white people here.
In 1984, buffeted by the changes in baseball brought about by free agency, Griffith sold the Twins to Minneapolis banker Carl Pohlad on August 15. The controlling 52 percent of the team's stock held by Griffith and his sister Thelma reportedly fetched $32 million. Murphy's 40.4 percent of the team was sold to Pohlad through the Tampa Bay Baseball Group for a reported $11.5 million. The transaction ended almost 65 years of Griffith family ownership. Griffith wept at the signing ceremony. He stayed on for a time as chairman of the board.
Griffith died on October 20, 1999 at the age of 87. He was buried in Washington, D.C., a city he rarely visited after moving the Senators to Minnesota, the move that made him one of the most disliked figures in Washington sports.
| Owner of the
Washington Senators (I)/Minnesota Twins
The 1957 Washington Senators won 55 games, lost 99, and finished in eighth place in the American League. They were managed by Chuck Dressen and Cookie Lavagetto and played home games at Griffith Stadium. The Senators set a Major League record which still stands for the fewest stolen bases by a team in a season, with only 13.1958 Washington Senators season
The 1958 Washington Senators won 61 games, lost 93, and finished in eighth place in the American League, 31 games behind the New York Yankees. They were managed by Cookie Lavagetto and played home games at Griffith Stadium.1960 Washington Senators season
The 1960 Washington Senators won 73 games, lost 81, and finished in fifth place in the American League. They were managed by Cookie Lavagetto and played home games at Griffith Stadium, where they drew 743,404 fans in 1960, last in the eight-team league but an increase of almost 25 percent over 1959. This was the "original" Senators' 60th and final season in Washington, as they moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961, which they have been named ever since. Griffith Stadium was demolished after the second Washington Senators franchise played its inaugural season there.1962 Minnesota Twins season
The 1962 Minnesota Twins improved to 91–71, finishing second in the American League, five games short of the World Champion New York Yankees. 1,433,116 fans attended Twins games, the second highest total in the American League.1966 Minnesota Twins season
The 1966 Minnesota Twins finished 89–73, second in the American League. 1,259,374 fans attended Twins games, the second highest total in the American League.1968 Minnesota Twins season
The 1968 Minnesota Twins season was a season in American baseball. The team finished 79–83, seventh in the American League.1971 Minnesota Twins season
The 1971 Minnesota Twins finished 74–86, fifth in the American League West. 940,858 fans attended Twins games, the fifth-highest total in the American League, the first time the Twins failed to attract over one million fans since moving to Minnesota.1972 Minnesota Twins season
The 1972 Minnesota Twins finished 77–77, third in the American League West.1973 Minnesota Twins season
The 1973 Minnesota Twins finished 81–81, third in the American League West.1974 Minnesota Twins season
The 1974 Minnesota Twins finished 82–80, third in the American League West.1975 Minnesota Twins season
The 1975 Minnesota Twins finished 76–83, fourth in the American League West.1982 Minnesota Twins season
The 1982 Minnesota Twins finished 60-102, seventh in the AL West. It was the first time the Twins lost more than 100 games since moving to Minnesota.
The Twins moved into the Metrodome but only 921,186 fans attended Twins games, the lowest total in the American League.1984 Minnesota Twins season
The 1984 Minnesota Twins season was a season in American baseball. The team finished with a record of 81-81, tied for second in the American League West, and three games behind the division winner Kansas City Royals. Their 81-81 record was an 11-game improvement from 1983, and a 21-game improvement from their 102-loss season of 1982 (the third-worst record in franchise history).
1,598,692 fans attended Twins games, a Twins attendance record, but still the fifth-lowest total in the American League. Towards the end of the season, Calvin Griffith sold the club to local investor Carl Pohlad.Calvin Griffith Park
Clark Griffith Park or better known as Griffith Park was a stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, located at 400 Magnolia Avenue in the Dilworth section of town. The park opened in 1941 and held as many as 5,000 people in a covered grandstand which extended from first base to third base. It was primarily used for baseball, and served as the home field for the Charlotte Hornets, the farm team for the Washington Senators from 1937 to 1961, and Minnesota Twins from 1961 to 1972, and the Charlotte Orioles, a AA Southern League farm team of the Baltimore Orioles from 1976 to 1987. After a renovation of the park in 1976 for the O's, the park was renamed Jim Crockett Memorial Park in 1977 (but was mostly called Crockett Park), both in honor of the promoter who brought the team, and to distance themselves from the former owners. The park was almost completely burned down on March 16, 1985. Investigators determined the fire was set by juveniles.
The Crockett family built a 3,000-seat makeshift stadium soon after the fire. However, it was completely exposed to the elements. The O's attendance fell off over the next 2 seasons, 1986, and 1987, because there was no protection for the fans. When the Charlotte O's last season was over George Shinn bought the team, and the stadium, and renamed it Knights Park. The team was renamed Knights out of a naming contest to distance the similarity between the major league affiliate. The new Charlotte "Knights" only played there for their first season in 1988, and in 1989, the team switched affiliates to the Chicago White Sox, and moved to the new and much bigger ballpark in Fort Mill SC, the "Castle" or Knights Stadium.Carl Pohlad
Carl Ray Pohlad (August 23, 1915 – January 5, 2009) was an American financier and the owner of the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise from 1984 (succeeding Calvin Griffith) until his death in 2009.
In 2009, Pohlad had an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion, placing him No. 102 on the annual Forbes 400 list of the wealthiest Americans.Clark Griffith
Clark Calvin Griffith (November 20, 1869 – October 27, 1955), nicknamed "The Old Fox", was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, manager and team owner. He began his MLB playing career with the St. Louis Browns (1891), Boston Reds (1891), and Chicago Colts/Orphans (1893–1900). He then served as player-manager for the Chicago White Stockings (1901–1902) and New York Highlanders (1903–1907).
He retired as a player after the 1907 season, remaining manager of the Highlanders in 1908. He managed the Cincinnati Reds (1909–1911) and Washington Senators (1912–1920), making some appearances as a player with both teams. He owned the Senators from 1920 until his death in 1955. Sometimes known for being a thrifty executive, Griffith is also remembered for attracting talented players from the National League to play for the Senators when the American League was in its infancy. Griffith was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.Joe Haynes (baseball)
Joseph Walton Haynes (September 21, 1917 – January 6, 1967) was an American professional baseball player, coach and front office executive. A right-handed pitcher, he logged 14 seasons in Major League Baseball as a member of the Washington Senators (1939–40; 1949–52) and Chicago White Sox (1941–48). He married Thelma Mae Robertson Griffith, niece and adopted daughter of Washington owner Clark Griffith, in October 1941, ten months after he had been traded to Chicago by his future father-in-law.
Born in Lincolnton, Georgia, Haynes' pro career began in 1937. He stood 6 feet 2 inches (188 cm) tall and weighed 190 pounds (86 kg). In 379 games pitched, including 147 games started, Haynes compiled a 76–82 win-loss record, 53 complete games, five shutouts, 159 games finished and 21 saves in 1,581 innings pitched. He allowed 1,672 hits, 823 runs, 704 earned runs, 95 home runs and 620 walks, with 475 strikeouts, 26 hit batsmen, 35 wild pitches, 6,890 batters faced, four balks and a 4.01 ERA.
Of Haynes' 379 appearances, 218 came with the White Sox, where he won 55 of 98 decisions (.561) and posted a solid (3.14) ERA. He was named to the 1948 American League All-Star team (although he did not appear in the game) and led the American League in games pitched (40) and games finished (35) in 1942 and in earned run average (2.42) in 1947.
He was reacquired by Washington after the 1948 season, but was ineffective, going only 10–21 (5.42) in 112 games in his second stint with the Senators.
As a member of the Griffith family whose wife inherited 26 percent of the franchise's stock in 1955, Haynes remained in the Washington organization after his playing career ended.
He served as the Senators' pitching coach from 1953–55, coached in their farm system, then moved into the front office as executive vice president, working with his brother-in-law, club president Calvin Griffith, in Washington and after the team moved to Minneapolis–St. Paul as the Minnesota Twins in 1961. Haynes died in Hopkins, Minnesota, of a heart attack suffered while shoveling snow at the age of 49.List of Minnesota Twins managers
In its 108-year history, the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise of Major League Baseball's American League has employed 31 managers. The duties of the manager include team strategy and leadership on and off the field. Eight of these team managers have been "player-managers", all during the Washington Senators era; specifically, they managed the team while still playing for it.The Minnesota franchise began its life as the Washington Senators in Washington, D. C., where they played from their inception in 1901 to 1960. In the early twentieth century, the Senators were managed consecutively by three future members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, bookended by Bucky Harris, who managed the team from 1924 to 1928 and again from 1935 to 1942. Walter Johnson managed the team for four seasons from 1929 to 1932, and he was followed by Joe Cronin, who led for the next two seasons (1933–1934). In 1960, the American League awarded an expansion franchise to Minneapolis, Minnesota; however, owner Calvin Griffith moved his team to Minnesota, and Washington was awarded the expansion team instead. Thus, the Minnesota Twins began play at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota the following year, during the tenure of manager Cookie Lavagetto, and played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis from 1982 to 2009. Under manager Ron Gardenhire, the team moved to Target Field beginning in the 2010 season.
Seven managers have taken the franchise to the postseason, with Gardenhire leading them to five playoff appearances, the most in their franchise history. Two managers have won World Series championships with the franchise: Bucky Harris, in the 1924 World Series against the New York Giants; and Tom Kelly, in the 1987 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals and 1991 against the Atlanta Braves. Harris is also the longest-tenured manager in their franchise history, with 2,776 games of service in parts of 18 seasons between 1924 and 1954; he is followed by Kelly, who managed 2,386 games over 16 seasons from 1986 to 2001. The manager with the highest winning percentage in team history is Billy Martin, who managed the team in 1969 and achieved a record of 97–65 (.599). Conversely, the manager with the lowest winning percentage is Malachi Kittridge, whose winning percentage of .059 was achieved with a record of 1–16 in the first half of 1904. Kittridge's tenure is also the shortest in team history.
|Culture and lore|
|Division titles (10)|
|Wild Card titles (1)|
|Minor league affiliates|
|Washington Senators (1901–1960)|
|Minnesota Twins (1961–present)|
|Washington Senators (1901–1960)|
|Minnesota Twins (1961–present)|
|Washington Senators (1901–1960)|
|Minnesota Twins (1961–present)|