Baseball History: Cesar Tovar

cesar tovar 1968Cesar Tovar was on the mound for the only pitching performance of his 12-year career on Sept. 22, 1968.

Tovar was about to become the second person in major league history to play all nine positions in one game.

The versatile Tovar began the home game for the Minnesota Twins by working a scoreless first inning against the Oakland A’s.

In a bit of irony, he got Bert Campaneris to foul out. Campaneris was the first man to play all nine spots in a major league contest. He then fanned future National Baseball Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson for the second out. After walking Danny Cater, Tovar ended the frame by inducing Sal Bando to foul out.

Tovar moved behind the plate in the second as Tom Hall took over on the mound.

Hall ended up being the winning pitcher of the game before he gave way to Al Worthington. Worthington earned a save by getting the last five outs as the Twins won 2-1.

In the third Tovar moved to first base. Minnesota’s lead-off man, Tovar singled to begin the bottom of the inning against Oakland starter and losing pitcher Blue Moon Odom. He scored the game’s initial run on a triple by Bob Allison.

Tovar played second and then short in the next two innings. In the bottom of the fifth, Rod Carew’s RBI single gave the Twins a 2-0 advantage.

Over the last four frames, Tovar was a third base before moving to the outfield in left, center and finally right as the Twins went on to the victory. The A’s scored in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Cater.

Started with the Reds

The native of Venezuela signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1959. He was traded to the Twins prior to the 1965 season. He split time between the majors and the minors, but didn’t participate in the World Series.

Tovar was a part of Minnesota’s AL West champs in 1969 and 1970. He was with the Twins until 1972 before he was sent to Philadelphia the following season. He played with Texas in 1974 and 1975. He ended 1975 with the Oakland as the A’s also won the AL West. He began his final season in 1976 with the A’s before ending his major league career with the New York Yankees.

Other Accomplishments

Tovar is also known for breaking up five no-hitters. He led the AL in 1970 with 36 doubles and 13 triples. The next year, he topped the league in hits with 204. In 1972, Tovar hit for the cycle as he ended the contest with a walk-off homer.

Others to Play All Nine

In addition to Tovar and Campaneris, the other two to play all nine positions were Scott Sheldon of the Texas Rangers and Shane Halter of the Detroit Tigers. Both completed their feat in 2000.

1965 twins rookies tovarOther Rookie

The other half of the 1965 card with the Twins Rookies features Sandy Valdespino.

Valdespino was a 26-year old rookie from Cuba when he made his debut in 1965. That season, he played in 108 games in the outfield with a homer and 22 RBI as the Twins won the American League pennant. He played in five World Series games as the Twins fell to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It turned out to be his best year in the majors as his playing time decreased over the next seven seasons. After three years with the Twins, he played his final four years with the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Seattle Pilots, Milwaukee Brewers and Kansas City Royals.

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