at least the text on each of the backs actually pertains to the 1965 season. that's a first for this set.
what team is this: 1965 minnesota twins
why this team?: the twins won 102 games in their fifth season in minnesota and represented the american league in the world series. they took the dodgers to 7 games, but lost to sandy koufax.
which players are featured: harmon killebrew, jim kaat, jim perry, mudcat grant
why these players?: kaat, perry, and grant were the aces of the staff for the twins in 1965, and killebrew was, well, the killer.
in 1965, harmon killebrew hit fewer than 45 home runs for the first time since 1960, when he was playing for the washington senators. his 25 homers still led the team, and he scored 78 runs while driving in 75 others in only 113 games. in the world series, killer hit .286 with a homer and two rbi.
jim kaat was 18-11 with 2 'saves' for the al champs. his era was 2.83, and his 42 starts led the team. he pitched 7 complete games and 2 shutouts. he made 3 starts in the world series, finishing 1-2 with a 3.77 era. he also won (of course) a gold glove - number 4 of 16 straight - and hit .247 with a home run during the regular season.
jim perry split the 1965 season between the bullpen and the starting rotation. he finished 12-7 with a 2.63 era in 36 games, 19 of which were starts. he had 4 complete games and 2 shutouts for good measure. perry, who would become the ace of the staff on the twins' al west champion teams of 1969 and 1970, made only 2 appearances in the 1965 series, pitching 4 innings in relief and allowing 2 runs.
had there been a cy young award for both leagues in 1965 (or if there were no sandy koufax), mudcat grant may well have won it. he finished 7th in the league mvp voting, behind white sox reliever eddie fisher, but the twins' mvp vote was split between versalles, oliva and earl battey who all finished in the top 10. i would imagine fisher and orioles' reliever stu miller (he was 8th in the mvp vote) would have split the reliever vote and grant would have won. anyway, he was 21-7 with a 3.30 era and 1.16 whip. he started 39 games and pitched 270 innings, completing 14 games and throwing 6 shutouts.
the stadium on the back is...?: the hubert h. humphrey metrodome. this is a gross oversight by the folks at upper deck. the twins played in metropolitan stadium (now the site of the mall of america) from 1961 through 1981 before moving into the metrodome in 1982. met stadium was torn down in 1985, although there are markers within the nickelodeon universe in the center of the mall at the location of home plate and of harmon killebrew's 520-foot home run.
did upper deck get it right?: well, we know they blew it with the stadium, but i think they did ok with the player selection. although it was a down year for killebrew, he did finish 8th in the league in home runs despite playing in only 113 games. still, the twins had at least one other offensive player who deserved consideration for the set. tony oliva, who is still around and not opposed to signing autographs, led the league in hits with 185 and batting average at .321, finishing second to teammate zoilo versalles in the mvp vote. he also finished in the tops 5 in war at 6.0, just ahead of teammates jimmie hall and killebrew. speaking of hall, he would have been a nice inclusion in the set, but i am biased in that regard. unfortunately, versalles died in 1995, otherwise he would have been a shoo-in for the set.
the trio of pitchers upper deck chose were spot on, although a case could be made for al worthington, the team's closer. he was 10-7 in 62 games of relief with 21 'saves' and a 2.13 era.
as for the photos, the killebrew is certainly from the 1970's, thanks to the baby blues and the elastic waist pants. i have no qualms with the kaat or grant photos, but the perry looks like it may be from later in the decade, due to the amount of gray hair visible on what should have been a 29-year old. but, then again, his brother gaylord was only 36 when he looked 60 on his 1976 topps card.
is this team timeless?: as far as twins teams go, yes. and, it's hard to find fault with a team that won 102 games and boasted a slugger who retired at number 5 on the all-time home run list. i'll give upper deck credit for going with a small market team in this set, but the 1965 dodgers would have been a more obvious choice as they were the world champions, and it would have been nice to see sandy koufax, claude osteen, jim lefebvre, maury wills and maybe wes parker or ron fairly in the set.