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Cool Of The Evening: The 1965 Minnesota Twins
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on April 9, 2005
While "Cool of the Evening" effectively tracks the 1965 Minnesota Twins' roster and their run to the American League pennant, it's much more than a game-by-game retelling of the team's story.

Jim Thielman has provided a history of a game and society in change, from Latin American players like 1965 MVP Zoilo Versalles and ought-to-be Hall-of-Famer Tony Oliva learning to live in America to African-American players battling prejudice just months after national civil rights legislation was signed.

Sometimes a compelling story can be told even when you know the ending. Such is the case here.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2005
You don't have to be a Twins fan to fully appreciate 'Cool of the Evening', but it helps. Jim Thielman covered the Twins as a freelancer and staff reporter through a couple decades.

The book is meant to take fans back to 1965, the very first pennant winning season of the Minnesota club. The World Series, the first ever to be played in Minnesota, is almost an afterthought, but it's been so well documented elsewhere, Thielman prudently allows space to go behind the scenes, through spring training and the entire season.

Thielman goes in depth on player backgrounds, the trades and twists of fate that brought them all together, and where they ended up after '65.

Even though the team came out on the losing end to the Dodgers, '65 has always been special for Twins fans. The record of 102-60 is still the best ever for the franchise, in terms of wins. (The 1933 Senators who later became the Twins had a better win-loss percentage.)

But beyond the statistics, Thielman brilliantly captures the drama of a pennant winning season by an underdog with a losing record the year before, a team that would dethrone the Yankees, winners of the past five pennants. He recounts the struggle of the league MVP and makes his case why Zoilo Versailles was absolutely more crucial to the pennant winning cause than any other team member, including Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew and batting champ Tony Oliva. He details the conflict between pitching coach Johnny Sain and players coach and future manager Billy Martin, all the while leaving the reader sympathetic to each.

He delves into the histories of the early Twins' stars, Oliva, Killebrew, Bob Allison, Camilo Pascual, and owner Calvin Griffith.

Most of these players and coaches stayed connected throughout the years, such as Martin as manager of the Yankees in the '70s and Mele as coach with the Red Sox.

He demonstrates how connected everyone in baseball seems to be, the degrees of seperation that seem minimal to the point of being nearly incestuous.

He shows the development of several aspects of the game which are now common, such as the use of multiple relievers in a game, something the Twins did throughout the '65 season, but not so common in that era, or the platooning of players to challenge left or right-handed pitching.

While the casual baseball fan may not care so much about these things, it's intriguing insight for the die-hard fan, offering information not available in a baseball encyclopedia.

'Cool' is a rather quick read, but definitely one to be savored, and one that will help fans remember a season it seems the rest of the baseball world has largely forgotten.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 4, 2006
I appreciated that Thielman didn't put the players on pedestals but wrote about them in a way that made me see a real person in each uniform. Thielman gave equal time to a number of the lesser known players so that by book's end, you felt you knew third-string catcher John Sevcik almost as well as league MVP Zoilo Versalles.

I think there is a tendency for fans to believe that championship seasons are "magical." One thing you will take away from Thielman's book is that a championship season is really about hard work and being able to overcome adversity. The 1965 Minnesota Twins lost Camilo Pascaul and Harmon Killebrew - their best pitcher and most feared hitter - for significant portions of the season, but managed to still keep winning thanks to players like Jim Perry and Don Mincher filling in for them and not missing a beat.

Another thing I liked about Cool of the Evening was the depth in which Thielman dealt with manager Sam Mele and coaches Johnny Sain and Billy Martin. These three men were as vital to the team's success as Mudcat or Versalles or Oliva and just as interesting to read about.

Cool of the Evening was an entertaining and well-written book that I would recommend not only to Twins fans, but to any baseball fan. I compare it favorably to The Last Good Season which I read last year and also enjoyed.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 2005
This book makes great reading for a Twins fan like me who is starved for more information on the 1965 Twins. The book shares stories about some of the great Twin players of the 1960's that I've read nowhere else. The only reason that I rated it 3 stars rather than 5 is not because of the material in the book. It's because of what wasn't in the book. There should have been a lot more photos. Instead, there were small "soft focus" snapshots at the beginning of each chapter. The text is well written, but more large, clear photos of the players particularly off the field would have made the book come alive even more.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2007
I just finished reading this and really enjoyed it. It provided great insight to the background and chemistry of the 1965 Twins team. I was about 8 years old then and I remember rooting for them to beat the Dodgers and collected many of their baseball cards.

This book fills in all of the gaps in my memory and gives a nice summary of the team and how they fit into the world of baseball and the world as a whole. I hadn't realized there was such a strong Cuban connection on this team put together on the heels of Castro's takeover. Also interesting to learn about how the owners of those days (The Griffiths) often struggled financially to make ends meet. If you are a fan of 1960's baseball, you'll enjoy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2007
THIS BOOK IS ABOUT THE 1965 MINNESOTA TWINS WHO WON THE AMERICAN LEAGUE PENNANT. THE BOOK CONTAINS INTERVIEWS WITH THE REMAINING PLAYERS AND COACHES WHO WERE ON THAT GREAT TEAM. I FOUND THIS BOOK TO BE A GREAT READ FOR IT BROUGHT BACK MANY MEMORIES FOR ME. I AM A CLEVELAND INDIANS FAN AND THEY WERE ACTUALLY IN THE RACE THAT YEAR UNTIL JULY, WHEN THE TWINS PULLED AWAY. I THINK THE AUTHOR JIM THIELMAN, DOES A GREAT JOB DESCRIBING THE EVENTS AND MIXES THEM WITH THE INTERVIEWS TO MAKE A GREAT BOOK. IF YOU LIKED HARMON, MUDCAT, KITTY KAAT AND ALL THE REST, THEN YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK. FOR ALL TWINS AND BASEBALL FANS.
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The Twins of the 1960's were a powerhouse team. Wish more had been done in the way of photos; same with a more thorough look at the semblance of a pennant race. I've read better books on outstanding seasons by individual MLB teams from that era.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2007
This is a great book about the American League Pennant Winners in 1965--The Minnesota Twins. I remember lots of players on that team, and how as a little boy this team broke my heart by beating out the New York Yankees, my beloved Yankees, signaling the end of the Mantle era. It could have been better though. At times the book seems a bit sketchy. The author should have interviewed opposition players and coaches about key series with the Twins that season. I especially enjoyed some of the stories about future Twin heroes like pitcher Jim Perry--trying to find himself and save his pro career (he later wins a CY Young in 1970) but nobody in majors wanted him at start of 1965--and Coach Billy Martin teaching players how to slide into second base using opposite hip. I wish there was more stuff like that in the book. Instead the book is filled with lots of fluff like what a great guy Harmon Killebrew was etc.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 4, 2011
I do love baseball books that look at a season especially one of a team with such interesting players as Cesar Tovar, Tony Oliva and Harmon Killebrew. Plus I thought I could finally find out just who this Zoilo Versalles guy is who won the AL MVP in 1965.

Sadly, this book is beyond flat. I didn't find the writing at all engaging. Maybe it's the team itself. I mean, there really weren't a lot of characters despite many of the players who had character.

I've also got to say I'm not having much luck with books on Minnesota's pro sports teams as the Klobuchar book (Knights and Knaves of Autumn) on the Vikings also did zip for me.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2009
The book was an entertaining read because it was a realistic view of the players. One could see the conflict between Johnny Sain and Billy Martin and understand how their personalities would cause clashes for them in future jobs. This is not a straight game-by-game account of the season. I liked the mention of Al Worthington and how his religious faith caused problems for him on previous teams because he had a problem with teams stealing signs. The background mention of Don Mincher, Jim Kaat, Bobby Allison, Earl Battey and Harmon Killebrew among others gave an appreciation of the players.

I like the mention of factors that influenced the attendance, such as the weather. 1965 was a horrible year in Minnesota and it affected the Twins, especially in the first part of the season.

I could sense from the chapter on the 1965 World Series that this team is still revered in Minnesota.
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