Photograph © Steven L.J. Russo
All of the worry about the Mets leaving Auburn was for naught. Great baseball was still thriving in Auburn as the new A-Twins took over the Championship and for the first time ever… Falcon Park had back to back NY-Penn League titles. It was the 4th in 6 years and the 5th overall for Falcon Park. In 1968, Clifford Foster would hit 12 HRs and bat .340 to take over the S-Season HR title only to have that swiped from him as Tom Lolos did 2 better hitting 17 2Bs, 14 HRs while batting .282. Auburn would also bring future 24 year MLB veteran (longest MLB career ever to come from Falcon Park) Rick Dempsey (10 2B, 7 3B, 7 HRs, .293) to Falcon Park. On the mound 3 pitchers brought some solid pitching as future Twins’ Pete Hamm was 9-3, 3.00, future Twins’ Steve Luebber was 8-2 with a S-S team record 1.78 ERA and Mark Simon was 8-2 with a 3.28. All of this talent was enough to get the Twins back to 1st place with a 49-27 (.645) record… the 5th 1st place finish for Auburn in the past 6 seasons. The Auburn Twins were going after their 3rd straight championship and blew threw the 1st round to take on the Oneonta Yankees who didn’t seem to have half the talent of the Twins. The Yankees however, came from behind and overtook the Twins for a true NY-Penn League upset. When the Twins came back in 1969, they had the hitting but none of the pitching of the previous 6 seasons. Bob Storm (12 HRs, .272), Buddy Whitley (13 HRs, .246, S-S HR Title) and David Schmidt (21 2Bs, .349, S-S 2Bs title) did their best to play great ball but in the end, the pitching sunk them as they finished in 7th with a 31-42 record. The pitching would return however in 1970 when future Twins/Padres Mark Wiley went 10-3, 1.49 taking the ERA title and future Twins’ Tom Norton was right behind him going 9-4, 2.65. George Dixon followed that up with a 8-4, 2.23 and Robert Grover was 7-6, 2.83.