Editorâ€™s Note: This is the second of a two-part Q & A with former Twins reliever, Doug Corbett.
Make sure to check out part one. If you have any other questions for Doug Corbett you can either leave them in the comments or email them to me at (coffeyvillewhirlwind at comcast dot net).
Before we get started with part two, Doug sent me a note after reading part one asking me to add Russ Nixon’s name to the list of those that were influential in his career. Nixon was his manager in A ball with the Tampa Tarpons in 1975. Doug wrote: “Russ has spent over 50 consecutive years in professional baseball. He gave me a nickname (Senator) that stuck with me for 5 yrs. while in the Reds organization (In fact, there were younger players who didn’t know my name was Corbett because no one called me anything but Senator).”
Big thanks again to Doug for taking the time to answer!
Q. Why did you decide, against your agent’s advice, to skip arbitration after the 1981 season and play for less when you probably could have made significantly more money had you followed his advice?
Doug: I don’t remember being offered arbitration or getting that advice. I do remember being advised to insist on a no-trade clause if I really wanted to stay in Minnesota. My negotiations were based on the contracts that Ron Davis was receiving for similar numbers he was amassing with the Yankees. According to Howard Fox, then G.M. for the Twins, it was against team policy. He did offer me a handshake and an interest free advance on my salary to show their good faith that they had “no intention” of trading me. I used that money as a down payment on a town home so that I would not have to look for seasonal housing in the Twin Cities area for years to come. I was traded to the Angels before I had all of the boxes unpacked! Live and learn.
Q. What were your thoughts when the Twins made the trade that brought Ron Davis to the club early in 1982? What did Billy Gardner tell you right after the trade? Did you have the feeling that your days as a Twins would be numbered?
Doug: I was more surprised to see Roy Smalley traded to the Yankees than I was to see Ron Davis become a part of the Twins. Pitching and defense win ballgames and championships. I just looked at the Twins move as beefing up the bull-pen. Ron and I became good friends immediately upon his arrival and remained that way until the day of my trade. On the day of the trade, Billy informed me that there just weren’t enough win opportunities to have two short relievers on the staff. He looked at the move to the Angels as a big opportunity to play for an organization that could win right now. I met the news with mixed emotions. To be reunited with Gene Mauch and the Hall of Fame roster that the Angels possessed was a positive. Being a Twin meant more to me than “winning now”. It was the Twins that gave me the opportunity to be a major leaguer and I felt a loyalty to the Twins that I thought they shared. I later realized that as long as Calvin Griffith owned the club, free agents would leave for bigger contracts. Calvin was very good to me while I was with the Twins. My rookie year he called me into his office to congratulate me for my success and increased my present contract $5K as a token of his appreciation. All was good up until the day he traded me. My mom and dad raised me the old fashioned way. If a man offered you his hand it was as good as a contract. As I alluded to earlier, the no-trade clause that was left out of my two year deal was done on what I deemed a gentleman’s agreement. I was hurt that my trust had been betrayed.
Q. What are your favorite memories from your time with the Twins?
Doug: Opening day in 1980 in Oakland was the ultimate memory. We had left spring training in Florida where we were on EST. When the plane arrived in Oakland and I was now in PST I was really keyed up at the thought that I was actually going to be fulfilling my lifelong dream I found it difficult to fall asleep that night. My body was accustomed to waking up early, and like clock work, at 3:00 a.m. I was awake and staring at the ceiling. My roommate, John Verhoeven, was awake shortly thereafter. It proved to be a long wait until the 8th inning that night, but when Marshall surrendered the lead and I was given the call that I had always dreamed about, adrenalin took over, and there wasn’t one iota of fatigue in me mentally or physically. That first jog to the mound, and getting the A’s out 1-2-3 would still have been my #1 highlight even if Willie Norwood had not gotten a 2 RBI 2 out single to tie the game in the top of the ninth. Four innings later I was sitting in the locker room as the winning pitcher with more microphones in my face than I had ever imagined. I thought to myself, please don’t pinch me. I don’t ever want to wake up from this moment.
My second appearance was in Anaheim. Not as dominating a performance as the one in Oakland, but still going unscored upon and picking up the victory. When I returned to the locker room, one of my teammates,Glen Adams, called me Cy and said that this game looked too easy for me.
My first visit to Yankee stadium and walking amongst the the monuments honoring Yankee greats brought goose bumps.
My first visit to Boston and seeing the green monster in left field and the retired jersey numbers in right.
John Schuerholz coming down to the field in KC.
Facing Reggie Jackson for the first time and holding him to a double!
The list could go on and on.
Q. You will always be remembered in Minnesota for your part in the trade that brought Tom Brunansky to the Twins. What were your feelings about the trade at the time? Have your feelings changed over time?
Doug: Aside from the feelings I expressed above, I believe that I was a major factor in the future success of the Twins. If I had not gone to the Angels with Rob Wilfong and cash in ’82, Bruno may never have been a Twin, and we all know what an integral part of the line-up he was when they won the World Series in 1987.
Q. You eventually pitched in the 1986 ALCS with California. What are some memories you have from that team?
Doug: The horror I felt when the first pitch I ever threw in post-season play sailed into the Sox bullpen in Boston to help put the game away for Boston. It was to Jim Rice who I had enjoyed great success against throughout my career. I guess it was an omen of things to come.
The thrill of an extra inning victory in game 4 that put us up 3-1 in the series and one game away from helping Gene Mauch and Gene Autry get the monkeys off their backs.
The anticipation of celebration when we had the lead in game 5 and Donnie Moore was facing Dave Henderson with two outs and two strikes in the 9th.
The heartache we felt when he hit the home run.
Seeing Rob Wilfong tie the game in the bottom of the 9th and having Doug Decinces up with the bases loaded and one out with an opportunity to win the game, especially with the kind of series he had achieved during that series.
The emotional roller coaster we felt when his fly to right was to Dwight Evans, and obviously not long enough to tag and score on, especially with Dewey’s arm.
Watching the Sox celebrating their AL championship believing that it should have been us!
Q. Looking through some of your newspaper clippings, you always seemed to be good for a quote. What was your approach towards the media during the time you played?
Doug: I consider this Q & A to be basically an interview with the media. If you have taken the time to read any of my other responses you can answer this question yourself.
Q. How did you get involved with the Senior Professional Baseball League? What are some of your memories of your time with the Orlando Juice?
Doug: I read about the Senior League in the newspapers, it sounded like it would be fun, so I tried out and made the club as a closer. My fondest memory was playing with and against some career NL’ers. As a career AL’er, I had always wondered what would have happened had I made it with the Reds. My worst nightmare was giving up a grand slam on the final day of the season to lose the ERA title and a modest team bonus that would have come with it.
Q. How have you been keeping yourself busy since your playing days?
Doug: As I mentioned earlier, I have stayed involved in the game both as a coach and a player. I spend as much of my free time fishing and hunting. As a matter of fact, I just spent two days fishing with one of my best friends, Tim McKenna Tim was a pitcher at Jacksonville University where I spent six years as the pitching coach. Together with his two sons, Tyler and Dylan, I showed them why it is called fishing and not catching. I am also a member of a hunting club in southeast Georgia. I have failed at my attempts to find a hunt in Minnesota. I have read many articles that indicate the deer are huge. The areas I hunt in Florida and Georgia have deer just slightly larger than German shepherds. I have had to slow my pace way down on a lot of my activities due to a total knee replacement in the summer of 2005 and a total hip replacement in the summer of 2006. It has slowed me down, but it is nice not to hurt anymore.
Q. What do you think are the biggest changes in baseball since the time you played?
Doug: The money and the faces. The game will always be the same. Rules change from time to time in order to keep it appealing for the fans. but you can count on the basic ingredients of the game to remain the same as when Abner Doubleday invented it.
Q. What is your favorite baseball card featuring yourself (this is for TwinsCards.com after all).
Doug: It’s a tie. The first card I ever had was with the Indianapolis Indians in 1979. My card made by Fleer in 1981 was the first that I ever received. I still have both of them today. P.S. It is my understanding that they didn’t produce mid season rookie cards and traded cards in ’80 and I was never a prospect, only a suspect!
Q. Do collectors and autograph seekers get overwhelming at times? What advice would you give to TTM (Through The Mail) autograph seekers?
Doug: I try to accommodate all autograph requests. That should be obvious when you see the collection that “Twinkie” has on the TwinsCards.com web site. The biggest advice I could give to TTM autograph seekers is to limit the number of cards you send at one time. When you get four or five copies each of four or five cards it makes you tend to believe that they are not all for a personal collection. I don’t begrudge anyone for making a buck. I guess they realize that it will probably require selling at least that many cards to make that buck!