On Saturday, June 30, 2012, our traditional players panel discussed their lives and careers in baseball at SABR 42 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Speakers included former Twins catcher Tim Laudner, 1987 World Series champion and 1988 American League All-Star; Bob “Rocky” Johnson, 11-year veteran infielder with seven MLB teams, 1960-70; and Bill Davis, one of the top two-sport athletes to come out of the Twin Cities. The panel was moderated by Frank Quilici, former Twins infielder, manager and broadcaster.
(Note: Due to a scheduling conflict with the Twins makeup doubleheader, Roy Smalley III and Ron Coomer could not appear on the Players Panel.)
Here are some highlights:
On the kindness of Harmon Killebrew
- Quilici: “It hurt us so much when he passed away. He was the face of the Minnesota Twins. And he was always the first guy, when a rookie came to camp in spring training, to say, ‘Son, my name’s Harmon Killebrew and we got a bunch of good guys.’ And then Bob Allison came behind him, and Jim Kaat came behind him. And the Twins really did become a pretty darn good family, with somebody like him there.”
On 1968 being the Year of the Pitcher
- Quilici: “We had some really good hitters in 1967 (on the Twins.) So in 1968, we really thought we were going to go somewhere. But all of the other teams had good pitching that year. All of them.”
On playing for the Minnesota Gophers under longtime coach Dick Siebert
- Davis: “He was a man’s man. We might have been kids in his eyes, but I was a first baseman and he was a first baseman, so it was great for me. He treated us like men. He never looked down at us, he never talked down at us, he was always trying to learn. The one thing he always stressed was fundamentals. Freshmen weren’t eligible then, so for one whole year all we did was situation drills. He had his practice basically scheduled, a half-hour or 45 minutes of situation drills. And I think it made us successful despite being in a northern climate. When we went down to Texas or California to play, we couldn’t afford to make mistakes. Texas had already played 20 ballgames by then; they had tans, they had been playing all winter. We basically had to play error-less baseball. It made me a better player.“
Listen to the audio of the SABR 42 Players Panel below:
To download the MP3 file, click here (appx. 1 hour, 29 minutes; 40.6 MB)
- Watch video highlights of Tim Laudner entertaining the crowd at the SABR 42 Players Panel via MLB.com here
For more coverage of SABR 42, visit SABR.org/convention.
Originally published: July 11, 2012. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.