In 1981, the year of my birth, the Minnesota Twins drafted Frank Viola in the 2nd round of the MLB draft. Viola breezed through the minors and joined the big league club the following season, in 1982. The results were less than stellar. 11 wins. 25 losses. 5.37 ERA.
Viola was a staple in the Twins rotation from that point on and in 1987, after finishing 6th in the voting for the Cy Young Award, he led the organization to their second World Series appearance and first ever World Series title. After starting and winning Game 7, 4-2 over the St. Louis Cardinals, Viola was named World Series MVP (as you can clearly see from his awesome inscription on my baseball)!
The following season, 1988, would prove to be Viola’s best. He led the league in wins, with a 24-7 record as a starter, struck out 197 batters, had a career best ERA of 2.64, and as if those numbers weren’t enough, he pitched 7 complete games and 2 shut outs. He won the AL Cy Young Award in a landslide. 1988, however, would be Viola’s final full season as a Twin.
At the trade deadline the following year, with Viola struggling, the Twins sold high to the New York Mets. They got five players in return for Viola, two of which, would be significant cogs in another World Series Championship just a few years later, Rick Aguilera and Kevin Tapani. Aguilera would go on to become the most successful closer in Twins history, that is until Joe Nathan officially dethroned him in 2011.
Frank Viola has a reputation as a great signer through the mail and reportedly always makes time for plenty of fans at games today. Currently, Viola is the pitching coach for the New York Mets Single A affiliate in Savannah, GA. Viola’s 50 day return, marks my longest wait, but one well worth it, for a World Series MVP!
Received: 3/21/12 (50 days)