Rollins in 1962
Born: April 16, 1938|
Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania
|June 16, 1961, for the Minnesota Twins|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 26, 1970, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||399|
|Career highlights and awards|
Richard John Rollins (born April 16, 1938 in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania) is an American former Major League Baseball third baseman. He played with the Minnesota Twins (1961–68), Seattle Pilots (1969), Milwaukee Brewers (1970) and Cleveland Indians (1970). During a 10-year baseball career, Rollins hit .269, 77 home runs, and 399 runs batted in.
After playing collegiate baseball at Kent State University from 1958 to 1960, and hitting .358 in his senior year, Rollins was signed for $6,000 as an undrafted free agent by the then Washington Senators prior to the start of the 1960 season and assigned to the Wilson Tobs in the class-B Carolina League. After hitting .341 in 62 games, Rollins was promoted to the single-A Charlotte Hornets in the South Atlantic League to start the 1961 season.
After hitting .270 in 36 early-season games at Charlotte, he was promoted to AAA Syracuse in the International League for three games and made his major league debut on June 16 and spent the rest of the season with the Twins as a little-used bench player.
Given the Twins' third base job out of spring training in 1962, Rollins responded by hitting .486 over the Twins' first 10 games. Playing in 159 games, Rollins finished the season hitting .298 with 16 home runs and 96 RBI – production that would earn him the nickname, at least among his teammates, of Pie, after Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Fame third baseman, Pie Traynor. Rollins finished eighth in the American League MVP voting and also received the most All-Star Game votes of any American League player, starting both games that year. Rollins represented the Twins well in the games, reaching base three times in six plate appearances and scoring the AL's only run in their 3–1 loss in the July 10 game. Supporting his MVP candidacy and All-Star appearances, Rollins finished in the Top 10 in the league in singles (2nd), plate appearances (3rd), sacrifice flies (3rd), hits (6th), at-bats (6th), runs (7th), on-base percentage (7th), runs batted in (9th), and batting average (10th).
While he finished third in assists by third basemen, his 28 errors were the most by any AL third baseman and second most in the league behind Detroit Tigers' infielder Dick McAuliffe. While Rollins' glove work would never be as bad, his errors would decrease from 28 to 8 over the next four seasons, his results at the plate would also decrease and despite an almost-as-good 1963 season (.307/16/61) despite an early-season broken jaw.
On June 9, 1966, in the seventh inning of a game against the Kansas City Athletics, Rollins was one of five Twins players to hit home runs. The others were Harmon Killebrew, Don Mincher, Tony Oliva and Zoilo Versalles. These five home runs still stand as a Major League record for the most home runs hit in a single inning, and were hit off starter Catfish Hunter (two) and relievers Paul Lindblad (two) and John Wyatt (one). In that season, he was platooning at third base with Killebrew and César Tovar, among others.
Left exposed to the 1968 expansion draft, Rollins was the 26th pick of the Seattle Pilots on October 15. After backing up Tommy Harper at third base, he was released by the infant Milwaukee Brewers on May 13, 1970, after starting the season hitting .200. Rollins was immediately signed by the Cleveland Indians, for whom he would finish the season before retiring.
Rollins lives with his family in Akron, Ohio.
- Retrosheet – Box score: Minnesota Twins 9, Kansas City Athletics 4. Game Played on Thursday, June 9, 1966 (N) at Metropolitan Stadium