My Heroes!

In the summer when I turned seven, I came out of Capitol Drug in White Bear Lake with some packs of baseball cards. Standing on the sidewalk, I opened my treasures and . . . YES! . . . there was a card of Minnesota Twins first baseman Don Mincher! I couldn’t wait to show my dad!

When I was around four, my mom had prepped me for my dad’s arrival home from work on a day when the Twins played an afternoon game. My dad was a huge baseball fan, so when he came through the door at dinner time, I proudly announced “Don Minser hit a home wun and da Twins win!” My dad couldn’t have been prouder!

My dad and I shared a love of baseball. I used to sit on his lap with my baseball cards, cover up the names and have him guess who they were. We also used to trade initials. “Give me one!” I’d say, and he’d think for a moment, then say, “J.G.” “Jim Grant!” I guessed. If that wasn’t it, I’d go to Junior Gilliam, Jim Gentile, Julio Gotay or Jerry Grote. It was a great game for car rides. I remember getting him twice in a row with “J.C.”—Jim Campbell. I don’t know if he was humoring me or if he was paying more attention to his driving, but it’s a great memory that has stayed with me all these years.

My mom was also very loving and supportive of my baseball mania. I remember her surprising me with a box of baseball cards on a family trip when I was seven (I still remember getting Steve Barber, a pitcher for the Orioles). And it was her idea to take me out of school whenever a Twins player was featured at an autograph session at a local bank (see photos below). I couldn’t have asked for two better parents.

When I was in grade school, Dad went out in the back yard with a shovel, dug a couple of holes, and installed a pitching rubber and a wooden home plate. I had a pretty mean curveball, and he’d crouch behind home plate and I’d pitch to him. Countless times during my kidhood, when he’d come home from work, I’d be waiting with my bat and glove and say our code phrase, “Hit me some?” I don’t remember him ever saying no. We’d drive to the baseball diamond at the park a few blocks away, and he’d hit me fly balls until dinner.

So there I was, standing on the sidewalk outside of Capitol Drug with a couple of my friends. A few “big kids” (they must have been in at least fourth grade!) on their bikes nearby were also unwrapping some wax packs of cards. When they heard I had a Don Mincher card, they asked to see it. Caught off guard, I meekly shook my head no. But when one of the big kids offered to give me two of his cards just to see my Mincher card, I naively handed it over to him. Immediately, he took off on his bike, clutching my precious card and laughing. I could hear him saying “Stupid kid” to his buddies as I chased after him in tears.

I cried all the way home. My dad was downstairs, grouting the shower. I can still see him in his paint-stained weekend work clothes looking up at me as I walked downstairs. Sobbing, I told him the story and he gave me a big hug.

I don’t know how many days or weeks went by, but one day in the mail, there was an envelope for me. Imagine my excitement when I pulled out a photo of Don Mincher and saw this note on the back:

To Phillip,
Best wishes always. Sorry you lost the card.
Don Mincher don-mincher-back

I don’t think a seven-year-old kid could have been any happier. I’ve treasured that photo for over forty years—not for the autograph, but for the love my mom showed me by writing a letter to the Twins and explaining what had happened.

Thanks, Mom and Dad. Don Mincher was my favorite baseball player, but you’ll always be my heroes.



My Dad and me coming home from Game Two of the 1965 World Series!


Twins catcher Earl Battey and me


Twins pitcher Camilio Pascual and me


Twins pitcher Jim "Mudcat" Grant and me. Mudcat even wrote a get-out-of-school note to my third-grade teacher!

Click here to view all my baseball-related posts.

Click here to see all my posts featuring my parents and grandparents.


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18 Responses to “My Heroes!”

  1. Cyn Says:

    It was a great game for you and Dad. It drove Mom and me NUTS!!
    Oh, and by the way, you’re over the line on your side of the back seat and I’m telling.

    Your sister

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    You are a mean guy!

  3. Cherrie Wozniak Says:

    I don’t believe this!!! Are you and I the only people in the world who even remember who Don Mincher was!!! My Dad could not believe that he was my favorite baseball player!! I was just blindsided when I saw your bolstablog and saw that!! Too funny!! It just keeps getting better and better!

  4. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Those were the good old days, Cherrie! Thanks for reconnecting after all these years. I’m looking forward to getting to know my cousin again!

  5. Deb Reilly Says:

    I wonder how many fathers would think of going to that trouble? Not many. Even fewer would follow through on the thought. Great story. Your Dad was given quite a gift.

  6. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thank you, Deb! He was a great, great dad! And it was me who was given quite the gift!

  7. Mark Jacobsen Says:

    Loved your story, Phil. As a kid growing up in the SF bay area I remember Don Mincher from his short stint with the A’s (27 HRs in 1970!). As a lifelong baseball fan with a son who is an avid card/autograph collector, your story resonated for me on several levels. Loved the pictures, also – they are classics that remind me of an earlier time. I’ve got a similar collection of our son with today’s Twin heros Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, etc.

  8. Phil Bolsta Says:

    It’s so great that you can pass all that on to Colin, Mark. We both know that Colin will appreciate those photos and memories a hundredfold when he gets to be our age.

    And by the way, did you know that Don Mincher batted 1.000 with an RBI while winning a ring with the 72 A’s? How awesome is that?

  9. Erin Says:


    This is a great post and I was picturing everything as I read it. The joys of childhood are some of the sweetest. Poppa and Gram have been so wonderful; what a lovely tribute to them.


  10. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thanks, honeybear. You are a sweet, lovely, living tribute to both Poppa and Gram!

  11. cirklagirl Says:

    This story is so sweet! Sounds like you have a very blessed life.

  12. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Yes, I do feel blessed in so many ways. Life has repeatedly humbled me, as it does all of us, but setbacks just make the blessings that much sweeter!

  13. steerclear2000 Says:

    Phil, sure enjoy your recounting of your Twins fascination, I’ll be retweeting this piece. Feel free to check in at!

  14. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Thanks so much, Scot! I bookmarked your site and already left a comment on it. Great work!

  15. steerclear2000 Says:

    Enjoyed this recollection, Phil. I’ve retweeted it, very nice photos with classic Twins personalities. Check in sometime at!

  16. Phil Bolsta Says:

    *bows in gratitude*

    Be sure to check out my Twins poems at

  17. Mark Mincher Says:

    Thank you very much for your story about my dad. It has given comfort to our family during this difficult time. We were both blessed with great fathers.

  18. Phil Bolsta Says:

    Mark, it’s wonderful to hear from you. I wasn’t sure what you were referring to so I Googled your dad and saw that he passed away in March. I am so sorry for your loss. Your dad will always occupy a special place in my heart and in the memories of my family.

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