Tony Oliva

Tony Oliva

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Tony Oliva

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Tony Pedro Oliva (born Antonio Oliva Lopez Hernandes Javique on July 20, 1938 in Pinar del Río, Cuba) is a former Major League Baseball right fielder and designated hitter. He played his entire 15-year baseball career for the Minnesota Twins (1962–1976). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. His career was hampered by knee injuries, forcing him to become a designated hitter during his final four years of baseball.

Journey to the United States

Oliva was born in the Cuban province of Pinar Del Rio. He played baseball weekly with his father, brothers, and neighbors in a vacant lot near the Olivas' farm. Oliva's father, who worked in a tobacco factory and was famous for rolling the leaves to make the best cigars, was also a former semi-professional player who instructed Oliva and helped him become "the best hitter in Pinar Del Rio". A scout for the Minnesota Twins noticed him and brought him to the United States to play professionally. He was reluctant to leave his mother, father, and nine siblings, but his father encouraged him to become "rich and famous" in America.

During spring training 1961, Oliva appeared in the Twins' final three spring training games, collecting seven hits in ten at bats. The Twins, however, had already filled their minor league rosters and...
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