By Bob Lemke
How do you know you’re really a die-hard Minnesota Twins collector?
When you have one of the “error” Metropolitan Stadium giveaways from the home game on Sept. 17, 1963: a 16-inch gold-inscribed wooden shoe horn.
Twins publicist Herb Heft explained in the Sept 26 issue of The Sporting News, “We ordered 43,000 shoe horns a month ago when it appeared the record would be set. They were to be given out the day or night of record-breaking.”
The record that the team intended to commemorate was the single-season home gate, as explained by the gilt inscription to the right of the team logo: “A footnote to another attendance record – 1,433,117 – Thanks! – September, 1963 – The Minnesota Twins.”
Their first year in Minnesota, 1961, the Twins had drawn 1,256,723 fans while finishing in seventh place. They jumped into second place in 1962 and drew 1,433,116.
In 1963, the Twins had been within a game-and-a-half of the league-leading Yankees at the end of June, and held onto second place in the AL as late as Sept. 13, drawing crowds as large as 37,000 for a four-game series against the Yankees. For their last home series, officially out of the pennant race, Sept. 17-19 against the Tigers, attendance averaged just 10,500.
As it was, the Twins’ 1963 attendance of 1,406,652 was the best in the American League. The AL Champion Yankees had a gate nearly 100,000 lower, at 1,308,920.
Heft said, “We decided to go through with it even when it became apparent the goal would not be reached because of weather and the pennant race.”
The publicity man said the souvenirs would be valuable one day – like the Twins’ World Series tickets that were printed in September 1962.
One of the Twins’ souvenir shoe horns was available recently on eBay for $50.
Phantom 1962 Twins World Series tickets are not uncommon. Three-game strips can be regularly found on eBay in the $40-$60 range.
Collector Larry Serota reports that he recently purchased in a sports collectibles auction one of the 1963 Twins shoe horns, with the original paper wrapper in which it was distributed (see photo above).
The white paper wrapper has line-art drawings of Twins players, officials, etc. The drawings are in blue with red facsimile autographs.
The presence of the paper wrapper raised the value of the Twins shoehorn to $75 in that auction.