The artist who created the iconic characters of "Minnie" and "Paul" has passed away at the age of 80 after battling cancer.
Ray Barton was paid $15 in 1961 to create two baseball players shaking hands over a river as part of the Twins logo.
He was under the impression that the logo would simply be used on Dixie cups in Metropolitan Stadium, but it now majestically hovers over Target Field in right-center field, and has become one of the most cherished parts of Twins lore.
"When you think of Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew, even when you think of Kirby Puckett, you think of that logo," Twins historian Clyde Doepner told WCCO-TV .
Barton was an art designer who worked for many Twin Cities companies, including Target, but it is his Twins logo that he will be most fondly remembered for.
The original Minnie and Paul wore "MT" on their uniforms, the "MT" standing for Minnesota Twins but was changed so that Minnie wore a Minneapolis Miller uniform and Paul wore a St. Paul Saints uniform, to acknowledge the great rivalry between the teams before 1961.
The shaking hands represents fans coming together to root for one Minnesota team, as when the Minneapolis Lakers relocated to Los Angeles in 1961, part of the blame was placed on St. Paul residents for boycotting the Minneapolis club.
Calvin Griffith, who moved the Washington Senators to Minnesota in 1961, didn't want the Twin Cities to be divided, so he strove to promote unity so the Twins wouldn't face the same fate as the Lakers.
Now 50 years later, the logo is still a huge hit among Twins fans and the organization.
Besides looming over center field at Target Field, whenever a Twins player hits a home run, Minnie and Paul come to life and shake hands.
The logo has appeared on almost every Twins uniform since 1961. The 1972 road uniforms featured only Minnie and Paul's faces, and the 2009 road uniform in which the Twins wore patches to honor late owner Carl Pohlad and commemorate the last season in the Metrodome.
Surprisingly, according to Tony Barton, Ray's son, his dad never really liked the logo.
"It wasn't one of his crowning achievements," Barton said. "He was a cartoonist, a writer, a creative director, but he never really thought it was that great. And if you look at it closely, it really isn't. He didn't keep the original artwork of have it in his portfolio. Anyone out of art school could have done it. He just happened to be the one who did it."
Ray passed away at his home last Sunday. He never made it to Target Field.
"He was happy about the sign, though," Tony added, and his father was pleased that the Twins "haven't forgotten their history."
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