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Oliva's father, who worked in a tobacco factory and was famous for rolling the best cigars, was also a former semi-professional player who instructed Tony and helped him become "the best hitter in Pinar del Río". During spring training that year, he appeared in the Twins' final three games, collecting seven hits in ten at bats.A scout for the Minnesota Twins noticed the youth and brought him to the United States to play professionally. The Twins, however, had already filled their minor league rosters and released Oliva, with some saying it was due to his poor outfield play.He was reluctant to leave his parents and nine siblings, but his father encouraged him to become "rich and famous" in America. Having nowhere else to go, Oliva traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina to train with a friend who played for a Minnesota Twins Class A farm team.

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Due to a paperwork switch at Oliva's arrival in the US to reflect the name and birthdate of his younger brother Pedro Jr.(born 1941) in order to appear younger to Major League scouts, many newspapers reported the 21-year-old Tony as his 18-year-old sibling The Twins assigned Oliva to the class-D Wytheville Twins in the Appalachian League, where he played in 64 games and led the league with a .410 batting average, but had a low fielding percentage of .854.

After finishing second to Orlando Cepeda in batting average in the Puerto Rico leagues in winter ball, Oliva was sent to the single-A Charlotte in the South Atlantic League, where he played 127 games and hit .350 with 17 home runs and 93 RBIs.

He was called up to the major leagues with nine games left and debuted for the Twins September 9, 1962, hitting a searing .444 in 12 plate appearances.

Tony Pedro Oliva (born Antonio Oliva Lopez Hernandes Javique on July 20, 1938) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) right fielder and designated hitter.

A star of the first magnitude during baseball's "second deadball era", he spent his entire 15-year baseball career playing for the Minnesota Twins from 1962 through 1976.

Oliva was the 1964 American League Rookie of the Year.

He was an All-Star for eight seasons, an American League (AL) batting champion for three seasons, an AL hit leader five seasons, and a Gold Glove winner one season.

On a consensus Hall of Fame track his first eight years, his career was cut short in its prime by a series of severe knee injuries, forcing him to become a designated hitter during his final four years of baseball.

He is widely regarded as one of the best players not inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

In 2014, Oliva appeared on the Hall of Fame's Golden Era Committee election ballot None of the candidates on the ballot received the required 12 votes including two other former players from Cuba, Minnie Miñoso and Luis Tiant.

The Committee meets and votes on ten candidates selected from the 1947 to 1972 era every three years. He played baseball weekly with his father, brothers, and neighbors in a vacant lot near the family farm.