Happy Birthday–January 15

Johnny Nee (1890)
Ray Chapman (1891)
Steve Gromek (1920)
Georges Maranda (1932)
Dr. Mike Marshall (1943)
Bobby Grich (1949)
Rance Mulliniks (1956)
Jerry Narron (1956)
Don Cooper (1956)
Delino DeShields (1969)
Ray King (1974)
Matt Holliday (1980)
Armando Galarraga (1982)
Mitch Garver (1991)

Johnny Nee was a long-time minor league manager and scout.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–January 15

1969 Rewind: Game One Hundred Four


Date:  Thursday, July 31.

Batting stars:  Rick Renick was 2-for-2 with a home run (his second) and a walk.  Cesar Tovar was 2-for-3 with a home run (his fifth) and a walk, scoring twice.

Pitching star:  Dave Boswell pitched a complete game, giving up three runs on five hits and a walk and striking out eight.

Opposition stars:  Norm Cash was 2-for-4 with a home run, his fifteenth.  Ex-Twin Fred Lasher struck out two in two shutout innings, giving up two hits.

The game:  Tovar homered leading off the bottom of the first to give the Twins a 1-0 lead.  Cash tied it when he led off the second with a home run.  Renick homered leading off the bottom of the third to give the Twins a 2-1 lead.

The Twins took control in the sixth.  They opened the inning with consecutive singles by TovarRod CarewHarmon Killebrew, and Tony Oliva, making the score 4-1 with men on first and second.  Lasher relieved Tigers starter Mike Kilkenny and gave up another single, this one to Bob Allison, loading the bases.  The Twins could only score one more, on a Leo Cardenas sacrifice fly, but it put them up 5-1.

Detroit threatened to get back into it in the eighth.  Jim Price and Don Wert singled, and with one out Ike Brown walked to load the bases.  Tommy Matchick struck out, but Mickey Stanley delivered a two-run single, making the score 5-3 and bringing the go-ahead run to the plate in the form of Al Kaline.  Kaline grounded out to end the inning.  The Tigers went down in order in the ninth.

WPBoswell (12-9).  LP:  Mike Kilkenny (1-1).  S:  None.

Notes:  Carew was 1-for-4 and was batting .373.  Oliva was 1-for-4 and was batting .327.

Renick was playing third, with Killebrew at first and Rich Reese, who was batting .316, on the bench.  Frank Quilici came in to play third in the eighth inning and Reese came in to play first in the ninth.  The interesting thing about that is that earlier in the season, Billy Martin would routinely move Killebrew from third to first for defense and pull Reese out of the game.

Allison was in left field.  Ted Uhlaender came in to play defense in the eighth.

George Mitterwald was again behind the plate instead of Johnny Roseboro.

Kilkenny had done well for five innings, but his final line is five innings pitched, five runs, seven hits, two walks, and one strikeout.

Lasher was a favorite of Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell.  He came up with a rhyme to introduce him:  "Sound the siren, flash the flasher, here's our fireman, big Fred Lasher."

This was the first big league start for Mike Kilkenny, and his first major league loss.  1969 was his rookie year, and he stayed with Detroit through May of 1972.  He was pretty good in 1969--8-6, 2 saves, 3.37, 1.26 WHIP in 128.1 innings (39 games, 15 starts).  He was not good in 1970-1971, posting ERAs around five and WHIPs around 1.50.  He had an interesting 1972--he started with Detroit, was traded to Oakland in May, traded to San Diego eight days later, and traded to Cleveland in June.  He made five appearances for Cleveland in 1973.  They wanted to send him to the minors at that point, but he refused and eventually retired from baseball.  He apparently pitched in the Intercounty Baseball League, which is in Canada, in 1975 and 1983 (he's a native of Bradford, Canada).  He apparently had a fairly successful business career.

Record:  The Twins were 64-40, in first place in the American League West, 3.5 games ahead of Oakland.  I didn't go back and check, but it seems like the Twins have had about that same lead for at least two weeks now.  That had to be kind of frustrating for them, but even more so for the Athletics.

Happy Birthday–January 14

Billy Meyer (1892)
Smead Jolley (1902)
Phil Piton (1903)
Chet Brewer (1907)
Sonny Siebert (1937)
Dave Campbell (1942)
Ron Clark (1943)
Derrel Thomas (1951)
Terry Forster (1952)
Wayne Gross (1952)
Mike Pelfrey (1984)
Erick Aybar (1984)
Logan Forsythe (1987)
J. R. Graham (1990)

Billy Meyer won 1,604 games as a minor league manager, mostly in the Yankees organization.

Phil Piton was president of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues from 1964-1971.

Chet Brewer was a star pitcher in the Negro Leagues known for his mastery of throwing scuffed baseballs.

Continue reading Happy Birthday–January 14

1969 Rewind: Game One Hundred Three


Date:  Wednesday, July 30.

Batting stars:  Jim Kaat was 2-for-3 with a double.  Tony Oliva was 2-for-4 with a double.

Pitching star:  Kaat struck out eleven in a complete game, giving up three runs on five his and four walks.

Opposition stars:  Earl Wilson pitched seven innings, giving up an unearned run on seven hits and two walks and striking out one.  Don McMahon struck out two in two perfect innings.  Al Kaline was 2-for-4.

The game:  In the second inning, Norm Cash was hit by a pitch, Jim Price doubled, and Don Wert walked, loading the bases with one out.  Dick Tracewski then reached on an error, bringing home the first run on the game.

It stayed 1-0 until the eighth.  The Twins had some chances.  Harmon Killebrew hit a leadoff double in the second but did not move past second.  George Mitterwald hit a one-out double in the fifth and also did not move past second.  The Twins got a pair of walks in the sixth, putting men on first and second with two out, and got a two-out double from Kaat in the seventh.  Again, the Twins could not get to third base.

The missed opportunities cost the Twins, because in the eighth the Tigers scored twice.  Mickey Stanley and Kaline singled, putting men on first and second with one out.  Willie Horton then hit a single-plus-error, bringing home both runners and making the score 3-0.

The Twins got on the board in the eighth.  Rod Carew reached on an error and scored on Oliva's double, cutting the margin to 3-1.  Oliva advanced to third with none out on a wild pitch.  The Twins did not get a baserunner after that, however, and the score did not get closer.

WP:  Earl Wilson (10-7).  LP:  Kaat (10-7).  S:  McMahon (10).

Notes:  Ted Uhlaender was back in the lineup in left field.  George Mitterwald was behind the plate in place of Johnny Roseboro.  Rich Reese was back at first base, with Killebrew at third.

Carew was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .374.  Oliva raised his average to .328.  Reese was 0-for-3 with a walk and was batting .316.  Kaat's ERA was 2.92.

The Twins stranded eight men and were 0-for-12 with men in scoring position.

When I think of 1960s baseball, I tend to think of strikeout artists like Sandy Koufax, Sam McDowell, and Bob Gibson.  It has really been surprising to me to see the number of complete games, or seven-to-eight inning starts, with low strikeout totals.  Kaat struck out eleven in this game, which is obviously not a low total, but it was one of only three times he struck out more than six all season.  His opposite number, Wilson, struck out just one in seven innings.  We've seen a number of games like that, where someone pitches seven innings or more and strikes out three or less.  I suppose that's one of the reasons even average pitchers were able to go deeper into games--they weren't running as many deep counts and weren't striking out (or walking) as many batters.  That's not an old guy rant about how the old days were better, just an observation that the game has changed.

Record:  Minnesota was 63-40, in first place in the American League West, 3.5 games behind Oakland.

Happy Birthday–January 13

Ernie Calbert (1887)
Fred Schulte (1901)
Ron Brand (1940)
Makoto Matsubara (1944)
Mike Tyson (1950)
Bob Forsch (1950)
Odell Jones (1953)
Gene Roof (1958)
Kevin Mitchell (1962)
Kevin McClatchy (1963)
Elmer Dessens (1971)
Oliver Drake (1987)

Ernie Calbert won six minor league home run titles.  He also once pitched a minor league no-hitter.

Makoto Matsubara was an eleven-time all-star in Japan.

Kevin McClatchy was the CEO of the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1996-2007.

When Elmer Dessens made his major league debut in 1996, he was the first big leaguer in thirty-five years to have the first name "Elmer".  There have been none since.

Gene Roof is the brother of ex-Twin Phil Roof.

We would like to wish a happy birthday to The Dread Pirate.

Right-hander Oliver Gardner Drake appeared in nineteen games for the Twins at the end of the 2018 season.  He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, went to high school in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts, attended the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and was drafted by Baltimore in the forty-third round in 2008.  According to b-r.com, "Drake had attended a year of prep school before the Naval Academy, making him draft eligible after his sophomore year, and he wouldn't have to fulfill his military requirement if he didn't return for his junior year."  He pitched very well as a reliever in rookie ball and low A in 2008.  The Orioles then spent three seasons trying to make him a starter, a plan which did not work.  The only success he had as a starter was a half-season in 2011, when he was a twenty-four-year-old in Class A.  He missed most of 2012 due to shoulder surgery and when he returned he was back in the bullpen, where he has remained.  He made in appearances in AA in 2013 and did well, but was made to repeat it in 2014.  He finally was moved up to AAA in 2015 and dominated the International League, but got only two weeks in the majors before getting September call-up.  He was the second midshipman to make his debut that season (Mitch Harris), but before that there had not been one since Nemo Gaines in 1921.  He posted an ERA of 2.87 in 15.2 innings, but 2016 saw him back in AAA, again getting only about two weeks in the majors before a September call-up.  He began 2017 with the Orioles but made just three appearances before being traded to Milwaukee for a player to be named later.  b-r.com does not indicate who the player was--maybe he still hasn't been named.  Anyway, Drake, pitched the rest of the season for the Brewers, going 3-5, 4.44 as a Brewer.  Then life got really interesting for him.  He started 2018 with Milwaukee, but was sold to Cleveland on May 3.  The Indians waived him, and he was claimed by the Angels on May 31.  The Angels waived him, and he was claimed by Toronto on July 26.  The Blue Jays waived him, and he was claimed by Minnesota on August 3.  He actually pitched very well for the Twins, going 0-0, 2.21, 0.93 WHIP in 20.1 innings (19 games).  The Twins waived him after the season, however, and he was claimed by Tampa Bay on November 1.  Tampa Bay waived him, and he was claimed by Toronto on November 26.  Toronto then sold him back to Tampa Bay on January 4.  If you're keeping score at home, that's seven transfers in one calendar year.  He probably thought that attending the Naval Academy would help him see the world, but I doubt he envisioned it happening this way.  The good news for him, though, is that so far every time someone deemed him expendable someone else has wanted him.  And whatever else may happen, he's appeared in 135 major league games, which is pretty good for a forty-third round draft choice.  He turns thirty-two today.  We hope he will be able to find a home in a major league bullpen in 2019, either with the Rays or someone else.

Remodeled basement. Same half-baked taste.