Happy Birthday–October 1

Ray Kolp (1894)
Carmen Hill (1895)
Jimmie Reese (1901)
Jim Russell (1918)
Hal Naragon (1928)
Chuck Hiller (1934)
Rod Carew (1945)
Bill Bonham (1948)
Pete Falcone (1953)
Jeff Reardon (1955)
Vance Law (1956)
Mark McGwire (1963)
Roberto Kelly (1964)
Chuck McElroy (1967)
John Thomson (1973)
Brandon Knight (1975)

We would also like to wish Beau a very happy birthday.

Catcher Harold Richard Naragon played for the Twins from 1961-1962 at the end of a long career as a reserve catcher. Born in Zanesville, Ohio, his family moved to Barberton, Ohio when he was in the seventh grade. Naragon was signed as a free agent by the Indians in 1947 after attending a tryout camp. He was not a strong offensive player in the minors--his best season was 1950, when he hit .268 with 14 doubles for AA Oklahoma City. He was considered an excellent defensive player, however, and got a September call-up to the Indians in 1951. Naragon was then drafted into the Marines and did not play in 1952-53. When he returned to baseball in 1954, he was a big-leaguer. He remained one for the rest of his career with the exception of 1958, when he spent most of the year with AAA San Diego. Naragon never got more than 127 at-bats in a season with Cleveland, with the result that his batting average varied widely, from a low of .238 to a high of .323. He was traded to the Washington Senators in May of 1959. Naragon got the most at-bats of his career that season, 248, but hit only .247 with no power and not many walks. He returned to a backup role in 1960. Naragon came with the Senators to Minnesota in 1961, and hit .302 in 139 at-bats. In 1962, however, he lost the backup catcher spot to Jerry Zimmerman, batting only 35 times. He was released after the season, and his playing career was at an end. He became a bullpen coach with the Twins, becoming close friends with pitching coach Johnny Sain. Both Naragon and Sain were fired after the 1966 season, and both moved to the Detroit Tigers through 1969. After he was let go the Tigers, Naragon returned to Barberton and purchased a sporting goods store, which he operated until his retirement in 1990. As a Senator/Twin, Hal Naragon hit .252/.289/.295, with 2 home runs and 30 RBIs in 461 at-bats. Naragon was known as a sharp dresser and a fine golfer. He is still living in his hometown of Barberton, and is active in charitable fundraising events through the major league players' alumni association.

Hall of Fame infielder Rodney Cline Carew played for the Twins from 1967-1978. Born in the Panama Canal Zone, he was named after the doctor who delivered him, Dr. Rodney Cline. The Carews came to the continental United States when Rod was 14, and he attended high school in Washington Heights, New York. He was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1964. He spent three years in the low minors, hitting well every season, and jumped to the Twins in 1967 despite never having played above Class A. He was clearly ready--he batted .292 and won the Rookie of the Year award. He also made the all-star team, his first of 18 consecutive seasons as an all-star. He missed time due to military reserve commitments in his first few seasons, and was injured much of 1970. Carew led the league in batting average seven times, with a high of .388 in 1977. He also led the league in OBP four times, led in hits three times, led in triples twice, and led in OPS once. Despite never hitting more than 14 home runs, he also led the league in intentional walks three times. Carew received votes for the Most Valuable Player award eight times, finishing in the top ten six times, the top five three times, and winning the award in 1977 despite playing for a fourth-place team. He stole home 17 times in his career, seven times in 1969. After the 1978 season, it became clear that Carew would become a free agent the next year, and it also became clear that the Twins would not offer him enough money to keep him. Thus, Carew was traded to the California Angels on February 3, 1979 for Dave Engle, Paul Hartzell, Brad Havens, and Ken Landreaux. He played seven years for the Angels, and continued to hit well. He batted over .280 every season for California, and batted over .300 his first five years there. He got MVP consideration for a ninth time in 1982, finishing 26th in the balloting. Carew retired after the 1985 season. A second baseman for his first nine years, he moved to first in 1976 and spent the rest of his career there. As a Twin, Rod Carew hit .334/.393/.448 with an OPS+ of 137. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame on his first try in 1991. The national baseball stadium of Panama is named for him. Carew is the only player in the modern era of baseball to win a batting title without hitting a home run. He has served as the batting coach for the Angels and the Milwaukee Brewers. Carew remains quite active, operating a baseball school and doing charitable work. He is also on the executive staff of the Twins and is a special advisor to the commissioner for international player development.

Right-handed reliever Jeffrey James Reardon pitched for the Twins from 1987-1989. He was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, went to high school in Dalton, Massachusetts, and attended the University of Massachusetts--Amherst. He was signed by the Mets as a free agent in 1977. A starting pitcher early in his minor league career, he converted to relief pitching while at AAA Tidewater in 1979. Reardon reached the majors in late August of 1979 and never returned to the minors. He never started a game in the majors--all of his 880 appearances were in relief. He pitched quite well for the Mets, but was traded to Montreal in late May of 1981 as part of a package for Ellis Valentine. He became the Expos' closer in 1982 and did a fine job for them, leading the league in saves in 1985 with 41. In February of 1987, he was traded to Minnesota with Tom Nieto for Al Cardwood, Neal Heaton, Yorkis Perez, and Jeff Reed. Reardon immediately was made the Twins closer. He lost eight games in 1987, and had an ERA of 4.4, but after the Ron Davis Era he seemed like a godsend. The fact that the Twins won the World Series in his first year didn't hurt anything, either. Reardon remained the Twins' closer through 1989, when he became a free agent. He signed with Boston, where he was the closer for nearly three years, getting back to the playoffs in 1990. On August 30, 1992, Reardon was traded to Atlanta, where he again went to the World Series. He became a free agent after that season, and signed with the Reds, sharing closing duties with Rob Dibble. Neither of them had a particularly good year, and after the season Reardon was on the move again, signing with the Yankees. He got off to a poor start, however, and was released on May 8, 1994, ending his playing career. As a Twin, Jeff Reardon went 15-16 with 104 saves. He had an ERA of 3.70 and a WHIP of 1.15. Reardon made four all-star teams in his career, finished eighth in the Cy Young balloting in 1987, was in the top twenty in MVP balloting three times, and won the Rolaids Relief Man Award in 1985. As you probably know, Reardon has had his share of difficulties since leaving baseball. Sadly, his son Shane passed away from a drug overdose in 2004. In 2005, Reardon was charged with armed robbery of a jewelry store. It was eventually determined that he had committed the crime under the influence of antidepressants and mood stabilizers, and he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was not required to be committed as a result of the court ruling, although he has received treatment. Jeff Reardon lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; it is to be hoped that he now has his life in order and that things will go well for him.

Outfielder Roberto Conrado (Gray) Kelly played for the Twins from 1996-1997. Born and raised in Panama City, Panama, Kelly was signed by the Yankees as a free agent in 1982. He got off to a slow start in the minors, but seemed to hit his stride in 1986, when he batted .278 for AA Albany-Colonie. Promoted to AAA the following year, he got cups of coffee with the Yankees in 1987 and 1988 before reaching the big-leagues permanently in 1989. A high-average hitter, Kelly also showed some power with the Yankees, hitting 20 homers in 1991 and twice hitting over 30 doubles. He stayed with the Yankees through the 1992, but then was traded to Cincinnati for Paul O'Neill. His batting average stayed solid, but his power numbers declined, and he started moving around quite a bit. Kelly was traded to Atlanta in 1994 and went to Montreal and then Los Angeles in 1995. He became a free agent after the 1995 season, and signed with the Twins, where he played for most of two seasons. He hit well for the Twins, batting .308/.358/.450 in 569 at-bats. With the Twins out of contention in 1997, however, Kelly was traded to Seattle in August for Joe Mays and Jeromy Palki. Kelly moved on to the Texas Rangers for two solid years as a part-time player in 1998 and 1999. Kelly played ten games for the Yankees in 2000. He signed with the Rockies in 2001, and hit .288 with 12 home runs for AAA Colorado Springs, but did not make it back to the majors. Kelly played two years in the Mexican League, and then turned to managing and coaching. He played on two all-star teams in his career, and reached the post-season with the Dodgers, the Mariners, and twice with the Rangers. Roberto Kelly is currently the first base coach with the San Francisco Giants.

2 thoughts on “Happy Birthday–October 1”

  1. Thanks guys. And for those who haven't heard, I'm no longer unemployed. Accepted a job offer yesterday. I believe it's a step up in my career. It's not working for the feds like I had hoped, but it seems like a solid organization.

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