Happy Birthday–March 23

Mike Smith (1868)
Gavvy Cravath (1881)
Cy Slapnicka (1886)
Ray Kremer (1893)
Johnny Moore (1902)
Johnny Logan (1927)
Jim Lemon (1928)
Lee May (1943)
George Scott (1944)
Pat Bourque (1947)
Lanny Frattare (1948)
Bo Diaz (1953)
Mrs. A (1954)
Mike Remlinger (1966)
Chris Turner (1969)
Ramon Ortiz (1973)
Mark Buehrle (1979)

Cy Slapnicka was a long-time scout.  Players he is credited with signing include Bob Feller, Lou Boudreau, and Herb Score.  Somehow, "Cy Slapnicka" just sounds like a name a baseball scout should have.

Lanny Frattare was a radio broadcaster for the Pirates from 1976-2008.

Happy birthday to my Hall of Fame wife.

Outfielder James Robert Lemon was one of the original Minnesota Twins, staying with them into 1963.  Born and raised in Covington, Virginia, Lemon was signed by Cleveland as a free agent in 1948.  Lemon had some big years in the minors, hitting .287 with 39 home runs for AA Oklahoma City in 1950.  He made his big league debut that year, playing in 12 games for the Indians.  Lemon then missed the next two years due to military service, coming back in 1953.  He started the season with Cleveland, but did not hit, and was sent to the minors a month later.  He did not hit in the minors that year, either, and the Indians gave up on him, selling hit to Washington in 1954.  Sent back to Class A at age 26, he bounced back to hit .346.  He also spent nearly two months with Washington, hitting .234 as a part-time player.  He played well at AA in 1955, getting a September call-up.  In 1956, Lemon got his first chance at regular play in the majors, and he stayed a big-league regular for six years.  The starting right fielder for Washington, he hit .278 with 27 homers and a league-leading 11 triples.  He remained a reliable power hitter through the rest of the team's stay in Washington.  A move from right field to left field in 1959 did not slow him down:  he hit 33 home runs in 1959 and 38 in 1960.  Lemon also made the all-star team for the only time in 1960 and received minor MVP consideration in 1959 and 1960.  He came to Minnesota with the team in 1961, but had a down year, hitting only .258 with 14 homers.  He was injured much of 1962, playing in only 12 games, and his career was coming to a close.  The Twins sold him to Philadelphia in early May of 1963, he was sold again, to the White Sox, in late June, and after the season his playing career was over.  Lemon turned to managing and coaching:  he was a manager in the expansion Washington organization in 1964, the Twins' batting coach from 1965-1967, the manager of Washington in 1968, a scout for Minnesota for many years, the batting coach for the Twins from 1981-1984, and the manager of the GCL Twins in 1992.  He also was a basketball referee in the winter.  In 1987, he moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  Jim Lemon passed away from melanoma on May 14, 2006 in Brandon, Mississippi.

First baseman Patrick Daniel Bourque spent about six weeks with the Twins in 1974.  A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, he attended Holy Cross and was drafted by the Cubs in the 33rd round in 1969.  He began his career with the Huron, South Dakota Cubs in the old Northern League that season.  The next year, 1970, Bourque hit .326 for Class A Quincy.  For such a low draft choice, he rose through the minor leagues quickly.  In 1971, he played at AA, AAA, and got a September call-up to the majors.  His 1971 and 1972 minor league seasons are quite similar:  a .279 average, 19 and 20 homers, respectively, an OPS of .871 and .862, respectively.  He was having a big year in AAA in 1973, hitting .347 with nine homers in 124 at-bats, when he was called up to the Cubs in mid-May.  He was the Cubs' regular first baseman for about two months, but did not hit and fell to reserve status.  In late August, Bourque was traded to Oakland and was a part-time DH/first baseman for the Athletics the rest of the season.  He remained with Oakland in 1974 as a bench player, but still did not hit and was traded to Minnesota in mid-August for Jim Holt.  Bourque shared first base with Craig Kusick the rest of the season, hitting .219/.296/.297 in 64 at-bats.  After the season, the Twins traded Bourque back to Oakland for Dennis Myers and Dan Ford, a trade that worked out pretty well for Minnesota; Bourque did not make the Athletics in 1975 and his playing career was over.  At last report, Pat Bourque was the head of public works for the City of Flagstaff, Arizona.  He apparently has done some baseball instructional videos, as there are several clips on youtube of him giving tips on how to play first base.  He also has participated in a variety of charitable baseball-related events in Arizona.

Catcher Christopher Wan Turner did not play for the Twins, but was briefly in their farm system in 1998.  He was born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, attended Western Kentucky University, and was drafted by California in the seventh round in 1991.  He did not hit much in the minors; his best season was probably 1992, when he hit .252/.410/.394 for Class A Quad Cities.  He never had an on-base percentage that high again, although he did continue to draw a good number of walks.  He jumped from A to AAA at the start of 1993 and reached the majors in late August of that season.  He was the Angels’ starting catcher the rest of the way and hit .280, but he would never hit as high again, nor would he ever be a regular again.  He shared catching duties with Greg Myers and Jorge Fabregas in 1994, getting the most at-bats he would ever get in a season, 149.  He was in the minors for the Angels most of the next three seasons, missing much of 1997 with injuries.  The Twins signed him in December of 1997, but released him on April 20 of 1998.  He did not play a game as a Twin in either the majors or the minors.  He finished the year in the Kansas City organization, getting nine major league at-bats.  He moved on to Cleveland for 1999, appearing in twelve more major league games, and was with the Yankees for 2000.  He made it back to the big leagues for most of the season in New York, getting 89 at-bats backing up Jorge Posada.  He signed with Philadelphia for 2001, but did not make the team and his playing career came to an end.  He was inducted into the Western Kentucky University Hall of Fame in 2001.  It appears that he may have returned to his home town of Bowling Green, but this could not be confirmed.

Right-hander Ramon Diogenes Ortiz was a member of the Minnesota Twins for about four and a half months in 2007.  A native of Cotui in the Dominican Republic, Ortiz was signed by the Angels as a free agent in 1995.  He generally pitched well in the minors, although he appears to have been slowed by an injury in 1998.  He reached AAA in 1999 and after only nine starts there was promoted to the majors in August.  He was immediately thrown into the rotation, but he wasn't ready, going 2-3, 6.52.  He split the next year between AAA and the majors, but by 2001 he was in the big leagues to stay.  He was in the Angels starting rotation for three full years, from 2001-2003.  His best year was clearly 2002, when he went 15-9, 3.77 with a WHIP of 1.18.  His ERA soared to 5.2 the next year, and when he got off to a poor start in 2004 Ortiz was sent to the bullpen.  The Angels traded him to the Reds for 2005, but while he stayed in the rotation he really did not pitch any better than he had the year before.  A free agent after the season, he signed with Washington for 2006 and again spent the entire year in the rotation despite pitching poorly.  He signed with Minnesota as a free agent for 2007.  He was again in the rotation and pitched well in his first three starts, but slipped to average for his next two and bad for his next five.  Ortiz went to the bullpen after that and was traded to Colorado in mid-August for Matt Macri.  As a Twin, he was 4-4, 5.14 in 28 appearances, ten of the starts.  He pitched 91 innings for Minnesota.  Ortiz became a free agent after the 2007 season and played in Japan for the Orix Blue Wave in 2008, where he continued to not pitch very well.  He came back to the United States for 2009, pitching at AAA Phoenix in the Giants' organization.  He signed with the Dodgers for 2010 and made sixteen appearances in the majors, most of them poor ones.  The Dodgers released him in early June, he was in the Mets’ organization for about a month and a half, and he finished the season at AAA with Tampa Bay.  He was released by the Rays in March of 2011, but signed with the Cubs a month later and battled his way back to the big leagues, spending half the season in Chicago.  A free agent again after the season, he signed with San Francisco for 2012.  He was released near the end of spring training, but signed with the Yankees and spent the season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he had a fine season in AAA but did not get another shot at the majors.  Once again a free agent after the season, he signed with Toronto for 2013.  He's 40 years old today and hasn't had a good major league season since 2004 (and even that season was really nothing to shout about), but somehow he keeps getting chances.  One has to assume that the Ramon Ortiz story may not be done quite yet.

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