Happy Birthday–April 2

Tommy Bond (1856)
Hughie Jennings (1869)
Bill Yancey (1904)
Luke Appling (1907)
Al Barlick (1915)
Vedie Himsl (1917)
Bobby Avila (1924)
Billy Pierce (1927)
Gordon Jones (1930)
Dick Radatz (1937)
Al Weis (1938)
Don Sutton (1945)
Reggie Smith (1945)
Mike Kekich (1945)
Daniel Okrent (1948)
Tom Johnson (1951)
Billy Sample (1955)
Hank Steinbrenner (1957)
Pete Incaviglia (1964)
Curtis Leskanic (1968)
Denny Hocking (1970)
Jon Lieber (1970)

Shortstop Bill Yancey played in the Negro Leagues for fourteen years, later becoming a manager, coach, and scout.

Al Barlick was a National League umpire from 1940-1970.

Vedie Himsl was a longtime coach and scout, primarily in the Cubs organization.  While pitching for St. John's (Minnesota) University, he struck out twenty batters in a game.

Daniel Okrent was one of the creators of the first fantasy baseball league.

Hank Steinbrenner is one of the owners of the New York Yankees, inheriting the team from his father in 2010.

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

Outfielder Carl Reginald Smith did not play for the Twins, but spent his first year, 1963, in their farm system.  Smith was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, went to high school in Compton, California, and signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 1963.  He played in Wytheville in the rookie-level Appalachian League, hitting .257 with eight home runs in 253 at-bats.  He was then chosen by Boston in the first-year player draft, a decision that worked out well for the Red Sox.  He rose through the minors, hitting .320 at AAA Toronto in 1966.  He earned a September call-up that year and never returned to the minors.  He was a regular in the outfield for Boston through 1973.  As a member of the Red Sox, Smith finished second to Rod Carew in Rookie of the Year balloting in 1967, won a Gold Glove in 1968, made two all-star teams, and received minor consideration for MVP four times.  He led the league in doubles twice and led in total bases once.  He averaged over 20 homers a year and hit over .300 three times.  He had not slowed down in 1973, but after the season he was traded to St. Louis.  He continued to play well for the Cardinals, making the all-star team in 1974 and 1975 and finishing 11th in the MVP voting in 1974.  He was off to a slow start in 1976, however, and was traded to the Dodgers in mid-June.  It was a good deal for the Dodgers--Smith bounced back to make the all-star team in 1977 and 1978, finishing fourth in MVP balloting both years.  He led the league in both OBP and OPS+ in 1977.  He continued to play well in 1979 and 1980, making the all-star team the latter year, but had both seasons cut short with injuries.  He was used almost solely as a pinch-hitter in 1981, had a poor year, and became a free agent, signing with San Francisco.  He played first base for the Giants in 1982 and was the mostly regular, although he missed some time with injuries again.  He had a solid season, hitting .284 with 18 homers.  He then went to Japan, playing for the Yomiuri Giants for two years before his playing career came to an end.  Smith then became a coach for the Dodgers.  More recently, he has been involved in USA Baseball, serving as hitting coach for US teams in the Pan American Games, the baseball World Cup, the World Baseball Classic, and the Summer Olympics. Reggie Smith plays seven different musical instruments and holds a pilot's license.  He currently runs the Reggie Smith Baseball Centers, based in Encino, California, which consult with major league baseball organizations, conduct youth baseball camps, offer private and small-group instruction, and certify coaches, for amateur and school baseball leagues.

Right-handed reliever Thomas Raymond Johnson was a member of the Twins for five seasons, from 1974-1978.  Born and raised in St. Paul, he signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 1970.  He both started and relieved in the minors and had a decent year as a starter for Class A Wisconsin Rapids in 1972.  In 1973, however, he was primarily a reliever, and went to full-time bullpen status in 1974.  He pitched well as a relief pitcher, posting a 1.86 ERA in 87 innings at AA Orlando.  He got a September call-up that year, and spent the next two years bouncing between AAA Tacoma and Minnesota.  He pitched well both years in the minors, and in 1976 he pitched also pitched well in the majors.  By 1977, he was the Twins' closer, although he was not used as a closer is used today.  He appeared in 71 games, and in seventeen of those games he was brought in earlier than the seventh inning.  He pitched more than two innings 29 times, three innings or more twenty times, four ininngs or more nine times, more than five innings three times, and more than six innings twice.  For the season, he went 16-7, 3.13 in 146.2 innings of relief.  Unsurprisingly, this workload had consequences:  the next year, he posted a 5.51 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP.  He was out of baseball in 1979.  Johnson tried to make a comeback in AA with the White Sox in 1980 but pitched poorly, and his playing career was over.  After that, he attended Bethel Seminary in San Diego and was a pastor from 1982-2005.  In 2005, Tom Johnson moved to Bratislava, Slovakia, where he established and is president of the GoodSports Youth Center, which offers sports leagues and tournaments, tutoring, camps, English lessons, service learning activities and discipleship groups.

Outfielder William Amos Sample did not play for the Twins, but went to spring training with them in 1987.  He was born in Roanoke, Virginia, went to high school in Salem, Virginia, attended James Madison University (the first major league player to come from that school), and was drafted by Texas in the tenth round in 1976.  He quickly showed himself to be too good for the leagues in which he played, hitting .382 in rookie ball in 1976, .348 in AA in 1977, and .352 with 18 homers in AAA in 1978.  He got a September call-up in the latter season and, other than a rehab assignment, never went to the minors again.  He was not given a regular job for some time, however, instead platooning with Johnny Grubb for most of the 1979-1982 seasons.  For as well as he hit in the minors, his major league numbers were somewhat disappointing, although he was not terrible by any means.  He finally became a regular in 1983 and 1984, but after a poor 1984 campaign he was traded to the Yankees.  Used as a reserve, he did not do particularly well there, either, and moved on to Atlanta for 1986.  He had a good year as a reserve there, but became a free agent after the season.  He signed with Minnesota for 1987, but did not make the team and his playing career came to an end.  He then went into broadcasting, most recently working for mlb.com.  He has also written and produced a movie, "Reunion 108", which was released last year.

Right-hander Curtis John Leskanic did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system in 1992.  He was born in Homestead, Pennsylvania, attended LSU, and was drafted by Cleveland in the eighth round in 1989.  He had two pretty good years in Class A Kinston, then at the end of 1992 spring training was traded to Minnesota with Oscar Munoz for Paul Sorrento.  Promoted to AA, Leskanic did not have a particularly good season, was left unprotected in the expansion draft, and was chosen by Colorado.  He was a starter most of his minor league career, bouncing between the Rockies and AAA Colorado Springs in 1993 and 1994.  He moved to the bullpen in 1995 and had his first full season in the majors that year, leading the league in appearances.  He appeared in nearly as many games in 1996, but did not do nearly as well, as his ERA rose by nearly three runs.  He was back in the minors for 1997, had two more mediocre years in the majors in 1998 and 1999, and then was traded to Milwaukee.  He had back-to-back solid seasons for the Brewers, posting an ERA just over three in 143 game.  He then went through injuries, missing all of 2002 other than a few minor league rehab appearances.  He came back to have a good season in 2003 despite a trade to Kansas City in mid-July.  He had a poor start in 2004, getting released in mid-June.  He signed with Boston and did well there the rest of the year, but his playing career came to an end after that.  At last report, Curtis Leskanic was a scout for the Red Sox.  He also appears to be an instructor for Chaz Lytle Baseball in Orlando.  His cousin, Katrina Leskanich, is the lead singer of the group Katrina and the Waves.

Infielder Dennis Lee Hocking was a member of the Twins for at least part of eleven seasons, 1993-2003.  Born and raised in Torrance, California, he was drafted by Minnesota in the 52nd round.  He rose a level per year and generally had solid but unexceptional offensive numbers.  The one exception is 1992, when he hit .331 at Class A Visalia.  He was a shortstop throughout his minor league career.  He got a September call-up in 1993, was with the Twins for about three weeks in mid-summer of 1994, got another September call-up in 1995, was with Minnesota for about half of 1996, and finally made the team to stay in 1997.  As a Twin, he was the definition of a utilityman, playing every position but pitcher and catcher at some point.  He generally played in most of the team's games, but never had a regular position for any substantial period of time.  In 1997 his main positions were shortstop and third base; in 1998-1999 it was second base and shortstop; in 2000 it was outfield and second base; in 2001-2002 it was back to shortstop and second base; in 2003 it was second base and third base.  He went from a low average of .202 to a high of .298, getting from 198 to 386 at-bats.  For his career as a Twin, he hit .252/.310/351 in 2,204 at-bats.  Hocking became a free agent after the 2003 season and signed with Colorado, but he did not hit and was released in July.  He signed with the Cubs and finished the season at AAA Iowa.  Hocking moved on to Kansas City for 2005, spent most of the year in Omaha, and came back to the majors in early August.  After that, his playing career came to an end.  Since then, Denny Hocking was active in various broadcasting endeavors, and was a minor league coach in the Baltimore Orioles' organization, and at last report was the manager of the Inland Empire 66ers in the Angels organization.

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