Happy Birthday–September 18

Heinie Groh (1889)
George Uhle (1898)
Harvey Haddix (1925)
Lorn Brown (1938)
Dick Dietz (1941)
Ken Brett (1948)
Tony Scott (1951)
Ray Smith (1955)
Ryne Sandberg (1959)
Jeff Bronkey (1965)
Kevin Thompson (1979)
Joe Bisenius (1982)

Lorn Brown was a baseball broadcaster from 1966-1988, calling games for the Chicago White Sox, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the New York Mets.

Kevin Thompson was drafted by Minnesota in the eighteenth round in 1998, but did not sign.

Joe Bisenius is from Sioux City and was somewhat of a local hero when I lived in that area.

We would also like to wish a very happy birthday to nibbish and a happy anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Corn.

Destined to be remembered as “George Brett’s brother”, left-hander Kenneth Alven Brett had a long career of his own. He was born in Brooklyn, went to high school in El Segundo, California, and was drafted by Boston with the fourth pick in the 1966 draft. After a slow start at Class A Oneonta that year, when he was only 17, Brett did very well in the minors, and came through the Red Sox’ system quickly. He made one appearance for Boston in 1967, who thought highly enough of him to include him on their World Series roster at age 18. He made the big leagues to stay in 1969. Used mostly in relief by the Red Sox, Brett did not do all that well. After the 1971 season, he was traded to Milwaukee in a multi-player deal that included Jim Lonborg, George Scott, and Tommy Harper. He pitched only one year for the Brewers before being traded again, this time to Philadelphia in a multi-player trade that included Lonborg (again), Don Money, and John Vukovich. He had his first good year in the majors with Philadelphia in 1973, winning 13 games with a 3.44 ERA. After the season, though, he was on the move again, traded to Pittsburgh for Dave Cash. Brett put in two solid seasons for the Pirates, but packed his suitcase again after the season. He was traded to the Yankees in December of 1975, to the White Sox in May of 1976, and to California in June of 1977. He consistently had an ERA in the mid-to-low threes most of those years, but in 1977 it ballooned to 4.5, and when he was no better in 1978, he was released. The Twins signed Brett in late April of 1979, and he spent just over a month with them before being released again on June 4. He appeared in nine games for the Twins (12.2 innings), getting no decisions and compiling an ERA of 4.97. Brett was signed by the Dodgers a week later and did well the rest of the year, but was released again after the season. It appeared that his career might be over, but in August of 1980, he signed with the Royals. He remained with the Royals in 1981, but that was his last year as an active player. He played parts of 14 big-league seasons and three postseasons. He was also an excellent batter, posting a line of .262/.291/.406 in 347 major league at-bats and batting over .300 in three seasons. After his playing career ended, he was involved with his brothers in the ownership of various minor league baseball and hockey teams. Ken Brett passed away on November 18, 2003 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Catcher Raymond Edward Smith played for the Twins in parts of seasons from 1981 to 1983. He was born in Glendale, California, went to high school in San Diego, was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1977 after attending the University of Oregon. He hit well at the low levels of the minors, but not as well at the higher levels, although he was not terrible there. He made the Twins out of spring training in 1981 as a reserve catcher, but played only 15 games before getting injured and missing the remainder of the season. Smith was back in the minors in 1982, although he did get a brief callup. 1983 was his only full season in the big leagues, as he appeared in 59 games with the Twins. He was back in the minors in 1984, and was traded after the season to San Diego for Floyd Chiffer. He batted .325 for AAA Las Vegas in 1985, but it wasn’t enough for the Padres, and they released him after the season. He signed with Oakland in 1986, but played only 15 games for AAA Tacoma before calling it a career. As a Twin, Smith hit .219/.259/.270 with 1 homer and 10 RBIs in 231 at-bats. After retiring as a player, Ray Smith became a minor league manager and is the very successful long-time manager of the Elizabethton Twins.

The only major league player born in Kabul, Afghanistan, right-hander Jacob Jeffery Bronkey went to high school in Klamath Falls, Oregon and was drafted by the Twins in the second round in 1986 out of Oklahoma State. He was in the Twins’ minor-league system for four years, but really only had one good season, in 1988 at Class A Visalia. The Twins released him after the 1989 season, and he signed with Texas. He was no better in their minor-league system until suddenly he was: out of nowhere, he posted a 2.68 ERA for AAA Oklahoma City in 1993, with a WHIP of 0.97. It was only 37 innings, but it was enough for the Rangers to call him up and use him in 21 games that year. After the season, Texas traded him to Milwaukee, for whom he pitched in 1994, his only full season in the majors. Bronkey pitched eight more games for the Brewers in 1995, but was injured and never was able to come back. In the majors, Bronkey was 2-2 with a 4.04 ERA in 69 innings. Jeff Bronkey now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he is an instructor for Fuel Athletics, a sports training facility.  His daughter, Sierra, played softball for the University of Arkansas.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday–September 18”

  1. Thanks Padre! My parents came in to watch the kids and Mrs. Corn and I went out for a very nice meal on Saturday and stayed in a hotel that didn't require checkout until noon! Slept in, grabbed a cup of coffee & went for a walk along both banks of Old Man River.

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