Happy Birthday–September 30

Gabby Street (1882)
Nap Rucker (1884)
Johnny Allen (1904)
Robin Roberts (1926)
Johnny Podres (1932)
Craig Kusick (1948)
Dave Magadan (1962)
Yorkis Perez (1967)
Jose Lima (1972)
Carlos Guillen (1975)
Seth Smith (1982)
Kenley Jansen (1987)

Gabby Street was a light-hitting catcher who played in parts of eight major leagues seasons, mostly for the Washington Senators. He was Walter Johnson's primary catcher. He later did some managing and broadcasting. He is best remembered as the first man to catch a baseball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument.

Left-hander John Joseph Podres did not play for the Twins, but served as their pitching coach from 1981-1985. Born and raised in Witherbee, New York, he signed with Brooklyn as a free agent in 1951. He had a tremendous season for Hazard in the Class D Mountain States League that year, going 21-9, 1.66 with a WHIP of 1.12. He went to AAA in 1952, then made his major league debut in 1953. Still very young, Podres struggled some, but was kept in the majors for three years and spent much of that time in the starting rotation. He came up big for the Dodgers in the 1955 World Series, going 2-0 with an ERA of 1.00 and pitching a shutout in game seven, which earned him the first World Series MVP award. After missing 1956 to military service, he came back in 1957 to have what was probably his best major league season. He was only 12-9, but he led the league in ERA (2.66), shutouts (6) and WHIP (1.08). He moved to Los Angeles with the team in 1958 and remained a rotation starter for the Dodgers through 1963. His best year is often thought to be 1961, but other than his won-lost record (18-5), he was not particularly better that year than any other. He missed most of 1964 with an injury, but came back to have a solid year in 1965. He was traded to Detroit early in 1966 and had a couple of solid seasons for them working mostly out of the bullpen. He was released in 1967 and was out of baseball in 1968, but in 1969 Podres attempted a comeback with, fittingly enough, the Padres. He had a mediocre season for San Diego, and then his playing career was over for good. He went into coaching after that; he was the pitching coach for the Twins from 1981-1985 and also was the pitching coach for San Diego (1973), Boston (1980), and Philadelphia (1991-1996). After his retirement he lived in Queensbury, New York. His career numbers are 148-116, 3.68, 1.32 WHIP. He made three all-star teams (1958, 1960, 1962) and finished fourteenth in MVP voting in 1961. He was inducted into the Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. Johnny Podres passed away on January 13, 2008 in Glens Falls, New York.

First baseman Craig Robert Kusick played for the Twins from 1973-1979. He was born in Milwaukee, attended the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, and was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1970. An outfielder early in his minor-league career, Kusick was moved to first base in 1972. He hit well at every minor-league stop. In 1973, he hit .305 with 27 homers for AAA Tacoma, a season which earned him a September call-up to the Twins. He was off to a hot start in Tacoma in 1974 when he was called up to the Twins in early June. Kusick was the regular first baseman for the Twins the rest of the season, but batted only .239 with 8 home runs. He was reduced to part-time status in 1975, spending two months back at AAA. In 1976, the Twins moved Rod Carew to first base, and Kusick became a part-time DH. He shared the DH spot with Tony Oliva in 1976 and with Glenn Adams and Rich Chiles in 1977. He was consistent in those years, at least, hitting in the .250s with 11 and 12 home runs, respectively. He fell apart in 1978, however, batting only .173. He was used mostly as a pinch-hitter in 1979, and did not do badly in that role, but was sold to Toronto in July. Kusick was released by the Blue Jays after the season, and signed with the Padres organization. He had a strong year in 1980 for AAA Hawaii, but was not given another chance in the majors. He split 1981 between Hawaii and AAA Evansville in the Detroit organization, but was out of baseball after that. As a Twin, Kusick hit .236/.343/.392, with 44 homers in 1184 at-bats. He tied a major league record when he was hit by a pitch three times in one game in August of 1975. He returned to Minnesota after his retirement, coaching baseball at Rosemount High School from 1983-2004. Kusick’s son, Craig Kusick, Jr., won the Melberger Award as the nation’s top Division III football player, and later played four seasons in the Arena League. Craig Kusick passed away from leukemia on September 27, 2006.

Left-hander Yorkis Miguel Vargas Perez did not play for the Twins but was in their minor league system for a few years. Born and raised in Bajos de Haina, Dominican Republic, he signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 1983 at age 15. He made a few appearances at Elizabethton over the next few years, but was apparently in the Dominican Summer League most of that time. He reached Class A in 1986 and struggled, but he was still only eighteen years old. In February of 1987, Perez was traded to Montreal with Al Cardwood, Neal Heaton, and Jeff Reed for Tom Nieto and Jeff Reardon. His results were up and down for the next few years in the minors, but he was always pretty young for his league, reaching AA at age 19. The Expos were not impressed, though, and released him after the 1990 season. He signed with Atlanta, and in 1991 he seemed to have a breakthrough, going 12-3, 3.79 at AAA Richmond, although with a WHIP of 1.42. The Braves weren’t overly impressed either, and traded him to the Cubs in late September, in time for him to make his major league debut for Chicago that season. He went 1-0, 2.08, 0.92 WHIP in 4.1 innings, but the Cubs released him that December. No one signed him that winter, and it appeared that his career might be over at age 23. He went to Japan for 1992, signed with Seattle in late August, was released again in January without actually pitching for the Mariners, and went to Montreal as a free agent in 1993. He pitched fairly well out of the bullpen, in a year split between AA and AAA, but was allowed to become a free agent after the season and signed with Florida. He finally got a chance for a major league career with the Marlins, spending one full season and two nearly-full seasons in the majors. He had a good year in 1994, a mediocre one in 1995, and a bad one in 1996, after which he was traded to Atlanta. He did not make the Braves in 1997, instead being placed on waivers and selected by the Mets. Most of 1997 was spent in the minors; he again became a free agent after the season and moved on to Philadelphia. He was with the Phillies for two years and pitched pretty well as a LOOGY. Perez was traded to Houston in late March of 2000, got off to a poor start, and was released in July. He did not give up, signing with the Dodgers for 2001, getting released in April, pitching in Mexico that season, signing with Arizona for 2002, getting released again in late March, and signing with Baltimore. By late June he had battled his way back to the majors and again did well as a LOOGY. It was his last hurrah, however, as the Orioles released him after the season and his playing career came to an end. He played for eleven different organizations, six major league teams, and in Mexico and Japan, but pieced together a pretty decent career: 14-15, 4.44, 1.41 WHIP in 282 innings over 337 games. He is a cousin to Melido, Pascual, and Carlos Perez. His mother and sister passed away in a plane crash in 2001. His son, Leurys Vargas, was a first baseman who spent three seasons in rookie ball for the Mariners. Yorkis Perez was living in the Dominican Republic at last report.