Happy Birthday–February 9

Harry Pulliam (1864)
Heinie Zimmerman (1887)
Specs Toporcer (1899)
Bill Veeck (1914)
Jodie Phipps (1918)
Vic Wertz (1925)
Erv Palica (1928)
Clete Boyer (1937)
Eddie Solomon (1951)
Mookie Wilson (1956)
Pete O'Brien (1958)
John Kruk (1961)
Doug Linton (1965)
Todd Pratt (1967)
Vladimir Guerrero (1975)
Dioner Navarro (1984)

Harry Pulliam was president of the National League from 1903-1909.

Bill Veeck was the owner of the Cleveland Indians (1946-49), St. Louis Browns (1951-53), and Chicago White Sox (1958-61, 1975-81).

Pitcher Jodie Phipps played in the minors from 1939-1957, winning 275 games.  He also managed in the minors for seven seasons.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to LBR.

Outfielder/first baseman Victor Woodrow Wertz appeared in 44 games for Minnesota in 1963 at the end of his long major league career.  He was born in York, Pennsylvania, went to high school in Reading, Pennsylvania, and signed with Detroit as a free agent in 1942.  He had a poor year as a seventeen-year-old at Class B Winston-Salem, played briefly for AA Buffalo in 1943 and then went into the military, not returning to baseball until 1946.  When he did, he hit .301 with 19 homers for then AAA Buffalo and was in the majors to stay at the start of the 1947 campaign.  He was a semi-regular his first two years, becoming a regular in 1949.  He made the first of four all-star teams that season and also had the first of four top ten MVP finishes.  He was again in the top ten in MVP balloting in 1950 and made the all-star team again in 1951 and 1952.  In August of 1952, however, he was traded to the St. Louis Browns as part of an eight-player trade.  He moved to Baltimore with the club in 1954, but got off to a bad start there and was traded to Cleveland on June 1.  The Indians moved him from the outfield to first base, and Wertz had three solid seasons in Cleveland, finishing in the top ten in MVP voting in 1956 and 1957 and making the all-star team in 1957.  He was injured for most of 1958, however, and was on the move again after the season, traded to Boston.  Now in his mid-thirties, he became a part-time player for the Red Sox, with his most at-bats there 443 in 1960.  He still did well when he played, finishing fourteenth in MVP voting in 1960.  He was still playing decently in 1961, but the Red Sox waived him in September and he was claimed by Detroit.  Primarily a pinch-hitter with the Tigers, he had an excellent year in 1962, hitting .324 in 105 at-bats.  Despite that, he was released in May of 1963 after only five at-bats.  The Twins signed him on June 18 and he finished the season and his career in Minnesota.  It did not go well—he hit .136/.240/.341 with three homers in 44 at-bats, and his playing career came to an end.  It was a pretty good career, though; in 17 seasons and 6,099 at-bats, he hit .277/.364/.469 with 266 home runs.  His best season was probably 1950, when he hit .308 with 27 homers and 123 RBIs for Detroit, but that season was not particularly out of line with several others.  He is occasionally remembered today as the man who hit the drive on which Willie Mays made his famous catch in the 1954 World Series.  After his playing career ended, he returned to Detroit, where he owned a beer distributorship.  Vic Wertz passed away from a heart attack on July 7, 1983 at the age of 58.

Right-hander Douglas Warren Linton did not play for the Twins, but he was in their farm system in 1998.  He was born in Santa Ana, California, attended Cal—Irvine, and was drafted by Toronto in the 43rd round in 1986.  He had a couple of tremendous years in Class A, posting ERAs below two and WHIPs right around one.  He did well when moved up to AA in 1989 and reached AAA in 1990.  He made his major league debut with the Blue Jays in 1992, appearing in eight games.  He never did get a full year in the majors, constantly bouncing back and forth from AAA.  He was waived in June of 1993 and claimed by California.  The Angels released him in mid September and he signed with the Mets for 1994.  He appeared in the most games of his career that season, 32, going 6-2, 4.47, but with a WHIP of 1.87 in 50.1 innings.  He moved on to Kansas City for 1995 and was actually a member of their rotation for a while in 1996, when he pitched the most innings of his career, 104.  He went 7-9, 5.02, 1.32 WHIP that season.  He was released in March of 1997 and missed the entire season.  The Yankees signed him for 1998 but released him in March.  He was again out of baseball for two months when the Twins signed him in late May.  He went to AAA Salt Lake, where he appeared in eighteen games, fourteen of them starts.  He went 4-4, 5.99, 1.51 WHIP in 79.2 innings.  He moved on to Baltimore for 1999 and got back to the majors, making eight starts and fourteen appearances.  He was with Colorado in 2000, the Dodgers, the Mets, and a Korean team in 2001, Atlanta in 2002, and Toronto in 2003.  He actually made it back to the big leagues again with the Blue Jays, making seven appearances and going 0-0, 3.00, 1.22 WHIP in nine innings.  He moved on again in 2004, however, going to Kansas City.  He pitched poorly in AAA for the Royals, and his playing career came to an end.  He didn’t do badly for a 43rd round draft pick, though; his numbers aren’t pretty, but he pitched in six major league seasons and appeared in 112 major league games, and there are not a lot of guys who can say that.  He has remained in baseball as a minor league pitching coach.  Doug Linton is currently a pitching coordinator for the Colorado Rockies.

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