Happy Birthday–April 3

Guy Hecker (1856)
Larry Shepard (1919)
Alex Grammas (1926)
Art Ditmar (1929)
Wally Moon (1930)
Jerry Dale (1933)
Hawk Taylor (1939)
Larry Littleton (1954)
Darrell Jackson (1956)
Gary Pettis (1958)
Doug Baker (1961)
Chris Bosio (1963)
Mark Shapiro (1967)
Mike Lansing (1968)
Ryan Doumit (1981)
Kyle Phillips (1984)
Jay Bruce (1987)
Jason Kipnis (1987)

Guy Hecker is one of three pitchers to have won over fifty games in a season.  He is also the only pitcher to have won a batting title.

Larry Shepard managed Pittsburgh in 1968-1969.  Coincidentally, he was replaced by Alex Grammas.

Jerry Dale was a National League umpire from 1971-85.  He pitched in the minors for the Washington (now Minnesota) franchise from 1951-52.

Mark Shapiro was the general manager of the Cleveland Indians from 2001-10 and became president of that club in 2011.

We would also like to wish a very happy birthday to Papa Pirate.

Outfielder Larry Marvin Littleton did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system in 1982.  He was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, attended the University of Georgia, and was drafted by Pittsburgh in 1976 in the first round (the sixth pick).  He showed power in the minors, producing double-digit home runs in four of his first five seasons, but struck out a lot and his batting averages, while decent, were unexceptional.  The Pirates gave up on him after the 1979 season, sending him to Cleveland as part of a deal for Larry Andersen.  He had a solid season for them in AAA in 1980 and began 1981 in the majors.  He stayed until late May but was used almost exclusively as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement, starting only five games.  He went 0-for-23 with three walks and went back to AAA.  He was still there in early July of 1982 when he was traded to Minnesota for Larry Milbourne.  The Twins kept him in AAA, sending him to Toledo.  His statistics as a Mud Hen are not available, but for the season in AAA he hit .274/.369/.448.  He moved on to the Philadelphia organization for 1983, then his playing career was over.  He is tied with Mike Potter for most at-bats by a non-pitcher without a hit.  Perhaps its better to be remembered for something than for nothing, but it’s obviously not what he’d hoped for when he was chosen with the sixth pick in the draft.  After his playing career ended, Larry Littleton went to work for Merrill Lynch.  He is currently a major account executive for Stericycle, Inc., a medical waste disposal company based in the Atlanta area.

Left-hander Darrell Preston Jackson pitched for the Twins from 1978-1982.  A small man (5'10", 150 lbs.), he was born and raised in Los Angeles and attended Arizona State.  Jackson was drafted by Minnesota in the ninth round in 1977.  He made ten excellent starts at AA Orlando in 1978, including nine no-hit innings in his minor league debut, and was in the Twins' starting rotation by mid-June.  Given his age and experience, he didn't do too badly, going 4-6, 4.48.  He began 1979 in AAA Toledo and again pitched pretty well, again coming up to Minnesota in June.  He saw more bullpen duty this time, but again did okay, going 4-4, 4.28 in 69.1 innings.  1980 was Jackson's only full season in the majors, and it was a pretty good one:  9-9, 3.87, WHIP of 1.34.  In 1981, however, he injured his shoulder, missing half the season.  He did not pitch well at all in 1982, and after that his playing career was over.  In that career, all of which was spent with the Twins, he went 20-27, 4.38.  He pitched 411 innings in 102 games, sixty of them starts.  Darrell Jackson battled addictions to drugs and alcohol during his career.  He now works with at-risk teens through an organization he founded called the 10-20 Club, which educates people between the ages of ten and twenty on the right paths to take in life.

Infielder Douglas Lee Baker played for the Twins for parts of three seasons from 1988-1990.  His brother, Dave Baker, played in the majors for Toronto in 1982.  Doug Baker was born in Fullerton, California, went to high school in Grenada Hills, California, and then attended Arizona State.  He was drafted by Detroit in the ninth round in 1982.  He was never much of a hitter; his highest batting average in the minors was .274 in 1986 in AAA Nashville, and his highest minor league home run total was eight in 1984 in AAA Evansville.  Still, he was in the majors for the second half of 1984, a month and a half of 1985, another month and a half of 1986, and a month of 1987.  Despite what should have been the vagaries of small sample size, he was remarkably consistent in those trials, never hitting more than .185 in any of them.  In February of 1988, Detroit traded Baker to Minnesota for Julius McDougal.  He continued to not hit in the minors, and he continued to get chances in the majors.  Baker was with the Twins for a month in 1988, for about half of 1989, and for the first week of 1990.  Small sample size finally worked in his favor in 1989, as he hit .295 in 78 at-bats.  In his career as a Twin, he hit .267/.347/.349 in 86 at-bats.  He became a free agent after the 1990 season and signed with Houston.  He played in AAA for the Astros in 1991, the eighth consecutive year he spent at least part of the season at AAA.  His playing career came to an end after the season.  He has remained active in baseball both as a scout and a coach.  At last report, Doug Baker operates Around the Horn Baseball, a player development school in California.

Catcher/outfielder/first baseman Ryan Matthew Doumit played for the Twins in 2012 and 2013.  Born and raised in Moses Lake, Washington (well, not in the lake itself, probably, but in the town named after it), he was drafted by Pittsburgh in the second round in 1999.  He hit well in the minors, but rarely seems to have played a full season, presumably due to injuries.  He played 127 games in 2003, but other than that his highest total was 68 in 2002.  He reached the majors in 2005 and mostly stayed there, but he spent a little time in the minors every season through 2011.  One assumes, judging from the game and at-bat totals, that these were mostly rehab assignments.  Almost all of his minor league playing time was at catcher.  The majority of his major league playing time has been at that position, too, but he has played some first base and right field as well.  Prior to joining the Twins, he had only twice appeared in as many as a hundred major league games in a season, in 2008 and 2010.  He had spent his entire career with Pittsburgh until 2012, when he signed with Minnesota as a free agent.  He was the Twins' primary backup catcher in 2012-13, but spent significant time in the outfield and at designated hitter as well.  He played more for the Twins than he ever had before, and while he was nothing special he was not terrible, either, hitting .261/.317/.428 in nearly a thousand at-bats.  In December of 2013 the Twins traded him to Atlanta for Sean Gilmartin.  He was mostly used as a pinch-hitter, appearing in 100 games but starting only 17 in the field.  He did not thrive in the role, batting only .197 with an OPS of .553.  He became a free agent after the season and has not signed with anyone.  His playing career came to an end after that season.  He has returned to Moses Lake where, at last report, he was an assistant coach for Big Bend Community College.  He was also playing on a softball team with former Twins first round draft choice B. J. Garbe, also a Moses Lake native.

Catcher Kyle Ray Phillips did not play for the Twins, but was drafted by them.  He was born in San Diego and went to high school in Lakeside, California.  He was drafted by the Twins in the tenth round in 2002.  He was in the Twins' farm system for five years, only getting 67 at-bats higher than Class A.  Phillips hit .289 at rookie-level Elizabethton in 2003, but followed that up with two years around .230 at Class A.  The Twins released him on April 1, 2006 and he signed with Milwaukee two days later.  He was in the Brewers' organization only one year, hitting .236 at Class A before being released again on March 24, 2007.  He signed with Toronto a week later, and either something finally clicked or he simply matured, because Phillips suddenly began hitting.  He hit .306 at Class A Dunedin in 2007, followed that up with another .306 at AA New Hampshire in 2008, and followed that with a .300 average at AAA Las Vegas in 2009.  He earned a September call-up that year and went 5-for-18 with three doubles.  He went to spring training with the Blue Jays in 2010, but did not make the team and was sent back to AAA.  Off to a poor start there, he was traded to San Diego in late June for a player to be named later.  He played well in AAA for the Padres the rest of the year.  Phillips became a free agent after the season, but signed back with San Diego for 2011.  Unfortunately, just as suddenly as he started hitting, he stopped again. He spent about half the season in the majors as a backup catcher, but hit just .171 in 76 at-bats.  A free agent again after the 2011 season, he signed with Toronto for 2012, but the contract was voided due to injury.  He instead spent 2012 as a scout for the Chicago Cubs.  He said that he wanted to play again in 2013, but apparently no baseball team wanted him to, so he remained a scout for the Cubs, a position he still held at last report.