Happy Birthday–June 2

Jack O’Connor (1866)
Frank Verdi (1926)
Bob Lillis (1930)
Larry Jackson (1931)
Bob Bennett (1933)
Jerry Lumpe (1933)
Gene Michael (1938)
Horace Clarke (1940)
Jim Maloney (1940)
Roger Freed (1946)
Jack O’Connor (1958)
Darnell Coles (1962)
Bryan Harvey (1963)
Mike Stanton (1967)
Kurt Abbott (1969)
Raul Ibanez (1972)
Neifi Perez (1973)
Jared Burton (1981)
Tim Stauffer (1982)

Bob Bennett was the baseball coach at Fresno State for many years, winning 1,302 games.

Roger Freed was drafted by Minnesota in 1966, but the pick was voided.

Infielder Frank Michael Verdi did not play for the Twins, but he was in their minor league system in 1961.  He was born in Brooklyn and signed with the Yankees as a free agent in 1946.  His minor league stats vary widely form one year to the next, with averages of over .300 mixed with averages in the .250s and .260s.  There were a lot more levels in the minors back then, so Verdi did not reach AAA until 1953.  He also made his big league debut that season, coming into a game on May 10 in the sixth inning as a defensive replacement.  He played one inning at shortstop, handling zero chances, and was pinch-hit for in the seventh.  That was the sum and substance of his major league career:  he never played in another big league game.  He was in the minors for several years after that, perhaps hoping for another chance at the majors or perhaps just enjoying making a living by playing baseball.  He was known for his ability to pull off the hidden ball trick, executing it successfully seven times in 1949.  He was in AAA most of that time.  He stayed with the Yankees through 1954, went to Kansas City in 1955-56, was with the Cubs toward the end of 1956, was with the Cardinals from 1957-59, then was signed by the then Washington franchise for 1960, playing for AAA Charleston.  He was still with the franchise when it moved to Minnesota in 1961, and spent the season with AAA Syracuse, not only playing but also managing the team.  He hit .287/.362/.308 in 195 at-bats as a reserve infielder and as a manager went 44-44.  That started him on a long career as a minor league manager.  He was the manager again in Syracuse in 1962 (it was no longer a Twins farm team that year), then went into the Yankees organization from 1963-1970, winning three league championships (two with AAA Syracuse).  He continued to manage (with a couple of years off) in the minors through 1985, winning another league championship with AAA Columbus in 1981.  He retired after the 1985 season, but came out of retirement in 1993 to manage the Sioux Falls Canaries in the Northern League from 1993-1995.  He was inducted into the International League Hall of Fame in 2008.  His son, Mike, also managed for several years in the minors.  Frank Verdi passed away from a heart attack on July 9, 2010 in New Port Richey, Florida.

There have been two major league players named “Jack O’Connor”; both of them were born on this day.  Left-hander Jack William O’Connor pitched for the Twins from 1981-1984.  He was born in Twenty-nine Palms, California, and went to high school in Yucca Valley, California.  He was drafted by Montreal in the ninth round in 1976.  He was in the Expos organization for five years.  O’Connor pitched mostly in Class A and did fairly well there, but did not do so well in brief trials at higher levels.  The Twins took a chance on him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1980 season and kept him in the majors all of 1981.  He was kept in the bullpen all season and did not get a lot of work, appearing in 28 games and pitching only 35.1 innings.  O’Connor started 1982 in the majors but was sent back to AAA after two scoreless innings.  He returned in early June and was in the starting rotation by July, staying there the rest of the season.  He wasn’t terrible, which is about as good as it got for the Twins’ rotation in 1982.  He began 1983 in the rotation, but after a couple of decent outings things fell apart for him, and he was in the bullpen by mid-May.  He was not much better there, went back to AAA for a couple of months, and did not do a lot better upon his return either.  O’Connor had an excellent year in the Toledo bullpen in 1984 and pitched well in two appearances in his September call-up.  By then, however, the Twins had given up on him, and after the season they traded him to Montreal for Mike Stenhouse.  He got about two months in the majors in 1985 with the Expos, had mediocre numbers, and was released the following March.  O’Connor signed with Seattle for 1986, pitched badly in AAA, and became a free agent after the season.  He signed with Baltimore for 1987 and battled his way back to the majors, spending nearly half the year with the Orioles.  His pitching in the majors was not significantly better, however, and O’Connor once again became a free agent after the season.  He signed with Toronto and was with AAA Syracuse for two years, not pitching badly but not getting another chance at the big time, either.  Jack O’Connor’s playing career came to an end after the 1989 season.  As a Twin, he was 13-14, 4.99 with a WHIP of 1.62.  He pitched 249 innings and made 80 appearances, 27 of them starts.  No information about Jack O’Connor’s life after the close of his playing career was readily available.

Infielder Kurt Thomas Abbott did not play for the Twins, but went to spring training with them in 2002.  He was born in Zanesville, Ohio, went to high school in St. Petersburg, Florida, and was drafted by Oakland in the fifteenth round in 1989.  He did not hit much until 1993, when he hit .319 with 12 homers and 11 triples for AAA Tacoma, numbers which got him a September call-up.  They also got him a trade, as he was sent to the Florida Marlins that off-season.  He was their mostly-regular shortstop the next two seasons and had a pretty good year in 1995, batting .255 with 17 homers in 420 at-bats.  It did not lead to any more playing time, however, as he became a frequently-used utility player over the next two seasons.  Abbott was traded to Oakland before the 1998 season and was traded again in early June, this time to Colorado.  He stayed with Colorado through the 1999 season and did pretty well as a part-time player, batting .273.  That was as good as it would get for him, though.  He became a free agent after the season and was a reserve infielder for the Mets in 2000, but batted only .217.  A free agent again, he signed with Atlanta for 2001 but missed most of the season with injuries.  The Twins signed Abbott for 2002, but he continued to be bothered by injuries and was released in spring training.  He played a few games in AAA for the Yankees that season and was in AAA for St. Louis in 2003, but then his playing career was over.  Kurt Abbott then became a deputy sheriff in Martin County, Florida.  Unfortunately, he was arrested in 2013 for DUI and was placed on administrative leave.  Its unclear whether he lost his job because of that or if he left for other reasons, but at last report, Kurt Abbott was a coach for Major League Players Academy in Stuart, Florida.

Right-hander Levi Jared Burton joined the Twins in 2012.  Born and raised in Westminster, South Carolina, he attended Western Carolina University and was drafted by Oakland in the eighth round in 2002.  A reliever most of his career, he struggled in the low minors, not reaching AA until 2006.  He reached the majors in 2007, however, and has been there for at least part of every season since.  It did not happen with the Athletics, though.  Instead, he was taken by Cincinnati in the Rule 5 draft after the 2006 season.  Pitching a limited number of innings, he was pretty good in 2007 and 2008, but not so good in 2009.  He battled injuries in 2010 and 2011, and was mostly in AAA when he was healthy enough to pitch.  He became a free agent after the 2011 season and signed with Minnesota.  He had an excellent year for the Twins in 2012, a not-as-excellent but still pretty good year in 2013, and did not pitch well, although he wasn't terrible, in 2014.  As a Twin Jared Burton was 8-16, 3.47, 1.16 WHIP in 192 innings (203 appearances).  He became a free agent after the 2014 season, signed with the Yankees, was released in spring training, re-signed with the Yankees three days later, was released in May, and signed with Texas.  He pitched well in twelve appearances for AAA Round Rock, but was released at the end of June, bringing his playing career to an end.  No information about what Jared Burton has done since then was readily available.

Right-hander Timothy James Stauffer appeared in thirteen games for the Twins in 2015.  He was born in Portland, Maine, went to high school in Saratoga Springs, New York, attended the University of Richmond, and was drafted by San Diego with the fourth pick of the 2003 draft.  A starter early in his career, he did very well in the low minors but struggled when he reached AAA.  He made his major league debut in 2005 but spent most of his time in AAA through 2007.  He missed the entire 2008 season, but came back in 2009 to pitch well in both the minors and the majors.  He spent most of 2010 pitching out of the San Diego bullpen and had an excellent season.  Returned to a starting role in 2011, he had another solid year.  He again missed most of 2012 with injury, but came back in 2013 to have a decent season in relief for the Padres.  He was not as good, but wasn't terrible, in the Padres bullpen in 2014.  A free agent after that season, he signed with Minnesota for 2015.  One suspects that he may still not have been healthy:  he missed a month due to injury, and when active he was pretty bad.  His numbers as a Twin were 1-0, 6.60, 2.07 WHIP in fifteen innings.  The Twins released him in mid-June, he signed with the Mets in August, continued to not pitch well, and became a free agent after the season.  He signed with Arizona for 2016 but was released at the end of spring training, ending his playing career.  There's a Tim Stauffer who's working in accounting for a construction company--it could not be determined for certain, but it appeared that it could be "our" Tim Stauffer.

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