Happy Birthday–June 24

Billy Nash (1865)
George Harper (1892)
Rollie Hemsley (1907)
Jim Mills (1919)
Wally Yonamine (1925)
Don Mincher (1938)
Ken Reitz (1951)
Doug Jones (1957)
Tom Klawitter (1958)
Doug Bernier (1980)
Phil Hughes (1986)

Jim Mills spent almost his entire adult life involved in baseball in the Carolinas.  He played college ball at North Carolina State, played minor league ball for nine seasons in the Carolinas, managed in Carolina minor leagues for six seasons, umpired in the Carolina League for two seasons, was in minor league front offices in the Carolinas from 1956-1971, and was president of the Carolina League for seven years.

Born in Hawaii, Wally Yonamine was a star in Japan from 1951-1962, stealing home eleven times.

First baseman Don Mincher played for the Twins from 1961-1966.  Born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, he was signed by the White Sox as a free agent in 1956.  He had a very good minor league record, batting over .300 twice and hitting over 20 homers three times.  Just before the 1960 season, Mincher was traded to Washington with Earl Battey and $150,000 for Roy Sievers, a trade which worked very well for the soon-to-be Minnesota Twins.  Mincher was given the first base job for Washington in 1960, but did not hit well and was back in the minors by mid-May.  He was with the new Minnesota Twins in 1961, but again did not hit and was back in the minors in late May.  Mincher finally made the majors to stay in 1962, but as the Twins also had Vic Power and Harmon Killebrew, he had a hard time getting playing time.  He appeared in 86 games, but 61 of them were as a pinch-hitter, as he played the field in only 25 contests.  Given his role, he did pretty well, hitting .240 with 9 homers for an OPS of .894.  He got into the field more in 1963, but still only batted 225 times, posting an OPS of .871.  By 1964 Power was gone, but Sam Mele chose to give Bob Allison substantial playing time at first base.  Mincher did get 65 starts and hit 23 homers in 287 at-bats, recording an OPS of .847.  Finally, in 1965, he got semi-regular status, sharing first base with Harmon Killebrew (Killebrew shifted to third when Mincher played).  Mincher finally got almost regular playing time in 1966, at age 28, but after the season was traded to California with Pete Cimino and Jimmie Hall for Dean Chance and a player to be named later (Jackie Hernandez).  He had a very good year for the Angels in 1967, hitting .273 (which was very good for 1967) with 25 homers and making his first all-star team.  He slumped in 1968, however, and was left unprotected in the expansion draft.  Seattle chose him, and he was easily their best offensive player, hitting 25 homers, again posting an OPS over .800, and making his second all-star team.  He was traded to Oakland after the season and had another solid year, but was again traded in May of 1971, this time to Washington.  He hit fewer homers as a Senator but had the highest batting average of his career, .291, and again had an OPS over .800.  That was his last good year; he got off to a poor start when the team moved to Texas in 1972, was traded to Oakland in July, and ended his career as he had started it, as a pinch-hitter.  As a Twin, Don Mincher hit .244/.340/.479.  There were reasons he didn’t play more, but one wonders what sort of numbers he might have posted if he had been given regular playing time in his mid-twenties.  Don Mincher remained in baseball after his playing career ended.  He became general manager and part-owner of the Huntsville Stars in the Southern League, holding those titles from 1994-2001.  At that point, he became president of the Southern League, a position he held until his death.  He was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.  Don Mincher passed away in Huntsville, Alabama on March 4, 2012.

Left-hander Tom Klawitter appeared in seven games for the Twins in 1985.  He was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin and attended Wisconsin-La Crosse.  Klawitter was drafted by the Dodgers in the nineteenth round in 1980.  He struggled in the Dodgers’ system, reaching AA in 1982 but never posting an ERA under four.  The Dodgers released him in May of 1983.  Minnesota picked him up and sent him to Class A Wisconsin Rapids, where he pitched fairly well the rest of the season.  Promoted to AAA for 1984, Klawitter continued to do fairly well, going 10-6, 3.59 with a 1.35 WHIP.  He made the Twins out of spring training in 1985; manager Billy Gardner would make a claw gesture to the bullpen when he wanted Klawitter in the game.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for very long, as his control, which had always been shaky, pretty much deserted him.  Klawitter made five relief appearances and two starts for the Twins.  He gave up seven runs on seven hits and thirteen walks in 9.1 innings.  The record is not clear about what happened to him after mid-May of 1985; Klawitter was no longer with the Twins, but he does not appear to have gone to the minors, either.  At any rate, he made six appearances for AA Knoxville in 1986, and then his playing career was over.  Tom Klawitter was a high school girls basketball coach in Janesville, Wisconsin for many years, winning three state championships and being named state coach of the year in 1993.  He retired in 2015 to become an assistant baseball coach at Wisconsin-Whitewater, a position he continues to hold.

Infielder Douglas Paul Bernier has played briefly for the Twins in 2013, 2014, and 2015.  Born and raised in Santa Maria, California, he attended Oral Roberts University and was signed by Colorado as a free agent in 2002.  He spent two years in high-A and two years in AA before getting to AAA Colorado Springs in 2007.  He had a couple of solid seasons there, but considering that it's Colorado Springs, his numbers were not all that impressive.  He appeared in two games for the Rockies in the middle of June, one as a defensive replacement and one as a starter, and went 0-for-4.  He then bounced around AAA for a while.  He became a free agent after the 2008 season and signed with the Yankees.  He had a poor year in 2009, moved to the Pittsburgh organization in 2010, continued to not hit much, moved back to the Yankees organization from 2011-2012, and signed with Minnesota for 2013.   He got called up to the majors in late July, batting .226/.339/.283 in 53 at-bats as a Twin.  He got a September call-up in 2014 and went 2-for-7 in seven games.  He was back in the majors briefly in 2015 also, going 1-for-5 in four games.  As a Twin, therefore, he hit .231/.351/.292 in 65 at-bats.  He became a free agent after the 2015 season and signed with Texas.  He was in AAA for two seasons, doing fairly well in 2016 but not as well in 2017.  He became a free agent after that season and did not sign with anyone, so one assumes his playing career is over.  He has founded Pro Baseball Insider, a website which provides instructional articles and videos on how to play baseball.

Right-hander Philip Joseph Hughes is in his first season as a Twin.  He was born in Mission Viejo, California, went to high school in Santa Ana, California, and was drafted by the Yankees in the first round in 2004.  He pitched very well throughout his minor league career, never posting a WHIP above 1.00, and reached the majors in 2007, making a couple of starts early in the season and coming up for good in August.  He was injured much of 2008 and when he came back in 2009 he found himself in the bullpen, as the Yankees preferred giving starts to Joba Chamberlain, Sergio Mitre, and Chien-Ming Wang.  He had an excellent year as a reliever and returned to the rotation in 2010, when he won 18 games and made the all-star team.  He again had injury troubles in 2011 but came back to pitch well in 2012.  He had what was easily the worst year of his career to that point in 2013 and the Yankees let him become a free agent.  He signed with Minnesota and had the best year as a starter he ever had, going 16-10, 3.52 and finishing seventh in the Cy Young balloting.  He didn't match that in 2015, but he was still fairly decent.  Since then, however, he has battled injuries and has been ineffective when he has pitched.  The Twins finally gave up on him in late May of 2018, trading him to San Diego for Janigson Villalobos.  He has made seven appearances for the Padres and at this writing is back on the disabled list.  As a Twin, he was 32-29, 4.43, 1.29 WHIP in 489.2 innings.  He turns thirty-two today.  He's young enough that he could pitch several more years if he could get and stay healthy, but sadly, that is looking more and more unlikely.

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