Happy Birthday–June 28

Ken Williams (1890)
Haruyasu Nakajima (1910)
A. Ray Smith (1915)
Oscar Rodriguez (1931)
Fred Gladding (1936)
Ron Luciano (1937)
Al Downing (1941)
Fred Talbot (1941)
Don Baylor (1949)
Chris Speier (1950)
Joe Sambito (1952)
Clay Christiansen (1958)
John Elway (1960)
Jay Schroeder (1961)
Mark Grace (1964)
Ron Mahay (1971)
Corey Koskie (1973)
Richard Hidalgo (1975)
Brandon Phillips (1981)

Haruyasu Nakajima is in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

A. Ray Smith owned minor league baseball teams from 1961-1986.

Oscar Rodriguez is in the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Ron Luciano was an American League umpire from 1969-1979.

NFL quarterbacks John Elway and Jay Schroeder each played minor league baseball.  Elway hit .318 in 151 at-bats as an outfielder for Class A Oneonta in 1982.  Schroeder was primarily an outfielder for four years in the Toronto system, never getting higher than Class A.  He hit .213 with 36 homers in 1,304 minor league at-bats.

Mark Grace was drafted by Minnesota in the fifteenth round of the January draft in 1984, but did not sign.

Outfielder Don Edward Baylor played in twenty games for the Twins in 1987 and also played in seven post-season games.  Born and raised in Austin, Texas, he was drafted in the second round by Baltimore in 1967.  He had a tremendous minor league record, hitting .310 or more every season and hitting 20 or more home runs in his last two seasons, both at AAA Rochester.  He also stole over twenty bases each of his last three minor league years.  Baylor got cups of coffee in the majors in 1970 and 1971 before making the big leagues for good at the start of the 1972 season.  He was a part-time player the first year, mostly regular in 1973, and a full time outfielder after that.  He remained with the Orioles through 1975, hitting around .280 with double digit homers and about 30 stolen bases every season.  His best year in Baltimore was his last one, when he hit .282 with 25 homers and 32 steals and finished twentieth in MVP voting.  Just before the 1976 season, Baylor was traded to Oakland in a multi-player deal which included Reggie Jackson and Mike Torrez.  He had a down year for Oakland, although he set a career high with 52 stolen bases, and became a free agent, signing with the Angels.  He stayed in California through 1982, gradually moving from the outfield to designated hitter.  He had some fine years for the Angels.  The best was 1979, when he led the league in both runs and RBIs, hit .296 with a career-high 36 homers and a career-high 71 walks, and won the Most Valuable Player award.  After the 1982 campaign, Baylor became a free agent and signed with the Yankees, staying there three seasons.  He had a couple of good years there, too, but entered into the decline phase of his career.  His last two years with the Yankees were the first of four consecutive seasons he led the league in getting hit by pitch (he led the league a total of eight times in his career).  He was traded to Boston in late March of 1986 for Mike Easler in a trade of aging DHs.  He was nothing special for the Red Sox, but was traded to the Twins for a player to be named later (Enrique Rios) just in time to be placed on the post season roster.  He hit .286/.397/.306 in 49 at-bats the rest of the way, but went 7-for-18 in the post-season with a home run in helping the Twins to their first World Series championship.  A free agent again after the season, he went to Oakland for the 1988 season, then retired.  Baylor has remained in major league baseball, serving as a coach for Milwaukee (1990-1991) and St. Louis (1992), as manager for Colorado (1993-1988), as a coach for Atlanta (1999), as manager for the Cubs (2000-2002), and as a coach for the Mets (2003-2004), Seattle (2005), Colorado (2009-2010), Arizona (2011-2013), and the Angels (2014-2015).  On opening day of 2014, he broke his right leg while catching the ceremonial first pitch of the game.  He was let go by the Angels after the 2015 season.  Don Baylor passed away on August 7, 2017 from plasma cell myeloma.

Shortstop Chris Edward Speier played 12 games for the Twins in 1984.  Born and raised in Alameda, California, he attended UC–Santa Barbara and was chosen by San Francisco with the second pick in the January Secondary draft in 1970.  He spent one year in AA, hitting .283 in Amarillo, and was the starting shortstop for the Giants in 1971 at age 20.  He made the all-star team in 1972, the first of three consecutive seasons in which he did so.  He remained the Giants’ starting shortstop through April of 1977.  He was a solid player for several years, but slumped in 1976.  When he did no better at the start of 1977 he was traded to Montreal.  He was the regular shortstop for the Expos through 1982.  He was never great offensively, but in his good years he would hit in the .250s or .260s.  He fell to part-time status in 1983, and when his offense collapsed in 1984 he was traded to St. Louis on July 1.  He hit no better there, but the Twins were desperate for a shortstop in 1984, so they acquired Speier for a player to be named later (Jay Pettibone) on August 19.  Unfortunately, Speier was injured much of his time with the Twins, playing in only twelve games.  He went 7-for-33 for a line of .212/.278/.212.  Speier became a free agent after the season.  He signed with the Cubs, hitting .260 over two seasons as a part-time player.  He then moved on to San Francisco, where he was a reserve infielder for three seasons before retiring.  Speier remained in baseball after his playing career ended.  He was a roving instructor for the Giants from 1990-1994, hitting coach for the Orlando Cubs in 1995, managed in the Arizona organization from 1996-1999, was a major league coach for Milwaukee in 2000, for Arizona in 2001, for Oakland in 2004, and for the Cubs in 2005-2006.  He was the bench coach for Cincinnati from 2007-2013, was a special assistant to the general manager for the Reds from 2014-2015, and was the bench coach for the Washington Nationals from 2016-2017.  He does not appear to be working in baseball in 2018 and one suspects he is retired.  His son, Justin Speier, was a major league pitcher from 1998-2009.

Right-hander Clay C. Christiansen did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system for part of 1986 and 1987.  Born in Wichita, Kansas, went to high school in Columbia, Kansas, attended the University of Kansas and was drafted by the Yankees in the fifteenth round in 1980.  He pitched well in the low minors, going up a level per year.  He won 16 games in back-to-back seasons at A and AA in 1981 and 1982.  He stumbled on his first try at AAA in 1983 but did better there in 1984, earning a promotion to the majors for about six weeks in mid-summer and then coming back as a September call-up.  A starter in the minors, he was used almost exclusively in relief in the majors and did not pitch well, going 2-4, 6.05, 1.60 WHIP in 38.2 innings (24 appearances, 1 start).  Those would turn out to be his career totals, as he never made it back to the majors.  He pitched well in AAA in 1985, but not well enough to get promoted, and the Yankees released him in June of 1986.  The Twins signed him and sent him to AAA, where he stayed until June of 1987 when he was traded to Houston for Eric Bullock.  B-r.com does not give his numbers just in the Twins’ organization, but he did not have a particularly good year either of those seasons.  He stayed in the Houston system until 1988, then his playing career came to an end.  At last report, Clay Christiansen was living in Olathe, Kansas and was working for Pepsi as an install driver for the vending department.

Left-handed reliever Ronald Matthew Mahay joined the Twins in late August of 2009 and stayed through 2010.  He was born in Crestwood, Illinois, went to high school in Palos Heights, Illinois, and was drafted by Boston in the eighteenth round in 1991.  He was drafted as an outfielder, remaining one through 1995.  His minor league batting record is nothing to shout about, but he still was brought up to the majors briefly in 1995, spending about a week as their starting center fielder.  He went 4-for-20 with a home run.  Mahay turned to pitching in 1996 and reached the majors as a pitcher in 1997.  He has been with several teams since then, and has frequently been sent back to the minors–he has only three full seasons in the major leagues.  He was with the Red Sox from 1997-1998, with Oakland from 1999-2000, with Florida in 2000, with the Cubs in 2001-2002, with Texas from 2003-2007, with Atlanta in 2007, and with Kansas City from 2008-2009.  In that span, he was waived once, sold once, released twice, traded once, and allowed to become a free agent twice.  In late August of 2009, he was released for the third time and signed with Minnesota.  He pitched pretty well as a Twin, going 2-1, 3.14, 1.19 WHIP in 43 innings (57 appearances).  He became a free agent after the 2010 season, signed with the Dodgers, was released in spring training, signed with Arizona, was released after a month in AAA, signed with the Cardinals in July, for whom he also pitched in AAA, and was released in August.  He signed with Cincinnati for 2012, was again in AAA, and was released in mid-May.  He did not sign with anyone and announced his retirement in January of 2013.  He had a pretty solid career, though, lasting fourteen major league seasons.  He never pitched more than 67 innings in a season, leading to season ERAs as low as 1.86 and as high as 8.59.  At last report, Ron Mahay was a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Third baseman Cordel Leonard Koskie played for the Twins from 1998-2004.  He was born in Anola, Manitoba and went to high school in Outbank, Manitoba.  He attended Des Moines Area Community College and Kwantlen University College of Surrey, British Columbia before being drafted by the Twins in the twenty-sixth round in 1994.  He advanced through the minors about one level per season and did pretty well, hitting over .300 twice and topping twenty home runs twice.  He got a September call-up in 1998 and in 1999 was the Twins’ semi-regular third baseman, sharing time with Ron Coomer.  By 2000 he was the Twins’ regular third baseman and remained in that role through 2004.  He was solid there, posting an OPS in the low to mid 800s every season.  His best year is generally considered to be 2001, when he scored 100 runs, hit 26 homers, and drove in 103 runs.  In fact, though, his OPS then was not particularly better than in any other year; his higher numbers are at least partly due to the fact that he played 153 games that season.  He became a free agent after the 2004 season and his career went almost straight down hill.  He signed with Toronto, suffered through an injury-plagued 2005, and was traded to Milwaukee for Brian Wolfe in the off-season.  Koskie was playing well for the Brewers in 2006 when he suffered a concussion in early July.  He never really recovered from it, at least not in a baseball sense.  He tried to play in the 2009 World Baseball Classic and in spring training with the Cubs that year.  He convinced himself that he could still play, but could not convince himself that it was worth risking further injury, and opted to retire. He operated a couple of Planet Fitness clubs in the Twin Cities area for several years, but eventually decided it wasn't worth the hassle and sold them in January of 2016.  He is involved in a number of charitable and community projects, including the Minnesota Twins Community Fund and the Positive Coaching Alliance.

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