Happy Birthday–August 4

Jake Beckley (1867)
Dolf Luque (1890)
Chick Galloway (1896)
Ski Melillo (1899)
Bill Hallahan (1902)
George Caster (1907)
Tuck Stainback (1911)
Luke Easter (1915)
Don Kolloway (1918)
Dallas Green (1934)
Frank Kostro (1937)
Ray Oyler (1938)
Cleon Jones (1942)
Johnny Grubb (1948)
Roger Clemens (1962)
B. J. Surhoff (1964)
Matt Merullo (1965)
Troy O’Leary (1969)
Bob Howry (1973)
Eric Milton (1975)
Scott Linebrink (1976)
Josh Roenicke (1982)
Jason Adam (1991)

While this is an incredible day for names, it should be pointed out that none of these players was listed here because of his name.  In fact, each of them had a substantial baseball career.

Infielder/outfielder Frank Jerry Kostro played for the Twins from 1964-65 and 1967-1969.  He was born in Windber, Pennsylvania, went to high school in Pittsburgh, and signed with Detroit as a free agent in 1956.  He was generally a high-average hitter without a lot of power in the minors.  He hit .332 at Class D Jamestown in 1956, then settled in as a guy who would hit about .270-.290 at pretty much every level.  He broke out of that in 1962, when he hit .321 with 13 homers and 97 RBIs for AAA Denver.  He got a September call-up that year, and started 1963 in the majors with Detroit.  He saw most of his time as a reserve third baseman, but also played some at first and both corner outfield positions.  He was traded to the Angels at mid-season, where the same pattern continued.  He began 1964 in AAA, where he was hitting .344 when he was traded to Minnesota as part of a three-team trade (including Cleveland) in which the Twins acquired Kostro and Jerry Kindall in exchange for Lenny Green and Vic Power.  The Twins often used him as a pinch-hitter; when he did play, he was all over the diamond, playing third, second, first, left, and right.  He did well with his limited opportunities in 1964, hitting .272 in 103 at-bats, but in 1965 he hit just .161 in 31 at-bats and was sent back to the minors in mid-June.  He stayed there through the 1966 season, continuing to hit well at AAA.  He started 1967 at AAA as well, but was brought up in mid-June after hitting .369 there.  He still did not get to play, however, batting only 31 times the rest of the season.  1968 was Kostro’s only full season in the majors, but he still got only 108 at-bats.  He was back in AAA the next season, hit .311, but only got two major league at-bats in a September call-up.  His American playing career ended after that season, although he played in Japan in 1970.  As a Twin, he hit .251/.292/.331 in 275 at-bats spread over five seasons.  He hit .311 in ten AAA seasons; one has to think he could have helped a major league team if he’d been given a chance to play.  Frank Kostro is the owner of Kostro Insurance of Denver, is active in baseball alumni events, and is also an accomplished handball player.

Catcher Matthew Bates Merullo played for the Twins in 1995.  He came from a baseball family:  his grandfather, Lennie Merullo, was a shortstop for the Cubs in the 1940s and his father, Boots Merullo, played in the Pittsburgh organization.  Matt was born in Winchester, Massachusettes, attended the University of North Carolina, and was drafted by the White Sox in the seventh round in 1986.  He hit for good averages in the minors, although without much power.  He was promoted from AA in 1988 to the majors in1989, backing up Carlton Fisk, but was sent back to the minors after two months.  He continued to hit well in AA and made it back to the majors at the start of the 1991 season, again backing up Fisk but also acting as a reserve first baseman.  He played a similar role in 1992, but was sent back to the minors in mid-June when he was hitting only .180.  He mostly stayed in AAA through 1994, getting only brief call-ups to the majors.  He hit very well there, batting .332 in 1993 and .300 in 1994, with twelve home runs each season.  The latter of those seasons was in the Cleveland organization, to whom he was traded on March 30, 1994.  He became a free agent after that season and signed with Minnesota.  He stayed with the Twins for all of the 1995 season, backing up Matt Walbeck and making a few appearances at DH.  He had his best major league season for the Twins, hitting .285/.333/.379 in 195 at-bats.  The Twins did not retain him, however, and he was back in AAA in 1996, playing in the Cubs and Angels organizations.  His playing career came to an end after that season.  Matt Merullo operated Pro Advantage Baseball in Connecticut through 2008.  He was an area scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks and from 2013-2015 was a manager in the low minors of the Orioles organization.  At last report, he was the owner of mattmerullobaseball.com, offering personal instruction, evaluation, and guidance for all levels of baseball players.

Left-hander Eric Robert Milton played for the Twins from 1998-2003.  He was born in State College, Pennsylvania, went to high school in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, then attended the University of Maryland.  He was drafted by the Yankees in the first round in 1996.  He had a good season in the minors in 1997, split between A and AA, then was traded to Minnesota with Brian Buchanan, Cristian Guzman, Danny Mota, and cash for Chuck Knoblauch.  The Twins immediately put him into their starting rotation, where he stayed for five seasons.  After a rough rookie year he settled in as a decent, unspectacular starting pitcher, generally pitching around 200 innings and posting ERAs in the mid-fours.  He threw a no-hitter in 1999.  He had very good WHIPs and did not walk very many, but was susceptible to the home run.  He won fifteen games in 2001 and made the all-star team, but was not all that much better that season than in any other.  Milton missed most of 2003 due to injury, making only three starts in September.   After that season, he was traded to Philadelphia for Nick Punto, Carlos Silva, and a player to be named later (Bobby Korecky).  As a Twin, Eric Milton was 57-51, 4.76, 1.29 WHIP.  He appeared in 166 games, all but one a start, and worked 987.1 innings.  He was in Philadelphia for one season and pitched about the same as he had for the Twins, although due to the ballpark he gave up even more home runs.  A free agent after the season, he signed with Cincinnati, where he played for three seasons.  Things did not go well for Milton as a Red; again, the small ballpark apparently hurt him.  He suffered an elbow injury in 2007, missed all of 2008, and came back with the Dodgers in 2009, making five starts before missing the rest of the year with a herniated disk.  He went unsigned for 2010 and his playing career came to an end.  He became an assistant baseball coach at the University of Maryland in September of 2011 and was named the interim head coach in late June of 2012 when the team’s head coach took another job.  He did not hold the position long, however, as a new head coach was named in mid-July.  At last report, Eric Milton was the baseball coach of Severna Park High School in Severna Park, Maryland.

Right-hander Joshua James Roenicke pitched for the Twins in 2013.  He is the son of Gary Roenicke and the nephew of Ron Roenicke.  He was born in Baltimore, went to high school in Grass Valley, California, attended UCLA, and was drafted by Cincinnati in the tenth round in 2006.  A reliever from the start of his pro career, he moved up quickly and made his major league debut with the Reds in September of 2008.  He spent the next three years bouncing between AAA and the majors, but most of it was not with Cincinnati.  He was traded to Toronto at the July deadline in 2009 in a deal involving Scott Rolen.  He was in the Blue Jays organization until June of 2011, when he was placed on waivers and selected by Colorado.  He appeared in 59 major league games from 2009-2011 but pitched only 66.2 innings.  In 2012 Roenicke finally got his first full major league season and did okay, posting an ERA of 3.25 (although with a WHIP of 1.44) in 88.2 innings.  He was waived after the season and claimed by Minnesota.  He spent the entire season with the Twins but really didn't get a whole lot accomplished, putting up an ERA of 4.38 with a WHIP of 1.60 in 62 innings (63 games).  He was a free agent after the season and signed with Washington.  He spent 2014 with AAA Syracuse, where he did not find much success.  A free agent, he signed with Milwaukee and has spent 2015 with AAA Colorado Springs, for whom he continued to not pitch well.  He did not give up, though, and signed with the Angels for 2016.  He pitched well for them, but he spent the season at AA.  In 2017 he pitched in the Mexican League and did well there, too.  He pitched in winter ball last year and appears to be pitching in China in 2018.  His major league career numbers are 8-3, 2 saves, 4.17 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and one suspects those will remain his career numbers.  But given how long he's hung around, it would not be surprising if he becomes a pitching coach at some point.

Right-hander Jason Kendall Adam did not play for the Twins, but was in their organization briefly in 2014.  Born and raised in Overland Park, Kansas, he was drafted in the fifth round by Kansas City in 2010.  He struck out a good number of guys and didn't walk too many, but otherwise his minor league numbers are not particularly impressive.  He reached AA in 2013 and made eight appearances in AAA in 2014, but was still in AA for most of the season.  On August 11 of 2014 he was traded to the Twins for Josh Willingham.  He made two appearances for AA New Britain, going 0-0, 5.14 in seven innings.  He then was injured, having some sort of elbow problem that was either mis-diagnosed or was just a lot more serious than people realized.  He missed all of 2015 and 2016, but he did not quit, and he signed with San Diego for 2017.  He made just eight minor league appearances for them, however, and was released in mid-August.  The Royals signed him five days later and he finished out the season in AA.  In 2018 he appears to finally be healthy again.  He made six appearances in AA, six more in AAA, and made his major league debut on August 5.  He remains in the Kansas City bullpen at this writing.  He is 0-3, 5.81, 1.41 WHIP, so it hasn't exactly been a fairy tale ending for him.  Still, he's gone through a lot just to get this far.  He turns twenty-seven today.  I don't know what the future holds for him, but I'm pretty sure that no matter what happens, he's not going to give up.

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