Happy Birthday–August 5

Hiraoka Hiroshi (1856)
Pepper Bassett (1919)
Bill Pleis (1937)
Dwight Siebler (1937)
Tommie Aaron (1939)
Nelson Briles (1943)
Bernie Carbo (1947)
Rick Mahler (1953)
Dave Rozema (1956)
Steve Gasser (1967)
John Olerud (1968)
Carlos Pulido (1971)
John Wasdin (1972)
Bobby Kielty (1976)
Eric Hinske (1977)
Mark Mulder (1977)
Carl Crawford (1981)

Hiraoka Hiroshi is considered the father of Japanese Baseball.

Catcher Pepper Bassett was a seven-time all-star in the Negro Leagues.

Right-hander Steve Gasser did not play for the Twins, but was in their minor league system for four years before being traded to the Mets in the Wally Backman deal.  A second round draft choice, he did not play in the major leagues.

William Pleis pitched for the Twins from 1961-1966.  He was born in St. Louis, went to high school in Kirkwood, Missouri, and started in professional baseball with then-independent Orlando in the Florida State Leauge.  He was traded to the Washington organization in mid-August for $250 plus two players.  He appears to have remained the Senators’ property throughout his minor league career, despite the fact that he played for teams in the Cubs and Red Sox organization as well as for independent Memphis.  He did not play for Washington, but was an original Twin, making the team out of spring training in 1961 at the age of 23.  He spent part of 1961 and 1962, all of 1963-1965, and part of 1966 with them, mostly in relief.  His ERA got lower in each of his six seasons with the Twins, going from a high of 4.95 to a low of 1.93.  He never pitched more than 68 innings in a season.  In his last years, he was essentially a LOOGY before anyone knew what a LOOGY was.  For his career, all with Minnesota, he appeared in 190 games, ten of them starts, but worked only 280.2 innings.  He was 21-16 with 13 saves and a 4.07 ERA.  The Twins let him go after the 1966 season.  He spent two more years at AAA, one for Washington and one for Boston, but never made it back to the big leagues.  His nickname was “Shorty”, despite the fact that at 5’10″ he was not particularly short for his era.  He scouted for the Dodgers for several years before retiring.  At last report, Bill Pleis was living in Parrish, Florida.

Dwight Leroy Siebler pitched for the Twins from 1963-1967.  He was born in Columbus, Nebraska, went to high school in Omaha, attended the University of Nebraska, and signed with  Philadelphia as a free agent in 1958.  While his minor league records are incomplete, those that exist show that he pitched pretty well in the Phillies’ system.  Philadelphia gave up on him, though, and in August of 1963 he was sold to Minnesota.  Siebler pitched for at least part of the next five seasons for the Twins.  He was used primarily as a starter in AAA, but pitched mostly in relief for the Twins.  He was going to be the Twins’ fourth starter in 1964, but the Twins decided he needed to change his delivery, which caused his curve ball not to break very well, and he was sent back to AAA.  He pitched quite well in AAA, going 11-7, 3.37 for Denver in 1965, but got only limited chances with the Twins, never appearing in more than nine games in a season except for 1966.  That was his only full season in the majors, and even though he was with the team all year he was seldom used, appearing in 23 games and working only 49.2 innings.  He was back in the minors in 1967, appearing in only two more games for the Twins.  He did pretty well in the majors in the chances he got:   his record in the majors, all for the Twins, was 4-3 with 1 save and a 3.45 ERA in 117.1 innings.  Siebler asked for a trade, but the Twins refused to trade him, so he retired after the season.  After leaving baseball, he moved to Gretna, Nebraska where he worked in the family’s heating and air conditioning business, and where, according to wikipedia, he “raised a small village of children”.  He also became an accomplished bowler, rolling at least one 300 game.  He lived in semi-retirement in Gretna for several years, helping in the heating and air conditioning business a couple of days a week.  At last report, however, it appeared that Dwight Siebler had moved to Omaha.

Left-hander Juan Carlos (Valera) Pulido pitched for the Twins in 1994, then again from 2003-2004.  Born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, he was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1989 at the age of 17.  He pitched very well in the low minors, and had good won-lost records in the higher minors, although his ERAs there were not particularly good.  He spent all of 1994 with the Twins, going 3-7 with a 5.98 ERA in 19 games, 14 of them starts, before being injured in early August.  He was back in AA in 1995, again having a good won-lost record but a poor ERA, and then was released.  He was in AAA for the Cubs in 1996, the Expos in 1997, and the Mets in 1998 before getting released. He played for an independent team in the Atlantic League the rest of 1998 and in 1999, went to Japan from 2000-2001, and pitched in Mexico in 2002.  He was signed by the Twins again after the 2002 season and had a fine year in Rochester in 2003, getting called up to the big club in late August.  He started 2004 with the Twins, but did not do well; he was sent to AAA in late April and was allowed to become a free agent after the seaon.  For his career, he appeared in 32 games with the Twins, 15 of them starts.  He was 3-8 with a 5.98 ERA in 111.1 innings.  He spent two more years in the Mexican League before his playing career came to an end.  He may not have had a long career, but one has to admire his tenacity.  He holds the record for longest gap in major league service time, with the exception of Satchel Paige and Minnie Minoso who made brief returns as publicity stunts.  He was the pitching coach of the AZL Rangers’ organization in 2007.  It appears that Carlos Pulido may be living in the Miami area, but this could not be confirmed.

Outfielder Robert Michael Kielty played for the Twins from 2001-2003.  He was born in Fontana, California, went to high school in Moreno Valley, California, and attended USC, Riverside Community college, and the University of Mississippi.  He was signed by Minnesota as a free agent in 1999.  He had some decent years in the minors, putting up double digit home runs every season.  He was with Minnesota for roughly half of the 2001 season, then came up to stay in 2002.  He was with the Twins until the middle of 2003, generally sharing time with Dustan Mohr in right field, though he also served as a reserve center fielder.  He was traded to Toronto in July of 2003 for Shannon Stewart and a player to be named later (Dave Gassner).  As a Twin, he hit .269/.375/.444 in 631 at-bats.  He spent the rest of 2003 with Toronto, and then was traded to Oakland for Ted Lilly.  He had a poor year in 2004, but bounced back nicely to put up solid numbers in 2005 and 2006 as a part-time player.  He did not do well in 2007, however, and was released by Oakland at the end of August.  He signed with Boston, finished the season there as a reserve, and that was the last he played in the major leagues.  Kielty started 2008 in AAA with the Red Sox, was released in mid-July, and signed back with the Twins to finish out the season in Rochester.  He signed with the Mets for 2009, was sent to AAA Buffalo, was released in late June, and his playing career appeared to be over.  There was a report in February of 2010 that he was going to try to come back as a pitcher, but nothing seems to have come of it.  In 2011, however, he came back as an outfielder, signing with San Diego.  He spent time on the disabled list but played well at AAA when healthy.  He was with York in the Atlantic League in 2012, but batted only .221 and decided to call it quits.  He spent parts of seven years in the big leagues, though, getting over two thousand plate appearances, which isn't bad for a part-time player.  Bobby Kielty and his wife are currently the owners of Kielty Realty in Canyon Lake, California.

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