Happy Birthday–August 31

Dad Clarkson (1866)
Duke Farrell (1866)
Red Ehret (1868)
Monte Cross (1869)
Eddie Plank (1875)
Sarge Connally (1898)
Ray Berres (1907)
Ray Dandridge (1913)
Danny Litwhiler (1916)
Frank Robinson (1935)
Boots Day (1947)
Claudell Washington (1954)
Tom Candiotti (1957)
Von Hayes (1958)
Mike Hartley (1961)
Pat Howell (1968)
Hideo Nomo (1968)
Tim Raines (1979)
Ramon Santiago (1979)
Armando Gabino (1983)
John Hicks (1989)

Ray Dandridge is considered by some to be the greatest Negro League third baseman.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to brianS’ son.

Pitcher Michael Edward Hartley played for the Twins in 1993.  He was born in Hawthorne, California, went to high school in El Cajon, California, attended East Carolina University, and was signed as a free agent by the Cardinals in 1981. He had a good year in rookie ball in 1982, but then spent the next four years at Class A before being drafted by the Dodgers in the minor league draft. They started him at Class A in 1987, but advanced him to AA and then pitched him in two games in AAA that year. Hartley split 1988 between AA and AAA. In 1989, after an excellent year at AAA Albuquerque, he earned a September call-up with the Dodgers, and had a fine year for them in 1990, pitching mostly in relief. The Dodgers traded Hartley to Philadelphia mid-way through the 1991 season, and after a year and a half there, he was traded to the Twins for David West. Hartley was not awful as a long reliever for the Twins in 1993, pitching in 53 games, all in relief, and going 1-2 with an ERA of 4.00 and a WHIP of 1.51 in 81 innings. He became a free agent at the end of the season and signed with the Angels, but was sold to the Chiba Lotte Marines three days later. After pitching in Japan in 1994, Hartley returned to the United States and signed with the Red Sox organization, spending most of 1995 in the minors but making five appearances with Boston and three with Baltimore, who signed him after he was released by the Red Sox. He played independent ball in 1997, and later got into coaching. He was the pitching coach for the Reno Silver Sox from 2005-2007, making one appearance for them in 2005. From 2008-2010 Mike Hartley was a coach and part-time pitcher for a German professional team, the Heidenheim Heidekopfe, becoming the first former big-leaguer to play in Germany.  He managed the Croatian national team in 2011, was manager of Grosseto in the Italian Baseball League in 2012, moved back to Heidenheim for the 2013-2014 seasons, and was the pitching coach for the Dutch National team from 2015-2016, and at last report was a coach for the OC Scorpions, a baseball instructional program in Orange County, California.

Outfielder Patrick O’Neal Howell did not play for the Twins, but was in spring training with them in 1991 and in their minor league system in 1993.  He was born in Mobile, Alabama, attended high school in Prichard, Alabama, and was drafted by the Mets in the ninth round in 1987.  A speedy outfielder with no power, he advanced slowly up the Mets’ system, playing in rookie ball for two years and Class A for two more.  His best season at that point had been in Class A in 1989, when he hit .290 (with a .346 slugging percentage).  The Twins thought they saw something in him, though, and took him in the Rule 5 draft after the 1990 season.  The Twins clearly wanted to keep him, but simply could not justify leaving him on the major league roster, and on April 5 returned him to the Mets.  He reached AA that season and AAA in 1992, and while he neither hit nor walked much he stole a lot of bases, including 64 of them in 1991.  The Mets even called him up for about two months in 1992 and used him as a reserve outfielder.  He did about what you’d expect from his minor league record:  .187/.218/.200 in 75 at-bats.  The Twins still liked him, though, and after the 1992 season they traded Darren Reed for him.  They sent him to AAA Portland, and while he stole 36 bases he hit .209 with an OPS of .505, which was enough to finally convince the Twins that there was nothing there.  He went back to the Mets for 1994, played in Mexico from 1995-1997, to Taiwan in 1998, and then played in independent leagues for eight seasons before finally ending his playing career after the 2004 season.  At last report, Pat Howell had returned to the Mobile area and was working with baseball clinics there.

The son of the all-star, outfielder Timothy Raines Jr. was in spring training with the Twins for a couple of weeks in 2006.  He was born in Memphis, went to high school in Sanford, Florida, and was drafted by Baltimore in the sixth round in 1998.  His minor league record is rather unimpressive, but after hitting .274 for three minor league teams in 2001 he got a September call-up and appeared in seven games.  In 2003, still only twenty-three years old, he hit .304 in a season split between AA and AAA and was called up to the Orioles in late August, playing in twenty more games.  He had three stints in the majors in 2004, totalling roughly half the season, hitting .255 in 94 at-bats.  He had a down year in 2005 in AAA Ottawa, hitting .254, and became a free agent after the season.  He signed with the Twins as a free agent on January 31, 2006, but was released on March 2.  He bounced around after that, going to the Washington organization in 2006, Houston in 2007, Arizona in 2008, and Kansas City in 2009, spending time both in AA and AAA but never making it back to the majors.  He also played briefly in Taiwan.  He played in the Atlantic League in 2010 and moved to Newark of the Can-Am League for 2011, where he was managed by his father.  Tim Raines, Jr. was a coach for Newark in 2012, with his father becoming director of player development.  At last report, he was the batting coach for the Aberdeen Ironbirds, a short-season team in the Baltimore organization.

Right-hander Armando Leisdeker (Garcia) Gabino made two appearances for the Twins in 2009.  He was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and signed with Cleveland as a free agent in 2001.  He may have spent a couple of years in the Dominican Summer League or something, because his official minor league statistics do not begin until 2004, when he pitched five games in the Appalachian League.  He came to the Twins organization the following year in the minor league draft. He had a poor 2005, but has pitched well in the minors since, posting a 2.94 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in AAA Rochester in 2009. He has been predominantly a relief pitcher in the minors, making only 13 starts in 176 minor-league appearances.  He made one start and one relief appearance for the Twins, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing seven runs on nine hits and five walks.  The Twins placed Gabino on waivers after the season and he was claimed by Baltimore.  He has spent most of the 2010 season at AAA Norfolk but made five appearances for the Orioles, again allowing seven runs on nine hits, but this time in 4.2 innings.  He has had a fine year for Norfolk, however, posting a 2.09 ERA in 77.1 innings.  He continued to pitch well in the minors for the Orioles in 2011, but did not gotten a shot back in the majors.  He was a free agent after the season, but no major league team signed him.  He did not give up, though, pitching in the Mexican League in 2012 and in the Atlantic League in 2013.  He signed with Camden of the Atlantic League for 2014 but was placed on the inactive list in mid-April and does not appear to have pitched for them.  His playing career came to an end at that point.  Armando Gabino was a pitching coach for the Eugene Emeralds in the Cubs organization at last report.

Catcher John Austin Hicks did not play for the Twins, but he was in AAA for them briefly in 2016.  He was born in Richmond, Virginia, went to high school in Goochland, Virginia, attended the University of Virginia, and was drafted by Seattle in the fourth round in 2011.  He moved up one level at a time, playing in low-A in 2011, high-A in 2012, and AA in 2013.  He struggled at the plate in 2013, but did well when he repeated it in 2014.  He also had a month in AAA that season and also did well in the Arizona Fall League.  He struggled when he went to AAA in 2015, but still went to the bigs at the end of August.  He went just 2-for-32 with the Mariners and was waived after the season.  The Twins claimed him and sent him to Rochester for 2016, but he was waived after playing just nine games there and was claimed by Detroit.  He had a solid year in AAA for them, batting .303. and got into one major league game in September, going 1-for-2.  He spent most of 2017 with the Tigers and got increased playing time, to the point where he became more-or-less a regular, both catching and playing first base.  He had a solid season, batting .266 with an OPS of .766.  He started 2018 as a part-time catcher, but became the regular first baseman when MIguel Cabrera went down.  He was nothing special there but did okay, batting .260 with an OPS of .715, but went on the disabled list in early August and is out for the season.  He turns twenty-nine today.  He was brought along very slowly, so there was apparently something about him teams didn't like (possibly defense, but that's just speculation).  When he's finally gotten a chance, though, he's done okay, batting .251/.304/.398 in 495 at-bats.  He'll never be a star, and he may never again be a regular, but as a catcher who can also play first base it seems likely he'll be on a major league roster somewhere in 2019 if he's healthy.