Happy Birthday–September 6

Oyster Burns (1864)
Red Faber (1888)
Tommy Thevenow (1903)
Johnny Lanning (1910)
Harry Danning (1911)
Vince DiMaggio (1912)
Hal Jeffcoat (1924)
Harry Dunlop (1933)
Fran Healy (1946)
Greg Olson (1960)
Roy Smith (1961)
Pat Meares (1968)
Derrek Lee (1975)
Micheal Nakamura (1976)
Jerry Blevins (1983)
Mitch Moreland (1985)
Tyler Austin (1991)

Harry Dunlop caught in the minors for fourteen years and was a coach for seventeen years.  He caught the minor league no-hitter in which Ron Necciai struck out twenty-seven batters and the back-to-back minor league no-hitters of Bill Bell.

We would also like to wish a happy anniversary to Mom and Dad MagUidhir.

Catcher Gregory William Olson appeared in three games for the Twins in 1989. He was born in Marshall, Minnesota, went to high school in Edina, Minnesota, attended the University of Minnesota, and was drafted by the Mets in the 7th round in 1982.  He should not be confused with pitcher Greggory William Olson, who also played for the Twins. The  G. W. Olson we’re dealing with here had not caught in high school, but was converted to catcher in college (oddly, he was moved from third base to catcher so Terry Steinbach could play third). He spent six years in the Mets’ minor-league system, usually as a part-time player, putting up offensive numbers that were not awful but that would not catch anyone’s attention, either. Olson became a six-year minor league free agent, and the Twins signed him after the 1988 season. He was in Portland for 1989, and did not do much on offense there either, hitting .235 in 247 at-bats. He was with the Twins for about a week from the end of June through the fourth of July, appearing in three games and going 1-for-2. The Twins let Olson go after the season, and he was signed by the Braves. He was a semi-regular for the Braves for four years. His best year was 1990 when he hit .262 in 298 at-bats and somehow made the all-star team. Released after the 1993 campaign, Olson signed with the Mets, but did not make it out of spring training. After his playing career ended, he became a manager for some independent league teams. Later, he got a real estate license.  At last report he was the general manager of Bearpath Golf & Country Club in Eden Prairie, Minnesota and was also a broker for Bearpath Realty.

Right-hander LeRoy Purdy Smith pitched for the Twins from 1986-1990. Born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, he attended Fordham University and was drafted by Philadelphia in the 3rd round of the 1979 draft. He did well early, spending a year in rookie and A ball, but after repeating AA he was traded after the 1982 season with two other players to Cleveland for John Denny. Smith was in AAA Charleston in 1983, and then split the next two years between AAA Maine and the Indians. After the 1985 campaign, he was traded with Ramon Romero to Minnesota for Bryan Oelkers and Ken Schrom. Smith was in AAA for most of the next three seasons, getting a brief call-up with Minnesota each year, before getting two full years in the majors in 1989 and 1990. Smith was in the starting rotation most of the time in those years, doing fairly well in 1989 and not as well in 1990. He became a free agent and signed with Baltimore for 1991. Smith split that year between Baltimore and AAA Rochester, was apparently out of baseball in 1992, and pitched in the Pittsburgh organization in 1993 before calling it a career. As a Twin, Smith was 19-18 with a 4.28 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 85 games, 54 of them starts. Roy Smith has spent time in the Dodgers’ and Pirates’ front office, including a stint as the interim general manager for the Pirates in 2001, and at last report was a scout for the New York Mets.

Shortstop Patrick James Meares played for the Twins from 1983-1988. He was born in Salina, Kansas, went to Wichita State, and was drafted in the 12th round by the Twins in 1990. He was rather up and down in his minor league career, but the Twins needed a shortstop after Greg Gagne became a free agent, and Meares got the job in 1993. His first three years, he somewhat shared the shortstop position with Jeff Reboulet, but he was the full-time regular for 1996-98. He did a solid job for the Twins, never making anyone’s all-star team but never being someone you looked to replace, either. He became a free agent after the 1998 season and signed with Pittsburgh, but had injury problems and never really panned out for them. His last game was in 2001; Meares was on the Pirates disabled list for two seasons after that. At one point, he filed a grievance, claiming that he was healthy enough to play, but the grievance was eventually dropped; by then, the Pirates apparently preferred to pay him to not play. As a Twin, Pat Meares batted .265/.301/.382 with 41 homers and 303 RBIs in 742 games.  He is a member of the Kansas Baseball Hall of Fame. At last report, it appeared that Pat Meares was living in Wichita, Kansas.

Sidearming reliever Micheal Yoshihide Nakamura appeared in twelve games for the Twins in 2003. He was born in Nara, Japan, went to high school in Melbourne, Australia, and was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1997. He apparently had some injury problems in the minors, as he had good numbers but not very many innings. He had a strong 2003 in Rochester and got a trial with the Twins that year, but did not do well in limited opportunities. He was with the Twins for nearly a month and went 0-0, 7.82, giving up 11 runs and 20 hits in 12.2 innings over 12 games. Nakamura was placed on waivers early in 2004 and was selected by Toronto with similar results: good numbers in AAA but no success in the majors. He left American baseball after the 2004 season for Japan, where he remained for the rest of his career. He spent three years with the Nippon Ham Fighters, moved on to the Yomiuri Giants in 2009, and then went to the Seibu Lions. He has dual citizenship with Japan and Australia (his father is Japanese and his mother is Australian), and has played for the Australian Olympic and WBC teams. He seems to have done well in Japan–he appears to have been injured in 2011, but pitched well in 2012.  He did well enough in Japan that he might have been able to get another shot at the majors, but he appears to have not been interested, and retired from playing after the 2012 season.  No information about what Mike Nakamura is doing now was readily available.

First baseman/outfielder Christopher Tyler Austin came up to the Twins in 2018.  Born and raised in Conyers, Georgia, he was drafted by the Yankees in the thirteenth round in 2010.  He hit really well in the low minors but struggled when he got to AA in 2013.  He did better when he repeated AA in 2014 but struggled again in AAA in 2015.  He put it together in 2016, though, batting .323/.415/.637 in 201 AAA at-bats.  He reached the majors for a couple of months in 2017 but was given very little chance to play, getting just forty at-bats.  He started 2018 as a part-time first baseman for the Yankees, hitting very well in April but not so well in May.  He was sent back to AAA in mid-June and was traded to Minnesota in late July with Luis Rijo for Lance Lynn and cash.  The Twins started him in Rochester but brought him to the majors in mid-August when Logan Morrison went on the disabled list.  He played regularly the rest of the season, mostly at DH.  He started 2019 with the Twins, but was traded to San Francisco in early April for Malique Ziegler.  He was a pinch-hitter/backup first baseman with the Giants, not playing much and not doing much when he did play.  He became a free agent in early August and signed with Milwaukee, for whom he plays a similar role.  As a Twin, Tyler Austin batted .236/.298/.488 with nine home runs in 141 plate appearances.  He turns twenty-eight today, so the clock is ticking.  If he's going to have a substantial major league career, he'd better get started now.

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