Happy Birthday–January 29

Ray Hayworth (1904)
Pancho Coimbre (1909)
Bill Rigney (1918)
Hank Edwards (1919)
Frank Gravino (1923)
Bobby Bolin (1939)
Sergio Ferrer (1951)
Steve Sax (1960)
Mike Aldrete (1961)
John Habyan (1964)
Jason Schmidt (1973)
Alex Avila (1987)

Pancho Coimbre was a star in the Caribbean Leagues and the Negro leagues in the 1940s.  Roberto Clemente said that Coimbre was a better player than Clemente was.  Coimbre played two full seasons in the Puerto Rican League in which he did not strike out.

Frank Gravino played in the minors from 1940-1942 and 1946-1954.  He has been called the greatest slugger in Northern League history, hitting 108 home runs in two seasons there.

We would also like to wish a very happy birthday to Beau's son.

William Joseph Rigney managed the Twins for approximately two and a half seasons from 1970-1972.  Born in Alameda, California, Rigney went to high school in Oakland.  He entered organized baseball in 1938, playing shortstop for various minor-league teams, mostly on the west coast.  As the farm system had not been fully developed yet, most of these teams were independent teams.  He went into the military after the 1942 season, serving in the Coast Guard, and did not return to baseball until 1946.  When he returned, it was in the majors--Rigney was a mostly regular infielder for the New York Giants, playing primarily at third base.  He spent his entire major league career with the Giants, a career which spanned eight seasons.  His best years were 1947-1949, when he averaged .271 and averaged 11 homers per season.  Rigney was primarily a second baseman the first two of those years, playing more shortstop in 1949.  He never was quite a full time player, playing between 110 and 130 games per season.  In 1950 he was replaced at shortstop by Alvin Dark, and became a reserve for the next four seasons.  After his major league career ended, he became the player-manager of the Minneapolis Millers from 1954-1955.  He became manager of the Giants in 1956, replacing Leo Durocher, and went to San Francisco with the club.  He was the first manager of the Angels, running the team from 1961-1969, and then became manager of Minnesota.  He won the division with the Twins in 1970, their second consecutive division title, but the team fell apart in 1971 and he was fired mid-way through the 1972 season.  He managed the Giants again in 1976.  Rigney also did some broadcasting for both the Giants and the Athletics, did some scouting, and worked in the Athletics' front office.  He was inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 1994.  Bill Rigney passed away on February 20, 2001, in Walnut Creek, California.

Infielder Sergio (Marrero) Ferrer played for Minnesota briefly from 1974-1975.  He was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico, and signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in 1970.  He was quite small (5'7", 145 lbs), but hit for a good average with a pretty fair number of walks in the low minors.  His numbers dropped when he was promoted to AA in 1973 at age 22, and he was left unprotected after the season.  The Twins selected Ferrer in the Rule 5 draft.  He began 1974 as Minnesota's starting shortstop and did quite well, batting .313 for the first month of the season.  Oddly, he started only two more games after that, being replaced at shortstop first by Jerry Terrell and then by Danny Thompson.  He was still batting .281 when he was sent back to the minors in late May.  He had a good year in AAA, and was back with the Twins at the start of 1975.  He was their starting shortstop again for about three weeks and didn't do all that badly, but he again lost the job to Thompson and was back in the minors by early June.  After the season, Ferrer was traded to Philadelphia for Larry Cox.  He was in AAA for the Phillies in 1976 and was traded to the Yankees after the season, spending 1977 playing at AAA for them.  After that season he was traded to the Mets and pretty much stopped hitting.  Ferrer was in the big leagues for most of the 1978 season, but was used exclusively as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, appearing in only 37 games and getting only 33 at-bats.  He was back at AAA for 1979, getting only a September call-up.  Ferrer hung on in AAA through 1981, finishing his career in the Cincinnati organization.  As a Twin, Sergio Ferrer hit .261/.322/.326 in 138 at-bats.  He played in the Seniors League in 1989.  I found an article from April of 2018 that stated he was coaching Little League baseball, but the article did not indicate where.

Catcher Alexander Thomas Avila signed with the Twins for the 2020 season.  He was born in Hialeah, Florida, went to high school in Southwest Ranches, Florida, attended the University of Alabama, and was drafted by Detroit in the fifth round in 2008.  He played fifty-eight games in Class A that year, went to AA in 2009, and made his major league debut in August of 2009.  He was up and down in his early years with the Tigers, posting an OPS of .965 in 2009, .656 in 2010, ,895 in 2011, and .736 in 2012.  He then went into a prolonged down phase, at least at the plate, staying below a .700 OPS through 2015.  A free agent after that season, he went to the White Sox but took his hitting woes with him.  Returning to Detroit in 2017 he bounced back, batting .274 with an OPS of .869.  He was traded to the Cubs at the July deadline, then signed with Arizona and played for the Diamondbacks from 2018-2019.  A free agent again, he signed with Minnesota for 2020.  Even in his good years he was rarely a full-time catcher, topping four hundred at-bats only once, in 2011.  He also made his only all-star appearance that season.  He draws a good number of walks and has a little power, swatting double-digit home runs four times.  His career numbers are .235/.348/.396 in 3465 plate appearances (995 games).   He turns thirty-three today.  He will presumably share catching duties with Mitch Garver in 2020.