Happy Birthday–February 19

John Morrill (1855)
Dick Siebert (1912)
Hub Kittle (1917)
Russ Nixon (1935)
Dave Niehaus (1935)
Jackie Moore (1939)
Walt Jocketty (1951)
Dave Stewart (1957)
Keith Atherton (1959)
Alvaro Espinoza (1962)
Miguel Batista (1971)
Juan Diaz (1974)
Chris Stewart (1982)

Hub Kittle’s baseball career spanned 68 years.  In 1980, he became the oldest player to appear in organized baseball, pitching a perfect inning for AAA Springfield on August 27 at age 63½.

Jackie Moore is a long-time major league coach and minor league manager.  He also was the manager of the Oakland Athletics from 1984-86,

Walt Jocketty was the general manager of the St. Louis Cardinals from 1995-2007 and was the general manager of the Cincinnati Reds from 2008-2015, when he became president of baseball operations.

Catcher Russell Eugene Nixon played for the Twins from 1966-1967.  His twin brother, Roy, was a minor league infielder from 1953-1957.  They were born in Cleves, Ohio, went to high school in Cincinnati, and Russ was signed by Cleveland as a free agent in 1953.  He hit for very high averages in the minors:  .336 at Class D Green Bay in 1953; .387 at Class D Jacksonville Beach in 1954; .385 at Class B Keokuk in 1955; and .319 at AAA Indianapolis in 1956.  In 1957, he got a well-earned promotion to the Indians, backing up Jim Hegan.  The following year, 1958, Nixon got the most playing time of his career--113 games and 376 at-bats.  Used almost exclusively against right-handed pitching, he hit .301, the only time in his career that he would bat over .300.  In 1959, he fell to .240, and he was hitting in the .240s again in June of 1960 when he was traded to the Red Sox.  His batting came back in Boston--Nixon hit .298 the rest of the season, and provided solid offense in a part-time role for the most of the next five years.  In April of 1966, Nixon was traded to Minnesota with Chuck Schilling for Dick Stigman and a player to be named later (Jose Calero).  Nixon joined Jerry Zimmerman in the job of backing up Earl Battey in 1966 and again provided solid offense in that role.  In 1967, however, when Battey was injured, the Twins gave the bulk of the playing time to Zimmerman rather than Nixon, and in April of 1968, Nixon was released.  As a Twin, he hit .244/.307/.301 in 266 at-bats.  Boston re-signed Nixon for 1968 but gave him only 85 at-bats, in which he hit .153.  The White Sox chose him in the Rule 5 draft, but released him in April of 1969, and his playing career was over.  He immediately went in to managing and coaching in the Cincinnati organization, and was the Reds' major league manager for part of 1982 and all of 1983.  After that, he moved to the Montreal organization, and then to Atlanta, where he managed the Braves from 1988-1990.  He returned to minor league managing after that, including managing the Twins' AAA affiliate in Portland in 1991.  He continued to manage in the minors through 2005, then became a roving instructor for Houston.  He became a roving catching instructor for the Texas Rangers in 2008, a position he held until his retirement.  Russ Nixon passed away in his home town of Cleves, Ohio on November 8, 2016.

Right-handed reliever Keith Rowe Atherton pitched for the Twins from 1986-1988.  Born in Newport News, Virginia, he attended high school in Mathews, Virginia, and then was drafted by Oakland in the second round in 1978.  He was a starter in the minors, and rose slowly, spending most of two years in Class A, a little over two years in AA, and a year and a half in AAA before making his debut with Oakland in July of 1983.  Moved to the bullpen upon going to the big leagues, Atherton had a fine half-year for the Athletics and was a steady if unspectacular contributor to the team through 1985.  He got off to a poor start in 1986, however, and was traded to Minnesota on May 20 for a player to be named later (Eric Broersma).  He became the chair of the Twins' closer by committee that year, leading the team in saves with ten.  The acquisition of Jeff Reardon moved Atherton back into a set-up role after the 1986 season, a role in which he performed quite creditably.  In March of 1989, however, the Twins traded Atherton to Cleveland for Carmelo Castillo.  Atherton did not do particularly well for the Indians and was released in August.  He signed with the Tigers and pitched well in six appearances at AAA, but did not get back to the major leagues.  He signed with Montreal for 1990, but was released in spring training, bringing his playing career to an end.  At last report, Keith Atherton was living in Mathews, Virginia.

Infielder Alvaro Alberto (Ramirez) Espinoza got 99 at-bats with the Twins from 1984-1986.  A native of Valencia, Venezuela, he attended high school there and signed with Houston as a free agent in 1978.  He spent two seasons in rookie ball for the Astros, did not hit, and was released in September of 1980.  It is unclear where Espinoza played in 1981, but the Twins signed him in March of 1982.  He was in Class A for the Twins in 1982 and 1983, hitting .316 in the latter year.  He was promoted to AAA in 1984 and struggled offensively for the next two years.  Despite that, he got a September callup in 1984 and came up in mid-August in 1985.  He was having a better year at AAA in 1986 when he was called up in mid-July.  He was in AAA all of 1987 and hit .275, but did not make it back to the majors with the Twins and was released after the season.  As a Twin, Espinoza hit .242/.265/.273.  The Yankees signed him for 1988.  They kept him in AAA almost all of that year, but he was the Yankees' regular shortstop from 1989-1991.  He provided good defense, but as should have been expected, did not hit--even in his one "good" year, 1989, when he hit .282, he had an OPS of only .633.  The Yankees released Espinoza in March of 1992 and he signed with Cleveland.  Espinoza was in AAA in 1992, but became a semi-regular from 1993 through mid-1996, continuing to provide good defense and not hit.  In July of 1996, he was traded to the Mets and had probably the best two months of his career, hitting .306 with four home runs.  The Mets weren't fooled, however, and released him in March of 1997.  He signed with Seattle, was released in July, and his career was over.  In 1998, he became a minor league instructor, first with Montreal, then the Dodgers, then Pittsburgh, then the Yankees, then Cleveland.  He was inducted into the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame in 2014.  At last report, Alvaro Espinoza was living in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and was an instructor with Espy Hitting Lessons, operated by former major league Cecil Espy.

First baseman Juan Carlos Diaz did not play for the Twins, but was in their minor league system in 2004.  He was born in San Jose de las Lajas, Cuba.  B-r.com says went to high school in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, which seems unlikely given that he was signed out of Cuba.  Anyway, he signed with the Dodgers as a free agent in 1996.  He hit 30 homers and batted .281 in 1998 in a season split between A and AA.  He was having another strong season at AA San Antonio in 1999 when his contract was voided by major league baseball due to a rules violation (he had reached an agreement with the Dodgers while still living in Cuba). He signed with Boston and hit 20 homers in consecutive years at AAA Pawtucket (2001-2002).  He was in the big leagues for about two weeks in 2002, going 2-for-7 with a walk and a home run.  The Red Sox let him go after that season; he moved on to the Baltimore organization for 2003, playing in AA, and signed with the Twins for 2004.  They sent him to Rochester, where he hit .270/.346/.547 with 11 homers in just 137 at-bats.  A free agent after the season, he spent two years in the St. Louis organization.  He was in the Northern League from 2007-2010 and also had a stint in the Mexican League in 2008.  He retired in the spring of 2011, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his family.  He got started with his career pretty late, and it’s doubtful that he could have been a star, but he hit over 250 minor league home runs.  It seems like he might have been able to help someone if he’d been given the chance.  Juan Diaz was living in Florida at last report.

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