Happy Birthday–May 22

Al Simmons (1902)
Terris McDuffie (1910)
Jose Valdivielso (1934)
Ron Piche (1935)
Rich Garcia (1942)
Walt Hriniak (1943)
Tommy John (1943)
Jim Colborn (1946)
Jose Mesa (1966)
Al Levine (1968)
Julian Tavarez (1973)

Terris McDuffie pitched from 1930-1954, playing in the Negro Leagues, the Cuban Winter League, the Mexican League, the Puerto Rican League, the Dominican League, the Venezuelan League, the California Winter League, and the minor leagues.  His biography at b-r.com is worth reading.

Rich Garcia was an American League umpire from 1975-1999.

Tommy John was one of the Twins’ television broadcasters from 1994-1996.

Infielder Jose Lopez Valdivielso was one of the original Twins, playing for them in 1961.  He was born in Matanzas, Cuba.  He started in organized baseball in 1953, joining the Washington organization in 1954.  He came up to the majors in late June of 1955 and was the regular Washington shortstop the rest of the season.  He hit .221 with an OPS of .594, yet somehow got a tenth-place vote for MVP.  He was again the regular shortstop for much of 1956, although he spent a month or so in the minors.  He hit a little better, but not much.  Valdivielso then spent some time playing in other organizations, although whether he actually belonged to those other organizations is unclear.  He was at AAA with the White Sox in 1957 and with Boston and San Francisco in 1958.  He was a reserve infielder for Washington for much of 1959, also playing at AAA with Baltimore.  He then got his only two full seasons in the majors, 1960 with Washington and 1961 with Minnesota.  He was a part-time starting shortstop in 1960 and a reserve infielder in 1961.  In his one season as a Twin, he played in 76 games and got 149 at-bats.  He hit .195/.234/.248.  In his major league career, all of which was in the Washington/Minnesota organization, he hit .219/.282/.290 in 971 at-bats.  He was at AAA Vancouver for the Twins in 1962, then moved on to Indianapolis in the White Sox’ organization for two years before ending his playing career after the 1964 season.  After that, he worked in New York City as a youth recreation director before going into broadcasting.  He did Spanish-language broadcasts for the New York Yankees, and was the morning sports reporter at WKDM in Newark, New Jersey.  At last report, Jose Valdivielso was retired, but was still on the board of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

Right-hander Ronald Jacques Piche did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system for part of the 1965 season.  He was born in Verdun, Quebec, Canada, and signed with Milwaukee as a free agent in 1955.  He pitched well in the minors, posting an ERA below three each year from 1955-1961.  He both started and relieved, making his record of success more remarkable.  He reached AAA in 1959 and made his major league debut with the Braves in late May of 1960.  He was used as a short reliever and pitched well, going 3-5, 3.56 with nine saves in 48 innings (37 appearances).  He began 1961 in Milwaukee, but despite the fact that he was pitching well he was sent down in mid-May, not returning until he received a September call-up.  He split 1962 between AAA and the majors, then stayed for the whole season in 1963, his only full year in the majors.  He generally struck out quite a few batters, but also walked quite a few batters, which is probably why he did not get more of a chance in the big leagues.  He was back in the minors in 1964, was traded to the Angels (with Phil Roof) before the 1965 season, and then was sent to Minnesota in June of 1965 “in an unknown transaction”.  The Twins sent him to Denver, where he pitched badly, going 3-4, 5.77 in 53 innings.  Before the 1966 season, Piche was traded to St. Louis in another “unknown transaction.”  He made it back to the majors in late July, staying for the rest of the season.  That would be the end of his major league career, however; his major league numbers are 10-16, 4.19 with 12 saves in 221.1 innings.  He appeared in 134 games, 11 of them starts.  He played for a few more years, however, staying in the Cardinals organization through 1967, going to the Cubs system in 1968-1969, playing in the Mets and Expos chains in 1970, and finishing in the Expos organization in 1972.  After leaving baseball, he moved to Montreal, where among other things he became a volunteer firefighter.  He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988. Ron Piche passed away on February 3, 2011 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

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