Happy Birthday–October 17

Buck Ewing (1859)
Paul Derringer (1906)
Red Rolfe (1908)
Howie Moss (1918)
Johnny Klippstein (1927)
Jim Gilliam (1928)
Pete Cimino (1942)
Dan Pasqua (1961)
John Mabry (1970)
John Rocker (1974)
Gil Velazquez (1979)
Carlos Gonzalez (1985)
Chris Mazza (1989)

Howie Moss hit 279 minor league homers in a thirteen-year career.

Pitcher John Calvin Klippstein played for the Twins from 1964-1966, near the end of his long career. The son-in-law of major league pitcher Dutch Leonard, he was born in Washington, D. C. Klippstein attended Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as a free agent in 1944 at age 16. Naturally enough, he struggled for a while in the minors, posting decent won-loss records but high ERAs. Klippstein missed all of the 1946 season due to military service. Brooklyn acquired him in the 1948 minor league draft, and he responded the next year with a breakthrough campaign, going 15-8 with a 2.95 ERA for AA Mobile. The Dodgers were unimpressed, however, and left him unprotected in the rule 5 draft. The Cubs chose him, and Klippstein left the minors behind for good. He was a "swing man" for the Cubs for five years, making 72 starts and 102 relief appearances. He never had an ERA under 4.00, but he averaged about 130 innings per season, with a high of 202. The Cubs traded Klippstein to Cincinnati following the 1954 season, and he continued to be shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen for three years, pitching with about the same results. Klippstein struggled with his control most of his career, acquiring the nickname "the wild man of Borneo". He became a full-time reliever in 1958, and was traded to the Dodgers in June of that year. He was sold to Cleveland in April of 1960, and had a solid season for them, leading the league in saves with 14. The Indians valued that so highly that they left Klippstein unprotected in the expansion draft, and he was chosen by the new Washington Senators. He went back to Cincinnati in 1962 and on to Philadelphia in 1963, where he had a 1.93 ERA in 112 innings. He was purchased by the Twins in June of 1964, and he put in 2 1/2 solid seasons for them out of the bullpen, going 9-3 with a 2.24 ERA and 159 ERA+ in 56 appearances for the 1965 World Series team. The Twins released him after 1966. He signed with the Tigers, but made only five appearances for them before being released at age 39. Klippstein's best seasons were when he was 35-38 years old, most of which were for the Twins: in 115 games for Minnesota, he went 10-8 with a 2.45 ERA, a 1.29 WHIP, and an ERA+ of 146. He was reputed to be one of the best-liked players of his time. After his retirement, he moved to Chicago and became a season-ticket holder for the Cubs. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1993, and battled it for ten years. Johnny Klippstein passed away on October 10, 2003 in Elgin, Illinois, while listening to a Cubs-Marlins playoff game.

Right-hander Peter William Cimino played for the Twins from 1965-1966. He was born in Philadelphia and was drafted by the then Washington Senators in 1960. He attended Bristol high school, where he once scored 114 points in a basketball game, which is tied for the fourth-highest total ever. Cimino pitched well in the low minors, but struggled in his first couple of tries at AAA. A starting pitcher early on, he started reliving in 1964 and became a permanent member of the bullpen in 1965. 1965 was also his best year at AAA: he went 9-7 with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP in 90 innings. He got a September call-up that year, pitching in one game with the Twins, and was with the Twins all of 1966. Cimino pitched pretty well out of the pen, with a 2.92 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and a 123 ERA+ in 35 games. That off-season, the Twins traded him, along with Jimmie Hall and Don Mincher, to the Angels for Dean Chance and Jackie Hernandez. He pitched well again for the Angels in 1967, but was sent back to the minors early in 1968. He made only 13 appearances in the majors and minors combined that year, and he was out of baseball after that at age 28, leading one to suspect he may have been injured. Cimino relied primarily on his fastball, although he eventually developed a slurve. At last report, Pete Cimino was enjoying retirement in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Infielder Gilbert Arnulfo Velazquez did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system for three seasons. He was born in Los Angeles, went to high school in Paramount, California, and was drafted by the Mets in the fourteenth round in 1998. He was in the Mets’ organization for seven years. He basically topped out at AA, although he did play in 34 AAA games for the Mets over three different seasons. He was mostly a shortstop through 2001, then became more of a utility player (note: when they make you a utility player in the minors, it’s not a good sign about their opinion of your star potential). He was presumably an excellent glove man, because he sure didn’t hit much; his highest OPS in the Mets’ system was .620 in 2004, in a year mostly spent in AA. He became a free agent after the 2004 season and signed with Minnesota. The Twins sent him to New Britain in 2005 and to Rochester in 2006-2007, and he continued to be who he was, a good glove man who was essentially a poor man’s Nick Punto. Since the real Nick Punto wasn’t all that much, the Twins allowed him to become a free agent again after the 2007 campaign and he signed with Boston. He had his best minor league season in Pawtucket in 2008, hitting .260 with ten home runs for an OPS of .727. He got a September call-up that year and began 2009 with Boston, but was seldom used and soon sent back to Pawtucket. He was still in Pawtucket in 2010, batting .249 with an OPS of .644.  He moved on to the Angels’ organization and amazingly, at age 31, had a year far better than he’d ever had in his life, hitting .328/.399/.466 for AAA Salt Lake.  It was good enough to get him a September call-up, in which he went 3-for-6.  He was with Miami in 2012, spending about six more weeks in the majors.  He signed with the Yankees for 2013, was released, signed back with Miami, and got one last at-bat in the majors.  No one signed him for 2014, but he went to the Mexican League and had a fine year for Yucatan.  He played winter ball last year but did not play anywhere in 2015, instead becoming a coach for the Dodgers' entry in the Arizona Summer League.  He played in winter ball again in 2015, but that ended his playing career.  In his major league career he hit .233/.250/.247 om 73 at-bats.  Still, he got to the majors, which a lot of folks would like to be able to say.  He also may have a long career in baseball ahead of him.  He managed the Great Lakes Loons in the Dodgers' organization in 2016 and has been the minor league infield coordinator for the Arizona Diamondbacks since 2017.

Right-hander Christopher James Mazza did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system from 2012-2015.  He was born in Walnut Creek, California, went to high school in Concord, California, attended Menlo College (one of three major leaguers that school has produced (Gino Cimoli and Bill Renna)), and was drafted by Minnesota in the twenty-seventh round in 2011.  He was a reliever in his years with the Twins.  He appears to have had injury problems.  He did well in Elizabethton in 2012, but appeared in only seven games for Cedar Rapids in 2013.  He came back to have a fine year in Cedar Rapids in 2014, but appeared in only seven games at Class A or below in 2015 before being released in July of 2015.  He signed with Miami in August, reached AA in 2016, and had a good year in AAA in 2017.  He was a starter in those years, but he was also twenty-seven in 2017.  The Marlins released him in May of 2018, he pitched in independent ball for a few months, then was signed by Seattle in August.  The Mets took him in the Rule 5 draft that off-season.  He pitched well in AAA in 2019 and reached the majors in late June of that year, appearing in nine games.  He was waived after the season and was chosen by Boston, for whom he appeared in nine more games, six of them starts.  His major league record is 2-3, 5.05, 1.62 WHIP in 46.1 innings.  He has appeared in eighteen games, six of them starts.  He turns thirty-one today.  He's done well in AAA the last couple of seasons, so one assumes he will go to spring training with someone in 2021.

Leave a Reply