Happy Birthday–January 5

Ban Johnson (1864)
Bob Carruthers (1864)
Bill Dahlen (1870)
Jack Norworth (1879)
Art Fletcher (1885)
Rube Foster (1888)
Riggs Stephenson (1898)
Luke Sewell (1901)
Jack Kramer (1918)
Earl Battey (1935)
Bud Bloomfield (1936)
Charlie Hough (1948)
Jim Gantner (1953)
Bob Dernier (1957)
Ron Kittle (1958)
Milt Thompson (1959)
Henry Cotto (1961)
John Russell (1961)
Danny Jackson (1962)
Jeff Fassero (1963)
Brian Runge (1970)
Fred Rath (1973)
Mark Redman (1974)
Eduardo Escobar (1989)
C. J. Cron (1990)
Danny Ortiz (1990)

Ban Johnson was one of the founders of and the first president of the American League.

Jack Norworth wrote the lyrics to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game".

Rube Foster was a player, manager, and owner in the Negro Leagues, eventually becoming president of the Negro National League.

Brian Runge was a major league umpire from 1999-2012.  He is the son of major league umpire Paul Runge and the grandson of major league umpire Ed Runge.

Oddly, there are three players born on this day who go by their initials:  J. P. Arencibia, C. J. Cron, and A. J. Cole.

We would also like to wish a very happy birthday to freealonzo.

Earl Jesse Battey played for the Twins from 1961-1967 and was the best catcher the Twins ever had until Joe Mauer came along. He was born in Los Angeles and attended high school in Watts, California. Battey was signed as a free agent by the White Sox in 1953. A fine defensive player, he did not hit all that well in the minors. Still, he got brief major league time in both 1955 and 1956, was with the White Sox most of 1957, and made the majors to stay in 1958. Battey never got much of a chance with the White Sox, mainly because they had perennial all-star Sherm Lollar behind the plate at the time. Just before the 1960 season, Battey was traded to Washington with Don Mincher for Roy Sievers. Given the starting catcher job in Washington, Battey blossomed immediately, hitting .270 with 15 homers, winning the Gold Glove, and finishing eighth in MVP voting. He came to Minnesota with the team the following year and remained their starting catcher until 1967, when injuries slowed him down and eventually forced his retirement.  He then worked for Consolidated Edison in New York in public relations until his retirement. As a Twin, Battey made the all-star team four times, won two more Gold Gloves, and twice finished in the top ten in MVP voting. He hit .300 once, in 1961, and hit over 20 homers once, belting 26 in 1963. His career numbers for the franchise (including his year in Washington) are .277/.354/.412 with 91 homers. Earl Battey died of cancer in Ocala, Florida on November 15, 2003.

Clyde Stalcup "Bud" Bloomfield was an infielder who played in seven games for the Twins in 1964. He was born in Oklahoma City and attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Tulsa (not at the same time) before signing with St. Louis as a free agent in 1957. He rose slowly through the minors, spending two years at Class D and two more at Class B. His best year in the minors came in 1962 with AA Tulsa, when he hit .287. He repeated AA in 1963 and hit .260, but got a September call-up, appearing in one game for the Cardinals as a defensive replacement but not coming to bat. He was chosen by Minnesota that off-season in the minor league draft. Placed in AAA, he hit only .217. The Twins saved him from Moonlight Graham status by calling him up for a handful of games in May and June. As a Twin, he was 1-for-7 with a run scored. Bloomfield was released after the season, and his playing career was over. He then moved back to Benton County, Arkansas, where his family had moved when he was 14. He owned a restaurant in Rogers, Arkansas from 1977-2000 and then retired there.  Bud Bloomfield passed away in Huntsville, Arkansas on December 21, 2011.

Right-hander Frederick Helsher Rath, Jr. was drafted by the Twins, but never played for them. He was born in Dallas, went to high school in Tampa, Florida, and attended the University of South Florida. Minnesota signed him as a free agent in 1995. A reliever throughout his minor league career, Rath pitched extremely well for three minor league seasons, compiling a 2.02 ERA in 187 minor-league innings, although only 61 of those innings were higher than Class A. The Twins apparently had no faith in him, because when he was promoted to AAA in 1998 and struggled, they quickly placed him on waivers in June, where he was claimed by Colorado. He got a brief call-up to the majors, pitching 5.1 innings in two games. Rath finished 1998 with Colorado and then came back to the Twins, pitching in AAA Salt Lake in 1999. He had a fairly good year, but never made it back to the majors. He started 2000 in Salt Lake and pitched well in 12 games, but was let go, moving to Pittsburgh and then St. Louis. He was in the Cardinals organization again in 2001, but then his career was over. His two games for the Rockies in 1991, in which he gave up only one run, were the sum and substance of his major league career. We'll never know, but given his record, it seems like he might have been able to help someone if he'd been given the chance. Since leaving baseball, Fred Rath has returned to Tampa and works for Rath/Harper Associates, a real estate development firm founded by his father, who is also named Fred Rath and who was also a major league baseball player.

Left-hander Mark Allen Redman began what turned into a fairly substantial major league career with Minnesota. Born in San Diego, he attended high school in Escondido, California, and then went to the University of Oklahoma. Redman was drafted by Minnesota in the first round in 1995. He pitched well in the low minors, but appeared to be topping out at AA, as he struggled with AAA in 1997, 1998, and 1999. Despite that, he got a couple of brief trials with the Twins in1999 and was with them for the entire season in 2000. He did not do too badly, winning 12 games with an ERA of 4.76, a performance which allowed him to finish sixth in Rookie of the Year voting. Redman was pitching better in 2001, but was traded at the end of July to Detroit for Todd Jones. He pitched fairly well for the Tigers through 2002, then was traded to Florida for the 2003 season. 2003 was to be Redman's best season--he went 14-9 with a 3.59 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. After that Redman, who had already bounced around quite a bit in his young career, really started moving. He was traded to Oakland for 2004, was traded to Pittsburgh for 2005, and traded to Kansas City for 2006. In none of those years did he come close to matching his 2003 campaign, and instead got slowly but surely worse every year. Incredibly, he made the all-star team for the only time in 2006, with an ERA over five. A free agent after 2006, Redman signed with Atlanta for 2007, but was released in late May. He signed with Texas, pitched poorly for their AAA team, and was released again in mid-July. He went to the Toronto organization for a couple of weeks, was released a third time, and signed with Colorado, where he pitched fairly well in a few appearances. Redman opened 2008 with the Rockies, but was quickly sent back to the minors, and was released after the season, ending his playing career.  At last report, Mark Redman was living in Tulsa and was the owner of the Triple Play Express Car Wash.

Infielder Eduardo Jose Escobar played for the Twins from 2012-2018.  He was born in Villa de Cura, Venezuela, and signed with the White Sox in 2006 at age seventeen.  He spent two years in foreign summer leagues.  He reached AA in 2010 and AAA in 2011.  He got a September call-up in 2011 after hitting .266 at AAA and played in nine major league games, never starting one and going 2-for-7.  He made the White Sox as an extra infielder in 2012 and was hitting .207 on July 28 when he was traded to Minnesota along with Pedro Hernandez for Francisco Liriano.  The Twins initially sent him to AAA Rochester, but gave him a September call-up.  He posted some half-way decent batting averages in the minors, generally hitting in the .260s, but did not draw very many walks and had very little power.  He mostly played shortstop in the minors, although he has also played some second base and a little third base.  He started the 2013 season in Minnesota but predictably did not hit well in part-time duty and was sent to Rochester in mid-July.  He hit surprisingly well there, batting .307/.380/.500 in 166 at-bats.  He got a September call-up and hit .324/.343/.412 in 34 at-bats.  He started 2014 as a reserve for the Twins but gradually took over the starting shortstop job and showed he could handle it, hitting .275 with 35 doubles.  The Twins tried to make Danny Santana the starting shortstop in 2015, making Escobar a utility player, but Escobar was back as the starting shortstop by late July and again showed that he could handle the position.  Escobar kept the shortstop job at the start of 2016, but was injured in May, lost the job to Eduardo Nunez, and went back to being a utility player again.  He was slated to be a utility player again in 2017, but ended up starting at third base for about half the season due to an injury to Miguel Sano.  He replaced Sano again at third base for much of the 2018 season and did well there, batting .300 as late as June 20.  In late July, with the Twins out of the pennant race, he was traded to Arizona for Ernie De La Trinidad, Jhoan Duran, and Gabriel Maciel.  He continued to play well for the Diamondbacks for the rest of the season.  In 2019 he was the unqualified starting third baseman for Arizona and had a fine year, posting an OPS of .831 and leading the league in triples.  He remained their starting third baseman in 2020, but had a poor season, batting just .212.  As a Twin, Eduardo Escobar batted .258/.308/.421 in 2520 at-bats.  He turns thirty-two today.  If he's going to need to bounce back if he's going to remain a starter.

First baseman Christopher John Cron played for the Twins in 2019.  He was born in Fullerton, California, went to high school in Phoenix, attended the University of Utah, and was drafted by the Angels in the first round in 2011.  He reached AA in 2013, went to AAA at the start of 2014, and made his major league debut on May 3, 2014.  He was a part-time player most of the rest of the season and did okay, though nothing spectacular.  His 2015 was similar--he did really well in about a month in AAA, but was pretty average in the majors.  2016 was his first full year in the majors (except for a rehab assignment) and while he was a little better nobody was still too excited.  In 2017 he still appeared to be treading water, so in February of 2018 the Angels traded him to Tampa Bay for a player to be named later. The Rays made him their regular first baseman in 2018 and he responded with his best season, posting an OPS over .800 for the first time.  His power numbers were the only thing that improved, really--he hit thirty homers and had twenty-eight doubles, but his average and OBP were pretty much in line with what they had been before.  The Rays waived him after the season and Minnesota claimed him.  He was their starting first baseman in 2019 and had a fine first half, but injuries hampered him in the second half of the season.  Still, as a Twin he batted .253/.311/.469, numbers which are almost exactly his career numbers.  He became a free agent after the season and signed with Detroit for 2020.  He was able to play only thirteen games, however, before suffering a season-ending injury.  He turns thirty-one today and is again a free agent.  If he's healthy, one assumes C. J. Cron will sign somewhere in 2021.

Outfielder Daniel Ortiz did not play for the Twins, but was drafted by them and was in their farm system for eight years.  He was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico, and was drafted by Minnesota in the fourth round in 2008.  He played in the GCL in 2008, did not play in 2009, and was with Elizabethton in 2010.  He did fairly well in those years.  but struggled when promoted to Class A Beloit in 2011.  He was just twenty-one, however, and had a solid 2012 with Fort Myers.  He kept getting promoted a level at a time and each year did okay--not bad, but nothing special.  He reached Rochester in 2014 and played there again in 2015.  In his two seasons there, he batted .251/.292/.435 with 25 home runs.  Again, not bad, but nothing to really catch your eye, either.  He became a free agent after that season and signed with Pittsburgh.  He didn't do much in AAA in 2016 but had a better year there in 2017, batting .270/.303/.457.  He got a little over a week in the majors in May, going 1-for-12 in nine games.  A free agent, he signed a minor league contract with Philadelphia for 2018.  He spent the season in AAA and hit fifteen home runs, but was otherwise unimpressive.  He again was a free agent, went unsigned, and has played in the Mexican League, where he's done well.  He turns thirty-one today.  It's baseball, and strange things happen, but there's no reason to think we'll see him in a major league uniform again.  Still, baseball is baseball, and if he wants to play in Mexico or somewhere else for a few more years he probably can.

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