Happy Birthday–April 26

Jack Barry (1887)
Ray Caldwell (1888)
Hack Wilson (1900)
Bernard Malamud (1914)
Sal Maglie (1917)
Virgil Trucks (1917)
Ron Northey (1920)
Granny Hamner (1927)
Amos Otis (1947)
Tom Norton (1950)
Mike Scott (1955)
Steve Lombardozzi (1960)
Curtis Wilkerson (1961)
Brian Anderson (1972)
Geoff Blum (1973)
Kosuke Fukudome (1977)
Joe Crede (1978)
Alejandro Machado (1982)
Shawn Kelley (1984)
Sean Rodriguez (1985)

Bernard Malamud, of course, wrote the book "The Natural".  He probably wrote some other books as well.

Right-handed reliever Thomas John Norton made 21 appearances for the Twins in 1972.  Born in Elyria, Ohio, he attended St. Clair County Community College of Port Huron, Michigan.  Norton signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 1969.  He was somewhat up and down in his minor league career.  After a decent but unspectacular season in AA Charlotte in 1971, Norton played the full 1972 season for the Twins.  He was apparently injured part of that time, as he went two months without appearing in a game.  For an undrafted 22-year-old who had never pitched above AA, he was pretty good:  0-1, 2.78 with a WHIP of 1.39 in 32.1 innings.  Those would be his career numbers, though, as he never pitched in the big leagues again.  He pitched well for AA Orlando from 1973-1975, but flopped whenever he was promoted to AAA.  Minnesota gave up on him after the 1975 season.  He made three starts for AA Knoxville in the White Sox organization in 1976 (he was a starter most of his minor-league career), but then his playing career came to an end at age 26.  It was a brief career, but he got to spend a full season as a major league player, and there is probably not a huge number of pitchers with over 20 appearances who have lower career ERAs.  At last report, Tom Norton was living in retirement in Sheffield Lake, Ohio.  Well, probably not in the lake, but in the town named after it.

Second baseman Stephen Paul Lombardozzi was with the Twins from 1985-1988.  Born in Malden, Massachusetts, he attended the University of Florida and then was drafted by Minnesota in the ninth round in 1981.  He hit quite well in the low minors, but less well as he went up the ladder.  Still, he hit .264 with 14 homers in AAA Toledo in 1985, which was good enough to get him a September call-up in which he hit .370 in 54 at-bats.  He became the starting second baseman the next year and would hold the job for two seasons.  Lombo never hit anywhere near as well again, but he was an excellent defensive player.  He helped the Twins win the championship in 1987, but early in 1988 the Twins decided they could no longer live with his lack of offense and traded for Tom Herr.  Due to Herr’s injuries, Lombardozzi still started about half the games, but in spring training of 1989 he was traded to Houston for two players to be named later (Ramon Cedeno and Gordon Farmer).  Lombo never got much of a chance in Houston, spending most of his time in the minors, and was released in May of 1990.  Detroit picked him up and sent him to AAA the rest of the season, after which his career came to an end.  As a Twin, Steve Lombardozzi hit .233/.307/.345.  After his playing career ended he ran a small business for a while, but then decided he wanted to get back into baseball.  He was a minor league infield instructor for the Pittsburgh Pirates for a while.  He was the head baseball coach at Good Counsel High School in Olney, Maryland from 2012-2015.  At last report he was the owner of Double Play Academy of Fulton, Maryland.  His son, also named Steve Lombardozzi, was a major league infielder from 2011-2015 and in 2017.

Third baseman Joseph Crede played for the Twins in 2009.  A cousin of major league pitcher Dennis Higgins, Crede was born in Jefferson City, Missouri and attended high school in Westphalia, Missouri.  The White Sox drafted him in the first round in 1996.  Crede had some fine years in the minors; his best was probably 2002, when he hit .312 with 24 home runs for AAA Charlotte.  Those numbers were for less than a full season, because after having been given cups of coffee in the majors in 2000 and 2001, Crede was brought up for good in late July of 2002.  He immediately became the starting third baseman for the White Sox, a job he held through the 2008 season.  He was a very durable player early in his career and had some fine seasons for the Southsiders.  His best year was 2006, when he hit .283 with 30 home runs and won a Silver Slugger award.  The next year, however, injuries started to bother him, and he was never the same player again.  He inexplicably made his lone all-star team in 2008, when he hit only .248 with 17 homers.  He became a free agent after that season and signed with Minnesota.  Crede was the Twins’ regular third baseman when healthy, but unfortunately “when healthy” was only about half the team’s games.  As a Twin, he hit .225/.289/.414, with 15 home runs in 333 at-bats.  He was out of baseball in 2010, signed a contract with Colorado for 2011, but did not report to spring training, deciding instead to retire.  At last report he was living on a farm near Westphalia, Missouri.  He was recently inducted into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.

Infielder Alejandro Jose Machado did not play for the Twins, but was in their minor league system from 2008-2009.  Born in Caracas, Venezuela, he signed with Atlanta as a free agent in 1998.  He had some fine years in Class A, but struggled for a while when placed above that, which is understandable given his age.  He played for several different organizations in the minors.  The Braves traded him to Kansas City in July of 2001, the Royals sent him to Milwaukee in July of 2003, Milwaukee essentially gave him to Montreal in March of 2004, and the now Nationals traded him to Boston in January of 2005.  He was gradually getting better as he went along, and in 2005 Machado hit .300 at AAA Pawtucket.  That got him a September call-up, in which he went 1-for-5 with a walk and scored four runs.  At present, those are his career numbers, as he has not made it back to the majors since.  He dropped to .260 at Pawtucket in 2006, became a free agent, signed with Washington, and was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, when he was selected by Minnesota.  He was not able to stay healthy after that.  Machado missed the entire 2007 season with injuries, but was in the Twins’ system the next two years.  He was still injured part of the 2008 season, but hit .338 in 195 at-bats.   Injuries again plagued him in 2009, when he hit .253 in 150 at-bats spread over four minor league teams.  He became a free agent again after the 2009 season and signed with Florida.  He was sent to AAA, released in mid-May, and finished the season in AA with Atlanta.  He became a free agent after the season but did not sign with anyone, ending his playing career  At last report, Alejandro Machado was an instructor with International Power Showcase in the Palm Beach area of Florida.

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