Happy Birthday–August 20

Al Lopez (1908)
Jim Reeves (1923)
Fred Norman (1942)
Graig Nettles (1944)
Bobby Cuellar (1952)
Tom Brunansky (1960)
Mark Langston (1960)
Andy Benes (1967)
Todd Helton (1973)
Matt Hague (1985)

Country singer Jim Reeves was a right-handed pitcher in the low minors from 1945-1949,

Third baseman Graig Nettles played for the Twins in parts of seasons from 1967-1969.  Born and raised in San Diego, he was drafted by the Twins out of San Diego State in the fourth round in 1965. He showed instant power, hitting 69 home runs in three minor league seasons. He made his debut with Minnesota as a September callup in 1967 and reached the big leagues for good in 1969, his first full season, when he was a part-time player with the Twins. Nettles played more outfield than third base as a Twin, which seems surprising until one remembers that Harmon Killebrew was the Twins’ third baseman at the time. Nettles did not do a lot in 1969, and the Twins were trying to win now, so they traded him, along with Dean Chance, Bob Miller, and Ted Uhlaender, to Cleveland for Luis Tiant and Stan Williams. Tiant and Williams helped the Twins win the division in 1970, but after that the trade does not look so good for Minnesota. On the other hand, how does it look for Cleveland? After Nettles put up three solid seasons for the Indians, hitting a total of 71 homers and getting a tenth-place vote for MVP in 1971, Cleveland traded him to the Yankees with Jerry Moses for John Ellis, Jerry Kenney, Charlie Spikes, and Rusty Torres. New York, of course, is where Nettles became a star. He hit over 20 homers in each of his first seven seasons for the Yankees, twice hitting over 30; drove in over 90 runs four times, made the all-star team five times, and won a pair of Gold Gloves. At the end of 1984, the Yankees traded Nettles to San Diego, a trade many said was prompted by the release of a book Nettles wrote in which he was critical of George Steinbrenner. In San Diego, he became the starting third baseman for the Padres’ World Series team. He made the all-star team the next year, at age 40, but it was his last productive season. After the 1986 season, the Padres let Nettles go, and he spent 1987 with Atlanta and 1988 with Montreal, mostly as a pinch-hitter. As a Twin, Graig Nettles hit .224/.314/.401 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 304 at-bats. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2007, but had surgery and at last report was cancer-free. Nettles is a spring training instructor for the Yankees. At last report, he was living in Lenoir City, Tennessee, just outside Knoxville, but also traveled frequently.

Robert Cuellar never pitched for the Twins, but has been a minor league pitching coach and manager for them for several years.  He was born in Alice, Texas, and was drafted out of the University of Texas by the Rangers in the 29th round in 1974.  Cuellar pitched well in relief for eight years in the minors, five of them at AAA. He posted a minor-league ERA of 3.06 during this time, with a AAA ERA of 3.20, but never really got a chance in the majors. Cuellar’s only time in the big leagues was as a September call-up in 1977; he gave up only one run and four hits in 6.2 innings spread over four games, for an ERA of 1.35. He left the Rangers organization after the 1978 season, playing three years for the Cleveland organization and one year in the Mexican League. After his playing career ended in 1982, he turned to coaching. He has been a minor league coach, minor league manager, and major league coach, including serving as the pitching coach for Seattle and Montreal and as the bullpen coach for Pittsburgh. For the Twins, Cuellar was the pitching coach for the Rochester Red Wings from 2003-2005, managed the New Britain Rock Cats in 2008, and returned to the Red Wings as their pitching coach in 2009-2012. Among the minor leaguers Cuellar has coached are Pedro Martinez and Johan Santana, both of whom credit Cuellar for teaching them the changeup.  Bobby Cuellar was the bullpen coach of the Minnesota Twins from 2013-2014.  He has been a minor league pitching coach in the Dodgers organization since then.

The brother-in-law of Dave Engle, outfielder Thomas Andrew Brunansky played for the Twins from 1982 through the first part of 1988.  He was born in Covina, California, went to high school in West Covina, California, attended Cal Poly–Pomona, and was drafted by the California Angels with the 14th pick of the 1978 draft. He hit well in his four minor league seasons, average more than 20 homers and hitting over .300. He made the Angels out of spring training in 1981, but hit .152 over 41 at-bats and was returned to the minors. He started 1982 in the minors, but in May was traded with Mike Walters to the Twins for Doug Corbett and Rob Wilfong. The Twins immediately installed him in their outfield, and Brunansky had what was arguably his best season, batting .272 with 20 homers. He never hit for as high an average again, but his power numbers increased, as he hit over 20 homers each year through 1989. After winning the World Series in 1987, the Twins got off to a slow start in 1988, and Brunansky was traded to St. Louis for Tom Herr in what even Andy McPhail would later admit was a panic move. Brunansky continued to be a solid player, but his low-average slugging did not really fit with the Cardinals running style, and after a poor start in 1990 he was traded to Boston for Lee Smith. He was a productive player for the Red Sox through 1992, went to Milwaukee as a free agent in 1993, and returned to the Red Sox in June of 1994 to finish his career. As a Twin, Tom Brunansky batted .250/.330/.452 with 163 homers and 469 RBIs in what works out to be about six full seasons, and holds the distinction of being the only Twin to hit an inside-the-park grand slam. Brunansky is coached high school baseball in Poway, California.  He became the batting coach for the GCL Twins in late June of 2010, was the batting coach for the New Britain Rock Cats in 2011, was the batting coach for the Rochester Red Wings in 2012, and was the batting coach for the Minnesota Twins from 2013-16.  He was let go after the 2016 season and has been the batting coach of the University of Saint Katherine in San Marcos, California, since then.

First baseman Matthew Donald Hague has not played for the Twins yet, but has been in Rochester in 2017.  He was born in Bellevue, Washington, went to high school in Covington, Washington, and attended both the University of Washington and Oklahoma State University.  He was drafted by Pittsburgh in the ninth round in 2008.  He hit well in the minors, posting high doubles totals and hitting some but not a lot of home runs.  He reached AA in 2010, AAA in 2011, and made it to the majors in 2012.  He was with the Pirates most of the first half of the season as a reserve first baseman but got only seventy at-bats, being frequently used as a pinch-hitter.  He didn't do particularly well, batting .229 with an OPS of .527.  He went back to AAA and continued to hit well, but did not get to the majors at all in 2013 and got only two big-league at-bats in 2014.  He was waived in mid-August of 2014 and was chosen by Toronto.  He had an outstanding year with AAA Buffalo and got a September call-up, but got only twelve at-bats.  He went to Japan in 2016 and came back to the United States in 2017, signing with Minnesota.  He had a fine season in Rochester, but did not get a call-up to the majors.  He became a free agent and signed with Seattle for 2018, but he was sent to AAA and then was released in late April.  He then signed with Washington and again went to AAA, but was released in mid-June.  That appears to have ended his playing career.  His major league stats are .226/.286/.262 in 84 at-bats.  Being a first baseman without home run power has undoubtedly hurt him, but in nearly three thousand AAA at-bats he hit .298/.376/.423.  It seems like he could've helped someone if he'd been given the chance, but it's almost certainly too late now.  At last report, Matt Hague was living in Covington, Louisiana.  He is a scout for the Toronto Blue Jays and is also a coach for the Louisiana Knights, a program which "has helped hundreds of players reach their dreams of playing at the next level" and was founded by ex-Twin Jack Cressend.