Happy Birthday–September 18

Heinie Groh (1889)
George Uhle (1898)
Harvey Haddix (1925)
Lorn Brown (1938)
Dick Dietz (1941)
Ken Brett (1948)
Tony Scott (1951)
Ray Smith (1955)
Ryne Sandberg (1959)
Jeff Bronkey (1965)
Kevin Thompson (1979)
Joe Bisenius (1982)
Taylor Motter (1989)
Juan Minaya (1990)
Beau Burrows (1996)
Marcos Diplan (1996)

Lorn Brown was a baseball broadcaster from 1966-1988, calling games for the Chicago White Sox, the Milwaukee Brewers, and the New York Mets.

Kevin Thompson was drafted by Minnesota in the eighteenth round in 1998, but did not sign.

Joe Bisenius pitched briefly for Philadelphia and Washington.  He is from Sioux City and was somewhat of a local hero when I lived in that area.

We would also like to wish a very happy birthday to nibbish and a very happy anniversary to Mr. and Mrs. Corn.

Destined to be remembered as “George Brett’s brother”, left-hander Kenneth Alven Brett had a long career of his own. He was born in Brooklyn, went to high school in El Segundo, California, and was drafted by Boston with the fourth pick in the 1966 draft. After a slow start at Class A Oneonta that year, when he was only 17, Brett did very well in the minors, and came through the Red Sox’ system quickly. He made one appearance for Boston in 1967, who thought highly enough of him to include him on their World Series roster at age 18. He made the big leagues to stay in 1969. Used mostly in relief by the Red Sox, Brett did not do all that well. After the 1971 season, he was traded to Milwaukee in a multi-player deal that included Jim Lonborg, George Scott, and Tommy Harper. He pitched only one year for the Brewers before being traded again, this time to Philadelphia in a multi-player trade that included Lonborg (again), Don Money, and John Vukovich. He had his first good year in the majors with Philadelphia in 1973, winning 13 games with a 3.44 ERA. After the season, though, he was on the move again, traded to Pittsburgh for Dave Cash. Brett put in two solid seasons for the Pirates, but packed his suitcase again after the season. He was traded to the Yankees in December of 1975, to the White Sox in May of 1976, and to California in June of 1977. He consistently had an ERA in the mid-to-low threes most of those years, but in 1977 it ballooned to 4.5, and when he was no better in 1978, he was released. The Twins signed Brett in late April of 1979, and he spent just over a month with them before being released again on June 4. He appeared in nine games for the Twins (12.2 innings), getting no decisions and compiling an ERA of 4.97. Brett was signed by the Dodgers a week later and did well the rest of the year, but was released again after the season. It appeared that his career might be over, but in August of 1980, he signed with the Royals. He remained with the Royals in 1981, but that was his last year as an active player. He played parts of 14 big-league seasons and three postseasons. He was also an excellent batter, posting a line of .262/.291/.406 in 347 major league at-bats and batting over .300 in three seasons. After his playing career ended, he was involved with his brothers in the ownership of various minor league baseball and hockey teams. Ken Brett passed away on November 18, 2003 after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Catcher Raymond Edward Smith played for the Twins in parts of seasons from 1981 to 1983. He was born in Glendale, California, went to high school in San Diego, was signed by the Twins as a free agent in 1977 after attending the University of Oregon. He hit well at the low levels of the minors, but not as well at the higher levels, although he was not terrible there. He made the Twins out of spring training in 1981 as a reserve catcher, but played only 15 games before getting injured and missing the remainder of the season. Smith was back in the minors in 1982, although he did get a brief callup. 1983 was his only full season in the big leagues, as he appeared in 59 games with the Twins. He was back in the minors in 1984, and was traded after the season to San Diego for Floyd Chiffer. He batted .325 for AAA Las Vegas in 1985, but it wasn’t enough for the Padres, and they released him after the season. He signed with Oakland in 1986, but played only 15 games for AAA Tacoma before calling it a career. As a Twin, Smith hit .219/.259/.270 with 1 homer and 10 RBIs in 231 at-bats. After retiring as a player, Ray Smith became a minor league manager and was the very successful long-time manager of the Elizabethton Twins until that team was exterminated by major league baseball.  He was said to be weighing some other options in baseball this spring, but as far as we can tell none of them came to fruition.

The only major league player born in Kabul, Afghanistan, right-hander Jacob Jeffery Bronkey went to high school in Klamath Falls, Oregon and was drafted by the Twins in the second round in 1986 out of Oklahoma State. He was in the Twins’ minor-league system for four years, but really only had one good season, in 1988 at Class A Visalia. The Twins released him after the 1989 season, and he signed with Texas. He was no better in their minor-league system until suddenly he was: out of nowhere, he posted a 2.68 ERA for AAA Oklahoma City in 1993, with a WHIP of 0.97. It was only 37 innings, but it was enough for the Rangers to call him up and use him in 21 games that year. After the season, Texas traded him to Milwaukee, for whom he pitched in 1994, his only full season in the majors. Bronkey pitched eight more games for the Brewers in 1995, but was injured and never was able to come back. In the majors, Bronkey was 2-2 with a 4.04 ERA in 69 innings. Jeff Bronkey now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, where he is an instructor for Oklahoma Fuel Athletics, a sports training facility.  His daughter, Sierra, played softball for the University of Arkansas.

Infielder/outfielder Taylor Davis Motter appeared in nine games for the Twins in 2018.  He was born in West Palm Beach, Florida, went to high school in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, attended Coastal Carolina University, and was drafted in the seventeenth round in 2011.  He played a variety of positions throughout his minor league career, which helped him continue to advance through the system.  He had a fine year for AAA Durham in 2015, batting .292 with an OPS of .837.  He was with the Rays for about six weeks in 2016, but only batted .188 and was in AAA the rest of the season, where he didn't hit much, either.  He was traded to Seattle after that season and was in the majors for all but about a month.  He was a semi-regular much of that time, starting about half the team's games at six different positions.  He batted just .198, however.  Despite that, he started 2018 with the Mariners as well, but was sent to AAA after two weeks.  He was waived in late May, claimed by Minnesota, and for no particular reason was brought to the majors for two weeks.  He went 1-for-19 with two walks, giving him a line of .053/.143/.053.  His one hit puts him ahead of Corky Miller on the Twins all-time list, but that's about it.  The Twins released him in late August, and to no one's surprise he was not picked up by anyone.   He was signed by Detroit for 2019, but was released after going 4-for-27 in AA.  Oakland picked him up and also sent him to AA, where he did a little better, but not that much.  He finished out the season with New Britain in the Atlantic League.  He played briefly in Korea in 2020, but didn't hit anything there, either.  He signed with Colorado for 2021, had a good year in AAA, came up to the majors in mid-August, was waived in early September, and was claimed by Boston, for whom he played in three games before being sent to AAA.  He turns thirty-two today.  We don't mean to be too harsh--he's probably a really nice guy.  He'd almost have to be to keep getting chances--his major league numbers are .191/.264/.312 in 398 at-bats.  He'll probably get a spring training invitation again in 2022--as a guy who can play lots of positions he can be minor league roster filler.  But unless someone has a huge rash of injuries, there's no reason Taylor Motter should ever play in the major leagues again.

Right-handed reliever Juan Gustavo Minaya came to the Twins in 2020.  He was born in Maimon, Dominican Republic and signed with Houston as a free agent in 2008.  He didn't do much in his early minor league years, but the Astros stuck with him, and he finally broke through with a good season in AA in 2015.  He did fairly well, but nothing to shout about, in AAA in 2016 and was waived in late June, claimed by the White Sox.  For the next four seasons he bounced back-and-forth between AAA and Chicago, going 6-4, 3.93, 1.43 WHIP in 125 games (128.1 innings).  He struck out a lot of people and kept the ball in the ball park, but he also walked quite a few people.  He was a free agent after the 2019 season and signed with Minnesota for 2020.  He did not play that year, but started 2021 in AAA.  He did okay, but again nothing special, in AAA, but was called up for about a week at the end of May and came up to stay in mid-July.  He has done better than one would expect--still walking to many, but also striking out a bunch and not giving up that many hits.  At this writing he is 2-1, 2.94, 1.22 WHIP, numbers that are good by any standard.  He turns thirty-one today.  We're skeptical about his ability to continue those numbers, but he has certainly earned the chance to prove us wrong.

Right-hander Beau Ray Burrows came to the Twins in 2021.  He was born in Fort Worth, went to high school in Weatherford, Texas, and was drafted by Detroit in the first round in 2015.  He pitched well in the low minors, did okay in AA, but that's about as good as it's gotten for him.  He posted a 5.51 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP in AAA in 2019.  There was, of course, no minor league season in 2020, but he made five appearances in the majors going 0-0, 5.40 in 6.2 innings for the Tigers.  He started 2021 in AAA for Detroit, continued to pitch poorly, and was waived and claimed by Minnesota.  He has continued to pitch poorly in AAA for them, going 2-4, 5.59.  Despite that, he was allowed to pitch 5.1 innings for the Twins in 2021, going 0-1, 12.54, 2.36 WHIP.  His major league numbers, thus, are 0-1, 10.70, 1.98 WHIP.  His AAA numbers are 5-11, 5.56, 1.47 WHIP in 121.1 innings.  He turns twenty-five today.  He's young enough to improve, and sometimes it takes time for guys to figure it out.  But until he shows signs that he is, there's no reason for Beau Burrows to be pitching in the majors.

Right-hander Marcos Antonio Diplan did not play for the Twins, but was in AA for them for about six weeks in 2019.  He was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and signed as a free agent with Texas in 2013.  He struck out a lot of guys, but also walked a lot of guys, and other than strikeout totals didn't really show much through 2019.  Texas traded him to Milwaukee before the 2015 season, and the Brewers sold him to Minnesota at the July deadline in 2019.  The Twins sent him to AA, where he went 0-1, 4.09, 1.55 WHIP with 10 strikeouts and seven walks in eleven innings.  The Twins waived him in mid-September and he was claimed by Detroit.  He never played for the Tigers, though, as he was waived again in early December and claimed by Baltimore.  He was in AAA most of the season and was not terrible, but not anything great, either.  Still, the Orioles called him up in early August and put him in the bullpen.  He's actually done better than one would expect, going 1-0, 4.98, 1.25 WHIP.  He has appeared in 18 games and pitched 21.2 innings, striking out 16 and walking 11.  He turns twenty-five today.  He's young enough to improve, and if he can learn to throw strikes he could be a pretty good pitcher.  Of course, there have been many pitchers of whom that could be said.

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday–September 18”

  1. Happy Birthday Nibbish! Wish I knew it was your birthday today when I saw you yesterday. Have a great day and thanks for the produce you dropped off yesterday. Also, congrats to Mr. and Mrs. Corn on your anniversary!

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