Happy Birthday–February 4

Germany Schaefer (1876)
Eddie Ainsmith (1890)
Possum Whitted (1890)
Joe Sparma (1942)
Steve Brye (1949)
Rob Picciolo (1953)
Rusty Kuntz (1955)
Chris Bando (1956)
Dan Plesac (1962)
Chris Coste (1973)
Ben Hendrickson (1981)
Doug Fister (1984)

Not to be confused with Steve Braun, outfielder Stephen Robert Brye played for the Twins from 1970-1976.  He was born in Alameda, California and went to high school in Oakland.  The Twins selected Brye in the first round in 1967.  He hit over .300 every year in the minors except 1969, when he unaccountably hit .234 for Class A Red Springs.  Brye made his major league debut as a September call-up in 1970, got another September call-up in 1971 (when he was the regular left-fielder for that month), and made the majors to stay in 1972.  He was a part-time player in 1972 and 1973, and steadily improved in his first few years in the big leagues, raising his average from .224 to .241 to .263.  His improvement was rewarded with an almost full-time center field job in 1974, and he raised his average again, to .283.  Unfortunately, it was with few walks and little power:  his line was .283/.319/.365, which the Twins did not consider good enough.  Brye went back to part-time status in 1975 and 1976, and in March of 1977 he was sold to Milwaukee.  After a year as a part-timer there he moved on to Pittsburgh for 1978, falling to reserve status.  He signed with the Padres' organization for 1979, had a mediocre year in AAA Hawaii, and his career was over.  As a Twin, Steve Brye hit .261/.311/.360 in 1,641 at-bats over seven seasons.  At last report, Steve Brye was living in the Bay Area and was working for the Port of Oakland.

Outfielder Russell Jay “Rusty” Kuntz played for Minnesota in the second half of the 1983 season.  Born in Orange, California, he attended Cal State--Stanislaus, one of only two major league players that school has ever produced (Steve Andrade).  He was drafted by the White Sox in the 11th round in 1977.  He posted unspectacular but pretty solid numbers in the minors, hitting over .290 in consecutive years in AAA (1979-1980) with a decent number of walks and moderate power.  He got a September call-up in 1979 and was with the White Sox for about two months in 1980.  Kuntz' only full season in the majors was 1981, when he hit .255 as a reserve.  He split 1982 between Chicago and AAA, and was doing the same in June of 1983 when he was traded to Minnesota for Mike Sodders.  Kuntz was immediately made the Twins' starting center fielder, a plan that lasted about a month and a half.  Unfortunately, he did not hit, was sent to the bench, and was traded to Detroit after the season for Larry Pashnick.  As a Twin, Rusty Kuntz hit .190/.274/.310 in 100 at-bats.  He had a decent year as a reserve for the Tigers in 1984, batting .286, but he sent back to the minors in late April of 1985 and never returned to the big leagues.  His playing career ended after the 1985 season, and he turned to coaching.  He has been the first base coach for Seattle, Florida, Pittsburgh, and Kansas City, for whom was the first base coach through 2017.  He was a senior advisor to the general manager in 2018, returned to coaching first base in 2019, but went back to an advisory role in 2020 due to COVID concerns.  He was again the first base coach in 2021, but will be a special assistant for quality control in 2022.  His son, Kevin Kuntz, played in the Royals minor league system for two seasons (2013-2014) and is the baseball operations coordinator for the team.

Right-hander Benjamin John Hendrickson did not play for the Twins, but was at AAA for them briefly in 2009.  He was born in St. Cloud and attended high school in Bloomington.  Hendrickson was drafted by Milwaukee in the tenth round in 1999.  He had a big year in AAA Indianapolis in 2004, going 11-3, 2.02 in 21 starts.  He made his big league debut for the Brewers that year, which unfortunately did not go so well:  1-8, 6.22 in ten appearances, nine of them starts.  He had a poor year in AAA in 2005, but bounced back in 2006, which earned him another brief call-up to Milwaukee.  Just before the 2007 season, the Brewers traded Hendrickson to Kansas City.  He was decent in AAA for the Royals, but no more, and was released after the season.  Tampa Bay picked him up for their AAA team in 2008, but he didn't do much and was released again.  The Twins picked him up for 2009 and he appeared in six games out of the Rochester bullpen, posting a 7.84 ERA in 10.1 innings.  The Twins released him in June, bringing his playing career to an end.  After his playing career ended, Ben Hendrickson worked as a property manager/accountant for Sabre Asset Management in the Twin Cities, then was accounting manager for Floors Northwest in the Twin Cities area.  Unfortunately, he was arrested in October of 2018 for embezzeling $250,000 from Floors Northwest.  He eventually pled guilty and was sentenced to ninety days.  No information about what he has done since then was readily available.