Happy Birthday–February 27

Walter Briggs (1877)
Cy Perkins (1896)
Hilton Smith (1907)
Bill Capps (1919)
Buck Elliott (1919)
Johnny Pesky (1919)
Connie Ryan (1920)
John Wockenfuss (1949)
Ron Hassey (1953)
Greg Cadaret (1962)
Pete Smith (1966)
Matt Stairs (1968)
Willie Banks (1969)
Craig Monroe (1977)
Anibal Sanchez (1984)

Denard Span (1984)
Yovani Gallardo (1986)

Walter Briggs was involved in the ownership of the Detroit Tigers from 1920-1952, becoming sole owner in 1935.

Hilton Smith was a star pitcher in the Negro Leagues from 1931-1950.  Some observers considered him the equal of, if not better than, Satchel Paige.

Bill Capps was a third baseman who played in the minors for twenty years, fifteen of them at Class A or below.

Buck Elliott was an outfielder who played in the minors for fourteen years, all but one of them at Class A or below.

Right-hander Willie Anthony Banks pitched for the Twins in the early 1990s.  He was born in Jersey City and attended high school there.  He was drafted by Minnesota with the third pick of the 1987 draft.  Banks was up and down in the minors.  He was very wild in his first two seasons, walking 169 batters in 190 innings.  He pitched well for Class A Visalia in 1989, but less well for AA Orlando in 1990 and AAA Portland in 1991.  Banks made his big league debut in 1991, making three not-very-good starts in August.  In 1992, however, he seemed to be putting things together:  he went 6-1, 1.92 in eleven starts in Portland, and was called up to the majors and placed in the Twins' starting rotation in early June.  He lasted two months there, going 4-4, 4.62 before being sent to the bullpen for the rest of the season.  Banks was in the starting rotation for all of 1993, his first full season in the majors.  He went 11-12, 4.04, but with a WHIP of 1.54.  After the season, he was traded to the Cubs for Dave Stevens and Matt Walbeck.  Banks was in the Cubs' rotation in 1994 until he got hurt in August, but did not pitch particularly well.  Moved to the bullpen for 1995, he pitched quite badly and was traded to the Dodgers in July.  He made six starts for the Dodgers, was placed on waivers, and was chosen by the Marlins.  He made nine starts for Florida, was waived again after the season, and was chosen by Philadelphia.  The Phillies released him in March of 1996, and he did not play baseball that season.  He signed with the Yankees for 1997 and pitched well in AAA, getting a September call-up.  He got off to a poor start in 1998 and was traded to Arizona.  He pitched pretty well out of the bullpen for the expansion Diamondbacks, but he was allowed to become a free agent after the season.  Banks went to Japan for 1999, but in 2000 came back to play in the Mets' organization.  He returned to the Diamondbacks' organization for 2001, was released in August, and was picked up by Boston.  He actually pitched quite well out of the Red Sox' bullpen, going 2-1, 2.72 with a WHIP of 1.11 for the rest of 2001 and all of 2002 (49.2 innings).  Boston let him go after 2002, however; he was in AAA with the Yankees and Cubs in 2003, and was in independent ball in 2004 and 2005.  Banks’ mother passed away in 2006, which plunged him into a severe depression and contemplating suicide.  Instead, however, he returned to baseball, reaching out to his friend Tim Raines, manager of the Newark Bears.  Raines offered him a job as a pitcher/pitching coach, jobs he held through 2012.  At last report, Willie Banks was a coach and instructor at the Toms River Baseball Academy in Toms River, New Jersey.

Outfielder Craig Keystone Monroe played for the Twins in 2008.  Born in Texarkana, Texas, he attended high school there, then was drafted by Texas in the eight round in 1995.  His minor league numbers were unimpressive until he started to develop power in 1998:  he hit 17 homers in each of 1998 and 1999 and hit 20 homers in each of 2000 and 2001.  Monroe made his major league debut in 2001, getting called up to the Rangers in late July and staying the rest of the season.  He batted only 52 times in the majors, hitting .212, and was placed on waivers after the season.  He was selected by Detroit and hit .321 in AAA Toledo in 2002, although with only ten homers.  He also got 25 at-bats in the majors, hitting .120.  Monroe started 2003 in the minors, but was called up within a few weeks and came to stay.  He was the regular left-fielder and hit 23 homers, although he hit only .240.  He remained a regular outfielder for the Tigers until he was traded in August of 2007.  His best average as a Tiger was .293 in 2004; the most home runs he hit was 28 in 2006.  That was as good as it would get.  Monroe was having a poor year in 2007 when he was traded to the Cubs.  The change of scenery did not help him, and he was sent to Minnesota after the season "as part of a conditional deal."  Used mostly as a designated hitter/pinch hitter, Monroe hit only .202/.274/.405 in 163 at-bats in 2008 and was released in August.  He signed with Pittsburgh for 2009 but was used sparingly and again did not hit.  He was released in July, bringing his playing career to an end.  Monroe is a cousin of Chicago Bears defensive back Nathan Vasher.  Monroe's mother's first name is Marilyn.  At last report, Craig Monroe was a baseball analyst for Bally Sports Detroit.

Right-hander Anibal Alejandro Sanchez did not play for the Twins, but was in spring training with them for a couple of weeks in 2018.  Born and raised in Maracay, Venezuela, he signed with Boston in 2001.  He did pretty well in the minors, reaching AA in 2005 at age 21.  After that season he was traded to Florida in a deal that involved Hanley Ramirez, Josh Beckett, and Mike Lowell.  He started 2006 in AA but was jumped to the majors in late June and was tremendous, going 10-3, 2.83, 1.19 WHIP in 17 starts.  He then struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness for the next three seasons.  He came back in 2010 to have a fine year and was a solid major league pitcher through 2014.  He was traded to Detroit in July of 2012 and had no problems in switching leagues.  In fact, in 2013 he had the best season of his career, going 14-8, 2.57 and leading the league in ERA and FIP and finishing fourth in Cy Young voting.  He struggled from 2015-2017, going 20-30, 5.67.  He signed with the Twins on February 20, 2018, but was released two and a half weeks later and signed with Atlanta.  There was no real reason to think he'd be an effective pitcher again but he was, 7-6, 2.83, 1.08 WHIP.   He was a free agent after the season and signed with Washington for 2019, for whom he didn't match those totals but still had another fine season.  At that time we said, "It's possible that he could lose it again as quickly as he found it, but it's also possible that he'll remain an effective pitcher for at least a couple more years."  The former seems to have happened, as he had a very poor season for the Nationals in 2020.  It was reported that he had received offers to pitch in 2021, but between the terms of the offers and COVID concerns he chose not to.  He is reported to be considering a return in 2022.  On the one hand, he turns thirty-eight today and hasn't had a good year since 2019.  On the other hand, teams are always looking for pitching, so it's possible that Anibal Sanchez' playing career is not yet done.

Outfielder Keiunta Denard Span played for the Twins from 2008-2012.  He was born in Tampa and went to high school there.  The Twins drafted him in the first round in 2002.  His minor league record is okay, but not spectacular--he never really had a bad year, but he never really had an outstanding year, either, although he did attract attention when he hit .339 in 186 at-bats in Ft. Myers in 2005.  He started 2008 with Minnesota, but was sent down in late April when he was hitting .258 with no extra-base hits.  He hit .340 in 156 at-bats in Rochester, and was back in Minnesota by the end of June.  He became the regular right fielder in the absence of Michael Cuddyer and ended the season hitting .294.  In 2009, playing primarily in center but all over the outfield to some extent, Span hit .311 and led the league in triples with 10.  The trade of Carlos Gomez made Span the regular center fielder in 2010, but he did not respond well; while he again hit ten triples, he hit only .264 with an OBP of .331.  2011 was no better; he again hit .264 with an OBP of .328 in a concussion-plagued season.  He bounced back somewhat in 2012, batting .283 with an OBP of .342.  After the season, he was traded to Washington for Alex Meyer.  He led the league with eleven triples in 2013, but otherwise had a season that fits in with the rest of his career.  In 2014, however, he had his best season since 2009, leading the league in hits and batting over .300.  He was on his way to another fine season in 2015 but missed nearly half the season with back and abdominal injuries.  A free agent after the season, he signed with San Francisco for 2016 and was their regular center fielder through 2017, doing okay but nothing special.  He was traded to Tampa Bay after the 2017 season with three other players for Evan Longoria.  He was their left fielder through late May, then was traded to Seattle, where he had another okay season.  His playing career ended after the 2018 season.  As a Twin, Denard Span hit .284/.357/.389, with his first two seasons being easily his best.  He's married to Olympic hockey player Anne Schleper, and has started the Denard Span Foundation to aid single parent families.  At last report, Denard Span was a special assistant in baseball operations for the Tampa Bay Rays.