Happy Birthday–March 5

Sam Thompson (1860)
Jeff Tesreau (1888)
Lu Blue (1897)
Elmer Valo (1921)
Del Crandall (1930)
Phil Roof (1941)
Katsuo Osugi (1945)
Kent Tekulve (1947)
Doug Bird (1950)
Mike Veeck (1951)
Mike Squires (1952)
Steve Ontiveros (1961)
Brian Hunter (1971)
Jeffrey Hammonds (1971)
Ryan Franklin (1973)
Paul Konerko (1976)
Mike MacDougal (1977)
Erik Bedard (1979)
Joe Benson (1988)

Katsuo Osugi was the first player to have a thousand hits in the Japanese Central League and the Japanese Pacific League.

The son of Bill Veeck, Mike Veeck is president of the Goldklang Baseball Group, which owns a variety of minor league teams, including the St. Paul Saints.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to brianS’ daughter.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to spookymilk’s father.

Outfielder Elmer William Valo was one of the original Minnesota Twins, and may have the earliest birthdate of anyone to play for the team.  He was born in Rybnik in what is now Slovakia (one of two major league players from Slovakia, the other being Jack Quinn), and went to high school in Palmerton, Pennsylvania.  He was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1938.  He started his minor league career in 1939 and hit well over .300 each of the next three years in the low minors; his lifetime minor league batting average is .344 and his minor league slugging percentage is .500.  He got brief trials in the majors in 1940 and 1941, and in 1942 was jumped from Class B to the big leagues.  Valo was a starting outfielder for the Athletics in 1942, at age 21, and hit .251.  He was again starting for the Athletics in 1943 when he joined the Army.  He returned to baseball in 1946 and became a star, hitting over .300 each of the next three years and over .280 with an OPS over .800 each of the next seven years.  After the 1952 season, Valo dropped to part-time status for reasons that are not particularly clear.  He moved to Kansas City with the Athletics in 1955, hitting .364 in 283 at-bats.  Surprisingly, he was released in May of 1956 and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.  He continued to hit well as a part-time player, but was traded to Brooklyn in April of 1957.  He moved to Los Angeles with the team in 1958, and was used primarily as a pinch-hitter.  He was fairly good at it, but was released before the 1959 season.  Valo went back to the minors, sigining with independent Seattle in the Pacific Coast League, and was sold to Cleveland in June.  He pinch-hit for the Indians for the remainder of the season, was released, and signed with the Yankees for 1960.  The Yankees released him in May, and he signed with Washington the next day.  Still used mainly as a pinch-hitter, Valo hit .281 for Washington in 1960 and came to Minnesota with the team, the third franchise shift he had experienced.  He went 5-for-32 with two doubles as a Twin, was released in June, and finished the season and his career back in Philadelphia.  In his career, Valo held a number of odd records:  he was the first player to hit two bases-loaded triples in a game, and tied a record with three in a season in 1949.  In 1960, he set major-league records for most games, most times on base, and most walks as a pinch-hitter.  He also set a major league record with 91 career walks as a pinch-hitter.  He remained in baseball after his playing career ended, first as a coach and minor league manager for Cleveland and then as a long-time scout for Philadelphia.  Elmer Valo passed away on July 19, 1998 at Palmerton, Pennsylvania.  He was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 1990.

Catcher Phillip Anthony Roof played for the Twins for parts of six seasons from 1971-1976.  His brother Gene Roof was also a major league player.  Phil Roof was born in and attended high school in Paducah, Kentucky.  He was signed by the Milwaukee Braves as a free agent in 1959.  Roof never hit much in the minors:  his best offensive year was 1961, when he hit .261 for Class B Yakima.  He made his big league debut in 1961 as well, appearing behind the plate for one inning in a 7-3 loss to San Francisco.  He appeared in one more game in 1964, going 0-for-2.  After the season, Roof was traded to California.  1965 was his first full year in the big leagues, but he spent it with two teams, as he was traded to Cleveland in June.  After the season he was on the move again, traded to Kansas City in a deal that also included Joe Rudi.  He got the most playing time of his career in 1966, batting 369 times in 127 games, but hit only .209 with an OPS of .604.  Even in the poor offensive context of the time, that was not good.  Still, he remained a semi-regular catcher for the Athletics through 1969, moving with the team to Oakland, with the exception of 1968, when he was injured much of the year.  Roof was traded to Milwaukee in December of 1969.  He was a Brewer for about a year and a half, then was traded to Minnesota for Paul Ratliff in July of 1971.  He remained a Twin through August of 1976.  His averages with the Twins show the vagaries of small sample size:  after hitting .205, .197, and .196 in three consecutive years, Roof hit .302 in 1975, then fell back to .200 in 1976.  In none of those seasons did he get as many as 150 at-bats.  He was placed on waivers in August and claimed by the White Sox.  After the season he was traded to Toronto.  He went 0-for-5 in 1977 and then his career was over.  As a Twin, he hit .228/.282/.338 in 619 at-bats.  After he finished playing, Roof embarked on a long career as a manager in the Twins' organization, managing at Visalia (1982), Orlando (1983, 1992), Portland (1989-1990), Nashville (1993-1994), Salt Lake (1995-2000), and Rochester (2003-2005).  He was also a bullpen coach for San Diego (1978), Seattle (1984-1988), and the Chicago Cubs (1990-1991).  He retired after the 2005 season, although he filled in as bullpen coach for the Twins in the first month of 2011 when Rick Stelmaszek was sidelined due to eye surgery.  He is part of a baseball family:  his brother Gene played in the majors from 1981-1983; brothers Adrian, Paul, and David all played minor league baseball; son Eric was a minor league player and son Shawn managed Visalia last season; and nephew Jonathan was a minor league player.  Phil Roof continues to appear at the Twins’ Fantasy Camp and at Twins spring training. He was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2011.  At last report, he was living in his home town of Paducah.

Right-hander Steven Ontiveros did not play for the Twins, but he was in their minor league system in 1993.  He was born in Tularosa, New Mexico and attended the University of Michigan.  Oakland drafted him in the second round in 1982.  He had a fine year at AA Albany in 1983, but then missed most of 1984 due to injury.  After a strong start in the bullpen for AAA Tacoma in 1985, Ontiveros was promoted to the majors.  He pitched very well that season, but struggled in 1986.  He was converted to starting in 1987 and did a fairly good job, but was injured again in 1988.  He was released after the season and signed with Philadelphia.  He pitched well for the Phillies when he could pitch, but those times were infrequent, as he missed significant time with injuries each season.  He became a free agent after the 1991 season and signed with Detroit for 1992, but was released in spring training.  He was out of baseball that season, but signed with the Twins in April of 1993 and was sent to AAA Portland.  He pitched very well there, going 7-6, 2.87, 1.07 WHIP in 103.1 innings, but rather than bringing him to the majors the Twins traded him to Seattle for Greg Shockey in mid-August.  He finished the season in the majors and pitched quite well, but was a free agent after the season and signed with Oakland.  Finally healthy, he had his best season in the majors in 1994, leading the league in ERA (2.65) and WHIP (1.03), although he was able to lead with only 115.1 innings due to the strike.  He could not match those numbers in 1995 but still pitched fairly well.  He was a free agent after the season and signed with California, but injuries came back to bite him again, and he started bouncing around.  Ontiveros pitched in the minors for the Angels from 1996-1997, St. Louis and Baltimore in 1998, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee in 1999, and Colorado and Boston in 2000.  He made it back to the majors in 2000, appearing in three games for the Red Sox.  He was back in the minors in 2001, pitching for the Mets and Oakland, and then his playing career came to an end.  In ten major league seasons, he was 34-31, 3.67, 1.25 WHIP.  He pitched 661.2 innings and appeared in 207 games, 73 of them starts.  One wonder what he might have been able to do if he’d only been able to stay on the field.  He is the owner of Spin Doctor Baseball, which offers pitching instruction.  He was the pitching coach for the Chinese National team in the 2008 Olympics.

Outfielder William Joseph Benson appeared in twenty-one games for the Twins in 2011.  He was born in Hinsdale, Illinois, went to high school in Joliet, Illinois, and was drafted by Minnesota in the second round in 2006.  Early on, he did not show a lot; he drew a good number of walks, but his average and power numbers were nothing special.  His first really good year was in 2009 at Ft. Myers, when he hit .285 with an OBP of .414 at age 21.  He was promoted to New Britain in 2010, but got off to a slow start and was sent back to Ft. Myers for a month.  He proved he was too good for that league and came back to New Britain, where he hit well the rest of the year and showed surprising power, hitting 23 home runs.  He was again in New Britain in 2011 and had a fine year, hitting .285/.388/.495 with 16 homers.  This earned him a September call-up to the big club, where he hit .239/.270/.352 in 71 at-bats.  2012, however, was pretty much a lost year, as he battled injuries and was ineffective when he did play.   He started 2013 in Rochester, did very little, was released in late May, signed with Texas, was sent to AA, and continued to do very little.  A free agent after the season, he signed with Miami.  He spent almost the entire 2014 season at AA and did fairly well, but nothing eye-popping.  A free agent again, he signed with Atlanta for 2015, was released in June, signed with the Mets in July, became a free agent after the season, and signed with Minnesota for 2016.  He was released in late March, however, and did not play in 2016.  He was back playing in 2017 with the Sugar Land Skeeters, was with the Chicago Dogs in the American Association in 2018, went to Southern Maryland in the Atlantic League in 2019, and then his playing career came to an end.  One wonders if the injuries took something out of him; he looked like a solid prospect through 2011, then went completely backward.  There's a Joe Benson who's a coach at Top Tier Baseball in Chicago--it's certainly possible that it's him, but that could not be confirmed.