Happy Birthday–January 21

Mike Tiernan (1867)
Lew Fonseca (1899)
Sam Mele (1922)
Danny O'Connell (1927)
Johnny Oates (1946)
Bill Stein (1947)
Mike Krukow (1952)
Dave Smith (1955)
Mike Smithson (1955)
Jose Uribe (1959)
Andy Hawkins (1960)
Darryl Motley (1960)
Chris Hammond (1966)
Tom Urbani (1968)
Rusty Greer (1969)
Jason Ryan (1976)
Brandon Crawford (1987)

Tom Urbani was drafted by Minnesota in the twenty-ninth round in 1989, but did not sign.

The nephew of infielder Tony Cuccinello, Sabath Anthony "Sam" Mele was the second manager of the Minnesota Twins.  Born in Astoria, New York, he was listed for most of his career as having been born in 1923, a fib he attributed to his uncle Tony, who advised him to cheat a year on his age in order to have a longer career.  Mele attended high school in Queens and then went to New York University.  He then entered the Navy.  He was signed by Boston as a free agent in 1946.  After a big year in Class A Scranton, Mele made the Red Sox out of spring training in 1947, eventually becoming a regular outfielder, playing all over the outfield but mostly in right.  He batted .302 that year, the only year he would hit .300.  The next year, Mele clashed with manager Joe McCarthy, who insisted that he change his batting stance, a change Mele blamed for the fact that his average declined.  He fell to part-time status and was traded to Washington in June of 1949.  He had a couple of solid years in Washington, batting .274 and leading the league in doubles in 1951.  In May of 1952, Mele was traded again, this time to the White Sox.  He hit .274 for them in 1953, but was traded again after the season, this time to Baltimore.  He got off to a poor start with the Orioles, was placed on waivers in July, and was claimed by Boston.  He hit .318 for the Red Sox for the rest of 1954, but slumped in 1955 and was on the move again, sold to Cincinnati.  He was released by the Reds after the season, played for Cleveland in 1956, and was released again in mid-April of 1957.  Mele played for the White Sox' AAA team in 1957 and part of 1958, moving on to Kansas City's AAA team for the rest of 1958 before bringing his playing career to a close.  He then became a coach for Washington, coming to Minnesota with the team in 1961.  He took over from Cookie Lavagetto as manager in June.  He remained the Twins' manager into 1967, winning the American League pennant in 1965.  He was replaced as manager by Cal Ermer fifty games into the 1967 season.  Mele never managed again, but was immediately hired as an instructor and scout for the Red Sox, for whom he worked for the next 25 years.  Sam Mele passed away on May 1, 2017 at his home in Quincy, Massachusetts.

Tall (6'8") right-hander Billy Mike Smithson pitched for Minnesota from 1984-1987.  Born in Centerville, Tennessee, he attended the University of Tennessee and was drafted by Boston in the fifth round in 1976.  He struggled for two years in AA, and was converted to relieving in 1979.  He had an excellent year in AAA in 1980, and did well there again in 1981, but was traded to Texas just before the 1982 season.  The Rangers switched Smithson back to starting, and he had a decent year in AAA other than showing a tendency to give up home runs.  He got a September call-up that year and was with Texas all of the 1983 season.  He had a pretty good year for the Rangers, but was traded to Minnesota that offseason along with John Butcher for Sam Sorce and Gary Ward.  He spent most of the next four years in the Twins rotation.  Smithson started out pretty well, going 15-13 with a 3.68 ERA in 252 innings in 1984.  Unfortunately, he got a little worse every year.  He was still decent in 1985, and again pitched over 250 innings, but he had a poor 1986, and in 1987 he was sent to the minors at the end of July and left off the post-season roster.  The Twins released Smithson after the season, and he signed with Boston.  He played for the Red Sox for two more years, doing some starting and some relieving, but never had a good year for them.  He retired after the 1989 season.  As a Twin, Mike Smithson was 47-48, 4.46 in 128 games, 126 of them starts.  He had 26 complete games and five shutouts, pitching 816 innings.  He was named to the University of Tennessee's all-century team and is a member of the school's Hall of Fame.  At last report, Mike Smithson was the athletic director of Hickman County High School in his home town of Centerville, Tennessee, where the baseball field has been named after him, until his retirement.

Right-hander Jason Paul Ryan appeared in 24 games for Minnesota from 1999-2000.  A native of Long Branch, New Jersey, he attended high school in Sommerville, New Jersey and was drafted by the Cubs in the ninth round in 1994.  Ryan was up and down in the minors, pitching well in 1994 and 1995, but not very well in his second year at advanced Class A in 1996.  He had two more down years in advanced A and AA, but got off to a tremendous start in 1999, going 5-0, 1.41 in seven starts at AA West Tennessee.  At that point, Ryan was traded to the Twins with Kyle Lohse for Rick Aguilera and Scott Downs.  He did not pitch nearly as well at either AA New Britain or AAA Salt Lake, but was brought up to the Twins in late August anyway, going 1-4 in eight starts.  He had a better year in Salt Lake in 2000 and came back up to the Twins in late June.  His numbers that year are not as bad as they appear--over half his earned runs were given up in three outings--but they are not all that good, either.  He was released after the season, and never pitched in the majors again.  He kept trying for some time, though.  He pitched in AAA for Pittsburgh and the Dodgers in 2001, played independent ball in 2002, was in AAA with St. Louis in 2003, and split 2004 between the AAA teams of the Cardinals and Royals.  He actually had a very good year in 2003, going 8-6, 2.70 with a 1.27 WHIP, but it apparently not good enough to impress anyone who mattered.  No information about what Jason Ryan has done since his playing career ended was readily available.  However, his nephew, Ryder Ryan, is a pitcher in the Rangers organization, playing for AAA Round Rock in 2021 and 2022.

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