Happy Birthday–September 22

Doc Powers (1870)
Hooks Dauss (1889)
Urban Shocker (1890)
Ira Flagstead (1893)
Harry Walker (1918)
Bob Lemon (1920)
Tommy Lasorda (1927)
Ken Aspromonte (1931)
Jim Fairey (1944)
Larry Dierker (1946)
Jeffrey Leonard (1955)
Wally Backman (1959)
Vince Coleman (1961)
Bob Geren (1961)
Mark Guthrie (1965)
Mike Matheny (1970)
Carlos Correa (1994)
Calvin Faucher (1995)

Four players born on this date made their debuts in 2019.  That may not be a record, but it is unusual.

We would also like to wish a happy birthday to Spookymilk’s oldest daughter.

Outfielder James Burke Fairey did not play for the Twins, but was in AAA for them in 1974. He was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina and attended Erskine College in Due West, South Carolina, the most successful of six major league players to come from that school. The Dodgers signed him as a free agent in 1965. He batted over .300 for three consecutive years in the Dodgers’ minor league system and averaged 13 homers per season, although his home run total went down each year. He made his major league debut in 1968, spending the entire year as a reserve outfielder. He batted only .199 in 156 at-bats, however, and was left unprotected in the expansion draft. Montreal chose him and he went back to AAA for the 1969 season, playing for the Expos as a September call-up. He made the team in 1970, though, and stayed for three seasons as a back-up outfielder, getting around 200 at-bats per season and hitting around .240. He was released in late March of 1973 and signed back with the Dodgers, getting a September call-up after spending most of the season at AAA. After the season, he was traded to Minnesota with G. Mike Floyd for Glenn Ezell and Charlie Manuel. Fairey was at AAA all of 1974 and had a good season, hitting .302/.391/.495 with 16 home runs. It did not get him to the majors, however, and he moved on to the San Diego system in 1975. He played for AAA Hawaii for three seasons, averaging around .300 with double-digit home runs, but never got a call-up to the big leagues. He remained in baseball after his playing career ended, first as a minor league manager for the Cubs and then as a scout for San Francisco and for Texas.  At last report, Jim Fairey was living in Clemson, South Carolina.  His grandson, Chad Fairey, played for Clemson University in 2019-2021.

Infielder Walter Wayne Backman played for the Twins in 1989. He was born in Hillsboro, Oregon, went to high school in Beaverton, Oregon, and was drafted by the Mets in the first round in 1977. A shortstop in his early minor league career, he was moved to second base when he reached AAA Tidewater in 1980. He hit for a good average in the minors, although with little power, and set a personal high for walks in the 1980 season with 87. This earned him a September call-up. Backman suffered through an injury-plagued 1981, but became the Mets semi-regular second baseman in 1982, starting 73 games. He played decently for the Mets, but 1983 found him back in Tidewater, as he lost the second base job to Brian Giles. A .316 batting average for Tidewater that season enabled him to leave the minors behind for good. Backman was the regular second baseman for the Mets from 1984-85. He was reduced to part-time status in 1986-88, sharing second base with Tim Teufel, although Backman got the majority of the playing time. In December of 1988, Backman was traded to the Twins with Mike Santiago for Jeff Bumgarner, Steve Glasser, and Toby Nivens. Backman proceeded to have the worst season of his career, batting .231/.306/.284 in 299 at-bats in another injury-plagued season. The Twins allowed Backman to become a free agent, and he signed with Pittsburgh, where he bounced back to hit .292 in 1990. He became a free agent again, spending 1991-92 with Philadelphia. At the end of the line, he was signed briefly by Atlanta and Seattle in 1993, but was released by the Mariners in May and his playing career was over. Backman became a minor-league manager, and nearly died in 1998 when he was bitten by a brown recluse spider while managing in Bend, Oregon. He was named manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks on November 1, 2004. Unfortunately, a number of legal and financial problems came to light, and Backman was fired four days later. He made a comeback, however, as he managed the Brooklyn Cyclones in the Mets organization in 2010, was promoted to manager of AA Binghamton in 2011, was the manager of AAA Buffalo in 2012, and was the manager of AAA Las Vegas from 2013-16.  He was not the manager there in 2017; it's unclear whether he resigned or was fired, but it seems clear neither side was particularly interested in seeing the relationship continue.   He became the manager of Monclova in the Mexican League in 2017, but was fired forty-two games into the season and became the bench coach of Puebla.  He was the manager of the independent New Britain Bees in 2018 and has managed the independent Long Island Ducks since 2019.  Wally Backman was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 2002.

Left-hander Mark Andrew Guthrie played for the Twins from 1989-1995. He was born in Buffalo, went to high school in Venice, Florida, attended LSU, and was drafted by the Twins in the seventh round in 1987. He came through the minors quickly, making his major-league debut with the Twins in July of 1989. Used mostly in relief, Guthrie was a solid pitcher for Minnesota through 1992. He had injury problems in 1993, was still battling them in 1994, and in 1995 he was traded with Kevin Tapani to the Dodgers in a deadline deal for Ron Coomer, Greg Hansell, Jose Parra, and Chris Latham. After three and a half decent years with the Dodgers, Guthrie became a free agent in 1999 and signed with Boston, only to be included in another deadline deal that sent him to the Cubs. He then started moving around, going to Tampa Bay, Toronto, Oakland, the Mets, and back to the Cubs before his career ended after the 2003 season. Mark Guthrie appeared in 243 games for the Twins, going 29-27 with 8 saves, a 4.19 ERA, and a 1.43 WHIP in 489.2 innings. He was never a star, but was usually a fairly dependable reliever. He played in the big leagues for 14 years and was in the post-season five times, including pitching in four games of the 1991 World Series with the Twins. At last report, Mark Guthrie was the General Manager of Florida Burn, which appears to be an organization of high-school age all-star teams.

Shortstop Carlos Javier Correa played for the Twins in 2022.  He was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, went to high school in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, and was drafted by Houston with the first pick of the 2012 draft.  He hit well pretty much throughout the minor leagues and reached the majors to stay (other than rehab assignments) in June of 2015.  He has posted an OPS of over .800 in six of his eight seasons and over .900 in two of them.  He was Rookie of the Year in 2015 and made the all-star team in 2017 and 2021.  He also won a Gold Glove in 2021 and finished fifth in MVP voting that year.  His best season, at least in terms of offense, was probably 2017, when he batted .315. hit twenty-four home runs, and posted his highest OPS at .941.  He remained an Astro through 2021, then became a free agent and signed with the Twins.  He had a solid season in 2022 and opted out of his contract, but when health concerns scared away a couple of teams he came back to the Twins.  Battling plantar fasciitis all season, he has had a down year in 2023, although he heas still played well in the field. When he first came up, he'd steal a base occasionally, but he's stolen only six bases since 2017 and his last one is in 2019.  He turns twenty-nine today.  He is perhaps not the superstar that he's sometimes made out to be, but when healthy he's definitely an excellent ballplayer.  As a Twin, he is batting .216/.339/.433 in 1036 at-bats.  If he can return to good health in 2024, we expect him to have a much better year than 2023.

Right-handed reliever Calvin Faucher did not play for the Twins, but was in their farm system from 2017-2021.  He was born in Chula Vista, California, attended the University of California-Irvine, and was drafted by Minnesota in the tenth round in 2017.  He pitched very well in Elizabethton that year but struggled after that.  He posted ERAs over four in Class A in 2018 and 2019, did not pitch in 2020, and had an ERA of over seven in AA in 2021 when he was traded to Tampa Bay with Nelson Cruz for Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman.  The Rays apparently saw something the Twins did not, because Faucher immediately started pitching well in AA and AAA for them in 2021.  He was not as good, but still decent in AAA in 2022 and came up to the Rays early in the season.  He had a disastrous outing in May (five runs in one inning) which skews his ERA, but other than that he did okay for them in 2022.  He started 2023 in the majors but pitched poorly, went to the minors, and has missed time due to injury.  In seventy-two AAA innings he is 3-4, 2.75, 1.38 WHIP with 91 strikeouts.  In the majors, however, he is 3-4, 6.32, 1.68 WHIP in 47 innings.  He turns twenty-eight today, so he's not a kid.  He'll get more chances, but he's going to have to accomplish something at the major league level pretty soon if he's going to have a good career there.

One thought on “Happy Birthday–September 22”

  1. Skim shares a birthday with Correa, eh? Fun.

    She’s 19 today and some year soon I’ll have to miss her on this date, but my cousin is getting married in the same city where Skim goes to college, so it won’t be this year.

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