Happy Birthday–June 8

Due to personal time constraints, this is a reprint from last year, which was a reprint from the year before, which has not been updated.

Cub Stricker (1859)
Van Lingle Mungo (1911)
Del Ennis (1925)
Eddie Gaedel (1925)
George Brunet (1935)
Joe Grzenda (1937)
Pete Magrini (1942)
Mark Belanger (1944)
Lenn Sakata (1954)
Don Robinson (1957)
Carmelo Castillo (1958)
Britt Burns (1959)
Kevin Gross (1961)
John Gibbons (1962)
Kevin Ritz (1965)
Dave Mlicki (1968)
T. J. McFarland (1989)

Sadly, Cub Stricker never played for the Cubs.

3' 7" Eddie Gaedel is the shortest person to play in a major league game, walking in his only plate appearance as part of a Bill Veeck promotion.  His great-nephew, Kyle Gaedele, was an outfielder in the Padres organization from 2011-15, reaching AA.  Kyle is listed at 6' 3".

Left-hander Joseph Charles Grzenda made 38 appearances for the Twins in 1969.  He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, went to high school in Moosic, Pennsylvania, and signed with the Tigers as a free agent in 1955.  He was mostly a starter in the minors, and after a poor first season did pretty well for the most part.  He started 1961 in the majors but was sent back after only 5.2 innings over four games.  After the 1961 season he struggled for a couple of years due to injuries.  He was shifted to the bullpen in 1963 but continued to struggle and was released in late July.  He signed with the Kansas City Athletics for 1964 and was with the A’s for two and a half months, but did not pitch well either there or at AAA.  He went down to AA the next two years, and pitched extremely well, posting ERAs under two in 1966 and 1967.  He was in the majors just over two months in 1966 and pitched well, but in mid-August of 1967 Grzenda was traded to the Mets.  He finished the season with them and continued to pitch well, but after the season was sold to Minnesota.  Grzenda had a good year in AAA Denver in 1968, and in 1969 got his first full season in the majors.  He was not used a lot, but did not do too badly, going 4-1, 3.88 with a WHIP of 1.42 in 48.2 innings over 38 appearances.  In late March of 1970, however, Grzenda was traded to Washington with Charley Walters for Brant Alyea.  He was in the Senators’ bullpen for two years, pitching poorly in 1970 but having an outstanding year in 1971.  He was traded to St. Louis that off-season, and apparently left the magic behind in Washington, as he had a poor year in 1972.  He then spent two years in AAA, pitching in the Yankees’ organization in 1973 and in the Braves’ chain in 1974, but could not get back to the major leagues.  After his playing career ended, he was offered a chance to be a pitching coach in the Yankees’ organization, but decided he could not support his family on the amount he was offered.  He worked as a security guard, then worked for an auto battery manufacturer in Dunsmore, Pennsylvania for 25 years before retiring.  Joe Grzenda was the pitcher at the end of the last game the Washington Senators ever played.  He kept the ball, and he formally presented it to the new Washington franchise in April of 2005 for use in the ceremonial first pitch of the first home game for the Washington Nationals.  He was elected to the Birmingham Barons Hall of Fame in 2014.  Joe Grzenda passed away on July 12, 2019 in Covington Township, Pennsylvania.

Right-hander Peter Alexander Magrini did not play for the Twins but was originally signed by them.  He was born in San Francisco, went to high school in Santa Rosa, California, attended Santa Clara University, and signed with Minnesota as a free agent in 1964.  He had a good year for Class A Wilson and was chosen by Boston in the first-year player draft that off-season.  He pitched very well in the minors, consistently posting good ERAs and good WHIPs as both a starter and a reliever, but did not get much of a chance in the majors.  In fact, his major league career consists of three games with the Red Sox in April and May of 1966.  He made two relief appearances and one start, going 0-1, 9.82 in 7.1 innings.  He moved on to the Yankees’ organization for 1968 and again pitched very well in the minors, but again  it did him no good.  He had a down year in AAA in 1969, said he'd lost his desire to play, and retired, his playing career over at age 27.  In four seasons at AAA, Magrini had a 3.09 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP in 475 innings.  One has to think he might have done something in the big leagues if he had been given the chance.  At last report, Pete Magrini had returned to Santa Rosa and owned an automobile dealership until his retirement.

Outfielder Monte Carmelo Castillo, also known as Carmen Castillo, played for the Twins from 1989-1991.  He was born in San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, and signed with Phildelphia as a free agent in 1978.  He was drafted by Cleveland in December of 1978 in the minor league draft.  He posted decent averages with moderate power in the minors, nothing bad but nothing to attract a lot of attention, either.  He came up to the majors in mid-July of 1982, and with the exception of a couple of brief demotions was a part-time player in the majors for the next nine years.  He was generally a platoon player and pinch hitter, used primarily against left-handed pitching.  He didn’t do badly in that role, hitting .250-.280 with moderate power.  In late March of 1989, Castillo was traded to Minnesota for Keith Atherton.  Already 31, he was decent his first season with the Twins, but then went into decline.  The Twins released him in early May of 1991.  Castillo signed with Milwaukee a couple of weeks later and hit well in AAA Denver, but did not make it back to the big leagues and his career came to an end after the season.  As a Twin, Carmelo Castillo hit .240/.279/.373 in 367 at-bats.  He managed the DSL Rangers in 1991.  He later became a batting coach for the Tigres de Licey in the Dominican League.  Sadly, Carmelo Castillo passed away from a heart attack on November 15, 2015.

Leave a Reply