Happy Birthday–July 10

Jimmy McAleer (1864)
Bobby Lowe (1865)
John Heydler (1869)
Dick Lundy (1898)
Wayne Blackburn (1914)
Paul Pryor (1927)
Gene Alley (1940)
Hal McRae (1945)
Bob Bailor (1951)
Andre Dawson (1954)
Buddy Groom (1965)
Lee Stevens (1967)
Marty Cordova (1969)
ByungHo Park (1986)
Ryan Wheeler (1988)
Scott Alexander (1989)
Will Smith (1989)
Jonny Deluca (1998)

John Heydler was the president of the National League from 1918-1934.

Wayne Blackburn was a minor league infielder from 1936-1956.  He drew over 1,400 walks in his career.

Paul Pryor was a National League umpire from 1961-1981 and is an alumnus of the author’s alma mater, the University of South Dakota.

Jonny Deluca was drafted by Minnesota in the 39th round in 2017 but did not sign.

Outfielder Martin Kevin Cordova played for the Twins from 1995-1999.  Born and raised in Las Vegas, he was drafted by Minnesota in the tenth round in 1989.  He was young and took a few years to get going, but hit .341 with 28 homers for Class A Visalia in 1992.  He stumbled a little when promoted to AA the next year, but came back with a bang, hitting .358 with 19 homers and an OPS of 1.018 for AAA Salt Lake in 1994.  He was the Twins’ starting left fielder the next season and won the Rookie of the Year award with 24 home runs and a .277 average.  He was 25 years old and big things were predicted, but that was as good as it got for Cordova.  He had a good 1996, hitting .309 and driving in 111 runs, but then had a couple of off years, due partly to plantar fasciitis.  He bounced back some in 1999, hitting .285 with 14 homers, but became a free agent after the season and signed with Boston.  Surprisingly, the Red Sox cut Cordova late in spring training, and he signed with Toronto.  He had an undistinguished year there, went to Cleveland for 2001, and had something of a renaissance, hitting .301 with 20 home runs.  He went to Baltimore for 2002, but played only nine games in 2003 due to an elbow injury.  He missed all of 2004 with that injury.  He briefly tried to come back with Tampa Bay in 2005 but decided to retire instead.  As a Twin, Marty Cordova hit .277/.348/.451 in 2,322 at-bats.  At last report, Marty Cordova was the Chief Operating Officer of Bent Pixels, which helps people earn money from YouTube videos.

Designated hitter/first baseman ByungHo Park played for the Twins in 2016.  He was born in Seoul, South Korea and began playing professional baseball in Korea at age eighteen with the LG Twins.  He missed two years due to military service, but the fact is that he did very little during his LG Twins years.  He was traded to the Nexen Heroes in 2011, and that's when his career took off.  In four and a half years with Nexen, he averaged .310/.401/.634 with 41 homers.  He was posted by Nexen to come to major leagues after the 2015 season and was won by the Twins.  He began 2016 as the Twins' designated hitter and batted .191/.275/.409 in 215 at-bats before getting sent to Rochester in late June.  He was hampered by sore wrists for much of the season, which the Twins belatedly realized might be a problem for a batter.  He finally went on the disabled list in late July and stayed there the rest of the season.  In 2017 he had a strong spring training but was sent to AAA anyway.  He missed about a month with a hamstring injury and did very poorly upon his return, but gradually improved so that his final numbers there don't look too bad.  He did not get back to the majors, though, and was released after the season.  He went back to Korea and had another strong season for the Nexen Heroes in 2018.  The team then became the Kiwoom Heroes, and Park continued to be a hero for them in 2019.  He stayed with Kiwoom through 2021 and did not hit for a good average, but continued to hit for power.  He moved on to the KT Wiz for 2022 and had his best year since 2019, posting an OPS of .909.  He did not match that in 2023, but still had a solid year. B-r.com indicates that he is playing in the KBO again in 2024, but has no stats for him.  It's a shame that injuries kept him from having a better chance to show people in the United States what he could do.  He turns thirty-eight today.  We wish him well in the rest of his baseball career.

The brother of ex-Twin Jason Wheeler, third baseman Ryan Gerard Wheeler did not play for the Twins, but he was in their farm system for a month and a half in 2015.  Born and raised in Torrance, California, he attended Loyola Marymount University and was drafted by Arizona in the fifth round.  He hit quite well in the minors and reached the majors for the Diamondbacks in the second half of the 2012 season.  Used as a reserve, he didn't do a whole lot and was traded to Colorado after the season.  He spent the next two seasons mostly at AAA, getting about a hundred major league at-bats in 2013-2014 combined.  He was waived in August of 2014 and claimed by the Angels.  He was in AAA for them until May of 2015, when he was released.  The Twins signed him on May 15 and he was hitting .233/.243/.315 in 73 at-bats for Rochester when he was released July 1.  He signed with Arizona for 2016 but was released in spring training and his playing career ended.  In his major league career, he hit .233/.280/.335 in 206 at-bats.  In AAA, however, he hit .305/.346/.459 in 1230 at-bats.  Given his success in AAA, it's surprising no one at least signed him to a minor league contract.  On the other hand, it could be that he simply decided it was time to get on with his life.  At last report, Ryan Wheeler was a vice-president of sales for Congo Brands, which sells a variety of energy drinks.

Leave a Reply