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Jeff A

Twins Birthdays--June 24

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I'll be out of range of the internet tomorrow, and I don't see a way to schedule this ahead of time, so you'll get it a day early.

Don Mincher (1938)
Tom Klawitter (1958)
Doug Bernier (1980)

First baseman Don Mincher played for the Twins from 1961-1966. Born and raised in Huntsville, Alabama, he was signed by the White Sox as a free agent in 1956. He had a very good minor league record, batting over .300 twice and hitting over 20 homers three times. Just before the 1960 season, Mincher was traded to Washington with Earl Battey and $150,000 for Roy Sievers, a trade which worked very well for the soon-to-be Minnesota Twins. Mincher was given the first base job for Washington in 1960, but did not hit well and was back in the minors by mid-May. He was with the new Minnesota Twins in 1961, but again did not hit and was back in the minors in late May. Mincher finally made the majors to stay in 1962, but as the Twins also had Vic Power and Harmon Killebrew, he had a hard time getting playing time. He appeared in 86 games, but 61 of them were as a pinch-hitter, as he played the field in only 25 contests. Given his role, he did pretty well, hitting .240 with 9 homers for an OPS of .894. He got into the field more in 1963, but still only batted 225 times, posting an OPS of .871. By 1964 Power was gone, but Sam Mele chose to give Bob Allison substantial playing time at first base. Mincher did get 65 starts and hit 23 homers in 287 at-bats, recording an OPS of .847. Finally, in 1965, he got semi-regular status, sharing first base with Harmon Killebrew (Killebrew shifted to third when Mincher played). Mincher finally got almost regular playing time in 1966, at age 28, but after the season was traded to California with Pete Cimino and Jimmie Hall for Dean Chance and a player to be named later (Jackie Hernandez). He had a very good year for the Angels in 1967, hitting .273 (which was very good for 1967) with 25 homers and making his first all-star team. He slumped in 1968, however, and was left unprotected in the expansion draft. Seattle chose him, and he was easily their best offensive player, hitting 25 homers, again posting an OPS over .800, and making his second all-star team. He was traded to Oakland after the season and had another solid year, but was again traded in May of 1971, this time to Washington. He hit fewer homers as a Senator but had the highest batting average of his career, .291, and again had an OPS over .800. That was his last good year; he got off to a poor start when the team moved to Texas in 1972, was traded to Oakland in July, and ended his career as he had started it, as a pinch-hitter. As a Twin, Don Mincher hit .244/.340/.479. There were reasons he didnít play more, but one wonders what sort of numbers he might have posted if he had been given regular playing time in his mid-twenties. Don Mincher remained in baseball after his playing career ended. He became general manager and part-owner of the Huntsville Stars in the Southern League, holding those titles from 1994-2001. At that point, he became president of the Southern League, a position he held until his death. He was elected to the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. Don Mincher passed away in Huntsville, Alabama on March 4, 2012.


Left-hander Tom Klawitter appeared in seven games for the Twins in 1985. He was born in La Crosse, Wisconsin and attended Wisconsin-La Crosse. Klawitter was drafted by the Dodgers in the nineteenth round in 1980. He struggled in the Dodgersí system, reaching AA in 1982 but never posting an ERA under four. The Dodgers released him in May of 1983. Minnesota picked him up and sent him to Class A Wisconsin Rapids, where he pitched fairly well the rest of the season. Promoted to AAA for 1984, Klawitter continued to do fairly well, going 10-6, 3.59 with a 1.35 WHIP. He made the Twins out of spring training in 1985; then manager Billy Gardner would make a claw gesture to the bullpen when he wanted Klawitter in the game. Unfortunately, that didnít happen for very long, as his control, which had always been shaky, pretty much deserted him. Klawitter made five relief appearances and two starts for the Twins. He gave up seven runs on seven hits and thirteen walks in 9.1 innings. The record is not clear about what happened to him after mid-May of 1985; Klawitter was no longer with the Twins, but he does not appear to have gone to the minors, either. At any rate, he made six appearances for AA Knoxville in 1986, and then his playing career was over. Tom Klawitter is currently is a high school girls basketball coach in Janesville, Wisconsin, a position he has held for several years.


Infielder Douglas Paul Bernier has not played for the Twins yet, but is currently in their farm system. Born and raised in Santa Maria, California, he attended Oral Roberts University and was signed by Colorado as a free agent in 2002. He spent two years in high-A and two years in AA before getting to AAA Colorado Springs in 2007. He had a couple of solid seasons there, but considering that itís Colorado Springs, his numbers were not all that impressive. He appeared in two games for the Rockies in the middle of June, one as a defensive replacement and one as a starter, and went 0-for-4. Thatís the sum and substance of his major league career so far. He has been in AAA since then, but has moved around some. He became a free agent after the 2008 season and signed with the Yankees. He had a poor year in 2009, moved to the Pittsburgh organization in 2010, continued to not hit much, moved back to the Yankees organization from 2011-2012, and signed with Minnesota for 2013. At this writing, he is having the best season heís had since 2008, batting in the .280s and drawing walks. Still, heís 32 today. If he keeps hitting, itíd be nice to see him get a September call-up just to get a chance to get a major league hit, but even thatís a long shot at this point.
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