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Jeff A

Twins Birthdays--July 14

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Also posted at wgom.org

Danny Walton (1947)
Vic Rodriguez (1961)


This is also the birthday (1924) of Ralph Rowe, who was a Twins coach from 1972-1975.


Outfielder Daniel James Walton played for the Twins in 1973 and 1975. He was born in Los Angeles, went to high school in La Puente, California, and was drafted by Houston in the tenth round in 1965. He hit very well in the minors, hitting over .300 with 45 homers combined in 1966-1967. He started 1968 with Houston, but got only two at-bats as a pinch-hitter before being returned to the minors. He did not really get going all season, but came back in 1969 to hit .332 with 34 homers for AAA Oklahoma City. In late August, Walton was traded to the Seattle Pilots in a deal that also involved ex-Twin Sandy Valdespino. He was the Pilots’ regular left fielder the rest of the year and held that position in 1970 for the new Milwaukee Brewers. That was the only year of his career that he got regular play, and was also his best year, as he hit .257 with 17 homers and an OPS of .790. Walton injured his knee late in the season, however, and was never the same player again. He began 1971 with Milwaukee, but was traded to the Yankees in early June and was in the minors most of the rest of the year. He had a solid year in AAA Syracuse in 1972, but was traded to Minnesota after the season for Rick Dempsey. Walton was in the big leagues most of the season but did not play much and did not hit when he did play, batting .177 with four homers. He went back to AAA in 1974 and had a strong year, hitting .263 with 35 homers and 109 RBIs. He was back with the Twins in 1975, but again did not hit, and was sent back down in mid-July. After the season, the Twins traded Walton to the Dodgers for Bobby Randall. As a Twin, he hit .176/.272/.302 in 159 at-bats. He was with the Dodgers organization for two seasons and had a huge year at AAA Albuquerque in 1977, hitting .289 with 42 homers and 122 RBIs. All it got him was a trade to Houston in early September. He stuck with the Astros the rest of the season, but was released late in spring training in 1978. He went to Japan that year, then came back to AAA with Seattle in 1979 and with Texas in 1980. He was in the big leagues for one more month in 1980, but that was the end of the line for him. After his playing career ended, he became a welder and pipe fitter in Utah. At last report, Danny Walton was retired and raising horses near Ogden, Utah.


Infielder Victor Manuel (Rivera) Rodriguez had eleven at-bats for the Twins in 1989. He was born in New York and signed with Baltimore in 1977 at age 16. He did not show a lot of power, but his other numbers are not bad, especially when one considers how young he was. He reached AAA in 1982 and hit .274 there in 1984, earning a September call-up in which he hit .412 with 3 doubles in 17 at-bats. The Orioles apparently weren’t overly impressed, as they traded him to San Diego the following February. He spent one season in the Padres’ organization, hitting .312 with 11 homers in AAA Las Vegas, and they weren’t impressed either, allowing him to become a free agent after the season. Rodriguez then signed with St. Louis, playing two seasons for AAA Louisville, and became a free agent again. He signed with Minnesota in January 0r 1988. He played in AAA Portland for four seasons, averaging close t0 .300. He was with the Twins for about a week and a half in late July of 1989, going 5-for-11 with two doubles as a third baseman. His line was .455/.455/.636. The Twins let him go after he hit .304 in Portland in 1991. He then went to Philadelphia, playing in AAA for two seasons and hitting .305 with 12 homers in 1993. He was in AAA for Florida in 1994 and Boston in 1995, then his playing career came to an end. In thirteen AAA seasons, Vic Rodriguez hit .290/.310/.408; in 28 major league at-bats he hit .429/.429/.607. He obviously was a free-swinger, and he would not have been a star, but it seems like he hit well enough that he could have helped somebody if he’d been given a chance. After his playing career he got into coaching, and is currently the assistant batting coach for the Boston Red Sox.
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