Happy 54th Birthday, Kevin Tapani
Tapani walked on at Central Michigan University where he pitched from 1983 to ’86, going 23-8 as the team won three consecutive Mid-American Conference titles. He pitched a no-hitter vs. Eastern Michigan on April 22, 1986.
Tapani was selected by the Athletics in the second round of the 1986 draft. He went to the Mets as part of a three-team, eight-player trade on December 11, 1987. He was called up when Doc Gooden went down with an injury, and made his major league debut on July 4, 1989 at age 25, relieving Bob Ojeda with two out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the first. He balked home a run before throwing his first major league pitch. He recovered, however, pitching 4 ⅓ innings and allowing just the one run on two hits and three walks. He put the ball in play off Houston’s Mike Scott in his first big league at-bat, lining out deep down the right field line according to Baseball Reference’s game log.
The Twins acquired Tapani on July 31, 1989 as part of perhaps the greatest trade in team history when they sent 1987 World Series MVP and ‘88 AL Cy Young winner Frank Viola to the Mets for David West, Rick Aguilera, Tapani, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage (as a player to be named later).
Tapani won 75 games for the Twins between 1989 and 1995. He had double digit wins of each of his five full seasons in Minnesota.
Tapani had his best season as a Twin in 1991, going 16-9 with a 2.99 ERA, 3.49 FIP (thank you, Mike Pagliarulo and Greg Gagne), 1.086 WHIP, and averaged five strikeouts and 1.5 walks per nine innings. He actually led the ‘91 team with a 6.8 WAR (as calculated by Baseball Reference). May 15, 1991 at the Dome, however, was not one of his better games, as the Brewers’ Paul Molitor tripled on his first pitch of the game and proceeded to go 5-for-5, hitting for the cycle.
He outdueled Tom Glavine in Game 2 of the 1991 World Series, giving up two runs on seven hits and no walks over eight innings. Scott Leius’s solo homer gave the Twins the lead in the bottom of the eighth, and Rick Aguilera slammed the door in the top of the ninth. He lost to Glavine in Game 5 in Atlanta, leaving after giving up four runs in the fourth. The loss put the Twins on the brink of elimination heading home for Game 6. We all know how that story ends.
On July 31, 1995, six years to the day after he came to Minnesota in the Viola trade, Tapani and Mark Guthrie were traded to the Dodgers for four players including Ron Coomer. He went on to pitch for the White Sox in 1996, and the Cubs from 1997 to 2001. He won 19 games for the Cubs in 1998, and hit his first major league home run off his former Twins teammate Denny Neagle. He hit another homer in 2000.
Tapani still lives in the Twin Cities. He recently spent several seasons as a baseball coach at Providence Academy in Plymouth.
February 19, 1876
Birthdate of “Home Run” Joe Marshall
Despite his success at lower levels, Marshall performed poorly in two brief major league stints, first in 1903 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and again in 1906 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Terry Bohn wrote about Marshall for the SABR BioProject (click here).
And CLICK HERE for some interesting blog posts by Jeff Bozovsky, author of Divorcees, Barmaids, and Cranks: The 1897 Red River Valley League.
February 19, 1912
Birthdate of Dick Siebert
Dick Siebert played in six games for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1932, and two games in 1936. He was drafted by the Cubs in the 1936 Rule 5 Draft, and purchased by the Cardinals prior to the 1937 season. In May 1938 he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics where he finally saw regular playing time from 1938 to 1945. In 1941, a good season for offense, he hit .334 with a career-high 79 RBI. He was an American League All-Star in 1943.
In total he played in 1,035 major league games across parts of 11 seasons, hitting .282 with 32 home runs.
Siebert is best known in Minnesota, of course, for coaching the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers from 1948 to 1978, winning three NCAA championships (1956, ‘60 and ‘64), and 12 Big Ten titles, with only three sub-.500 seasons.
Dick Siebert passed away on December 9, 1978. He was just 66 years old. The U of M renamed its ballpark “Siebert Field” on April 21, 1979.
Rich Arpi wrote a thorough essay on Siebert for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotans in Baseball. That book can be found on Amazon, but Arpi's essay is available through the SABR BioProject (click here).
February 19, 1985
Twins Acquire Smalley, Again
The Twins had originally acquired Smalley in the 1976 trade that sent Bert Blyleven and Danny Thompson to the Texas Rangers. Smalley’s first stint with the Twins was highlighted by his 1979 All-Star campaign. On April 10, 1982 he was traded along with St. Cloud State alumnus and proprietor of Serum’s Good Time Emporium in Anoka, Gary Serum, to the New York Yankees for pitchers Ron Davis, Paul Boris, and a minor league infielder named Greg Gagne. In July 1984, the Yankees offloaded Smalley to the White Sox in exchange for players to be named later, one of whom wound up being Doug Drabek, who after just one season the Yankees shipped off to Pittsburgh where he won the 1990 NL Cy Young Award.
One of the highlights of Smalley’s second stint with the Twins—other than winning the 1987 World Series, of course—was becoming the first player in Twins history to homer from both sides of the plate on May 30, 1986. Four players have done so since: Chili Davis (October 2, 1992), Ryan Doumit (July 22, 2012), Kennys Vargas (August 11, 2016), and Jorge Polanco (August 29, 2017). Here’s a fun story that Roy Smalley related to me on Twitter: “It just so happened that right after Doumit did it Chili was in town with the A's and I was there for FSN. We took a great picture together . . . We also each signed three baseballs with the dates we hit the HR's -- one for each of us -- which I'm proud to have. Only three Twins to have done it.” This, of course, was before Vargas and Polanco joined the club.
Roy Smalley retired following the Twins’ 1987 World Series Championship season.
February 20, 1987
Twins Acquire Al Newman
Newman played in 110 games for the ‘87 Twins, starting 75, splitting time pretty evenly between second base and shortstop. It is interesting to note, though, that Al Newman started two games that season as the Twins’ designated hitter.
Newman played in 118 games for the ‘91 Twins, starting 56, once again mostly splitting time between second and short, with four starts at third, one in left, and one as first baseman.
Newman is one of eight players to play for both the ‘87 and ‘91 Twins, and one of seven to play in both World Series. Allan Anderson did not play in either Series. Anderson—who posted the lowest ERA in the American League in 1988 and won 33 games between 1988 and ‘89—was just getting his feet wet in 1986 and ‘87, and was on his way out in ‘91. The other six Twins to play in both World Series are Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, Dan Gladden, Greg Gagne, Gene Larkin, and Randy Bush.
Newman became a free agent following the 1991 season. He signed with the Reds, was released in April, and ultimately wound up playing with the Texas Rangers in 1992, his final season. It just so happened that Texas was in town on April 11, 1992 when the Twins got their rings.
Happy 71st Birthday, Charley Walters
He went 7-2 with a 1.94 ERA for the 1967 Northern League Champion St. Cloud Rox. Walters broke camp with the Twins in 1969, and pitched 6.2 innings over six games between April 11 and May 14. He did not allow a run in his first five outings. He allowed four, however, in his sixth and final major league appearance.
Walters has been a sportswriter for the Pioneer Press since way before Al Gore invented the internet. If anyone knows the exact year he started writing for the Pioneer Press, please let me know.
Stew Thornley wrote about Walters for the Halsey Hall SABR book Minnesotan in Baseball (click here).
Happy 43rd Birthday, Dave Maurer
The Padres drafted Maurer in the 11th round of the 1997 Amateur Draft. He made his major league debut on July 22, 2000 at age 25. He pitched 14.2 innings over 14 games that season, picking up his only big league win on September 22 in Los Angeles. He made only three appearances for the Padres in 2001. After brief stints in the Reds and Athletics organizations, Maurer made it back to the majors with Cleveland late in the 2002 season, pitching in two games, both against the Minnesota Twins. He took his only major league loss at the Metrodome on September 25, giving up a twelfth-inning walk-off home run to David Ortiz.
Maurer made three appearances for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004. They did not go well.
In total, Maurer appeared in 22 major league games, pitching 22.1 innings over parts of four seasons.
Happy 78th Birthday, Wayne Hattaway
Below is my best attempt at piecing together his long Twins career:
1962-1963: Dallas Rangers (Triple-A) equipment manager
1964-1971: Charlotte Hornets (Double-A)
1972-1973: Lynchburg Hillcats (Class A) equipment manager
1974: Reno Silver Sox (Class A) equipment manager
1975-1985: Orlando Twins (Double-A) trainer
1986-?: Orlando Twins/Sun Rays equipment manager
2002-Present: Minnesota Twins clubhouse attendant/assistant
Remarkably, the 1985 All-Star game at the Metrodome was the first major league game that he attended in his life! It was his 23rd season in the Twins organization. He came close in 1969, Hattaway told the Orlando Sentinel in 1985 (click here). Farm director George Brophy told Hattaway that if the Twins beat the Orioles in the ALCS, they would fly him to Minnesota for the World Series. Unfortunately Baltimore swept Minnesota in three games that year and again in 1970.
Ron Gardenhire brought Hattaway up to the big league club when he became manager in 2002. Hattaway was known for maintaining a loose atmosphere in the clubhouse. One of his favorite techniques, apparently, was making fun of players. In the midst of a bad slump, he said to Torii Hunter “you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat.”
Stew Thornley shared another good line that Hattaway used on a Twins player after a bad game: “hey, don’t worry about it. We don’t blame you. We blame the scout who signed you.”
A source shared a locker room observation of the Big Fella, but this is a family-friendly website.
I just today came across this really cool looking piece including an audio interview with Hattaway on John Swol's TwinsTrivia.com (click here).
Keep in touch with @TwinsAlmanac on Twitter and Facebook.
Click here to view the article