Happy Birthday, Jim Brower
Happy 47th birthday to 1991 Minnetonka graduate and Golden Gophers all-time great Jim Brower (1994 Dave Winfield Pitcher of the Year Award winner).
He spent parts of nine seasons in the majors with Cleveland, the Reds, Expos, Giants, Atlanta, the Orioles, Padres, and Yankees.
He led the majors with 89 appearances with the Giants in 2004. (Bonus Fact: 2008 Chaska graduate Brad Hand led the majors with 82 appearances with San Diego in 2016).
December 30, 1923
Birthdate of Harry Elliott
1942 Watertown graduate Harry Elliott was born in San Francisco on this date in 1923. The Golden Gophers all-time great had some prodigious minor league seasons, but missed his window of opportunity for a significant major league career, not signing his first professional contract until he was almost 27—after a brief stint as a touring jazz pianist, service in the Navy Air Corps, and attending the University of Minnesota on the G.I. Bill. The stocky 5-foot-7, 175-pound Elliott possessed a quick bat, deceptive power to all fields, and a fiery competitive disposition. After getting a cup of coffee in 1953, he spent the entire 1955 season with the Cardinals, but his best years were already behind him.
For more about Harry Elliott, check out my blog post (it’s about an eight-minute read): TwinsAlmanac.com/HarryElliott
Happy 75th Birthday, Jose Morales
Former Twin Jose Morales was born in the U.S. Virgin Islands on this date in 1944. He set a major league record with 25 pinch hits for the Expos in 1976 (broken by Jon Vander Wal with 28 in 1995).
He played for the Twins from 1978 to ‘80. In 1978, he led the American League with a .323 average as a designated hitter (.314 overall), and set a team record with 14 pinch hits (since tied by Chip Hales in 1995, and broken by Hale with 19 in ‘96). Morales’s 36 pinch hits over three seasons with the Twins is fourth-most in team history.
He tied 1964 Waterville graduate Jerry Terrell’s 1975 team record by grounding into three triple plays on May 17, 1980. He hit a grand slam off future Twins Dan Schatzeder on June 19, 1980 (Schatzeder was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1987 World Series).
December 30, 2010
Killebrew Reveals Cancer Diagnosis
74-year-old Twins legend Harmon Killebrew issues a statement announcing that he has been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. He passed away just over five months later, on May 17, 2011.
Happy 58th Birthday, Rick Aguilera
Longtime Twins closer Rick Aguilera was born in San Gabriel, CA on this date in 1961. The Twins acquired Aggie on July 31, 1989 in what was perhaps the greatest trade in team history, sending 1987 World Series MVP and ’88 Cy Young winner Frank Viola to the Mets for David West, Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, Tim Drummond, and Jack Savage (as a player to be named later on October 16).
Aggie saved 254 games for the Twins between 1989 and ’99, second only to Joe Nathan‘s 260. He saved 42 regular season games for the 1991 World Series Champion Twins.
Aggie, who hit three home runs with the Mets, pinch-hit in the 12th inning of Game 3 of the World Series, becoming the first pitcher to do so since Don Drysdale pinch-hit for Sandy Koufax vs. Jim Kaat in Game 2 of the ’65 Series.
He was the winning pitcher in two of the most memorable Game 6’s in World Series history: 1986 (Buckner game), and 1991 (Puckett game).
Happy 36th Birthday, Neil Wagner
2002 Eden Prairie graduate Neil Wagner was born in Minneapolis on this date in 1984. He pitched for North Dakota State for three seasons before signing with Cleveland in 2005.
He made his major league debut pitching for the Oakland Athletics against Cleveland on August 30, 2011. He pitched five innings over six games with the Athletics that season. He made it back to the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays, getting into 36 games in 2013, and 10 in 2014.
Wagner pitched three scoreless innings over four appearances against the Twins, holding them to 1-for-11 (.091). Chris Colabello hit a seventh-inning double for the Twins’ only hit off Wagner in the second game of a doubleheader at Target Field on April 14, 2014. The next inning, Blue Jays pitchers combined to give up six runs on EIGHT walks and just one hit.
Happy 55th Birthday, Greg Swindell
Seventeen-year major leaguer and 1989 All-Star Greg Swindell was born in Fort Worth, TX on this date in 1965. He led the Twins with a 3.58 in his only full season with the team—1997.
He made 64 appearances with the 2001 World Series champion Arizona Diamondbacks.
1980 New Ulm graduate Terry Steinbach homered off Swindell in his first major league at-bat on September 12, 1986.
January 3, 1897
Birthdate of Pete Turgeon
Pete Turgeon was born in Minneapolis on this date in 1897.
He got into three games (one start at shortstop) with the 1923 Cubs, going 1-for-6 with a run scored altogether. The Cubs lost all three games he played in.
Happy 77th Birthday, Bob Gebhard
Former Twins pitcher and front office exec Bob Gebhard was born in Lamberton, MN on this date in 1943. The Twins drafted Gebhard out of the University of Iowa in the 44th round of the very first amateur draft in 1965. That summer he went 11-2 with a 1.91 ERA for the St. Cloud Rox.
Gebhard pitched professionally for 11 years, including 30 relief appearances with the Twins between 1970 and ‘71, and two innings with the ‘74 Expos. He was a player/coach with the Expos’ triple-A club in ‘74 and ’75, minor league field director and pitching coach from 1976 to ’81, part of the major league coaching staff in ’82, and director of minor league operations through 1986.
Andy MacPhail brought Gebhard home to Minnesota in 1987, hiring him as director of major league personnel. Here’s a fun remembrance MacPhail shared of Gebhard’s first season back in Minnesota: “Literally we had just won the world championship and Bob Gebhard turns to me and goes ‘Damn, Andy, we won this thing. We were just trying to get organized!’”
He assumed the title of vice president of player personnel in 1988. Following the 1991 World Series, Gebhard became general manager of the expansion Colorado Rockies, who began play in 1993. He hired ’87 Twins World Series hero Don Baylor as manager, signed first baseman Andres Galarraga the day before the ’92 expansion draft, and pulled off a trade for slugger Dante Bichette immediately following the draft. He signed Larry Walker in the spring of ’95, and that year, just the team’s third in existence, the Rockies won the NL West. The following season the Rockies won the NL’s first-ever wild card spot. Gebhard resigned from the Rockies on August 20, 1999 amid speculation that he was about to be fired.
Gebhard served in the St. Louis Cardinals front office from 2000 to 2004, and as vice president, special assistant to the general manager of the Diamondbacks from 2005 to 2016. He received the Roland Hemond Award from the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR) in 2012 in recognition of his contributions to the community of professional baseball scouts.
Gebhard makes his home in Centennial, Colorado.
(See the @TwinsAlmanac Twitter account on January 3rd for a chance to win an autographed 1972 Topps card)
Happy 40th Birthday, Michael Restovich
It’s the birthday of former major league outfielder Michael Restovich, born in Rochester, MN in 1979. Restovich was named Minnesota High School Baseball Player of the Year in 1997, his senior season at Rochester Mayo. He was drafted by the Twins in the second round that June (the Twins’ first-round draft choice Virginia high schooler Michael Cuddyer).
Restovich hit .369 in 76 games between the Rookie League Elizabethton Twins and class-A Fort Wayne Wizards in 1998. In 1999 he hit .312 with 19 HR and 107 RBI for the class-A Quad City River Bandits.
Restovich made his major league debut on September 18, 2002. His first major league hit was a ninth-inning pinch-hit homer in a 14-4 Twins loss at Comiskey Park on September 21. Future Twins closer Jon Rauch started the game and earned the victory for Chicago despite giving up lead-off home runs to David Ortiz and Corey Koskie in the second and fourth innings. Koskie hit a second leadoff homer in the sixth off reliever Mike Porzio. Brad Radke had an uncharacteristically bad day, allowing six earned runs on nine hits in just three innings.
Restovich went on to play parts of six major league seasons with the Twins (’02-’04), Rockies (’05), Pirates (’05), Cubs (’06), and Nationals (’07). He made 297 plate appearances over 152 games, hitting .239 with 28 walks, six home runs, and 21 RBI.
Fun Fact: Wuertz and 1997 Austin graduate Michael Wuertz would have played against each other a handful of times in high school, and presumably on summer teams as well. I know Restovich homered off Wuertz in high school at least once. Wuertz spent eight seasons in the majors with the Cubs and the Athletics, but the two never met on the big stage.
Happy 76th Birthday, Charlie Manuel
It’s the birthday of baseball lifer Charlie Manuel, born in West Virginia on this date in 1944. He spent parts of six seasons in left field with the Twins, hitting .198 with four home runs over 242 games between 1969 and 1972.
After 19 games over two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manuel moved on to a very successful six-year career in Japan. He averaged .319 with 41 home runs per year over the four seasons from 1977 to 1980.
Manuel spent five seasons managing in the Twins system, ending with the 45-96 triple-A Portland Beavers, which included Ron Gardenhire and Billy Beane.
He managed the Phillies to back-to-back World Series, winning it all in 2008.
January 4, 2002
Gardenhire Named Manager
The Twins announce former third base coach Ron Gardenhire as the 12th manager in team history, succeeding Tom Kelly, who, after the team’s first winning season in nine years, announced his retirement on October 12, 2001. TK was the longest tenured manager or head coach in all of professional sports at the time of his retirement.
The Twins won the AL Central in each of Gardy’s first three seasons, and in six of his first nine. They only advanced past the divisional round, however, in Gardy’s first season of 2002.
After five runner-up finishes, he was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010. He managed the Twins for 13 seasons before being fired on September 29, 2014, having amassed 1,068 wins—just 72 shy of TK’s team record of 1,140.
After serving as Arizona Diamondbacks bench coach in 2017, Gardy took over the Tigers’ managerial job in 2018.