Happy 60th Birthday to Jerry Ujdur
It's the birthday 1975 Hermantown High School graduate Jerry Ujdur. Jerry made the Hermantown varsity team as an 8th grader. In ‘75 he met Dick Siebert halfway in Hinckley to audition for the legendary Gophers coach. He would win 27 games as a Gopher, second only to his teammate, Minnetonka High School grad Steve Comer's 30 wins. Ujdur appeared in 49 games, starting 37 for Detroit from 1980 to '83, winning 10 games for the Tigers in ‘82. He would pitch in four games for the Cleveland ballclub in 1984 before retiring with a major league record of 12-16.
Though he pitched in only 53 major league games, Ujdur sure had the number of a few Hall of Famers, including Eddie Murray who went 0-for-11 with two walks vs. the Hermantown Hawk. Carlton Fisk went 0-for-10 with a walk, Paul Molitor 2-for-14 with a walk, and Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson each went 1-for-9 with 2 walks.
March 5, 2006
Kirby Puckett Suffers Stroke
Twins legend Kirby Puckett suffers a massive stroke at the home he shares with his fiancee in Scottsdale, Arizona. Old friend Ron Washington, in camp with the Athletics nearby, was one of the first at his bedside. Ken Griffey Jr. also rushed to his side, while former teammates including Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek made their ways to Arizona.
Puckett’s weight had spiralled out of control following the abrupt end to his career. "That's what really hurt him bad, when he was forced out of the game," Hrbek told the Associated Press. "I don't know if he ever recovered from it."
"We would tell him. But he enjoyed life. He enjoyed the size he was. That's who he was," Jacque Jones told ESPN from Cubs camp in Mesa, AZ. "You can't do anything about it until he decides to change. Hopefully, he'll pull through this, and it'll be like a call for him to change some things in his life.”
March 6, 1973
Larry Hisle Becomes First DH in MLB History
In an exhibition game vs. the Pittsburgh Pirates, Larry Hisle becomes the first Designated Hitter in major league history. Back on January 11, American League owners had voted 8-4 to adopt the DH, and in this game Hisle made them look like geniuses, hitting two home runs and driving in seven. The Yankees’ Ron Blomberg was the first DH to bat in a regular season game.
The Twins’ Tony Oliva would hit the first regular season home run by a DH on April 6th (Opening Day) off of Oakland's Catfish Hunter. Interestingly, Oakland owner Charlie Finley is generally credited with leading the push for the DH.
March 6, 2006
Kirby Puckett Passes Away
A day after suffering a massive stroke, Kirby Puckett passes away at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix. After unsuccessful emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain, friends and family were notified that the end was near. Many people rushed to be with Kirby in his final hours. Former teammates Shane Mack and Kent Hrbek travelled to Arizona. Ron Washington, who was in spring training with the Athletics nearby, was one of the first friends to arrive. Another friend who rushed to the hospital and was reportedly at his bedside when he passed was Ken Griffey Jr.
"There's certain people that you owe it to, for the things they've done for you," Griffey told the Los Angeles Time. "No matter where you are. He was that important to my family. It was for the things he said to me, not for the way he played."
Kirby Puckett was just 45 years old, the second-youngest person to pass away after having already been enshrined in Cooperstown. Lou Gehrig was just 37.
March 7, 2013
Aaron Hicks Has Himself a Day
Entering spring training it was unclear whether or not 2008 first-round draft choice Aaron Hicks had a legitimate chance of making the Opening Day roster. On this day, though, he made the front office’s decision just a little bit easier, going 4-for-5 with 3 home runs, 6 RBI and a stolen base vs. the Phillies in Clearwater. He would indeed make his major league debut on April 1st, playing 81 big league games in 2013 but also spending some time back in Rochester.
Happy 60th Birthday to John Butcher
It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher John Butcher, born in Glendale, California in 1957.
The Twins acquired Butcher along with pitcher Mike Smithson and minor league catcher Sam Sorce from Texas in exchange for Gary Ward on December 7, 1983.
Butcher pitched a remarkable 1 hour and 55 minute complete game shutout on April 21, 1985.
The Twins had lost 9 in a row, falling to 2-9 on the season, entering the Sunday series finale in Oakland when Butcher hurled an 81-pitch gem, allowing three hits, but facing just 28 batters, one over the minimum. Leadoff hitter Kirby Puckett went 3-for-5, driving in both Twins runs in the 2-0 victory. It was the beginning of a 10-game Twins winning streak.
Happy 55th Birthday to Mark Salas
It’s the birthday of former Twins catcher Mark Salas, born Montabello, California in 1961. The Twins acquired Salas from the Cardinals in the December ‘84 Rule 5 Draft, and traded him to the New York Yankees for knuckleballer Joe Niekro on June 6, 1987.
Today Salas is the Chicago White Sox bullpen catcher. Yes, I was surprised, too, but “Bullpen Catcher” is really what he’s listed as on the White Sox roster.
Happy 54th Birthday to Terry Mulholland
It’s the birthday of former Twins pitcher Terry Mulholland, born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania in 1963. The Twins purchased the 1993 All-Star from Seattle on April 2, 2004. He was 41 years old. He pitched in 39 games for the ‘04 Twins, starting 15. The following season, at age 42, Mulholland made 49 relief appearances for Minnesota. He pitched briefly for Arizona in 2005, his 20th and final major league season.
March 11, 1961
The First Game in Twins History
Winona Senior High School graduate and 2x All-American Golden Gopher tailback Paul Giel started the first game in Minnesota Twins history, an exhibition game against the Detroit Tigers at Tinker Field in Orlando. The Tigers won the game 4-1.
Pedro Ramos was the first Opening Day starter in Twins history, pitching a 3-hit shutout vs. Berra, Mantle, Maris and the gang at Yankee Stadium on April 11. One of the three hits that Ramos allowed was to Yankees ace Whitey Ford, with Yogi Berra and Moose Skowron collecting the other two. The game was scoreless through six until Bob Allison led off the seventh with a home run. It was Twins pitcher Ramos who knocked Ford out of the game with a 2-RBI single with one away in the seventh. The Twins went on to win 6-0.
After the Twins jumped out to a hot 5-2 start in New York and Boston, Camilo Pascual took the ball in the first home opener in Twins history vs. the new expansion Washington Senators who wound up beating the home team 5-3.