Monthly Archives: December 2010

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Rick Aguilera

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

With 2010 fading quickly and 2011 straight ahead, a few baseball teams are hoping for big things next season. One of these teams is the New York Mets. They are hoping to turn their recent slump around and return to the days of competing for world titles. Fittingly enough, on the eve of 2011, the day’s birthday features the winning pitcher of the epic Game 6 comeback by the Mets against the Boston Red Sox in the 1986 World Series.

Rick Aguilera, born on December 31st in 1961, was drafted by the New York Mets in the third round of the 1983 June Amateur Draft and quickly moved through the minor league ranks. He reached the big leagues in June of 1985 and helped the Mets battle the St. Louis Cardinals for the division lead. Though the Cardinals pulled ahead in 1985, Aguilera and the Mets made history in the very next season.

Aguilera again filled the back end of the rotation for the 1986 Mets, helping the team reach the postseason for the first time in 13 years. Though he wasn’t spectacular in the World Series against Boston, Aguilera was credited with the win in Game 6 that turned the momentum for good. Injuries set in over the next few seasons, but Aguilera was effective as the team made another push during the 1988 season. He allowed just one run in three games in a losing effort against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

With his success as a reliever in the postseason, the team made the move to the bullpen permanent in 1989. The move proved a success as the right hander had a 2.34 ERA in 36 games. The Mets saw an opportunity and traded Aguilera along with three other players to the Minnesota Twins for Frank Viola. Though Aguilera was used as a starting pitcher the rest of season, his transition to relief pitcher was far from over.

Beginning in 1990, Rick Aguilera became the closer for the Minnesota Twins. As the anchor of the bullpen, he helped the team secure their second World Series title just four seasons after their last title in 1987 by notching two saves in defeating the Atlanta Braves in the 1991 World Series.

In an April 1992 issue of Baseball Digest, Jeff Hardie asked the question, “Has The Save Rule Become Too Liberal For Relievers?” Click here to read the article featuring quotes from several players!

Between 1989 and 1999, Aguilera dominated the role of closer with 254 saves. His dominance was rewarded with three trips to the All-Star Game. He had a brief stint with the Boston Red Sox in 1995 when Minnesota traded him in July of that year when the Twins fell far from contention. Aguilera pitched well down the stretch for Boston, saving 20 games with a tidy 2.67 ERA. He struggled in the postseason, allowing a game tying home run in Game 1 of the 1995 American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians.

After just the half season in Boston, Aguilera returned to Minnesota, where he remained until the team traded him again. This time he was shipped to the Chicago Cubs in May of 1999 with Scott Downs for Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan. The trade proved to be greatly beneficial to the Twins, as Lohse became a key part of the Minnesota resurgence in the early 2000s. Aguilera saved just 8 games for the Cubs in 1999 as a set-up man, but returned to the closer’s role in 2000, his final season. Though his ERA approached 5.00 for the first time since a failed attempt as a starter in 1996, he managed to earn 29 saves for the last place Cubs.

Rick Aguilera retired as one of just two player(the other being Doug Jones) to have more than 300 career saves and never had led their league in the category. He ranks 15th all time with 318 saves, and 20th all time with 557 games finished. He was inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame in 2008.

Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:

Chris Reitsma, born in 1977, spent 7 seasons in the major leagues playing with the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and Seattle Mariners. After retirement in 2007, he competed in the Beijing Olympic Games as a member of the Canada baseball team.

Estaban Loaiza, born on December 31 1971, spent 14 seasons in the big leagues with eight teams. His best success came in 2003 when he won 21 games and finished second in the American League Cy Young voting.

Syl Johnson, born in 1900, logged 19 years in the major leagues, spending most of his time with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies. He was a member of the 1931 World Champion Cardinals.

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Baseball Digest Birthdays: Carlton Fisk

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

One of the most iconic images in baseball history involve a 27 year old Carlton Fisk waving a fly ball fair during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. His career at that juncture with just over four full seasons under his belt, the ball waving scene set the tone for a career that lasted 24 years and spanned four decades. One of the greatest offensive catchers in history, Carlton Fisk turns 63 on December 26th.

Carlton Fisk was born in Bellows Falls, Vermont in 1947, and grew up in neighboring Charlestown, New Hampshire. He attended the University of New Hampshire before the Boston Red Sox drafted him 4th overall in the 1967 Amateur Draft, completing the ‘local boy gets drafted’ story. Though he first reached the major leagues in 1969 for two games, “Pudge” spent most of four seasons in the minor leagues.

In 1972, his first full season in Boston, Fisk dominated American League pitching to the tune of a .293 batting average, 22 home runs, and an OPS+ of 162. Along with being awarded a Gold Glove and finishing fourth in Most Valuable Player voting, he was the first player to be unanimously voted the league’s Rookie of The Year Award. Fisk followed up his debut season with another power season in 1973 with 26 home runs, and seemed to be well on his way to establishing himself as one of the best in the game.

Along with developing into a offensive threat, Fisk also embroiled himself into several infamous feuds. In a 1973 game, New York Yankees catcher Thurman Munson collided hard with Fisk while trying to score on a bunt. The collision set off a brawl and an ongoing feud that fueled the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry. Another feud a few year later involved Yankees outfielder Lou Pinella, who ran over Fisk while trying to score on a single. The brawl that ensued ended up injuring Boston pitcher Bill Lee as he dislocated his shoulder fighting with Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles. The collisions at home plate did take their toll on the catcher as well. In a June game against the Cleveland Indians in 1974, Leron Lee collided at home plate, crushing Fisk’s knee, putting his career in question. Despite early indications that he may never play again, he returned a year later to hit .331 in 79 games.

In an April 1990 issue of Baseball Digest, Jeff Lenihan profiled Carlton Fisk’s durability at the age of 42 while he was a member of the Chicago White Sox. Click here to read the article!

Fisk’s triumphant return from injury was capped off with his postseason dominance. In addition to the epic World Series home run, he also hit .417 against Reggie Jackson’s Oakland Athletics in the American League Championship Series. If there was any doubt that Fisk had returned to his usual form, the 1975 postseason put doubts to rest.

Over the next five seasons, Fisk averaged 18 homers and a .283 average to go along with four more trips to the All-Star Game. His best season came in 1977 when he slugged 26 home runs and hit .315.

The end of Fisk’s time in Boston was the result of a technicality and growing animosity between the hometown product and the team management. Along with other players, Fisk voiced his displeasure with salaries that didn’t quite match up with the performance of players. As a result of the dispute, Red Sox owner Haywood Sullivan mailed the catcher a contract the day after the contractual deadline. This made Fisk a free agent, and he opted to sign a deal with the Chicago White Sox for the 1981 season, donning the number 72, a reversal of the more traditional 27 he wore while in Boston.

Carlton Fisk’s move to the south side of Chicago helped turn their fortunes around almost immediately. The White Sox reached the ALCS in 1983, in Fisk’s third year with the team and the first time for the franchise in more than two decades. His leadership and offensive power proved to be a catalyst for Chicago. He sustained injuries in 1984 that forced him to assess his training regiment. The new training for the aging veteran likely extended his career and certainly can be attributed to his career high 37 home runs in 1985.

The latter years of Calton Fisk’s career in Chicago can best be described as steady and remarkable when you consider he was averaging 18 home runs and a .260 average in his late 30’s and into his mid 40’s. His own personal rivalry with the New York Yankees continued throughout his career as well. While playing at Yankee Stadium, the veteran catcher confronted Deion Sanders for not running out a pop fly. This came during a time when Sanders was just starting his career as a two sport athlete.

During his final two seasons in the big leagues, Fisk began setting all-time records for catchers including most home runs and most games caught. Though both records have been since surpassed, Fisk’s place in history is secure. His career ended unceremoniously when the Chicago White Sox released him several days after he set the record for most games caught in 1993. To make matters worse, he was not allowed in the clubhouse when the team later clinched a playoff spot that season.

Despite his acrimonious departure from both the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox, he was later recognized for his years with both, as he is just one of eight players in MLB history to have his number retired by two different teams. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000, and opted to wear a Boston Red Sox “B” on his plaque.

Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:

Ozzie Smith, the 2002 inductee to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, was born in December 26th, 1954. A 15 time All-Star and 13 time Gold Glove, spent much of his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, with which he was a member of the 1982 World Series Champion team.

Chris Chambliss, born in 1948, played 17 seasons at the Major League level with the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees and Cleveland Indians. He was the 1972 American League Rookie of The Year.

Ray Sadecki, born in 1940, played 18 years in the big leagues, and is best remembered as a member of the 1964 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals and the 1973 National League Pennant winning New York Mets.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Kevin Millwood

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Kevin Millwood’s career has had many highlights throughout fifteen years and counting at the Major League level. For the Christmas Eve Baseball Digest Birthday celebrated today, it’s fitting that we feature a player that has provided ‘gifts’ again and again throughout his career.

Drafted out of high school in the 11th round of the 1993 Amateur Draft by the Atlanta Braves, Millwood became a mainstay in the major leagues by 1998. In his first two seasons he won 17 and 18 games respectively, quickly earning his own reputation in a rotation behind Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. He anchored what was widely considered one of the best rotations in all of baseball.

In a March 2000 issue of Baseball Digest, Jerry Beach wrote an article centered on Kevin Millwood’s rise to elite status. Click here to check it out!

Though Millwood struggled to hold his dominance over the National League following his 18 win 1999 season, he rebounded by 2002 to win 18 games once again. His strong season helped push the Braves into the postseason, only to be eliminated from the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants. He pitched twice in the series, including in the deciding game, losing 3-1.

2002 marked the end of Millwood’s tenure in Atlanta, when he was traded with catcher Johnny Estrada to the Philadelphia Phillies. Though he went just 23-18 with the Phillies in two seasons, his first season included three shut outs. On April 27, 2003 Kevin Millwood joined an exclusive group of pitchers when he threw his only career no-hitter. There have been 269 no hitters thrown in Major League Baseball History.

Following the 2004 season, Millwood signed a one year deal with the Cleveland Indians. Despite a 9-11 record, he snagged his only ERA title in the American League. During the off season, he signed a five year deal with $60 Million with the Texas Rangers. Though he won 48 games in four seasons in Texas, including 16 wins in first year, his ERA suffered greatly. Before the fifth and final year of his contract, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for Chris Ray and a Player To Be Named Later.

Millwood’s 2010 season went in a very different direction than his previous years. Instead of leading his team in wins and the league in ERA, Millwood led the league in losses and had the highest ERA of any starter on the Orioles with more than 30 starts on the season.

A free agent this off-season, the 6’4 righty has been mentioned as a possible target by the Kansas City Royals. The veteran pitcher has shown throughout his career to have an ability to bounce back from difficult seasons before, and could provide a spark for a team like the Royals who just traded their ace in Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:

Jamey Wright, born on December 24th, 1974, has spent the last 15 seasons in the big leagues with eight teams. An 83-118 career Win-Loss record goes along with a career 5.00 Earned Run Average. He ranks 30th all time in hit batsmen.

John D’Acquisto, born in 1951, logged ten seasons with eight teams. He had a 34-51 Win-Loss record with a 4.26 ERA. He may be more famously remembered for his post-career as an investment banker who was wrongly accused of fraud, apparently set up by other investors.

Frank Tavares, born in 1949, played eleven seasons primarily with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets. He was a member of the 1974-1975 Pirates teams that reached the National League Championship Series. He also led the National League with 70 stolen bases. He retired with an even 300 stolen bases.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Al Kaline

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

There are just fourteen members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame that never played minor league ball or at any professional level before reaching the big leagues. One such player is known in the Detroit area as “Mr. Tiger”, and he is celebrating his 76th birthday today.

Drafted in 1953’s Amateur Draft, Al Kaline was a “Bonus Baby” who debuted with the Detroit Tigers a week after signing. Two weeks after his debut, in just the third at bat of his career he stroked the first of an eventual 3,007 career hits, off White Sox pitcher Luis Aloma. He spent much of his first season as a late inning defensive replacement, but managed to make the best of his opportunities. In the second to last at bat of his season he cranked his first career home run, off Cleveland Indians pitcher Dave Hoskins on September 26th, 1953. The home run was the first of 399 in his career.

By 1954, Al Kaline had become the every day right fielder for the Tigers, a position he wouldn’t relinquish fully until he became the team’s designated hitter in 1974. Though he finished third in the American League Rookie of The Year voting in his first full year, his power numbers were severely lacking. He hit a respectable .276 in 1954.

1955 proved to be the season which Al Kaline arrived on the national scene, when he slugged 27 home runs and led the American League with a .340 batting average. He earned his first trip to the All-Star Game, and finished second in the league voting for Most Valuable Player behind Yogi Berra. It was the first of eighteen eventual trips to the All-Star Game for the power hitting righty.

In the January 1956 issue of Baseball Digest Hal Middlesworth wrote about Al Kaline’s 1955 season during which he won the AL batting title. Click here to check it out!

Over the next twelve seasons between 1955 and 1967, Kaline maintained a .307 batting average, an OPS+ of 142, legged out over 350 doubles, slugged nearly 300 home runs, and he finished in the top 10 voting for MVP nine times(twice as runner up!). He roamed the outfield with great skill, with 10 Gold Glove Awards to his collection.

Kaline’s offensive dominance was not limited to the regular season. In 12 postseason games, he notched 16 hits and 3 home runs. He played a key role as a member of the 1968 World Champion Detroit Tigers as they came back from a 3-1 game deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals. In his only World Series, Kaline hit .379 and hit a critical 2 run, bases loaded single in Game 5 that proved to shift the momentum for the TIgers.

Later in Kaline’s career, he occasionally moved over to first base before his final season was spent as the designated hitter. It was during his final year that he cemented the status of legend when he stroked his 3,000th hit on September 24th, 1974. Despite his age(39 in 1974), he managed to hit .262 with 13 home runs for the sixth place Tigers.

Kaline retired following the 1974 season, and currently ranks 26th All-Time in hits and 48th All-Time in home runs. He ranks among the top 5 in many of the Detroit Tigers franchise records, including having played the most games and slugged the most home runs in franchise history. His name is synonymous with Ty Cobb as one of the greatest to ever play in Detroit. In 1980, he became just the tenth player in history to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

Also Celebrating A Birthday:

Tony Taylor, born in December 19th 1935, spent 19 seasons in the big leagues, mostly with the Philadelphia Phillies. He was inducted into the Phillies Hall of Fame in 2002.

Mike Fetters, born in 1964, logged 16 seasons with eight teams in the big leagues, earning 100 career saves along the way.

Rafael Soriano, born in 1979, has played with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and the Tampa Bay Rays since starting his career in 2002. The American League leader in saves for the 2010 season is currently a free agent.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Chase Utley

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

To date, the Baseball Digest Birthdays have featured a number of great ballplayers from years gone by. December 17th celebrates one of the great ballplayers of toda;, a player obscured by several other talented players on the same roster.

The recent signing of Cliff Lee by the Philadelphia Phillies has put the focus of their 2011 season square on the starting rotation. However, opposing pitchers have plenty to deal with facing the Phillies as well though, with one of top 10 greatest players of today in their everyday lineup, as noted by the Sporting News list of top 100 current players in 2009. Chase Utley celebrates his 32nd birthday today and looks to be a key cog in the Phillies lineup for years to come.

Born on December 17th, 1978, Chase Utley wasted little time establishing himself as an elite ballplayer. Though drafted in the first round of the 1999 June Amateur Draft, Utley also played in the Cape Cod League, the premier collegiate league that has featured dozens of future big leaguers. A career .281 average in the minor leagues forced the front office of the Phillies to make way for the next second baseman.

In his first two seasons in the majors, the Phillies plugged Utley into the second base spot with Placido Polanco shifting over to third base when David Bell went down with in injury. Utley made his mark in his very first game by crushing a grand slam, giving a peek to what his future looks like. By 2005 he had wrested the every day job from Polanco, who was traded in June of that year to the Detroit Tigers.

With his first full season at second base in 2006, Chase Utley led the league with 131 runs scored and had his first of three seasons with more than thirty home runs. 2006 was also his first of five consecutive All-Star nods. Since 2006, Chase Utley has rooted himself in the discussion for most valuable player a team can build themselves around.

Since becoming an every day player, Utley’s batting average hovers close to .300 to go along with an OPS+ of 133. Though his overall postseason numbers may not look impressive(.243 batting average, .862 OPS+), he set a postseason record for reaching base in 26 consecutive games. He also tied Reggie Jackson’s total of five home runs for the World Series record of most home runs in a series.

In addition to being a force in the lineup, he has established himself as one of the best defensive second baseman in the league, as noted when he was selected for a Fielding Bible Award for the 2010 season.

Despite an injury in late June of 2010, he was still selected to the All-Star team. As the Philadelphia Phillies look to recapture their World Series glory, there’s little doubt that they will rely on the all-around play of Chase Utley.

Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:

Bob Ojeda, born on December 17th in 1957, a fifteen year veteran most remembered for his 18-5 season as the fourth starter of the 1986 World Champion New York Mets!

Curtis Pride, born in 1961, became the first deaf major league ballplayer since Dick Sipek in 1945 when he reached the big leagues with the 1993 Montreal Expos. Though never an every player, Pride hit .250 with 20 home runs over parts of eleven seasons with eight teams.

Leo Cardenas, born in 1938, spent sixteen seasons as a shortstop, mostly with the Cincinnati Reds. He reached the 1961 World Series against the New York Yankees, and later helped the Minnesota Twins to back to back American League Pennants in 1969 and 1970.

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Fergie Jenkins

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Before Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Curt Schilling arrived on the scene, Ferguson Jenkins was the first player in Major League history to record 3,000 strikeouts while issuing less than 1,000 walks. On the flip side of that coin, aside from the late Robin Roberts and current player Jamie Moyer, nobody has allowed more career home runs than Jenkins. On December 13th Fergie Jenkins celebrates his 68th birthday, and here’s a look at the highs and lows of one of the greatest to play the game.

Signed out of high school as an amateur free agent in 1962 by the Philadelphia Phillies, Jenkins reached the big leagues by 1965. After just a cup of coffee with the Phillies in 1965 and 1966, he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in a multi-player deal that immediately payed dividends for the Cubs. In his first full season with the Cubs in 1967, Jenkins won 20 games and finished second in the voting for National League Cy Young Award.

Over the next six seasons, Jenkins established himself as one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball. Aside from winning 20 or more games in each season, he struck out 1,490 batters while issuing just 378 walks while leading the league three times in complete games and games started. The 1971 National League Cy Young Award winner threw 154 complete games over the course of his 10 seasons in Chicago, and today ranks among the top 10 in many of the franchise pitching categories.

Jim Ferguson highlights Fergie Jenkins’ 5 straight seasons with 20 wins or more in the December 1971 issue of Baseball Digest. Click here to check it out!

The Canadian born righty won just 14 games in 1973, and the Chicago Cubs opted to trade their All-Star during the off-season to the Texas Rangers in return for Vic Harris and Bill Madlock. Jenkins responded to his new surroundings by putting in one the best seasons of his career. Along with winning making 41 starts and completing 29 games, he won 25 and finished second in the American League Cy Young Award voting. His second season in Texas slightly less impressive, as he slipped a bit with a 17-18 record with the 79-83 third place Rangers while allowing a then-career high 37 home runs.

Much like his exit with the Cubs, Jenkins was shipped out following a sub par season(by his early standards) to the Boston Red Sox in a multi-player deal. Jenkins spent two rather pedestrian seasons in Boston, winning just 22 games and earning himself another ticket out of town. However, it was back to the Texas Rangers for Fergie Jenkins.

His second tour with Texas,from 1978 to 1981, was a resurgence for the three time All-Star as he won 51 games including 18 in 1978. While a drug bust in 1980 may have been a contributing factor to his departure in 1981, his overall play had begun to decline by 1979 when his Earned Run Average crept over 4.00 and he allowed a career high 40 home runs. He was granted free agency for the first time in his career following the 1981 season, in which he made just 16 starts and won just five games.

Like his return to Texas, Ferguson Jenkins learned you can go home, when he signed with the Chicago Cubs prior to the 1982 season. Though his glory days were long behind him, the future Hall of Famer notched 14 wins for a 5th place Cubs team with a 73-89 record. He logged one more year with the Cubs before retiring from Major League Baseball following the 1983 season. In 19 seasons, Jenkins won 284 games to go along with 3,192 strikeouts and a career 3.34 ERA.

Following retirement, Jenkins pitched two seasons as a member of the London Majors, of the Canadian Intercounty Baseball League. He was first recognized for his career achievements with induction into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987, and then in 1991 with induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the first Canadian inductee. He has signed been inducted into the Texas Rangers’ Hall of Fame and has had his number retired by the Chicago Cubs in honor of his accomplishments as well as those by Greg Maddux, who also wore #31 with the team.

Also Celebrating A Birthday Today:

Larry Doby, born on December 13 1923, was the second player to break the color barrier in Major League Baseball, and the first in the American League. He slugged 253 home runs, twice leading the AL, and spent much of his career with the Cleveland Indians. His professional career began with the Negro League Newark Bears!

Dale Berra, born in 1956, the son of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra, logged more time in the major leagues than any other son of a Hall of Famer. He spent much of his 11 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, including the 1979 World Champion team. He also played with the New York Yankees during his father’s tenure as manager!

Baseball Digest Birthdays: Gorman Thomas

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

Though slightly obscured to history in the shadows of Hall of Fame Milwaukee Brewers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, the career of “Stomin’” Gorman Thomas should be remembered for the period of greatness he had alongside two of the best players of all time. As it stands, Gorman Thomas is among the best players in Milwaukee Brewers history. He ranks in the top ten in several offensive categories for the Milwaukee Brewers, including home runs, runs batted in, walks, OPS, among others.

The center fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s celebrates his 60th birthday on December 12th. Born in 1950, Thomas was the 21st pick in the first round of the 1969 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Seattle Pilots, which became the Milwaukee Brewers following a disastrous debut season and subsequent bankruptcy and move to Milwaukee for the start of the 1970 season. He wouldn’t arrive in Milwaukee until the 1973 season and it wasn’t until 1978 that Gorman Thomas reached the majors for good. At one point his career nearly began in Texas rather than Milwaukee. Included in a trade to the Texas Rangers in October of 1977, the Brewers purchased Thomas’ from the Rangers in February of 1978.

Though he switched teams on paper briefly, je was tormenting minor league pitching along the way wherever he played, slugging 169 home runs in seven minor league seasons, including 51 in AAA with the Sacramento Solons. When handed the responsibilities of roaming center field for the Brewers, Thomas responded immediately with 32 home runs in his first season as an every day player. In eleven seasons with the Brewers, he slugged 208 home runs, which at retirement ranked him number one for the franchise lead, and still ranks him third all time in franchise history.

Jerry Izenberg wrote an article about Gorman Thomas’ rise to stardom following his 1978 season, in a June 1979 issue of Baseball Digest. Click here to read it!

In addition to having a penchant for slugging long home runs, the fan favorite also racked up a number of strikeouts. Despite leading the league twice in Ks, he also earned himself a trip to the All-Star Game in 1981. That season also featured Thomas’ first trip to the postseason where he racked up nine strikeouts, but also slugged a home run in a losing effort against the New York Yankees, who went on to reach the World Series but lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A year later, Thomas and the Brewers were back in the postseason, this time pushing their way into the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Thomas had just four hits in over forty at bats as the Brewers lost in seven games.

Despite being a key part of the Milwaukee lineup, the organization opted to include him in a trade to the Cleveland Indians that sent Rick Manning to the Brewers. The trade was unpopular in fans eyes, but proved to be a turning point in Gorman Thomas’ career. He hit 17 home runs the rest of the way with the 1983 Indians, but was traded once again in the off-season to the Seattle Mariners.

After a dreadful 1984 season during which he appeared in just 35 games, he won Comeback Player of The Year honors when he hit 32 home runs with the Seattle Mariners in 1985. The comeback proved to be short, as the team released him in June of 1986, ushering in a return to the Milwaukee Brewers to conclude the season and put the finishing touches on his career.

Today, Milwaukee Brewers fans can find “Stormin’” Gorman Thomas welcoming fans into Gorman’s Grill at Miller Park, and working with the team at community events.

Also celebrating a birthday today:

Garrett Atkins, born on December 12, 1979, played 7 seasons with the Colorado Rockies before moving on to the Baltimore Orioles in 2010. The had a huge Home/Away batting split of .321/.252 due to Coors Field, but his home run numbers did not reveal a benefit, hitting 49 at home and 50 on the road during his career.

Steve Farr, born in 1956, played in eleven seasons with four teams, most notably the Kansas City Royals. A closer by trade, he notched 126 saves during his career and was a member of the 1985 World Champion Royals.

Ralph Garr, born in 1945, played 13 seasons in the big leagues with the Atlanta Braves, the Chicago White Sox and the California Angels. He won the 1974 National League batting title while with the Braves.