On this day in 1938 Don Mincher was born in Huntsville, Alabama. He was 18 when the White Sox signed him as an amateur free agent in 1956 but had already been traded to the Washington Senators when he made his major league debut in 1960.
Mincher played first base in several cities over the years that followed, following the Senators to Minnesota when they moved and became the Twins, then being traded to the Angels in 1966. He was there when the Seattle Pilots selected him second overall in the 1968 expansion draft.
Mincher might have been the Pilots' best hitter, posting a .246/.366/.454 line in 140 games and representing the team in the All Star Game. By the time the team moved to Milwaukee he had already moved on, though, having been traded to Oakland.
Mincher made pretty frequent appearances in Ball Four, Jim Bouton's book about the Pilots' lone season in Seattle. It's clear he grew on Bouton over the course of the season. In March of their only season together Bouton said this about Mincher:
I'm not sure I'm going to like Don Mincher. I keep hearing that big southern accent of his. It's prejudice, I know, but every time I hear a southern accent I think: stupid.
Less than a full month later when Bouton had been sent to the minors, his tune had changed completely:
Don Mincher came over and told me to hang in there - and, you know, I really was wrong about him. He's a good fellow.
Mincher played 13 major league seasons as a member of five teams before retiring following the 1972 season. After his career he managed a sporting goods store, became general manager of the Huntsville Stars and eventually bought the team before becoming Southern League president from 2000 until last winter.
Mincher retired from his Southern League post late in 2011 and passed away this March, or he would have turned 74 today. With help from Brewerfan.net and the B-Ref Play Index, we'd also like to wish a happy birthday to:
- Brevard County Manatee Franklin Romero Jr., who turns 24.
- La Crosse Wisconsin native and UW-La Crosse alum Tom Klawitter, who turns 54. Klawitter was a member of the 1985 Twins.
- 1982 and 1996-98 Brewer Doug Jones, who turns 55.
Today is also the 24th anniversary of a 1988 game where three Brewers stole two bases each in a 5-4 win over the Angels. We covered that event in this space last year.