7/4/2014 1:27 A.M. ET
Notable baseball birthdays on Independence Day
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
In honor of the Fourth of July, here's one baseball fan's list of the Top 10 players or managers born on Independence Day:
1. Mickey Welch, born in 1859: "Smiling Mickey" deserves top billing here because he's the only Hall of Famer on this list. Deservedly so, too. The 5-foot-8 right-hander won 307 games in a 13-year career. Granted, it was a different era, but check out some of these numbers: He went 44-11 with a 1.66 ERA for the 1885 New York Giants, tossing 55 complete games and logging 492 innings. That marked his single-season best for wins, but he pitched 574 innings in his rookie year of 1880 and had 64 complete games that year.
2. Chuck Tanner, born in 1928: He's less known for the eight-year big league career that produced a .261 batting average than he is for becoming a fixture in Pittsburgh as the longtime Pirates manager who led the team to its "We Are Family" World Series championship in 1979. Tanner, who also helmed the White Sox and Braves, was remembered as one of the nicest men in baseball when he passed away in 2011. "It was like you knew something good was going to happen because of the way he was always thinking," former Pirate Manny Sanguillen said. "Everybody loved him and everybody just loved playing for him."
3. Vinny Castilla, born in 1967: Over the course of 16 years in the Major Leagues, Castilla managed to put up some gargantuan seasons. Playing in the thin air of 1990s Colorado, Castilla strung together five consecutive years with more than 30 homers and 90 RBIs, and from 1996-98, this two-time All-Star eclipsed 40 homers and 100 RBIs. His watermark season was '98, when he hit 46 homers, drove in 144 runs, had 206 hits and 108 runs, put up a line of .319/.362/.589, and finished 11th in the National League MVP Award voting.
4. Duke Kenworthy, born in 1886: By most accounts, Bill "The Iron Duke" Kenworthy was a Major League character, with a few suspensions from Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis and a million-dollar inheritance (that would be worth a lot more today) under his belt. He makes this list for his 1914 season for the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League, one of the best individual years of any player born on the Fourth of July. Kenworthy hit .317/.372/.525 with 15 homers, 91 RBIs, 40 doubles, 14 triples and 37 stolen bases. He spent most of the remainder of his playing days in the Pacific Coast League.
5. Jose Oquendo, born in 1963: His .663 career OPS isn't anything special, but Oquendo wasn't in the Majors for 12 years for his offense, and he didn't make it to The Show at the age of 19 for his offense. Oquendo was a talented defender who became so valuable for his versatility that iconic manager Whitey Herzog nicknamed him "The Secret Weapon." Oquendo would play every position and would end up getting the biggest hit of his career when it mattered most: he blasted a three-run homer in Game 7 of the 1987 National League Championship Series, helping his Cardinals make it past the Giants and into the World Series against the Twins.
6. Brendan Donnelly, born in 1971: He pitched to a woman in the independent Frontier League, he was the guy whose roster spot was taken by Hollywood-bound Durham Bulls teammate Jim "The Rookie" Morris, and he finally made it to the Majors at the age of 30 in 2002, just in time to become a vital part of the Angels' bullpen en route to a World Series championship. Donnelly pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in that Fall Classic and kept the momentum rolling into an All-Star appearance in 2003 in which he recorded the win for the AL. The right-handed late bloomer with the goggles wound up in the center of quite a few dust-ups during his nine big league seasons and ended up with a record of 32-10, a .762 winning percentage that ranks second all-time among pitchers with at least 40 decisions.
7. Bill Tuttle, born in 1929: In an 11-year Major League career, the outfielder and third baseman batted .259 with 1,105 career hits, but he makes this list because of his watershed season of 1959 for the Kansas City A's, when he finished 23rd in the AL MVP voting for a club that went 66-88. Tuttle put up a career-best line of .300/.369/.413 with seven homers, 43 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, and the rare achievement of drawing more walks (48) than strikeouts (38).
8. Hal Lanier, born in 1942: Lanier's career numbers weren't much to write home about. The infielder had a lifetime batting average of .228 and never sniffed an All-Star team, but after his playing career, Lanier stayed in the game as a true baseball lifer and earned his way onto this list. First, he was named NL Manager of the Year for his work with the 1986 Houston Astros, who came very close to going to the World Series, losing to the Mets in one of the best NL Championship Series in history. Then, in 1988, Lanier went seriously old-school one night, ordering his Houston club back on the field after a game to take extra batting practice. The stunt might have helped cost him his job, but you can't say he didn't have principles.
9. Sergio Santos, born in 1983: Santos converted from infielder to pitcher and saved 30 games for the White Sox in 2011. In 2013, while with the Blue Jays, he was out from April 13 to Aug. 1 because of elbow surgery but still managed to put up a 1.82 ERA, 28 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings, and a 0.58 WHIP. Santos spent some time on the DL again this year but has improved slightly since his return.
10. Pinky Swander, born in 1880: Edward Ottis Swander got 51 at-bats for the 1903 St. Louis Browns and one at-bat the following year and that was it for his Major League career, but he put up an overall line of .269/.406/.385. And he was called Pinky.