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Here’s a subjective ranking of the top five for Feb. 19:
1) Dave Stewart (1957)
The man known as “Smoke” had reached rock bottom when no big league teams were interested in signing him in 1986. Desperate, Stewart asked his hometown A’s for a tryout and was signed to a Minor League deal, called up to the Majors and struggled mightily in a bullpen role. But that’s when everything changed. The A’s dismissed Jackie Moore as manager and hired Tony La Russa midway through the ’86 season. La Russa gave Stewart a spot start against the Red Sox and he fared well, especially with his forkball. The pitch turned his career around. Stewart won 20 or more games from 1987 to ’90. He led the Majors in starts and innings pitched twice. And he was MVP of the World Series as the A’s swept the Giants in 1990. His contributions off the field were no less impressive, earning him the Roberto Clemente Award in 1990.
2) Miguel Batista (1971)
Much was made about the two-headed dominance of Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling during the 2001 World Series against the Yankees. The duo combined for 38 2/3 superb innings as the D-backs pulled off the seven-game upset. But who picked up the slack behind those two, tossing eight shutout innings over one start and one relief appearance? Batista. The Dominican-born righty had a consistent, if unspectacular career over 18 seasons in the Majors, winning 102 games with a 4.48 ERA. After losing his starter job with the Jays in 2005, he racked up 31 saves that season out of the Toronto bullpen.
3) Dick Siebert (1912)
Siebert had an 11-year career and was named an All-Star in 1943 while playing for the Philadelphia Athletics. He was known as “Villian” Siebert in Cleveland for twice breaking up no-hit bids by Bob Feller in the eighth inning. After his playing days were over, Siebert coached at the University of Minnesota from 1948-78, winning three NCAA titles and 11 Big Ten championships.
4) Josh Reddick (1987)
Taken with the 523rd pick in the 2006 Draft, Reddick played a key role on the Astros’ 2017 World Series title team, batting .314 and driving in 83 runs. His best days at the plate came with the A’s as he belted 76 homers and drove in 272 runs from 2012-15. After struggling with the D-backs in ’21, he was released and signed to a Minor League deal by the Mets, who cut Reddick loose after he struggled in an 11-game stint at Triple-A.
5) Russ Nixon (1935)
Nixon, who attended the same Cincinnati high school as Pete Rose, caught 12 seasons in the Majors with the Indians, Red Sox and Twins. Nixon was best known as a manager, though. He was the Reds skipper in 1982 and ’83. He then managed the Braves for three seasons before being fired during the 1990 season by general manager Bobby Cox, who took over as manager for the next 21 seasons.
Want to see more baseball birthdays for Feb. 19? Find the complete list on Baseball Reference.