"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Category: Player Name of the Week

Baseball Player Name of the Week

The Tigers recently called up Alberto “Al” Alburquerque.

That man’s parents had absolutely the right idea. If my last name were Alburquerque, which sadly it is not, I would name my son the same thing and my daughter Alberta. Al is a 24-year-old pitching prospect from the DR, and I wish him a long and productive major-league career. It’s also at times like this that I fiercely miss Bob Sheppard. How much do you wish you could hear him say “Now pitching for the Detroit Tigers, Alberto Alburquerque”? I would cut off a toe.

Not only does the name roll off the tongue, but it gives me an excuse to link to my favorite clips from one of my favorite movies, Billy Wilder’s inky-black and still alarmingly relevant social and media satire, Ace In The Hole. Sadly the clip can’t be embedded, but check it out:

“Even for Alburquerque, this is pretty Alburquerque.”

The longer Al stays in the majors, the more often I get to say that, is the way I look at it.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

There are quite a few excellent player names and nicknames involving “Bunny.” (Don’t ask how I got started on this). My favorites, in chronological order:

Bunny Brief, who played in 184 games over parts of 4 seasons from 1912 to 1917, and who was actually born Anthony John Grzeszkowski (neither Bunny-related, nor brief; discuss).

Bunny Fabrique, who played for the Brooklyn team (then the Robins) in 1916 and 1917, and who sounds from the name like a seductive French lingerie model.

Hugh “Bunny” High, onetime Yankee outfielder (1915-1918) and possibly the best player of the lot, though that’s not saying much – for some reason the real stars are rarely called “Bunny.”

And the last great baseball Bunny, Sylvester Bunny, who played in the minors from 1947 to 1948. Bunny has gone out of vogue as a name and a nickname since then, perhaps as players have gotten bigger and stronger and more intimidating when they told people to never ever call them Bunny.

There are also quite a few Ducks and Duckys, and one Delbert Duckworth, but I suppose that’s a post for another day.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

I got a DM on Twitter today from a respectable print journalist who, in the course of researching Brett Gardner, came across one of his baseball-reference player comps named:

Johnny Dickshot.

Dickshot played mostly for Pittsburgh and the White Sox in the 30s and 40s. To make matters worse, Johnny’s nickname was “Ugly”. So, yes, Ugly Dickshot. I do like that apparently I am the person you get in touch with when you find a player with Dick in his name. It makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

I guess he was sort of the Coco Crisp of his day. Too bad he played so long ago, or he might have made himself some nice endorsement deals. Presenting:

Bud Weiser.

Bud Weiser not shown.

Weiser came about his nickname honestly – he was born Henry Budson Weiser in 1891 (about 13 years after Adolphus Busch, who had quite a name in his own right when you think about it, started his famous brewery). That was in Shamokin, PA, where Weiser also died, in 1961, and is buried in the fantastically named Odd Fellows Cemetery.

He never made it to the majors, but he had a long minor league career, playing with a few pauses here and there from 1911 to 1928, with 10 different teams from Scranton Wilkes-Barre to Dallas, the Charlotte Hornets to the Scottdale  Scotties. I bet Bud Weiser could have told a few stories.

Bonus names: Among his teammates were Ezra Midkiff, Wheat Orcutt, Norwood Hankee, and Bunny Hearn.

Norwood Hankee!

Baseball Player Name of the Week

I cannot believe that, until he appeared in a spring training game for the A’s on Sunday, I was unaware of the existence of minor league pitcher:

Josh Outman.

That’s right.

I learned via the inimitable Lisa Winston that there is also a minor league pitcher for the Padres named Will Inman. I’m not sure whether Inman and Outman have ever played against each other. If that ever happens in the future I hereby vow to liveblog the crap out of it.

In any case, the good news for Outman, at least in my fevered brain, is that he ought to have a leg up on previous pitcher Name of the Weeks like Kevin Slowey and Grant Balfour…

Baseball Player Name of the Week

One of the pitchers who will be competing for a roster spot with the Washington Nationals this year is:

Garrett Mock.

No word yet on whether he will be joined by other Nationals hopefuls like Robert Jest, Julio Chortle, or Bert Scoff.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

Today I bring you one Gus Godbold (photo unavailable).

Sounds pretty badass, but not much is known about Godbold – he played from 1948 to 1950 for minor league Philadelphia As teams in Moultrie (?), Tarboro (?!) and Fayetteville, batting .270 for his career.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

In honor of the upcoming celebration of ancient Roman martyrs:

Squeaky Valentine.

His real name is Fred Valentine, which is still not too shabby. Born in Mississippi in 1935, he debuted with the Orioles in 1959 and went on to play with the Washington Senators. His only very good year came with them, 1n 1966, when he hit a highly (and uncharacteristically) impressive .351/.455/.806 for an OPS+ of 131. Two years later his OPS+ was 86, and that was his last season.

If I were a GM I would hire any player named “Squeaky Valentine” so fast it’d make your head spin. As an added bonus, he has a 964 similarity score to someone named Coaker Triplett.

SPECIAL EDITION Baseball Player Name of the Week: Mob Boss

Via the inimitable Pat Kiernan, yesterday’s mass mob arrests in the New York area have unearthed some fantastic new mob nicknames. As a group, mafia types really excel at the nickname, perhaps even more than ballplayers; today I thought I’d try to merge the two genres. Herewith, actual mob nicknames from the Daily News, and their imaginary position on the baseball diamond:

Tony Bagels
Two good options here: the reliable ace who keeps putting zeros up on the scoreboard, or the hapless rookie still hitting .000 two weeks into his first stint in the majors.

The Claw

Jack the Whack
Dumb-as-a-post platooned corner outfielder who plays unfortunate defense but, at the plate, runs into one every so often and hits it to the next county.

Fat Larry
Elder-statesman DH beloved by teammates and groupies coast-to-coast.

Baby Fat
Fat Larry’s younger brother, a perenially disappointing 3B who would be more suited to DH but is just not a good enough hitter.

Popular hefty lefty starting pitcher.

This would work for like 40% of all Major League players, actually.

Vinny Carwash
Middle reliever who’s nothing to write home about except for his one truly fantastic secondary pitch, probably a changeup.

Junior Lollipops
Light-hitting shortstop who plays just good enough defense and smacks just enough seeing-eye singles to stay in the league basically forever.

Ancient first base coach famous for his heckling gifts with regards to opponents and umps.

The Beard
I did not know Brian Wilson was a member of the Genovese crime family.

You know what? I’m not going to make fun of anyone nicknamed Nighthawk. Likely not someone you want to mess with.

Baby Shacks
Former Rookie of the Year 2B who never lives up to the hype.

Bullpen catcher and professional butt of jokes.

Johnny Glasses
Grouchy veteran umpire.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

I frequently turn to the minors for these Names of the Week because while there are plenty of awesomely named big-leaguers, often they’re well known enough so that most of you guys will have already heard of them, and in some cases gotten so used to the name that you’ve become inured to its wonders (e.g. Coco Crisp, “Randy Johnson, The Big Unit,” Prince Fielder, etc). The other good bet is to turn to the past, when men were men and ballplayers had f****** awesome names. Today’s pick was born in Eddy, Texas, in 1904, which is likely why he was known as:

Tex Nugent.

Well, I thought it was funny.

Nugent’s given name is Granville, which is pretty good in its own right. He was a career minor leaguer, playing from 1926 to 1941 for the Terre Haute Tots (!) (alongside Uke Clanton and Watty Clark), the Little Rock Travelers, the Midland Cowboys, and the El Dorado Lions, among other teams. No date of death is listed on baseball-reference, which makes a late-in-life career switch to rock star a possibility, though still perhaps unlikely.

Meantime, bonus points are awarded to the Mets for acquiring Taylor Tankersley; as Greg at Faith and Fear in Flushing points out, with plausible poesy,  the Amazin’s have taken on an alliterative trio this winter: the aforementioned T. Tankersley, Chris Capuano and, of course, previous Name of the Week honoree Boof Bonser. I take this as a clear sign that the Mets are once again moving in the right direction.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

2011 starts off with a bang, name-wise, as the Texas Rangers, bless them, just signed a Venezuelan shortstop named:

Rougned Odor.

Photo of terrifyingly young-looking Rougned Odor from Pro Rumors.

Hat tip to BP’s Kevin Goldstein for alerting me to the good news. SB Nation’s Dallas blog notes that Odor is a key addition to the Rangers’ burgeoning “All-Name Team” that also includes Wilmer Font and Jurickson Profar. Looking over the Rangers’ MiLB Baseball-Reference page for the shirt-season A-ball Spokane Indians, I’m also quite fond of  Odubel Herrera, Guillermo Pimentel, Geurris Grullon, and Ovispo De Los Santos — the Rangers are indeed stacked. At AA they had Emerson Frostad, Elio Sarmiento, Blake Beavan, and the fake-sounding Mark Hamburger and Ryan Falcon. They have a chance to be a baseball-name force for years to come.

Baseball America has video of the new Odor.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

The Braves have wisely signed Yohan Flande to a minor league deal.

Flande, a 24-year-old lefty pitcher, had been in the Phillies system since 2006 and spent most of the last two years at AA, where he went 14-12 with a 4.44 ERA, a 1.415 WHIP, and a 2.06 K/BB ratio.

If he joins the Braves AA team this year he’ll join an already strong roster of names that includes Brett Butts, J.J. Hoover, Benino Pruneda, Tyler Pastornicky, L.V. Ware, and the top-notch Jesus Sucre.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

It was going to be Firpo Marberry. Not a lost Marx brother, but an old Senators pitcher, with a catchy nickname he earned by scowling like intimidating boxer Luis Angel Firpo. But then I scoped out his teammates… and I am compelled to award this week’s Player Name of the Week to an entire team:

The 1923 Washington Senators.

Featuring, in addition to Firpo, and to impressive but less excellently named players like Walter Johnson:

  • Muddy Ruel
  • Joe Judge
  • Ossie Bluege
  • Goose Goslin
  • Nemo Liebold
  • Rip Wade
  • Patsy Gharrity
  • Pinky Hargrave
  • Showboat Fisher
  • Doc Prothro
  • Skipper Friday
  • Clay Roe
  • Squire Potter

They just don’t build ’em like this anymore. It must’ve been like playing Walter Johnson and the Seven Dwarves. Doc! Pinky! Muddy!

Baseball Player Name of the Week

Roxey Roach, come on down!

Roach was born in Pennsylvania in 1882, and played shortstop for the New York Highlanders — the proto-Yankees — in 1910 and 1911. He subsequently tapered off with decreasing numbers of at-bats for the Washington Senators and the Buffalo Blues (where he played with fellow ex-Highlander Hal Chase, and also some guy named “Gene Krapp“). After his playing days he moved to Michigan where, according to a site called Michigan Dry Flies, he owned a Ford dealership, fathered 14 children, and made a name for himself as “an extremely proficient and talented angler” and “an accomplished and prolific fly tyer” whose “streamer patterns,” whatever that means, are still used today.

Stunningly, no one has ever created a cartoon about a singing, dancing, baseball-playing cockroach named Roxey, but I aim to rectify that ASAP.

NotW Runner-Up: Buddy Crump.

I alwasy wonder about guys like Crump who had one single, solitary game in the majors. Crump went 0-for-4 in five at-bats with one RBI, and never played in the big leagues again.

Dunno about you guys but I’m having one of those days where you just can’t focus. I just spent longer than I’d care to admit looking at Google Image results for sea otters. They are goddamn adorable, it turns out.

Is it vacation time yet?

Baseball Player Name of the Week

This week we marvel at…

Brock Bond, currently of the Richmond Flying Squirrels. (That would be the San Francisco Giants EAS affiliate – their logo is an acorn – but does anyone else now have a powerful urge to watch actual flying squirrels play baseball? That would just be adorable).

Honestly, I’m not sure this one should even count as a NotW, because that is the fakest name I’ve ever heard. It’s what a 17-year-old boy would name himself if he went into the Witness Protection Program… either that, or a lost Dirk Diggler character. Still, best of luck to Brock, a Missouri native. He plays second base, reached AAA last year, and appears to have an excellent eye and very solid batting average, though (oddly, given the moniker) no power to speak of.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

Today’s old-school classic is:

The Only Nolan.

His mother (presumably) called him Edward Sylvester, but The Only Nolan is certainly catchier. The origin of his nickname is the subject of some debate; some say he was quite literally baseball’s single solitary Nolan, others that he reminded someone of then-famous burlesque performer Francis “The Only Leon” Leon, who performed in both blackface and drag. As usual I chose to believe the more interesting tale. In any case, while he is no longer baseball’s only Nolan he remains a noteworthy character.

According to Wikipedia, he was dropped from his first team, the Indianapolis Blues, in 1878 after claiming he had to attend a funeral and instead attending a saloon; BR Bullpen has it that he was caught visiting a whorehouse instead of his brother. He hitched on with other teams, but in 1881 he was blacklisted from the league (along with future Name-of-the-Week contender Lip Pike) for “confirmed dissipation and general insubordination,” some variation of which I hope to have on my gravestone some day.

But you can’t keep a good Only Nolan down, and he turned up again in Delaware a few years later, where he supposedly once caused an opposing outfielder’s error, A-Rod style, by yelling “look out for the fence!” He ended up with an uninspiring-for-the-times 2.98 ERA and a 23-54 win-loss record, with accompanying 82 ERA+, over parts of five seasons. After his playing career he went on to become, of all things, a police officer in his native Paterson, NJ, until his death in 1912 at the age of 55 – “after being ill but one day,” as his New York Times obituary put it.

Even The Only Nolan’s team names were excellent: the Indianapolis Blues, the Pittsburgh Allegenys, and my favorite, the Wilmington Quicksteps (who also included 1B Redleg Snyder and SS Oyster Burnes, scored 35 runs and allowed 114, and went 2-16 before disbanding). In fact, even his catcher with the Indianapolis Blues had a fantastic moniker: Silver Flint. There are now multiple Major League Nolans, but The Only is definitely my favorite.

Baseball Player Names of the Week

We have a tie, folks! Today’s first honoree is…

Yam Yaryan.

Yam, who was christened Clarence Everett Yaryan, was born in Iowa in 1892, and played only parts of two seasons for the Chicago White Sox. In that time he hit .260/.326/.376 for a less-than-mighty OPS+ of 81, and acquired an excellent and, based on the photo, fitting nickname. Next up:

Flame Delhi.

Flame was born the same day as Yam, November 5, 1892, in Town-Name-of-the-Week Harqua Hala, Arizona. Despite the imposing nickname (his real name was Lee) he only ever got into one major league game: April 16, 1912. He pitched three innings and allowed six runs, three earned, on seven hits and three walks. And that, apparently, was that.

Feel free to offer suggestions for future Player Names of the Week, either in the comments or via email.

Baseball Player Name of the Week

Back on my blog Eephus Pitch I used to have a Baseball Player Name of the Week feature, which I think it is past time to revive. Previous honorees include Ossee Schreckengost, Slim Love, Bill Wambsganss (and Braggo “The Globetrotter” Roth),  Buttercup Dickerson, Mutz and Jewel Ens, The Wild Elk of the Wasatch, Freuny Parra, Cletus Elwood “Boots” Poffenberger, and of course Bristol “Bris” Robotham Lord, aka “the Human Eyeball,” among many other luminaries.  Today’s pick:

Putsy Caballero.

Putsy, né Ralph, joined the Phillies in 1944  at age 16 – making, him to this day, the youngest Phillie ever. 1948 was his only season as the team’s regular third baseman, and he “retired” at 24, heading home to New Orleans to work as an exterminator and eventually open his own pest-control business. According to BR Bullpen, he stayed there until 2005, when Hurricane Katrina destroyed his house, though not his Phillies uniform. Wikipedia has him living now in Lake View, LA.

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver