Top 10 Baseball Names

One of my New Year’s Resolutions for 2009 will be to blog more often and not let ideas mildew in the draft bin.  This idea of compiling top 10 lists of sports names is one I’ve been tossing around for years and I’ve finally resolved to pen or I should say to blog the first of several.  As a kid, I spent a lot of time collecting sports cards and was always fascinated by nicknames like Carl “Spider” Lockhart and “Mean” Joe Green, both of whom spider-lockhart1went to North Texas State University, a school known more for its music department than its football program.  I also appreciate unique names like Urban Shocker who played for the Yankees in the 20’s, and Boog Powell and picturesque names like Wade Boggs – I can imagine a hunter wading in a bog on a frigid winter morning with a duck call and a shotgun.

For this post, my focus will be on great baseball names; names that connect to the players’ on-the-field accomplishments.  For the record, I have not consulted any other list;  if these names have appeared on any list, or have been written about by sports journalists before, it is purely coincidental or perhaps a sign that my ideas are not so fresh and original.  My methodology was simply to scan the complete list of baseball player names on Baseball-Reference.com and jot down the appealing ones along with supporting statistics.  And so without further delay, here’s my list of the top 10 baseball names of all time.

 

10.  GENE FREESE.  Interesting name.  I once knew someone by the name of Gene Pool, whose name I think is pretty cool.  Gene Freese played for the Chicago White Sox and had the dubious distinction of being among the league leaders in the caught stealing bases category in the 1960 season.  Like a deer in the headlights I guess.

9.  PETE FOX.  By contrast, Pete Fox, an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers was among the league leaders in stolen bases in the 1934 season.  As the old Bulgarian proverb goes,  the fox falls into the trap only once.

8.  MATT BATTS.  In 1953, Mr. Batts, playing in only 116 games as a catcher for the Detroit Tigers, was one of the most productive hitters on the team, with 104 hits, 24 doubles and a .406 slugging percentage.   I can just hear the announcer now, “Matt Batts bats leadoff for the Tigers.  Batts, known for quality at bats and battling the pitcher is a tough batter with good bat speed.  Breaks a lot of bats does Batts.

7.   DAVE “out of the park”  PARKER.  Parker parked 339 balls in his illustrious 19 year career as an outfielder and DH for various teams.

 

6.  FRANK FLEET.   As a pitcher for the Brooklyn Atlantics in 1875, Mr. Fleet threw some fleet pitches and led the league in strikeouts with 26.  Not so impressive by today’s standards, but back in the 1870’s, teams only played 44 games.

5.  JACK ARMSTRONG.  The 6’5″ Armstrong had a strong arm indeed.  In the 1990 World Series pitching for Cincinnati in Game 3, he pitched 3 innings, giving up only 1 hit and striking out 3.  Cincinnati won the Series against Oakland 4-0.

4.  ROY HITT.  As a member of the Cincinnati Reds, Hitt was not a hit with the opposition.  Hitt was among the league leaders in Hit Batsman in 1912.

3.  ERIC PLUNK.  Plunk plunked 32 batsman in his 14 year career and led the American League in wild pitches with 10 in 1989.

2.  HERB SCORE.  Unlike the name suggests, Score was not scored upon much.  In 1956, he led the American league in shutouts (5) and strikeouts   (2Bob Walk63) while going 20-2 for the Cleveland Indians.

1.  BOB WALK.  What a great name for a pitcher!  Like score, Walk’s name is not reflective of his game.  He actually walked very few batters – just 67 walks per year during his 14 year career.  However, he was prone to throw an occasional wild pitch.  An All-Star in 1988, he led the league in wild pitches, and was among the league leaders in this category for several years.  To my knowledge, there is no pitcher by the name of Wilde.

There are some other good names out there I missed.  I only looked at last names, but probably skipped over a good Homer candidate.  I did run across Homer Bailey’s name who currently pitches for Cincinnati, but he hasn’t hit a homer, though he has no doubt allowed a few.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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