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Offa Neal
Catchy, but I prefer the name given him by his parents: Theophilus Fountain Neal. Apparently the middle syllables of Theophilus suggested the nickname "Offa."

However ... because Neal's major league resume includes only four games (as a 29-year-old infielder with the New York Giants in 1905) and he was hitless in 13 at bats, an online comedian suggested his nickname should have been Oh-fer.

 

Bots Nekola
Bots Nekola was better known for what he did after his playing days were over. For 27 years he was a scout for the Boston Red Sox. Among the players he signed was Carl Yastrzemski.

Nekola was a star pitcher at Holy Cross College, and in 1929, at age 22, he made one start and eight relief appearances for the New York Yankees, but didn't get a decision. (He did, however, get two hits in four at bats.) He returned to the minor leagues, making a brief return to the American League in 1933 when he made two relief appearances for the Detroit Tigers.

He was born Francis Joseph Nekola. According to a nephew, Joe Nekola, a retired New York Police Department captain, the pitcher grew up in a predominately Italian neighborhood in the Bronx. People there were big baseball fans who thought Nekola was Italian (the family actually was Czech) and "because he was a 'crazy' southpaw, he was nicknamed 'Bots,' the Italian word for crazy."

This may be true, but in searching via Google for a translation of "bots," I found no such Italian word that meant "crazy." Perhaps it was slang popular in that neighborhood or a heavily accented pronunciationn of "bats" (as in "bats in his beflry").

 

Tricky Nichols
Frederick C. Nichols was the Bobo Newsom of his time, but Nichols' career was shorter. He pitched for four different National League teams in four seasons, then went to a fifth city to pitch in the American Association, which at the time had major league status. You could make a case, I suppose, that he had a sixth major league season if you count his stint with New Haven in the National Association, the year before the National League was born. Nichols was 4-28 with New Haven, a team that won only seven games that season.

The Bridgeport, Connecticut, native spent much of his time in New England; three of his other teams were in Boston, Providence and Worcester. But he also pitched in St. Louis and Baltimore, and later went to Saginaw, Michigan.

A website devoted to sports in Saginaw had a short piece on a team called the Saginaw Old Golds, champions of the Northwestern League in 1883 and 1884. This piece claims Fred "Tricky" Nichols, a member of the Old Golds, is credited with throwing baseball's first "drop pitch." (Research on this piece was done by Richard Curry.)

Cut to another item, a recap of the 1878 National League season that mentions a May 25 game when Tricky Nichols of Providence was forced to pitch nine innings against Boston despite a dislocated finger. He lost, 17-10. Could the dislocated finger have anything to do with the "drop pitch"? And is that why he was called Tricky?

Most interesting: Tricky Nichols was on the first United States baseball team to visit Cuba, in 1879 on a junket organized by promoter Frank Bancroft of Cincinnanti and financed by Asa Soule of Rochester, New York.

The team was called the Hop Bitters named for a whiskey-laced medicine marketed by Soule as a cure for all ailments. The Hop Bitters played only two games in Cuba, winning both easily, then fled to New Orleans to spend the rest of the winter.

They weren't necessarily chased out of Cuba, but the situation was tense. Cuba still belonged to Spain at the time – this was several years before the Spanish-American War – and while Cubans apparently liked Americans, the Spanish who controlled the island didn't. And baseball pretty much symbolized America.

 

The Only Nolan
This pitcher's nickname reflects the ego of one of early baseball's flakiest players. Edward Sylvester Nolan was a legend in his own mind

In 1878, months shy of his 21st birthday, Nolan was kicked off the Indianapolis team of the National League after management discovered he'd taken a day off to attend a fictitious funeral. He'd apparently spent the day in a bar, so no one was surprised when drinking became the young man's biggest problem. Despite his 23-52 lifetime record, he was considered a talented pitcher who had managed to attract a large fan following.

 

Lou Novikoff
Outfielder Lou Novikoff was called "The Mad Russian." He played for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies in the 1940s. Regarded as a good hitter, Novikoff has problems in the field, especially during Cubs home games. He wouldn't chase fly balls past the warning track because he was convinced the vines that grew on Wrigley Field's fence were poison ivy. It is said that at times even Novikoff's wife booed his outfield play.

His best season was 1942 when he hit .300. He was a holdout the next season, which got him temporarily suspended for failing to report to the Cubs within 10 days of the season opener. He played only 78 games that season, his average dropping to .279.

He had a lifetime batting average of .337 in the minor leagues, playing 11 years for several teams. His best year was with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in 1940 when he batted .363 and hit 41 home runs.

 

Charlie Nyce
The fellow who was born Charles Reiff Nice filled in a shortstop for nine games in 1895 playing for Boston's National League team, then known as the Beaneaters. He changed the spelling of his last nam, which meant – sorry, I can't resist – no more was he Mr. Nice guy.

He became a professional baseball player in 1892 with Allentown of the Pennsylvania State League and retired after the 1900 season which he split between New London of the Connecticut State League and Wilkes-Barre of the Atlantic League.

 

Prince Oana
Henry Kauhane Oana was a native Hawaiian who in 1934 spent a week or so playing the outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies. Cut to 1943, the middle of World War II. Teams need players and sign them wherever they can find them. Re-enter Prince Oana, this time as a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. He returned for another brief visit to the Tiger in 1945. Otherwise he kept busy in the minor leagues until 1951 when he finished his playing career with Texarkana of the Big State League. And what a career it was. He played 23 seasons of minor league ball, hitting .304 on 2,292 hits, 261 of them home runs. (In 1933, with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, he had 29 home runs and an incredible 63 doubles.)

In high school Oana had starred in five sports – track, swimming, football, basketball and baseball. While "Prince" had a nice ring to it, he often was called by his given first name or its usual nickname, "Hank."

 

Brusie Ogrodowski
I like the sound of Brusie, though my research on Ambrose Francis Ogrodowski, such as it was, found his nickname more frequently was spelled Bruse, which left me confused about how it was pronounced. Ogrowdowski was a catcher who played 184 games for the St. Louis Cardinals over two seasons (1936-37), batting .231.

I found an item that said that when Ogrodowski was a backup catcher for the minor league San Francisco Seals he kept a rabbit hutch in the bullpen. So why wasn't he called Bunny Ogrodowski?

 

Jimmy Outlaw
Oldtimers may remember the song, "Johnny Angel." Well, meet the flipside. If James Paulus Outlaw were playing today, ESPN would keep a running tally of how many times the diminutive (5-foot-8) outfielder robbed someone of a hit.

Outlaw also played third base during his 10-year major league career, most of it with the Detroit Tigers. He had a .268 lifetime average and hit only six home runs.

 

Orval Overall
Orval Overall, a Farmersville (CA) native, was an outstanding student athlete at the University of California. He arrived in the majors with Cincinnati, but came into his own with the Chicago Cubs. In 1907 he had his best season: 23 wins, 8 losses, eight shutouts and an earned run average of 1.70. Among his teammates was Hall of Fame pitcher Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown.

Overall started two World Series games in 1907, two more in 1908. He won three; the fourth ended in a 12-inning tie. An ailing arm shortened his career.

 
Stubby Overmire
Frank Overmire was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees (1943-52). His nickname reflects his size – Overmire stood five-foot-seven, though some say he was shorter. (A minor league player who had Overmire for a manager claims Stubby was barely five-foot-two.)
 

Stan Partenheimer
Stanwood Wendell Partenheimer, a left-handed pitcher, made two brief World War II visits to the major leagues.

He began his professional career in 1942 with the Boston Red Sox organization and had a 15-5 record with Class C teams in Canton and Oneonta. He was in the Army in 1943, but soon discharged because of a leg injury he had suffered in a football game years earlier. He was back playing baseball in 1944, winning 16 games in the American Association. He made one pitching appearance with the Red Sox, but was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals, who brought him up to the National League in 1945. He made eight appearances, but had no wins or losses. His major league statistics included 18 bases on balls in only 14-1/3 innings.

He went back to the minors, pitched two more seasons, then retired. He went on to become coach and athletic director at Sewickley Academy near Pittsburgh. The school's Hall of Fame is now located in the Stanwood Partenheimer Room.

Partenheimer's father, Steve, was an infielder who reached the major leagues long enough to play one game at third base for Detroit in 1913.

All four of Stan Parteinheimer's children were athletes, though soccer seemed to be their sport of choice.

 

Hunter Pence
Here is more proof that I haven't been paying attention to baseball in recent years. Pence has been around for several seasons, playing the outfield first for Houston, then Philadelphia and, most recently, the San francisco Giants.

He has had a couple .300-plus season, is good for 20 or more home runs a season, hustles like crazy and wear the shortest baseball pants I've ever seen in the major leagues. (Years ago one Pacific Coast League team, the Hollywood Stars, I believe, dressed in Bermuda shorts.)

Unlike most players these days, Pence has a colorful nickname — Captain Underpants, which also is the name of a series of books about two young boys who fantasize about a superhero. Apparently the nickname began when a teammate thought a public address announcer, in introducing Hunter Pence, instead said, "Under Pants."

And that's how legends are born.

Hunter Pence makes a nice catch. Captain
Underpants couldn't have done it better.
 

Kewpie Pennington
New York City-born George Louis Pennington was such a highly regarded young athlete that he was given a major league tryout when he was 14. However, his entire major league career was played out in one inning in 1917 when he made a relief appearance for the St. Louis Browns. He gave up one hit, no runs, with no strike outs or walks.

At five-foot-eight, Pennington was not a dominating pitcher, though he did hang around for many years in the minor leagues, afterward settling in Newark, New Jersey, where he had pitched for its Bears, an International League affiliate of the New York Yankees. Later he became manager of Bankers Indemnity Insurance Company of Newark.

I'm not sure about the nickname, which probably comes from Kewpie Doll, suggesting a reference to Pennington's size, appearance or his age when he had that first big league tryout.

 

Pretzel Pezzullo
John "Pretzel" Pezzullo was a pitcher who had a 3-5 record with the Philadelphia Phllies in 1935, but in his only 1936 appearance had obvious control problems, walking six batters in two innings. Exit Pretzel, never to return to the major leagues. Though he was 25 years old as a rookie, Pezzullo had pitched only one season in the minors, posting a fine 16-4 record with Richmond of the Piedmont League. In 1938 he had his best year as a professional, winning 26 games with Savannah of the South Atlantic League (aka Sally League). His career minor league record was 91-65.

I found nothing to explain his nickname. Perhaps it had something to do with the way he curled his body when he pitched, maybe it was all in the interests of alliteration.

 

Lip Pike
Lipman Emanuel Pike is regarded as the first professional baseball player, accepting $20 a week in 1866 to play for the first team to be known as the Philadelphia Athletics. Other players soon followed suit, with Cincinnati's Red Stockings assembling the first all-professional team.

Pike played for and managed the Troy (New York) Haymakers in the first professional league, the National Association, in 1871. He was 5-foot-8, weighed about 160 pounds, but was the most noted slugger of his era. His combination of power and speed made him the league's home run champion four times. (In most parks, a ball hit over the fence wasn't automatically a home run; an outfielder could retrieve the ball, which forced hitters to run the bases full speed.)

Pike used his footspeed to earn money in unusual ways, such as the time he raced a trotter in a 100-yard dash and won.

 

Wally Pipp
Walter Clement "Wally" Pipp
was the New York Yankee first baseman who preceded Lou Gehrig. As such, people overlook what Pipp accomplished. Twice he led the American League in home runs. When 'Believe It or Not!' cartoonist Robert Ripley coined the term 'Murderer's Row' he was referring not to Babe Ruth and Gehrig, but to Pipp and Frank "Home Run" Baker who hit most of the Yankees' 35 home runs in 1916. No other team in the league hit more than 19.

Pipp is on my list because his name sounds like a British WWI flying ace. And maybe the plane he flew was a Hilly Flitcraft.

 
Pinky Pittenger
Clarke Alonzo Pittenger was a utility player (SS-3B-2B-OF) for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds, playing parts of seven seasons during the 1920s. He had 959 at bats in 373 games, hit .263 with one home run (for Cincinnati in 1927). He struck out only 50 times and his walks were even fewer – 37. No word on just how he picked up his nickname, though Pinky wasn't all that unusual in his time. Pinky Hargrave and Pinky Higgins come to mind.
 

Togie Pittinger
Charles Reno Pittinger pitched for the Boston Beaneaters and the Philadelpia Phillies of the National League for eight seasons (1900-07). He was twice a 20-game winner. His best season was 1902 when he and Boston teammate Vic Willis had 27 wins apiece to account for 54 of the Beaneaters' 73 victories. After two losing seasons, he was traded to the Phillies, bouncing back in 1905 to win 23 games. Shoulder problems limited his appearances the next two seasons and he left the major leagues in the fall of 1907.

Pittinger was tall and lean (six-foot-two, 175 pounds) and he was usually among the league leaders in strikeouts. Unfortunately, he also was wild, three times leading the league in bases on balls.

He died in 1909 of Bright's disease, a kidney ailment. He was only 37.

 

Specs Podgajny
John Sigmund "Johnny" Podgajny breezed through the minor leagues. At the end of his second season, when he won 18 games for Ottawa-Ogdensburg of the Canadian-American League, he was summoned to Philadelphia to pitch for the Phillies. Podgajny (pronounced "poe-JOHNNY") stood six-feet-two. His weight is listed at 173, but he is often described as being almost painfully thin. That and his glasses made him the butt of many jokes.

Ah, yes, his glasses. One of his minor league managers noticed Podgajny dropped his head and looked over the tops of his specs in order to see the catcher's signals.

"You ought to get yourself a pair of bifocals," advised the manager.

"Buy focals?" replied the pitcher. "I just bought these glasses yesterday."

It turned out he had purchased eyeglasses because they felt and looked good; they didn't help his vision at all, probably made it worse.

By the time he reached Philadelphia he was wearing proper specs. He remained with the Phillies until June 15, 1943 when he was traded to Pittsburgh. He then spent two years in the minor leagues before briefly resurfacing in the majors, this time with Cleveland in 1946.

His best seasons were the five he spent with the Baltimore Orioles, then of the International League. He won 20 games for the Orioles in 1945, and his five- year record for them was 57-55. He later pitched for Birmingham of the Southern Association and Milwaukee of the American Association before retiring after the 1950 season. He returned to his hometown, Chester, Pennsylvania, where he died in 1971.

 

Boots Poffenberger
Cletus Elwood Poffenberger was regarded as one of baseball's most colorful characters. Poffenberger loved to party and he loved to drink. In addition to "Boots," he often was called "The Baron" and "The Duke of Duckout" because he had a habit of ducking out for a drink and disappearing for hours, even missing a game now and then. To start the day, so the story goes, Poffenberger would call room service and ask for the Breakfast of Champions, which was his way of ordering two fried eggs and a beer.

The pitcher's reputation was such that the Tigers hired a detective to follow him. When Poffenberger found out, he told Tiger officials to give him the money they were paying the detective and he'd tell the team where to find him: "All they’d have to do is go to the beer joint closest to the ballpark."

Recollections of Poffenberger all describe a volatile character. Playing with the minor league Nashville Vols in 1941, he was suspended for 90 days because he threw a ball at an umpire.

While in the Army, Poffenberger was stationed in Hawaii where he pitched for and managed a service baseball team. The online memoirs of the late Arthur J. Bradley, one of his players, recall a game when Poffenberger became upset by the heckling of twins on the other team. The twins batted one after the other. Late in the game, while facing twin number one, Poffenberger wound up, whirled and threw his fastest pitch – not toward home plate, but at the twin in the on-deck circle. The throw missed its target, though Bradley says the ball bounced off the dugout and came back to hit the twin on one of his legs.

His nickname, as with most baseball players called "Boots," reflected his fielding ability. Or lack of it.

 

Jennings Poindexter
Chester Jennings Poindexter was also known by the nickname "Jinx." He was a left-handed pitcher who made three starts for the Boston Red Sox in 1936, getting two decisions, both of them losses. Earlier that season he had pitched for Little Rock of the Southern Association, enjoying a career day on June 11 when he struck out 17 batters in a game against Nashville.

In 1937 Poindexter returned to the minor leagues. He received a second chance to pitch in the majors in 1939, this time in the National League with the Philadelphia Phillies. He appeared in 11 games with the Phils, 10 of them in relief. He was involved in no decisions. After his stay in Philadelphia he returned to the minor leagues.

 
Placido Polanco
I suspect many people would identify Placido Enrique Polanco as one of the famous tenors. However, this Placido, a native of the Domincan Republic, is a versatile infielder gainfully employed by major league baseball teams for several seasons. In common with oldtimers, Polanco has a nickname: Polly.
 

Arlie Pond
Early professional baseball players generally were considered uneducated, hard-drinking men whose behavior on the field and off was often scandalous.

Erasmus Arlington Pond certainly didn't fit this image. He was graduated from the University of Vermont where he was a member of the glee and banjo clubs as well as an outstanding pitcher for the baseball team. He also played one season of varsity football.

He then enrolled in the university's medical school before moving on to the University of Maryland's College of Physicians and Surgeons, which led to him being contacted by Ned Hanlon, who managed the Baltimore Orioles, top team in the National League. Hanlon convinced Pond he could pitch for the Orioles in the summer and then take post-graduate courses at Johns Hopkins.

He quickly proved he belonged in the big leagues. In 1897, his second full season, he won 18 games. However, his life changed forever in 1898. The Orioles had financial woes, forcing Hanlon to release Pond, though he changed his mind a few days later. In the meantime, the United States declared war on Spain and Dr. Erasmus Arlington Pond was appointed acting assistant surgeon with the U.S. Army and ordered to report to Fort Myer near Washington.

The war lasted only a few weeks, but one result was the Philippines became an American colony where Dr. Pond's services were needed. Except for short tours of duty elsewhere, Arlie Pond spent most of his remaining years in the Philippines, in the service and later as a civilian. In 1930 he underwent surgery for appendicitis at his own hospital on the Philippine island of Cebu. At first the operation appeared successful, but then peritonitis set in. He died nine days later. He was only 57.

 

Twitchy Porter
Richard Twilley Porter was better known as Dick than as the more colorful Twitchy. He also was called Wiggles and Twitches because of his movements while in his batting stance.

Outfielder Porter was an outstanding left-handed hitter who didn't move up to the big leagues until he was 28 because he played for Jack Dunn's International League Baltimore Orioles, a team better than some in the majors.

Dunn finally sold Porter to the Cleveland Indians in 1928. He remained in the American League through 1934, finishing with Boston after five years in Cleveland. His stay in the majors proved successful. His lifetime batting average was .308, his career best was .350 in 1930.

 

Spencer Pumpelly
The former Yale University pitcher resurfaced in 1925 for a one-inning appearance with the Washington Senators. He was 32 at the time and had no minor league experience to speak of. Ordinarily he'd be quickly forgotten, but with a name like Spencer Pumpelly ... even better, Spencer Armstrong Pumpelly, I couldn't resist listing him.

Oh, yes, not only did he come out of nowhere in 1925, but afterward he disappeared and his whereabouts were unknown for many years.

 

Blondie Purcell
William Aloysius Purcell was an outfielder and sometime pitcher with various teams in the early days of professional baseball (1879-1890). His lifetime pitching record was 15-43, which was bad, but not as bad as his 1883 managerial record with the Philadelphia Quakers of the National League – 13 wins, 68 losses. Needless to say, Philadelphia finished in last place.

Purcell fared much better as an outfielder, at least in 1889, when he hit .316. However, his lifetime batting average was just .267. Purcell first attracted attention as a teenager in his hometown, Paterson, NJ, where he organized an amateur baseball team that took on all comers and soon was recognized as one of the best in the country. One of his players was King Kelly, recruited by Purcell when Kelly was just 15.

This is the photo from a Blondie Purcell baseball card made for Old Judge Cigarettes in 1887. The story is he was called Blondie because as a teenager he used peroxide on his hair.

 

J. J. Putz
Joseph Jason Putz arrived in the majors in 2003 as a relief pitcher for the Seattle Mariners. In 2007 he emerged as one of baseball's best closers, which means he's the pitcher entrusted with saving the game in the final inning. He finished the season with 40 saves, a 6-1 won-lost record and a 1.38 earned run average in 68 appearances.

His numbers were off in 2008, then Seattle traded him to the New York Mets. He appeared in only 29 games with the Mets in 2009 and was let go at the end of the season.

The Chicago White Sox signed him and he responded in 2010 with a 7-5 record in 60 relief appearances and a 2.83 earned run average. During the season he set a team record by pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings.

A free agent after the season, he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and in 2011 had 45 saves in 52 appearances, along with a 2.17 earned run average. He'll be earning $10 million-plus from the Diamondbacks over the next two years.

However, he's on this list because of his name, not his arm. J. J. Putz sounds like a Potsie-like sitcom character.

 
Joe Quest
Joseph L. Quest was a second baseman who played for several teams over a nine-year period in the early days of the major leagues. He was five-foot-six, weighed about 150 pounds, and must have been a handy guy to have around because despite his .217 batting average he kept finding teams that wanted him. His career took him from Indianapolis to Chicago to Detroit to St. Louis to Pittsburgh back to Detroit and finally to Philadelphia.

Quest's claim to fame is that he is often credited with coining a still-popular expression while he was playing in Chicago. When teammates were hobbled by cramps or sore muscles, Quest supposedly was the first to describe the condition as a "Charley horse," though I've seen no explanation for either Charley or horse.
 

Eddie Quick and Hal Quick
These two Quicks were not related; one of them might not have been Quick at all.

Hal was legitimately Quick, being born James Harold Quick in Rome, Georgia. He waa a shortstop who played 12 games for the Washington Senator in 1939, batting .244. His nickname was Blondie.

According to my Baseball Encyclopedia, the 1984 edition, pitcher Eddie Quick was born Edwin S. Stillwell in Baltimore, Maryland, year unknown. He died in Rocky Ford, Colorado, in 1913, ten years after his brief major league experience with the New York Highlanders (Yankees). Quick started one game, pitched two innings, gave up five hits and two runs, and he disappeared back into the minor leagues.

Online sources, all of them more recent than my Baseball Encyclopedia, say his real name Edwin S. Quick and that he was born in 1881.

 

Toad Ramsey
Southpaw Thomas H. Ramsey, who pitched in the 1880s is credited by some as the inventor of the knickleball, not by design but the result of an injury to the index finger of his left hand. Afterward he couldn’t straighten the finger, so he bent it, with the knuckle tucked against the ball when he pitched. Ramsey died of pneumonia at the age of 41. Nowhere did I find an explanation for his nickname.

For a pitcher that time has pretty much forgotten, Ramsey put up some stunning stats during his six-season career (1885-90) with the Louisville Colonels and St. Louis Browns of the American Association, then considered a major league.

In 1886, Ramsey won 38 games. A year later he won 37. Granted, those figures weren't all that unusual in that era. Neither was the fact Ramsey lost 27 games each season

What was unusual in 1886 was that Ramsey struck out 499 batters, which was second best in the league to the 513 strikeouts posted by Matt Kilroy of the last place Baltimore Orioles. Since then, no major league pitcher has topped either Kilroy or Ramsey for the number of strike outs in a single season.

Of course, comparing Kilroy and Ramsey with modern pitchers is grossly unfair. Ramsey pitched 588-2/3 innings that season, more than twice the number of innings pitchers work today. Had Randy Johnson ever been able to pitch 588 innings in a single season, he would have struck out about 650 batters. (And then been forced to rest his arm for about five years.)

In 1887 Ramsey pitched 561 innings and struck out 355 batters, tops in the American Association. Kilroy had another monster season for Baltimore, too, winning 46 games, against 19 losses, and pitching 589 innings, but for some reason his strikeout total dropped to 217.

 

Ribs Raney
Frank Robert Donald Raney (nee Raniszewski) was a right-handed pitcher who made three starts for the St. Louis Browns of the American League in 1949. He had a complete game victory, but made early exits and was the losing pitcher in the other two games. He worked one game in relief the following season and took the loss. With a 1-3 record, Raney was finished in the majors.

I'm not sure about the nickname. He stood six-foot-four and weighed 190, so he might have looked skinny, thus Ribs. Or maybe he had control problems and hit a lot of batters .... in the ribs.

Like many players in the early 1940s, Raney had his career interrupted by World War II. In his case, he served two years in the Navy.

 

Flint Rhem
Charles Flint "Shad" Rhem was a National League pitcher for 12 seasons. He won 105 games in the majors, having his best season in 1926 when his 20 victories helped the Cardinals win the pennant. He appeared in four World Series, but his only decision was a loss.

Rhem is best remembered for his strange two-day disappearance in 1930. He was scheduled to start for the St. Louis Cardinals in the first game of an important series in Brooklyn, but when the day of the game arrived, Rhem was nowhere in sight.

A couple of days later, when the series was over, Rhem showed up. He claimed he had been kidnapped by Brooklyn fans, tied up in a hotel, and forced to guzzle whiskey. Because of his booze-loving reputation, Rhem probably shouldn't have included that part about being "forced" to drink whiskey. Anyway, nobody believed him, but the team didn't fine Rhem, partly because manager Gabby Street found his alibi so creative. (How different baseball was in those days.)

What really happened is that some friends from Rhem's hometown in South Carolina had gone to Brooklyn to watch the first game of the series. They looked up Rhem the night before, started drinking ... and apparently didn't stop for several hours, by which time there was no way Rhem would be in any shape to pitch.

 
Dorsey Riddlemoser
His pitching certainly wasn't a riddle for the batters he faced in his only major league game. With Washington of the National League in 1899, Dorsey Lee Riddlemoser pitched two innings and gave up seven hits and two bases on ball.
 
Eppa Rixey
Eppa Rixey
was a 6-foot-5 workhorse pitcher who compiled a lifetime record of 266-251 for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds (1912-1933). Those 266 wins were the most by any left-handed pitcher until Warren Spahn surpassed him in 1959. Rixey was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963, but died of a heart attack before the induction ceremony.
 

Edd Roush
Roush remains the only Edd I've ever come across. That's the first name he was given by his parents who also were innovative with their son's middle initial. Unlike Harry S Truman, whose middle initial stood for nothing in particular, the J that is Roush's middle initial stands for his grandfathers, Jerry and Joseph.

Roush, a Hall of Fame outfielder since 1962, started with the Chicago White Sox in 1913, played two years in the doomed Federal League, and briefly with the New York Giants, who traded him to Cincinnati along with two other future Hall of Famers, pitcher Christy Mathewson and infielder Bill McKechnie, who made it to Cooperstown as a manager. In return the Giants received Buck Herzog and Red Killefer.

Roush paid off quickly for the Reds, leading the National League in hitting in 1917 and 1919. From 1917 to 1926 his lowest average was .323. And as proof big bats don't produce long hits, Roush hit only 68 home runs despite using a 48-ounce bat, one of the heaviest in major league history.

 

Muddy Ruel
After Moe Berg, Herold Dominic "Muddy" Ruel, also a catcher, might have had baseball's brightest mind. He played with several American League teams (1915-34) and managed St. Louis Browns in 1947.

Muddy Ruel was behind the plate for the most tragic pitch in major league history. It happened on August 17, 1920, when he was with the New York Yankees. Ruel was catching when Carl Mays threw the pitch that hit and fatally injured batter Ray Chapman, the Cleveland Indians shortstop, the only major league player ever killed during a game.

 

Wally Schang
Remember the Woody Allen movie, 'Zelig'? That's the one about a guy who kept turning up at important moments in history. Walter Henry Walter Henry "Wally" Schang was baseball's Zelig. He was an American League catcher for 19 years, and when he was around, good things happened. He joined the Philadelphia Athletics in 1913 and they won the World Series. He went to the Boston Red Sox in 1918, same thing. Babe Ruth went to the New York Yankees in 1920, but they finished third. Enter Schang a year later – and the Yankees go to the World Series.

Schang had a lifetime .284 batting average, hitting better than .300 six times. He was a switch hitter who made major league history in 1916 when he became the first player to hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. Not that he was a slugger. For his career he had just 59 homers.

 

Osee Schrecongost
Osee Freeman Schrecongost
was the original Shrek, only he spelled it Schreck when he shortened his name, perhaps for the convenience of baseball box scores.

Schreck played for seven teams in his major league career, but is best known for his years with the Philadelphia Athletics when he was the catcher of choice for colorful pitcher Rube Waddell.

 
Twinkletoes Selkirk
Canadian-born George Alexander Selkirk, an outfielder for the New York Yankees (1934-42), had another distinction, beyond his unusual nickname. He inherited the uniform number 3 (since retired) that had been worn by Babe Ruth. Twinkletoes got that nickname for the way he ran not on his toes, but on the balls of his feet.
 
Count Sensenderfer
I had to go into the National Association section of The Baseball Encyclopedia to find John Phillips Jenkins "Count" Sensenderfer who played outfield for the Philadelphia Athletics (1871-74).
 

Suitcase Simpson
Outfielder-first baseman Harry Leon Simpson played in the Negro leagues (1946-48), then the minors before joining Cleveland in 1951. Later he played with the Kansas City Athletics and New York Yankees. The popular notion that he was called Suitcase because he changed teams a lot probably is not correct. The nickname apparently was given him as a youngster and can be traced to Suitcase Simpson, a character in a popular old comic strip, The Toonerville Trolley

Simpson's name comes up a lot in a series of "Jesse Stone" movies starring Tom Selleck as the title character, a small-town police chief, who nicknamed one of his cops "Suitcase."

 

Sibby Sisti
Sebastian Daniel Sisti
was a handy guy to have around because he was at home playing any infield position. Sisti joined the Boston Braves in 1939, just before his 19th birthday. In all, Sisti spent 13 seasons with the team, retiring in 1954, the Braves' second year in Milwaukee.

As an indication of how highly regarded Sisti was, he was the fourth player inducted into the Boston Braves Hall of Fame – behind Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain and Tommy Holmes.

 

Terrmel Sledge
The outfielder-first baseman has never lived up to the potential displayed during a couple of minor league stops. He spent the 2004 season with the Montreal Expos who became the Washington Nationals in 2005 when Sledge spent the summer on the disabled list. The Nationals traded him to Texas and the Rangers then traded him to San Diego. He played 100 games with the Padres in 2007, but batted only .210. Since then he has played in Japan.

His unusual first name reportedly was created from two names his parents had considered giving him – Terrence and Melvin. Sledge's nickname is obvious: Hammer.

 
Smash Smajstrla
This last name looks like something you'd get by picking up nine Scrabble letter squares at random. I couldn't pronounce it once, much less say it three times fast. It is pronounced Suh-ma-struh-luh. At least that's what I found on one webpage. Craig Lee Smajstrla was a second baseman who got into eight games with Houston in 1988.
 

Homer Smoot
Homer Vernon "Doc" Smoot
was an outfielder for five seasons (1902-1906), playing with the St. Louis Cardinals until he was dealt to Cincinnati halfway through 1906.

In his first season he had a rare accomplishment – two inside-the-park home runs in a single game. That was on April 25, 1902. He hit only one more home run that season, but it was enough to tie him with another Cardinal rookie, outfielder George "Deerfoot" Barclay for the team lead. The rest of the Cardinals combined to hit just four home runs in 1902, not an unusual total for the era.

Smoot was regarded as an above-average hitter with a good future, but his batting average dropped from .311 in 1905 to .252 the following year.

Rumor was Smoot's eyes were failing, but it was rheumatism that shortened his major league career, though he played minor league ball for several years afterward.

My favorite fact about Smoot comes from 1900, his first season in professional ball. It's the nicknames of the three teams he played for that year – the Allentown Peanuts of the Atlantic League (which folded that summer) and the Worcester Farmers of the Eastern League. For reasons not explained, Smoot also spent a couple of weeks with the Providence Clamdiggers, also of the Eastern League.

 

Chappie Snodgrass
Amzie Beal Snodgrass played only three major league games, in 1901 with the Baltimore Orioles during the first season of the American League. He was 31 at the time. He had one hit in 10 at bats, but earned his ticket out of Baltimore by making three outfield errors in six chances.

According to www.baseball-reference.com which has added minor league records to their huge collection of statistics, Snodgrass, at age 34, played a bit in the Cotton States League in 1904 for the Baton Rouge Red Sticks (a bit of redundancy there) and batted .228. It's possible more of his minor league stops will be discovered.

Snodgrass was born in Springfield, Ohio, and died in New York City.

 

Karl Spooner
In the language of baseball, karl spooner means "what might have been." Spooner was 23 when he was brought up by the Brooklyn Dodgers late in the 1954 season. He pitched two games, threw two shutouts, allowed just seven hits and struck out 27. He was sure to become the next Big Thing.

But a sore arm just got worse and worse through the 1955 season when he won eight games. In relief he pitched three shutout innings in Game Two of the '55 World Series, but gave up five runs and was lifted in the first inning when he started Game Six. He never again pitched in the majors.

 

Tim Spooneybarger
This pitcher may have more in common with Karl Spooner than just the first six letters of his last name. Reliever Timothy F. Spooneybarger went on the disabled list in June 2003 and has never returned.

Spooneybarger is on this list (1) because I like the sound of his name and (2) it's one of the few last names in baseball to break the 12-letter barrier.

 

Jigger Statz
Arnold John Statz
is a baseball legend. He played with four teams – the New York Giants, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Dodgers – but is remembered for his 18 seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League and his 3,356 hits, the minor lague record. Add his 737 big league hits and Statz joins Ty Cobb and Pete Rose as the only professional baseball players with more than 4,000 hits.

His nickname? The 5-foot-7 Statz told a reporter he was a small youngster and people called him Chigger, a reference to the tiny, pesty bug. Eventually Chigger became Jigger.

 
Snuffy Stirnweiss
George Henry Stirnweiss
got his nickname from the comic strip, "Barney Google and Snuffy Smith." He was an infielder, usually at second base, who spent the first seven seasons of his 10-year career with the New York Yankees. He led the American League in hitting in 1945 with a .309 average. He died in 1958 when the commuter train he was riding into New York City plunged off the Newark Bay Bridge. He was only 39.
 

Tanyon Sturtze
When I see his name I think of the mysterious Kaiser Soze from the movie, "The Usual Suspects." Sturtze is a pitcher who bounced around a lot in his 12-year major league career which was shortened by a shoulder injury.

His bounces took him from the Chicago Cubs to the Texas Rangers to the Chicago White Sox to Tampa Bay to Toronto to the New York Yankees and, finally, to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also was on the Atlanta Braves payroll in 2007, but made only 12 appearances, all with minor league teams.

The six-foot-five-inch Sturtze was in the news during the summer of 2010 for his involvement in a bar brawl in his hometown of Worcester, MA. It was his second notable brawl, the first occuring in 2004 when, as member of the Yankees, he slugged it out with Gabe Kapler of the Boston Red Sox during a free-for-all that grew out of a confrontation between Boston's Jason Varitek and New York's Alex Rodriguez.

In happier news, there's You Tube footage of Sturtze signing autographs at a Yankee Fantasy Camp in Florida in January 2012.

 

Good Kid Susce
Someone who grew up with the name George Cyril Methodius Susce most likely was a good kid. As an adult he was a major league catcher in 109 games and first baseman in 31 games over eight seasons from 1929-44. He hit .228 with two home runs. He played for five teams, bouncing from league to league, first with the Philadelphia Phillies, then the Detroit Tigers, then the Pittsburgh Pirates, then the St. Louis Browns and Cleveland Indians.

Later he coached for Cleveland, the Boston Red Sox, Kansas City Athletics, Milwaukee Braves (photo above) and Washington Senators.

His son, George Jr., pitched for Boston and Detroit in the 1950s, his best season being his rookie year (1955) when he posted a 9-7 record

 
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