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Many baseball players were born with interesting names, though some used common nicknames for one they were given at birth, such as substituting Charlie for Charles. So I'm not saying these players had no nicknames, it's just that I preferred the names their parents gave them — though not necessarily in the right order.

His name suggests a character in a spy thriller, but Elden Auker was a pitcher who won 130 games in his 10-year major league career (1933-42). He spent six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, one with the Boston Red Sox and finished with the St. Louis Browns. His best season: 1935, when he had a 17-9 record.

Auker stood 6-foot-2 and weighed 194 pounds, fairly big at the time, but was not a strikeout pitcher, averaging fewer than three per game, not unusual for the 1930s. A football injury to his arm had forced Auker to develop an unorthodox sidearm, almost underhand delivery, which made him one of baseball's few submarine pitchers (and earned him the nickname, "Submarine").

Auker's other nickname was "Big Six", but his size had nothing to do with it. He had starred in football, basketball and baseball at Kansas State University (1929-32) then a member of the Big Six Conference with Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Iowa State and Oklahoma. Auker was all-conference in all three sports. Thus his nickname. He is still widely regarded as the greatest athlete in Kansas State history.

One other thing: the spelling of Auker's first name. For years I saw it as Eldon, but apparently is should have been Elden. That's how it appeared in his obituaries and on the Kansas State website. And I've got to figure Auker's college knows the correct spelling.

The perfect baseball surname. Matthew Daniel Batts was a catcher who enjoyed a 10-year major league career, most of it in the American League. He broke in with the Boston Red Sox in 1947 and was the back-up catcher to Birdie Tebbetts. He was traded to St. Louis in 1951, but it wasn't until he played for the Detroit Tigers in 1953 that Batts enjoyed his one season as a first string catcher, hitting .278 in 116 games, with career highs in hits (104), doubles (24), home runs (6), runs (38) and runs batted in (42). He was called "Matt," but I prefer the sound of "Matthew Batts." Too bad he was born in San Antonio, Texas. It would have made a better story if he'd lived in Belfry, Kentucky.

He was born Beveric Benton Bean, but was known as Belve Bean and Bill Bean, catchy names all. He was a pitcher in 86 games during a five-season major league career in the early 1930s. He appeared mostly in relief — starting only eight times — and compiled a lifetime record of 11 wins, seven losses. He did most of his pitching for the Cleveland Indians, though he wound up his big league career with the Washington Senators.

Bean's best season was 1934 when he posted a 5-1 record with an earned run average of 3.86, not terrific, but much better than the team average. Bean's best days were spent in the minor leagues. On May 29, 1929 he pitched the New Orleans Pelicans to an 11-2 win over the Memphis Chicks, with Bean getting five singles in five trips to the plate.

He spent six seasons with the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association in the 1930s, winning 51 games against 39 losses.

After he retired from baseball he was elected sheriff of Comanche County, Texas, and served eight years.

David Beals Becker was a National League outfielder in the early 1900s; his 11 home runs in 1915 put him among the league leaders, but his .246 batting average was an alarming dip from the .325 mark he posted the season before.

After brief appearances in two World Series games in 1915, Becker never played another major league game. He reportedly was notoriously sensitive to fan criticism and performed better on the road where crowds paid little attention to him. The criticism may have been directed at his fielding. I found a few newspaper articles about him; all said Becker was a good hitter, but a mediocre outfielder. That's why he bounced from team to team, playing for Pittsburgh, Boston, New York, Cincinnati and Philadelphia.

He returned to the minor leagues, retired for a couple of years, then unretired and finally finished his playing career in the Pacific Coast League in 1925.

This Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder (1916-26) retired with a lifetime .287 average, twice getting more than 200 hits in a season. His best year: 1922 when he hit .350. Like a lot of players of that era, Bigbee left the majors at what today would be considered a ridiculously early age — 31.

Also, like a lot of players, Bigbee had a nickname, whether he needed one or not. In his case, he was sometimes called "Skeeter." Only five-feet-nine in his prime, Bigbee was a few inches shorter when he played on his high school varsity baseball team at the age of 14. The story is a spectator, watching Bigbee on the run, said he looked like a mosquito on the field. It doesn't take much to launch a nickname that refuses to die.

Carson Lee Bigbee was born in Waterloo, Oregon. He had an older brother, Lyle, who'd been born in a town with one of my favorite names, Sweet Home, Oregon. Lyle Bigbee, nicknamed Al, had a brief major league career with the Philadelphia Athletics (1920) and Pittsburgh (1921) as an outfielder and pitcher.

Bigbee was one of the former major leaguers who was a manager in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II. Bigbee's team was the Springfield (Illinois) Sallies.

One of baseball's most interesting names belonged to Luzerne Atwell Blue, a first baseman better known as "Lu", who played 13 seasons with Detroit, the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox. He was a handy guy because he walked a lot. His career on-base average was .402. He scored 100 or more runs in six different seasons. Thus he felt he was the logical lead-off man, and when one of his managers disagreed, and dropped Blue to the number seven slot, the player asked to be traded. In retirement he was a chicken farmer.
Vida Rochelle Blue was a pitching sensation in 1971, winning 24 games for the Oakland Athletics. Team owner Charles Finlay proposed a deal, offering a bonus if Blue would change his first name to True. To his credit, Blue refused. He later pitched for San Francisco and Kansas City, winning 209 games in a 17-year career.

Garland Buckeye's first major league experience fits that overused baseball cliché — he had a cup of coffee with the Washington Senators in 1918. Between sips he walked six batters in just two innings and was sent to the minors. He returned to the majors in 1925, with Cleveland, and had a 13-8 record. That was promising, but he hung around only three more seasons.

He was nicknamed "Gob", which is slang for sailor, yes, but in this case it probably refers to another definition: "a mass or lump." Buckeye, you see, packed 260 pounds on his six-foot frame, which helped him considerably in his other sport. Buckeye played five seasons of professional football, four as a guard with the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League.

Buckeye could be a category in Trivial Pursuit. He's one of a handful of major league pitchers who hit home runs from both sides of the plate in the same game. He also was one of two NFL players who pitched in the American League in 1927 and gave up home runs to Babe Ruth. The other? Ernie Nevers, who pitched for the St. Louis Browns. (Nevers was considered one of the best football players of his time.)

Buckeye pitched his final major league game in 1928, with the New York Giants. His catcher that day was Shanty Hogan, who weighed about 240 pounds. Thus Buckeye and Hogan may have been big league baseball's biggest battery.

More trivia: Garland Buckeye also is the name of a Kentucky-based rock trio.

Milo Cain Candini got off to a wonderful start as a Washington Senators rookie in 1943, winning his first seven games. He lost seven of his next 11 decisions, but his 11-7 record, three shutouts and 2.49 earned run average indicated a promising future. But he won only 15 more games in seven seasons. After leaving the majors in 1951, he played six seasons in the Pacific Coast League.

His real first name — Spurgeon — is more interesting than his nickname, which happened to be "Spud." Chandler was a New York Yankee pitcher (1937-47) who had a 20-4 record in 1943, adding two wins in the World Series. He was the league's Most Valuable Player that season, the only Yankee pitcher ever to win that award.

Chandler was a late starter, not playing professional baseball until he was 24 years old. He joined the Yankees in 1937 at the age of 29. In 1946, at the age of 38, he won 20 games for the second time, but retired after the 1947 season.

As for Spurgeon, I imagine the folks back home in Commerce, George, pronounced Chandler's name, "SPUH-jen."

For sure people called Charles Chant "Charlie" instead of "Chuck," and probably lingered on the "n" in his last name before sounding the "t." And for sure the ballplayer soon grew tired of references to the famous fictional Chinese detective.

Chant was born in Bell, California, and played briefly with Oakland and the St. Louis Cardinals in 1975 and '76, charting the course Mark McGwire would take years later. Except Chant never hit a major league home run. But, then, he only got up to bat 19 times.

In 1977, Chant was back in the minors, and batted .157 in 69 games for the New Orleans Pelicans. Only 25, he retired at the end of the season.

Galen Cisco pitched for the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Kansas City Royals in the 1960s. His playing career was a bust, more or less, but afterward he was a successful pitching coach for more than 30 years.

He was well known before his first major league game because he was the fullback on Ohio State's 1957 national championship football team. He was inducted into the Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1995. I liked him because I was a fan of TV's Cisco Kid.

If you said Harlond Benton Clift was a famous writer, people would believe you. Instead, Clift is a major leaguer time has pretty much forgotten. Lots of walks, flashes of power, the third baseman averaged more than 100 runs scored in his first nine seasons with the St. Louis Browns.

He was the first third baseman to hit more than 30 home runs in a season (34, in 1938). He batted over .300 a couple of times, and walked a lot, giving him a high on-base percentage. His nickname was "Darkie," hung on him by a teammate who thought Clift's first name was Harlem. Or so the story goes.

That's no nickname. Coats was born Buck in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1982. The infielder-outfielder signed with the Chicago Cubs in 2000, played 18 games for them in 2006, then was relegated to the minors, except for brief visits to the majors with Cincinnati and Toronto. From 2007 through 2010 Coats hit .300 or better three times in the high minors, but retired after the 2011 season. Since then he has been a coach for minor league teams. (Photo from his Topps rookie card.)
Sandalio Simeon Consuegra broke in with the Washington Senators in 1950. Consuegra's name was the only thing memorable about him until he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox and won 16 games (against only three losses) in 1954. He pitched only three more seasons, winning only eight more games.

Astyanax Saunders Douglass paid two brief visits to the Cincinnati Reds, catching four games in 1921, seven more in 1925. He had four singles in 24 at bats (.167).

However, he didn't fade away quietly. On May 24, 1925, he broke into an argument between teammate Ivy Wingo, also a catcher, and a former teammate, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jimmy Ring. Douglass kicked things up a notch by punching Ring's jaw.

In the clubhouse after the game there was a rematch. It must have been a honey, because later that day the pitcher followed the catcher to the railroad station to stage Ring vs. Douglass III.

Jewel Winkelmeyer Ens was an infielder (1922-25) and longtime manager, mostly in minors. He had an older brother named Anton, a first baseman better known as "Mutz" Ens.

Jewel Ens was the Syracuse manager when I attended my first game there. Now that I know his middle name, Ens is even more memorable. He is in the Syracuse Chiefs Hall of Fame and was named manager of the Chiefs' all-time team. On his way to the major leagues, Ens spent one season in Syracuse as a player, posting a career best .335 batting average in 1921.

That earned him a spot with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but while he spent part of four seasons with the Bucs, he played in only 67 games, batting .290. During those 67 games, Ens played every infield position.

Late in the 1929 season he was named manager of the Pirates and kept the job until he was fired after the 1931 season. He was the Syracuse manager from 1942 until his death in January 1950.

Most books and websites I've read refer to Ferris Fain as an excellent defensive first baseman. If that's so, then statistics really do lie because Fain almost always had more errors in a season — and a lower fielding percentage – than anyone else at his position. (Likewise, people who saw Zeke Bonura play first base in the 1930s go out of their way to say what a terrible defensive player he was, yet he usually led the American League not only in fielding, but in chances.)

Whatever ... Fain's claim to fame is that twice during his major league career (1947-55) he led the American League in hitting. Even when his batting average was below .300, Fain had a way of getting on base. He drew more than 100 bases on balls five times in nine seasons.

Fain's real first name was more memorable than his nickname: "Burrhead".

It was Bibb Falk who replaced the banished "Shoeless Joe" Jackson in left field for the Chicago White Sox in 1921. Falk went on to have a .314 lifetime average in a 12-season major league career. His younger brother Chet (aka "Spot" Falk) pitched for awhile in the 1920s with the St. Louis Browns.

Bibb Falk graduated from the University of Texas where he hit over .400 and was an undefeated pitcher; he also was an all-Southwest Conference tackle in football. Later he became a coaching legend at Texas, leading the Longhorns to 20 conference titles in baseball, as well as two national championships.

He was born Bibb Augustus Falk and was nicknamed "Jockey" because of the way he "rode" opposing players.

In 1930, playing with the Cleveland Indians, outfielder Bibb Falk had one of major league baseball's most unusual batting performances – five hits, five runs batted in and five runs scored – in the first five innings of a 25-7 win over the Philadelphia Athletics. It happened on the 11th of May, which, of course, is month number five.

Elmer Flick is a Hall of Fame outfielder whose lifetime batting average (.313) was higher than the .306 that won him his only batting title. But in 1905 only two American League batters. batted .300 — Flick of Cleveland and Willie Keeler (.302) of New York. Earlier, with Philadelphia of the National League, Flick had seasons when he hit .342, .367 and .336.

Cleveland had the opportunity to acquire Ty Cobb in a one-on-one trade for Flick, but chose to keep their outfielder rather than deal with the troublesome Cobb. Unfortunately, the thirty-two-year-old Flick developed a gastrointestinal illness after the 1908 season, and was never the same player afterward. He played sparingly in 1909 and 1910, and his career was cut short, which prevented him from putting up Hall of Fame numbers. He eventually was voted in by the Hall's Veterans Committee in 1963.

Outfielder Fabian Sebastian Gaffke earned his fifteen minutes of fame in 1937. Gaffke had five hits for the Boston Red Sox on April 26 against the Washington Senators. Then, in July, Gaffke scored five runs in a game against the St. Louis Browns, and two days later hit three home runs.

Gaffke batted .288 that season, but had only 10 at bats in 1938 and spent most of the next few seasons in the minors, though he played briefly for Cleveland in 1941 and 1942.

His best seasons were in the American Association playing for the Minneapolis Millers, including 1936 when he batted .342 with 25 home runs and 132 runs batted in.

Debs Garms was a small (five-feet-eight, 165 pound) outfielder who played without much notice on the St. Louis Browns for four seasons (1932-35).

Dispatched to the minors, Garms returned to the bigs in 1937 with the Boston Braves, dividing time between the outfield and third base. He hit .315 in 1938, .298 in 1939, but the Braves sold the singles hitter to Pittsburgh. There, in 1940, he became an unlikely league batting champion, hitting .355.

Pitcher Welcome Thornburg Gaston of Senecaville, Ohio, won just 36 games in his professional career, 29 of them during two seasons with Toronto of the Eastern League. He appeared in only three major league games, all with Brooklyn in 1898 and 1899. He had one win, one loss, and walked 13 batters in 19 innings, but had no strike outs.

He spent part of 1900 with Cleveland and Detroit of the American League, but it was a Class A minor league that year, and wouldn't become a major league until the next season. Gaston played minor league ball until 1903.

Carden Edison Gillenwater was a childhood favorite, a center fielder for the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, but in the 1940s he'd played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and Washington Senators. His big year was 1945 when he hit .288 for the Braves in 144 games, but his average fell 60 points the next season and he returned to the minors where he was an all-star. The obvious Bermanism: Carden of Eden Gillenwater.

A pitcher with a similarly unusual name, Claral Lewis Gillenwater, played briefly for the Chicago White Sox in 1923. The two Gillenwaters were not related.

Purnal William Goldy was an outfielder, but sounds like a colorful character from a mystery novel set in the South. Fine, except Goldy was from Camden, New Jersey. He played baseball at Temple University. His major league experience included 29 games with Detroit (1962-63). He batted .231 with three home runs.

However, he batted .303 in seven minor league seasons, including a career best .342 for the Knoxville Smokies of the South Atlantic League in 1960. He hit 20 home runs and drove in 106 runs. But he did not want to be a career minor leaguer. He retired in 1965 at the age of 27.

Sigmund "Syd" Gryska was a shortstop who played 25 games for the St. Louis Browns (1938-39) hitting .329 in 70 at bats. Unfortunately, he made eight errors in 14 games in 1939; his .873 fielding average spelled the end of his major league career. His professional baseball highlight probably was a game on June 27, 1936. Playing for San Antonio of the Texas League, he had nine runs batted in. Among his hits were two home runs, one a grand slam.

Charlton Atlee Hammaker was a left-handed pitcher who entered the majors in 1981 with Kansas City, but spent most of his career with the San Francisco Giants. He won 12 games for the Giants in 1982, and in 1983 was selected to the National League All-Star team. It's the 1983 All-Star Game for which Hammaker is best remembered, though it's a game the pitcher would like to forget.

The National League had won 11 straight All-Star Games heading into the 1983 contest, played in Chicago's old Comiskey Park. Cincinnati's Mario Soto started for the National League, giving up a run in each of the first two innings. The National League trailed by only a run when Hammaker entered the game in the third inning. He managed to get two batters out, but gave up seven runs, including a home run to Jim Rice and a grand slam to Fred Lynn, before rookie reliever Bill Dawley of Houston was summoned to finish the inning. The American League went on to end its losing streak, 13-3.

A month later Hammaker went on the disabled list. Eventually he had surgery on his left shoulder and elbow. Despite his troubles, Hammaker had the league's best earned run average (2.25) in 1983, but the rest of his career, which continued until 1995, was marked by injuries. His lifetime record was 59-67.

John Leonard Hopp was an outfielder-first baseman with batting averages that fluctuated wildly from season to season (.224 in 1943; .336 in 1944; .289 in 1945; .333 in 1946). He had the good fortune to play with the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Yankees, which earned him five trips to the World Series in his 14-year major league career.

His nickname was "Cotney", as in cottony, coined to describe his cotton-white hair. I don't recall ever hearing him referred to as "Cotney" Hopp, but I was just 14 when Hopp quit playing in 1952.

His younger brother, Harry, had the more obvious nickname,"Hippity." He played football at the University of Nebraska and later with the Detroit Lions (1941-43).

That's his real name, and I suspect if he had been more successful in baseball, he would have been dubbed "Handsome Hanson". But all Hanson Horsey had to show for his time in the major leagues was one pitching appearance and one very bad experience. He went four innings for Cincinnati in 1912, gave up 14 hits, three bases on balls and 10 runs.

The year before he had won 22 games for Reading of the Tri-State League. That was, by far, his best year in professional baseball. He retired after the 1918 season, having won 84 games, with 88 losses in seven minor league seasons.

Also called "Smudge," Jolley was an amazing hitter, but such a poor outfielder that even a .305 average couldn't keep him in the majors. Like Babe Ruth and Lefty O'Doul, two other terrific hitters, Jolley started his career as a pitcher.

Had he been a better fielder — at any position — Smead Jolley would probably be in the Hall of Fame. While minor league statistics can be misleading, Jolley's were downright astounding.

In 1928, with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League, he hit .404 in 191 games, getting an incredible 309 hits. The year before, he batted .397; a year later, he had 315 hits.

The catcher paid two visits to the majors, appearing in 12 games with the Washington Senators in 1934 and five games with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1937. St. Louis-born Elmer Klumpp needed no nickname to stand out. For all I know (and I'm making this up) he could have been the inspiration for the cartoon character Elmer Fudd.

Klumpp had only three hits in 26 major league at bats (.115), but was a lifetime .318 hitter in 14 minor league seasons. He earned his second trip to the majors after batting .339 with Wilkes-Barre and Elmira of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1936, and driving in 96 runs in 130 games. However, he already was 29 years old.

After the Dodgers let him go in 1937, Klumpp played for Jersey City of the International League. By 1940, he was down to the Class D Pennsylvania State Association as player manager of the McKeesport Little Braves, but the team moved in mid-season and became the Oil City Oilers. Klumpp retired at the end of the season. He died in 1996 in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, at the age of 90.

Clyde Kluttz was a catcher who made several stops (Boston Braves, New York Giants, St. Louis Cardinals and Browns, Washington Senators), playing nine major league seasons in 11 years (1942-52). He never had more than 303 at bats in a season, but twice hit over .300 as a backup, though his lifetime average was a modest .268 (in 1,903 at bats).

Still he had a Hall of Fame name, getting the edge over Mickey Klutts (nee Gene Ellis Klutts), an infielder whose 199 big league games were spread over eight seasons (1976-83) with the New York Yankees, Oakland and Toronto.

Kluttz, like many other major leaguers, remained part of baseball long after he retired as a player. He became a major league scout, then director of player development for Baltimore. As a scout for the Kansas City Athletics in the 1960s, he signed Jim "Catfish" Hunter.

Ten years later Kluttz changed jobs and in 1974 convinced free agent Hunter to sign with his new team, the New York Yankees. Hunter said he had a lot of respect for Kluttz. Apparently, so did a lot of others.

His brother, Alvis Kluttz, was a minor league catcher for nine years.

Joseph Anthony Kuhel was a major leaguer for 18 seasons (1930-47) bouncing from the Washington Senators to the Chicago White Sox, back to Washington and back again to the White Sox. He was a man who needed no nickname. You can't get any cooler than ... Joe Kuhel. (I've always rhymed his last name with "cool," though the proper pronunciation may have been "cue'll.")

Kuhel had 2,212 hits in his career, with 131 home runs. He would have hit many more if he hadn't played for Washington. The home field was Griffith Stadium where the fences seemed a mile away. How bad was it in Griffith Stadium? So bad that, in 1945, the Senators hit only one home run at home — and that one, by good ol' Joe Kuhel, was an inside-the-park job. Opponents hit only six home runs at Griffith that season.

It was while playing for Chicago in old Comiskey Park that Kuhel hit a career-high 27 home runs in 1940.

Joe Kuhel was a member of the American Society of Magicians and occasionally displayed his talent during games by pulling flowers out of a coach's ear or stealing an umpire's cap and making it disappear.

I love saying his last name a bit differently each time, sometimes dragging out the last two syllables – jooooo-weeee. Yet, for all I know, the proper pronunciation is la-JWAH. You know how those French are.

There's not a whole lot you can say about the Woonsocket, Rhode Island, native without getting into a long discussion of the early days of baseball. He was one of the greats. Describing him as a superstar is an understatement.

He was called "Nap", for short, also Larry. A Hall of Fame second baseman, Lajoie originally played first base. His lifetime batting average was .338. He had 3,244 hits. Lajoie was a right-handed hitter and had below-average speed, which prompted sportswriter Grantland Rice to say that if he hit left-handed and had Ty Cobb's speed, Lajoie probably would have batted .500.

Third baseman Ivoria Hillis Layne would be more memorable if he'd been known by his first name. It's not every day you hear of a baseball player named Ivoria. Instead, he was usually called Hillis, but had two nicknames – "Hilly", which is obvious, and "Tony" for . . . well, I'm still looking. Layne played 13 games for the Washington Senators in 1941, then returned for a two-year stint (1944-45) during World War II. In 107 games he batted .264.

Not surprisingly, Layne fared much better in the minor leagues where players remained active well into their 30s, often their early 40s. Layne played 1,796 minor league games, compiling a lifetime batting average of .335. In 1947 he led the Pacific Coast League when he batted .367 for Seattle.

Charles "Charlie" Loudenslager played a few innings at second base on April 15, 1904 for the Brooklyn Superbas, as the Dodgers were then nicknamed. Loudenslager handled one chance in the field and went hitless in two at bats. After his day in Brooklyn, he reported to his hometown Baltimore Orioles of the Eastern League, and later played for such minor league teams as the Rochester Bronchos, Jersey City Skeeters and Utica Utes.

As a Baltimore native, it seems likely he was a member of the family for whom Loudenslager Hill was named. American defenses set up along the top of that hill helped deter the British in the famous 1814 Battle of Baltimore that inspired Francis Scott Key's poem, "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Loudenslager died in 1933 and is buried at Louden Park National Cemetery in Baltimore. I've also seen it spelled Loudon, but my hunch is that it is either on property that at one time belonged to the Loudenslager family or was named in their honor. Again, just a hunch.

Cornelius Cecil Lucid didn't need a nickname, that's true, but his first name invited one — "Corny." Luckily, Lucid didn't accept that invitation. Instead he was known by the intriguing nickname, "Con."

He was born in Dublin, Ireland. After his family moved to the United States, the boy discovered baseball, and,in 1893, at age 19, he was pitching for the Louisville Colonels of the National League. A year later he was with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms, then the Philadelphia Phillies and finally the St. Louis Browns where Lucid pitched his last National League game in 1897. For his career he had 23 wins, 23 losses.

Eventually, Lucid moved to Texas. Things did not end well for him. Lucid committed suicide in Houston in 1931. He was 57.

A promising pitcher with a blazing fastball when he broke in with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1931, Van Lingle Mungo was a free spirit whose lifestyle drove Dodger executives crazy. Once, while in Cuba for exhibition games, he had a one-night stand with a woman only to be discovered by her gun-toting husband who chased Mungo from the premises.

Mungo spent 11 seasons with Brooklyn, three more with the New York Giants, winning 120 games, losing 115. He had two 18-win seasons, but in one of those (1936), he lost 19. He saved his best year for last, going 14-7 with the Giants in 1945.

The Farmersville, California, 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 (23-8, eight shutouts, earned run average 1.70).

Orval 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.

Walter 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 together hit most of the Yankees' 35 home runs in 1916. No other team in the league hit more than 19.

The name, Wally Pipp, suggests a World War One flying ace, perhaps in a plane known as the Hilly Flitcraft.

His given name makes him sound like a relative of the Blues brothers. He certainly didn't need a nickname to be remembered, but he had several of them, the best known of which was "Boots," for his shortcomings as a fielder. Poffenberger was a party-loving pitcher who never lived up to his potential. Read on . . .

For Cletus Poffenberger, the Breakfast
of Champions wasn't Wheaties

Cletus "Boots" 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.

I suspect many people would identify Placido Enrique Polanco as one of the famous tenors. However, this Placido, a native of the Dominican Republic, was a versatile infielder gainfully employed by major league baseball teams for 16 seasons (1998-2013). Polanco mostly played second or third base, though he filled in a shortstop, first base and the outfield. He had 2,142 hits and a .297 lifetime batting average, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins. His best season was 2007. As the full-time Tiger second baseman, Polanco batted .341 and did not make an error.
Early professional baseball players generally were considered uneducated, hard-drinking men whose behavior on the field and off was often scandalous. As you might expect from a man with this name, Erasmus Arlington Pond certainly didn't fit the image of a typical baseball player. 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.

Known to his friends and teammates as "Arlie," Pond 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 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. Hanlon changed his mind a few days later, but it was too late — 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.

I always loved the way this name rolled off the tongue. His name would be perfect for ring announcer Michael Buffer who'd stretch it out for about five minutes: "Awesome Arrrrrrnolllllld Puerrrrrrto Carrerrrrrroh!." Portocarrero was a pitcher for the Philadelphia and Kansas City Athletics and the Baltimore Orioles (1954-60). His best season: 1958, he was 15-11 with Baltimore.

Nicknamed "Nels", Potter pitched for St. Louis (the Cardinals and the Browns), the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Braves (1936-1949). His best season: 1944, when he was 19-7 and instrumental in helping the Browns win their only pennant, setting up an all-St. Louis World Series, won by the Cards.

With the Athletics in 1948, Potter got into a clubhouse argument with manager and team owner Connie Mack, who had bought Potter from the Browns about a month into the season. Potter demanded his release — and Mack gave it to him, which turned out to be a big break for the pitcher who joined the Boston Braves, winning five of seven decisions for them on their way to the National League pennant. This got Potter another shot at the World Series, but once again he was on the losing team as the American League Cleveland Indians won the Series in six games.

Potter returned to the Braves in 1949, but that turned out to be his last major league season. He won six games, lost 11. His lifetime won-lost record in the majors was 92-97.

Nelson remains my favorite Potter. I'll leave Harry to the kids.

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

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

Two days later, when the series was over, Rhem showed up. He claimed he'd 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. Nobody believed him, but Rhem wasn't punished, partly because manager Gabby Street found his alibi so creative.

Turned out some friends from Rhem's South Carolina hometown had gone to Brooklyn to watch him in action. They looked up Rhem the night before, started drinking ... and didn't stop for several hours, by which time there was no way Rhem would be in any shape to pitch.

Rhem may not have needed a nickname, but he had two of them. At six-foot-two, the pitcher had plenty of speed, and while pitching at Clemson, he was called "Big Smoky." Later he was called "Shad," supposedly because he liked to tell fish stories, but to me that explanation is itself a bit fishy. I'm wondering if "Shad" wasn't short for something — "Shadow," for instance — but perhaps I'm reaching.

Eppa Rixey was a six-foot-five 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 a graduate of the University of Virginia, going from college directly to the major leagues. He later earned a master's degree in chemistry and spent 1918 as a member of the Army's Chemical Warfare Division.

A Cincinnati sportswriter nicknamed him "Jephtha", much to Rixey's annoyance, which is understandable, since that's one of the worst nicknames ever.

After he went to Cincinnati, he married and worked for his father-in-law's insurance agency, now named Eppa Rixey Insurance Agency. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1963, but died of a heart attack before the induction ceremony.

First off, there's disagreement about his name. Some sources list it as Ossee Schreckengost, but Dan O'Brien, who wrote a book about the catcher, says his name was F. Osee Schrecongost. Other variations of his unusual first or middle name are Ossie and Osie. (A SABR book, "Deadball Stars of the American League," added to the mystery by spelling the last name as Shrecongost in the index.)

Whatever, the catcher played for five teams in his 11-season career, but most of his games were in a Philadelphia Athletics uniform, including three in the 1905 World Series, which the A's lost to the New York Giants

For awhile, his road-trip roommate was free-wheeling pitcher Rube Waddell. In those days, hotel rooms often had just one bed for two players. This is where Schrecongost had a problem with Waddell. 

According to one popular story (that apparently has no basis in fact), the catcher held out one season until the Athletics put a clause in Waddell's contract forbidding the pitcher from eating crackers in bed.

This name, followed by an exclamation point, might be used as a headline for a story about the discovery of bodies in a building being torn down as part of an urban renewal project.

But it really refers to a pitcher who was at the end of his career when he won 18 games for the powerful 1927 New York Yankees. He was one of 17 pitchers allowed to continue using the spitball when it was outlawed after the 1920 season, but he usually went with his fastball or curve.

He began and ended his career in New York, but most of his 187 victories were in a St. Louis Browns uniform. He had four straight 20-win seasons, going 27-12 in 1921.

The man born Urbain Jacques Shookcor simplified the spelling of his name for the benefit of sports writers. A heart problem prompted him to retire at the end of the 1927 season, but he changed his mind and signed a 1928 Yankee contract. He made one appearance but it was apparent his health was failing. He died that September.

Terrmel Sledge did have a nickname; it was was obvious: Hammer. The outfielder-first baseman never lived up to the potential displayed in the minor leagues. He spent 2004 with the Montreal Expos who became the Washington Nationals in 2005. The Nationals traded him to Texas, who traded him to San Diego. With Portland of the Pacific Coast League in 2006, he batted .311 with 24 home runs, but with San Diego in 2007, he batted only .210. Sledge went to Japan in 2008 and played there five seasons before retiring.

Homer Smoot was an outfielder who played with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1902 until he was dealt to Cincinnati halfway through 1906.

He 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.

When I see his name I think of the mysterious Kaiser Soze from the movie, "The Usual Suspects."

Tanyon Sturtze was a pitcher who bounced around a lot in his 10-year major league career. He arrived with the Chicago Cubs in 1995; went to the Texas Rangers in 1997, the Chicago Whites Sox in 1999, Tampa Bay in 2000, Toronto in 2003, the New York Yankees in 2004, Atlanta in 2007, and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008.

He was injured most of his final few years before he retired after a short stint with Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League in 2009. He won 11 games, with 12 losses, for Tampa Bay in 2001, and the following season led the National League in losses with 18, against only four wins. His lifetime record was 40-44, but subtracting those two full seasons with Tampa Bay gives him a fine 25-14 won-lost record.

The Missoula, Montana, native, a graduate of the University of Alabama, was a relief pitcher who, in 2007, made 67 appearances for the Florida Marlins (6-1 won-lost record, a 3.99 earned run average). Injuries forced Taylor Tankersley to sit out the 2009 season, and he made only 27 appearances in 2010. Released by the Marlins, he signed with the New York Mets, but after pitching for Buffalo of the International League in 2011, Tankersley retired.


His name attracted my attention soon after he joined the Chicago Cubs in 1949. It's probably my all-time favorite name; I don't know why.

Like many young men, Willard Wayne Terwilliger's baseball career was interrupted by World War II, but in his case he entered the service before he turned professional. One result: he was not yet regarded as a baseball player, so he was treated pretty much like a regular serviceman. No assignment to a Marine baseball team awaited him. Instead he served as a radioman on a tank in the Pacific, participating in the invasions of Tinian and Iwo Jima and surviving when his tank was destroyed in Saipan.

"I knew I had to get out of there," he told The Sporting News in 1950, "so I ran for the beach, zigzagging with the tank chasing me." He was rescued when another American tank came along and destroyed the Japanese tank.

He was discharged in 1945 and entered Western Michigan University where he played shortstop. The Cubs signed him in 1948 and moved him to second base. He went through the minor leagues quickly, joining the Cubs late in 1949. The next year he was the Cubs regular second baseman, hit .242 with 10 home runs. In 1950 the Cubs traded him to Brooklyn. After that he spent two years with the Washington Senators, two with the New York Giants before ending his playing career with the Kansas City Athletics in 1960. Then he became a coach, working for the Senators, Texas Rangers and Minnesota Twins.

In 2005, at 80, he not only managed the Fort Worth Cats, but was named manager of the year in the Central Baseball League. He retired as manager, but remained with the team as first base coach. He went by his middle name, and also had an obvious, little-used nickname that was a play on his last name — "Twig".

Verle Matthew Tiefenthaler was signed by the (then) New York Giants in 1955 and remained in the Giants minor league system until 1961 when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Tiefenthaler made three relief appearances for the White Sox in 1962, and that was the extent of his major league career.

He rubbed elbows with fame — or at least they shared a few meals — when he and pitcher Gaylord Perry were minor league roommates. Perry wound up in Cooperstown. Perhaps Tiefenthaler returned to his birthplace, Breda, Iowa.

With a name like that, you'd expect him to be a member of the British Secret Service, but, in real life, Carlton Overton Tremper was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He also played baseball for four years at Penn, then went directly to Brooklyn of the National League in 1927.

Tremper obviously was in over his head, hitting .233 in 60 at bats, which is not what a team wanted from an outfielder. After 10 games in 1928, he was sent to Macon (Georgia) of the Sally League (or Southern Atlantic League) where he batted a solid .325.

However, he was kept in Macon another season, and his average dropped to .280. He retired from professional baseball and became a high school mathematics teacher in Freeport, New York. He also coached the high school baseball, football and basketball teams. In the summers he played semi-pro baseball. Eventually he retired to Clearwater, Florida, where he died in 1996. He was 89.

His full name was Herman Coaker Triplett, but was known by his middle name. Triplett was an outfielder who turned 30 just after World War II started, and wasn't taken by the military. He played for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies (1941-45), batting .256.

In 1946, he returned to the minors and I remember him as one of the stars of the Buffalo Bisons of the International League. He remained with the Bisons through 1951 when he spent one season as the team's manager. In 1948 he led the International League in hitting with a .353 average.

Elwood Otto Wagenhurst could also be listed on the alliteration page, because his nickname was the not-so-surprising "Woody."

According to a University of Pennsylvania website, Wagenhurst was a native of Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania, and attended Princeton where he played on both the football and baseball teams. On June 8, 1888, at the age of 25, he celebrated his graduation from Princeton by playing two games at third base for the Philadelphia Quakers in the National League, getting one single in eight at bats, and scoring two runs.

That ended his major league career, and he soon accepted an offer to coach the University of Pennsylvania's football team. Things were a lot different in those days, because this college graduate, who'd also been a professional baseball player, was allowed to play for his Penn team, which he did occasionally.

I read of a man named Wagenhurst — probably the same person — who signed a contract to play shortstop with the New York Giants in 1889, but was released after ten days of warming the bench. He then sued the club, claiming he'd been guaranteed a whole season, but his lawsuit was tossed out.

He resumed coaching football at Penn, and enrolled in the law school, and, incredibly, played baseball for the school for two seasons. Later Wagenhurst moved to the District of Columbia and practiced law in Washington until his death in 1946.

His younger brothers, James and Otman, also attended Penn and played football there.

William "Bill" Wambsganss was an infielder (mostly second base) who played with Cleveland for 10 seasons (1914-23), then briefly with the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics.

A .259 lifetime hitter, William Wambsganss became one of baseball's immortals on October 5, 1920 when he made an unassisted triple play in Game Five of the World Series against Brooklyn. 

Many years later he was interviewed by author Lawrence Ritter. Said Wambsganss: "I played in the big leagues for 13 years ... and the only thing anyone seems to remember is that once I made an unassisted triple play in a World Series. Many don't even remember the team I was on, or the position I played ... You'd think I was born on the day before and died on the day after."

His name could belong to a female character in a high school horror film, or an oddball gunslinger old cowboy movie, but Ivy Wingo was a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds (1911-29). His one World Series was the infamous 1919 affair against the Chicago White (make that Black) Sox. Wingo caught three Series games for the Reds, reaching base seven times in 10 plate appearances (four singles, three walks). Wingo's lifetime batting average was .260.

His younger brother, Absalom Holbrooke Wingo, nicknamed both Al and Red, was an outfielder for the Philadelphia Athletics and (mostly) the Detroit Tigers and hit .308 in his six-year-career, including .370 in 1925. Al Wingo probably would have hung around the major leagues for several more seasons had he been a better fielder.

Baseball researchers now spell his first name "Ivey," though it almost always was spelled without the "e" when he was playing.

 

He was much better known as Bruno Betzel. However, I saw something online that claimed Betzel had six uncles, and his parents didn't want to disappoint any of them, so that's why they gave their son six names. In any event, Bruno was a catchy moniker for the man who, in terms of the number of letters involved, has the second longest string of given names in major league baseball, just ahead of the third man on this list, but one letter behind the man who follows.

Betzel was an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals (1914-18), with a lifetime batting average of .231. Later he began a long career as manager in the minor leagues where he once pitched a double-header, one game right-handed, the other left-handed. At least, that's what I read in a Syracuse newspaper several years ago when Betzel was managing the International League team there.

Apparently my memory was not playing tricks on me. Mike Coughlin, who lives near Portland, Maine, emailed me, identifying himself as Betzel's first grandson and a Syracuse Chiefs batboy while his grandfather was manager. Coughlin says Betzel really did pitch such a double-header, though he doesn't recall the details. There's no indication in his minor league record on baseball-reference.com that Betzel did any pitching in the minor leagues. Perhaps he did it in an Ohio amateur league before he turned pro.

Betzel managed in the minor leagues for 26 seasons, most of them in the American Association and International League, which put him as close to the major leagues as possible. One source said Betzel's teams won 1,887 games, lost 1,892. A losing record, yes, but he won seven pennants — in seven different cities. He was highly regarded enough to be inducted into the International League Hall of Fame.

Betzel was born in Chattanooga, a small Ohio town near the Indiana border. And how did someone named Christian Frederick Albert, etc., wind up being called Bruno?

"When he was a boy, in a German family living amidst other German families in Ohio, he had a dog named 'Bruno'," says Coughlin. "Since the dog went everywhere with him, he eventually picked up 'Bruno' as his nickname."

The longest given name in baseball history belongs to Alan Mitchell Edward George Patrick Henry Gallagher, aka Al Gallagher, aka "Dirty Al" Gallagher, a third baseman who played in the major leagues from 1970-73, most of that time with the San Francisco Giants, before finishing with the (then) California Angels.

He didn't have a bad year with the Angels — he batted .273, and was only 27 years old. But he was injured in a collision with Boston catcher Carlton Fisk, and when he resumed playing the next season, he did it in the minor leagues. In 1976, he began managing in the minors, and kept at it for 25 years, guiding such teams as the Durham Bulls, Chattanooga Lookouts, Bend Bandits and St. Joseph Black Snakes.

One thing I discovered about Gallagher — he gave unusually interesting interviews to reporters. The man is refreshingly candid and intelligent. However, I've yet to read an explanation for his six names.

McLish's full name conjures up all kinds of images, what with Calvin Coolidge and Julius Caesar, plus Tuskahoma, taken from a Choctaw word meaning "red warrior." McLish was a pitcher who had 15 major league seasons, recording a modest 92 career wins against the same number of losses. His best season was with Cleveland in 1959 when he finished with a 19-8 record.

 
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