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There's a decidedly un-American side to America's pastime, a tendency to create a class of royalty through nicknames. Here are the members of the most elite group, those who would be kings. Many were born with King as their surname, but most who were given "King" as a title simply did not deserve it. However, the first man on this list certainly was more than worthy:


Michael Joseph Kelly was "The King" long before Elvis. King Kelly remains one of baseball's most storied players, one of the game's first superstars and perhaps the most colorful player of the 19th century, if not of all time. He was extremely popular, thus the nickname.

It has been said that most of the baseball rule book was written to close loopholes Kelly exploited. Take substitutions, for example. In 1891 he was the player-manager of the appropriately named Cincinnati Kellys in the American Association. He benched himself one day and was watching the action from the dugout when an opposing batter hit a pop fly that headed his way. Knowing his catcher didn't have a chance to get the ball, Kelly ran on the field, yelled to the umpire that he was putting himself in the game, and caught the ball for an out.

This prompted a rule change that substitutions could not be made while the ball was in play.

Another Kelly catch that people loved to talk about was made while he was holding the mug of beer he carried to the outfield because he hadn't quenched his thirst between innings. Legend is Kelly made the catch with his free hand while running. The mug remained tightly clenched in his other hand, and spectators claimed Kelly caught the ball without spilling a drop.

What's missing from that story is the cigarette that seemed a permanent fixture between his lips. He often smoked while playing the outfield. Reportedly he once hired a Japanese butler whose duties included lighting a cigarette and handing it to Kelly as soon as the player finished his last one.

In Kelly's day, baseball games had only one umpire. Players knew one umpire couldn't keep track of everything. Thus Kelly would sometimes skip second base when the umpire wasn't looking, and run directly from first to third. Or, if he was on second base, he'd run straight home, skipping third base. Obviously, Kelly wasn't the only player to take shortcuts, but was the most notorious.

No shrinking violet, he wrote baseball's first autobiography, "Play Ball: Stories of the Diamond Field." It sold for a quarter when it came out in 1888. In 2006, it was reprinted, with a price tag of $27.

Most of the time you'd find Kelly in the outfield, though he did a lot of catching. In between he played every other position at one time or another, including 12 pitching appearances. He led the National League in hitting twice, stole a bunch of bases, and inspired a popular saying that was turned into a song, "Slide, Kelly, Slide." Some say he invented the slide. Maybe not, but nobody did it quite like King Kelly.

Kelly's eating, smoking and drinking excesses caught up with him, and by 1892 he looked like an old man. He played like one, too, hitting only .189 in 78 games with the Boston Beaneaters. Two years later he died of what was termed "typhoid pneumonia." He was only 36.

Kelly started his major league career with the Cincinnati Reds in 1878, but it was with the Chicago White Stockings (1880-86) that he earned his fame. His best seasons were in Chicago when he hit .354 in 1884 and .388 in 1886. The rest of his career was spent mostly with Boston teams in the National League, the ill-fated Players League (1890) and the American Association (1891).

In 1945 King Kelly was enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

 
 

Lore Verne Bader was born in 1888 in the unincorporated village of Bader, Illinois, named for William Bader, perhaps his grandfather. Bader is so small you won't find it on most maps. The SABR biography linked to his name offers no explanation for the pitcher's nickname, but I suspect it was a joke about his hometown, as though Bader were his family's kingdom. (While pitching for Buffalo of the International League from 1914 to 1916, sportswriters referred to him as "His Rustic Highness," though they misidentified his hometown as Baderville, Kansas.)

Bader's statistics have me wondering why he didn't get more work on the major league level. He made six starts, 16 relief appearances with the New York Giants (1912) and Boston Red Sox (1917-18), had five wins, three losses and an earned run average of 2.51. His minor league record was 124-72, with a 20-win season for Dallas of the Texas League, and two 20-win seasons for Buffalo.

Apparently Bader owed his success to a pitch — the shine ball — that was outlawed, along with the spitter and a few others, about the time he was winning 19 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1920. Bader did not pitch in organized ball in 1920 or 1922. Instead he played semi-pro ball in the Boston area, where he was accused of doctoring the ball while he pitched.

By 1926, all was forgiven, and at the age of 38, Bader became player-manager of the Lynn (Massachusetts) Papooses (that's right) of the New England League, and later was a coach for the Boston Braves and managed Providence and Hartford in the Eastern League.

One of his players in Hartford was first baseman Hank Greenberg, who went on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Detroit Tigers. Bader, however, was not impressed, declaring Greenberg would never be a major league player.

 

The story of Leonard Leslie Cole is a baseball tragedy. He had only three full seasons in the major leagues (two others were shortened by illness), and his lifetime pitching record was 54 wins, 27 losses.

He was born in tiny Toledo, Iowa, in 1886, but his family later moved to Bay City, Michigan, where he played third base in high school. Afterward, however, he showed an aptitude for pitching, impressing the manager of the local team that was a member of the Class D Southern Michigan League. And when he started winning games, it was probably inevitable that the six-foot-one-inch, right-hander would be nicknamed after the old nursery rhyme.

He won 21 games, lost 17, for Bay City in 1909, attracting the interest of the Chicago Cubs, who started him in a late-season game against the St. Louis Cardinals. He responded with a six-hit shutout. In 1910, he won 20 games for the Cubs, lost only four, had a 1.80 earned run average, and threw the first no-hitter in Cub history, against the Cardinals. It was a seven-inning game, probably shortened by darkness or rain. He also had a one-hitter, against Brooklyn.

The Cubs won the National League pennant, but lost the World Series, four games to one, to the Philadelphia Athletics. Cole was the starting pitching in the only game the Cubs won. He gave way to Mordecai Brown in the ninth inning, and Chicago won the game in the 10th, Brown getting credit for the victory.

A year later, the 25-year-old pitcher became ill early in the season — it was reported he had malaria — but he appeared to recover, and went on to win 18 games, losing only seven. Late in the season he tossed two one-hitters, against Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

He was ill again the next season, and when he declared himself well, and resumed pitching, he was shelled, giving up 36 hits and 26 runs in only 19 innings. The Cubs traded him to Pittsburgh, and he made six starts and six relief appearances with the Pirates, winning two, losing two, but pitching poorly throughout. The Pirates released him.

With the Columbus Senators of the American Association in 1913, Cole won 23 games, lost 11, and threw a no-hitting against the Milwaukee Brewers. Several major league teams were interested in Cole, and he signed with the New York Yankees.

He won 10 games for the Yankees in 1914, second best on the team. He returned to the Yankees in 1915, but was sidelined by a groin injury that required surgery. Anxious to get back to baseball, Cole began pitching before he was fully recovered. He won two games, lost three, and felt ill again. This time the diagnosis was tuberculosis, which may have been his underlying problem ever since his 1911. He was sent home to Bay City, Michigan, where his condition worsened, and on January 6, 1916, Cole died. He was only 29.

 

Charles Bernard Lear of Greencastle, Pennsylvania. was bound to be called "King." He came to some prominence pitching for Princeton in 1912, but did not return to college for his junior year. Instead he pitched for some semi-pro teams, which led to a contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

Lear was on the Cincinnati staff for two years (1914-15), won seven games, lost 12, and was released. He pitched briefly for Louisville of the American Association and Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1916, then left baseball. He was only 25.

Frederick Francis Lear, a New York City native who graduated in 1915 from Villanova University, went directly from college to the Philadelphia Athletics, but only for two at bats. He struck out both times and was sent to gain more experience with the Wheeling (West Virginia) Stogies of the Central League. He remained in Wheeling in 1916, then spent a year in the U. S. Navy.

A civilian again in 1918, he pinch hit twice for the Chicago Cubs, but spent most of the year with the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League, batting .345 in 99 games, with five home runs (three more than anyone else on the team).

He would play just 71 major league games, 40 for the Chicago Cubs in 1919, 31 for the New York Giants in 1920, but he had his moments. On May 21, the New York Tribune, reporting on a game between Chicago and Brooklyn, headlined the story, "King Lear Hero of Game by Cubs."

Lear, at second base that day, batted clean up, went three-for-four, with a triple and a double. He may have been a hero that day, but he batted only .224 for the season. A year later, on May 7, he again was hero, hitting a home run and scoring three runs to help the Giants beat the Dodgers, 7-6.

The New York Evening Telegram had fun with the player:

"Early in the game, King Lear made quite a bone play. Wheat was on second when Koney hit to His Majesty the King. All that Lear would have had to do was to push forward his hand and tag Zach. But this the King failed to do. He preferred the longer out, and threw Koney out at first. A short single by Nels then drove in Zach.

"But this Lear is a king who rights his wrongs. He offended the Giant fans in once instance. Obviously, the thing to do was to appease his subjects and make them forget.

"It was easily accomplished. He tied the score in the fifth by lifting the ball into the left field bleachers for a home run."

That was his only home run for the New York Giants. Although he was batting a respectable .253 after 31 games, he was sent to San Antonio of the Texas League, where he batted .281 in 97 games, pinch hitting and playing first base.

He finished his playing career with Milwaukee of the American Association, not advancing despite back-to-back seasons when he batted .358 and .354. Eventually he left the Brewers to play for Kenosha of the Midwest League, but after three years he made peace with Milwaukee, and in 1927 ended his career by hitting .330 in the American Association.

After his playing days were over, Lear was a scout with the Pittsburgh Pirates for several years.

 

James Ward Brady was one of dozens, perhaps hundreds of Bradys nicknamed "King" in the early 1900s because of a popular series of dime novels about an American detective named James Brady, better known as "Old King Brady."

In looking through newspaper articles, I found several King Bradys who lived in the early 1900s. Included were a boxer, a basketball player, several baseball players, a golfer, the athletic trainer at Northwestern University, and an orchestra leader.

This particular fellow was born in 1881 in Elmer, New Jersey, one of 12 children — talk about "The Brady Bunch"! — and there were enough boys to form a family baseball team, but James apparently was the only one who played the sport professionally.

He made five brief visits to the major leagues, appearing in just eight games with four teams — the Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Red Sox and Boston Braves. The Red Sox let him go even after Brady pitched a shutout in his only game.

He won 20 games for the Johnstown Johnnies of the Tri-State League in 1908, and had a 17-8 record for the Albany Senators in 1911.

Two other pitchers nicknamed King Brady" also made it to the major leagues, albeit briefly. One — also known as Bill — had the proverbial cup of coffee with the Boston Braves in 1912, the other one was identified as Neal "King" Brady by the New York Times when he pitched for Cincinnati in 1925. He also played a couple of games for the New York Yankees (or Highlanders) in 1915, and again in 1917.

Shortstop John Brady, who never made it to the majors, was identified as King Brady by the Rochester Democrat-Chronicle when he played shortstop in 1918 for the Rochester Hustlers of the International League. This particular Brady was involved in this interesting incident in 1920 when he played in a Canadian league:

Duluth Herald, August 11, 1920

JUDGE SAYS ABUSE BY
FAN JUSTIFIED ASSAULT

A police magistrate at Brantford, Ontario, has ruled that a ball player is justified in putting the kibosh on a spectator who abused him to the extent of using foul language.

James Haynes and John Gardner, two Brantford bugs, razzed two Brantford players, Johnny Murphy and King Brady, during the game of July 24. Brady warned them if they did not lay off, he would get them. They responded by calling them vile names.

Brady went into the bleachers, knocked Gardner cold, and Haynes saved himself by flight. Both bugs were arrested and fined $10 each by the magistrate, who said Brady was justified by going after them, and that he was sorry they did not get more punishment.

"Bugs" was a word commonly used to describe people known today as "fans."

 
 

Linwood Clifton Bailey, a left-handed pitcher from Tunstall's Station, Virginia, was crowned "King" by fans in Macon, Georgia, when he won 22 games for the city's team in the Southern Association in 1892. (Bailey was the ace of the pitching staff, just ahead of a man with a more interesting nickname, "Crazy" Schmit, who won 15 games. Also on the team: "Peak-a-Boo" Veach.)

As for Bailey, he made only one appearance in the major leagues, a complete game victory for Cincinnati in 1895. The following year he won 19 games for the Montgomery Senators of the Southern Association, and kept pitching until 1903.

 

Charles Frederick Koenig was one of the most famous of baseball's kings, playing under the name Silver King, from 1886-1897. Koenig is German for King, and his hair was described as the color of burnished silver.

Like other pitchers of his era, King occasionally played other positions. As a pitcher, he had a lifetime won-lost record of 203-182, playing with nine teams in major leagues. His best stretch was 1888-1890, with the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. He won 112 games in those three seasons. His best year was 1888, when he won 45 games, lost 20.

Apparently retired after the 1893 season, King returned in 1896 and won 10 games for Washington of the National League, with seven losses. He returned in 1897, winning six games, losing nine, then retired for good. He died in 1839 in St. Louis. He was 70 years old.

So why is Guy Tutwiler listed among the kings? Because several sites says his nickname was "King Tut." The problem is he played all of his major league games almost a decade before the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb, and I'm uncertain whether many people, particularly baseball fans, were familiar with Egypt's boy king.

Tutwiler, a first baseman-outfielder, continued to play minor league baseball until 1924, so it's possible he was called "King Tut" during his last three seasons, which were spent in the Southern Association and the South Atlantic (Sally) League. I've found some evidence Tutwiler was known as "Tut," but that may simply have been a play on his last name.

After batting .330 with the Hattiesburg (Mississippi) Woodpeckers of the Cotton States League in 1911, he played eight games with the Detroit Tigers, getting only six hits in 32 at bats (.188). He earned a second chance in 1913 when he batted .345 for the Fort Wayne (Indiana) Champs of the Central League, and had 10 hits in 47 at bats for Detroit (.213).

He spent the next three seasons with Providence of the International League, then drifted lower in the minor league ranks, though he almost always batted between .285 and .315. However, his problem can be found in his fielding statistics which show too many errors both in the outfield and at first base. Noteworthy about Tutwiler is that he threw equally well with either hand.

 
   

Lew "King" Brockett (left) was a pitcher who earned a trip to the major leagues by winning 23 games for Buffalo in 1906. Next season he pitched briefly for the New York Highlanders before being sent to Montreal of the Eastern League. An 11-7 record with Newark of the Eastern League in 1908 got him another shot with the Highlanders, and he won 10 games (against eight losses) in 1909. Apparently he was out of action in 1910, and the following year had two wins and four losses for New York, and finished his career in 1912 in Buffalo.

King Karst, aka "Big Jack" Karst, must have been tearing up an amateur or semi-pro league somewhere in the east in order to get not one, but two nicknames. The third baseman's entire experience — as so far documented — is two inning for Brooklyn in 1915. He had one assist in the field, and never got up to bat.

 

King Bill Kay (right) was an outfielder who must have had some fielding weaknesses. He got into only 25 games with the Washington Senators in 1907, had 20 hits in 60 at bats, a .333 average, but spent the rest of his 15-year career in the minor leagues, mostly in New York with Albany and Binghamton. His minor league batting average was well above .300, even when all the missing statistics are found.

Clarence "King" Lehr (left) probably owes his nickname to his last name, which, I believe, is pronounced "lair," not "lear," but close enough. He was an infielder who played 23 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1911, and didn't hit his weight, which was listed at 165 pounds. Lehr's batting average: 148. He wasn't the only King Lehr in the majors.

Norm "King" Lehr (right) was a pitcher who made four appearances with Cleveland in 1926, but had no decisions. He spent 10 years in the minors leagues, winning 81 games. His best season was 1929 when he was 21-10 with the Williamsport Greys of the New York-Pennsylvania League.

John Albert "King" Morrissey (left) played second base and shortstop for Cincinnati in 1902-3, batting .257 in 41 games. He spent 11 years in minors, the last four with his hometown Lansing (Michigan) Senators of Southern Michigan League.

Charlie "King" Schmutz (right) was a pitcher who spent time with Brooklyn in 1914 and '15, winning just one game, losing three. He pitched five years in the minors, and closed out his career by winning 19 games for the Seattle Giants of the Northwestern League in 1916. Then he retired; he was 25. King Schmutz. You gotta love that name.

Chick King, given name Charles, played briefly played in the outfield for Detroit, the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1950s, batted .237. He spent 11 seasons in the minors, retiring in 1961.

Clyde King (left) may have won just 32 games during his seven seasons as a relief pitcher in the late 1940s, early '50s, but he was truly baseball royalty. He did most of his pitching for the Brooklyn Dodgers, going 14-7 in 1951, before finishing his playing career two years later with Cincinnati. Afterward he managed in the minor leagues for 11 years, then managed the San Francisco Giants, Atlanta Braves and New York Yankees for at least part of a season, and also worked in the Yankee front office.

 

Curtis King was a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals (1997-99), appearing in 68 games. His won-lost record: 6-2.

Eric King pitched for Detroit, the Chicago White Sox, and Cleveland (1986-92). His career record: 52-45, with his best seasons coming in 1986, when he was 11-4 with Detroit, and in 1990 when he was 12-4 with the White Sox.

 

Hal King (right) was a backup catcher (1967-1974) for Atlanta, Cincinnati, Houston, and Texas. He batted .214, and after he left the majors, he played in the Mexican League (1975-79).

Jeff King (left) played major league baseball for 11 seasons (1989-1999), eight with Pittsburgh, three with Kansas City Royals, primarily third and first base. He batted .256 with 154 homes runs (his season high was 30). Twice this King drove in more than 100 runs.

  Kevin King was a relief pitcher for Seattle (1993-95), making 34 appearances. His won-lost record: 0-3. He retired at age 27  
 

Jim King (right) was an outfielder for 11 seasons in the 1950s and '60s, playing for six teams, mostly the Washington Senators. His lifetime batting average was .240, but he had some power, hitting 24 home runs in 1963.

Edward Lee King, known by his middle name, was an outfielder (1916-22) for the New York Giants, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia Phillies, batting .247. Like most players of his era, he returned to the minor leagues after his days in the majors were over, and played until 1928. He's not to be confused with ...

Edward Lee King, also known as Lee, arrived in the majors in 1916, playing 42 games with the Philadelphia Athletics, batting .188. He went back to the minors, spent a year in the service, and in 1919 batted .316 for Springfield of the Eastern League. The Boston Braves gave him a quick look, but didn't like what they saw, and King retired. He was 25.

Lynn "Dig" King was an outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1935-36 and 1939, playing in 89 games, and batting .208. However, in 1937 and '38, he hit .302 and .318 for Columbus of the American Association.

Marshall “Mart” King was a versatile fielder, but a poor hitter. He caught, played the outfield and second base for Chicago and Troy of the National Association (1871-72), batting .188 in 23 games.

Ray "Burger" King (left) was a relief pitcher (1999-2008) with Milwaukee, Washington, St. Louis, Colorado, the Chicago Cubs, and Atlanta. He made 593 appearances, getting credit for 20 wins, being charged with 23 losses.

Nelson “Nellie” King (right) stood six-foot-six and pitched for Pittsburgh (1954-57), made four starts and 91 relief appearances, compiling a won-lost record of 7-5. He pitched in the minors for eight seasons, and won 86 games. After he retired he was the sports information director at Duquesne University, and from 1967-75 broadcast Pirate games with Bob Prince.

 

Sam King was a first baseman who played 12 games for Washington of the American Association in 1884. His .178 batting average is the reason he never got to play a 13th game.

Steve King was an outfielder with Troy Haymakers of National Association in 1871-72. He batted .353 in 54 games, and probably would have continued to play when the National League came along a few years later, but by then he would have been in his 30s.

 
 

There's a decidedly un-American side to America's pastime, a tendency to create a class of royalty through nicknames. I've introduced the kings; here are other members of baseball's elite group.

 

George Herman Ruth, better known as "Babe" or "The Bambino," was the unquestioned Sultan of Swat, and remains the greatest baseball player of them all.

He went from being perhaps the best left-handed pitcher in the American League (23-12 with the Boston Red Sox in 1916; 24-13 the following season), to perhaps the best hitter, certainly the best slugger. Everyone knows about the 714 home runs, but don't forget the .342 batting average and the .474 on-based percentage.

Ruth was a member of seven World Series championship teams — three in Boston, and four with the New York Yankees. He hit 15 World Series home runs in just 129 at bats, a batter home run-per-at bat ratio than he had during the 1927 season when he hit 60 home runs.

Now let us pause to recall . . .

 
 
The Rabbi of Swat
Mose Hirsch Solomon was 22-year-old when he came out of nowhere — well, he'd spent the summer in Hutchinson, Kansas – to return to his birthplace, New York City, in 1923.

The Giants couldn't wait to use him. Manager John McGraw had tried for years to find a Jewish baseball star, and he thought Solomon might be the man, despite some shaky credentials.

Those credentials were the 49 home runs Solomon had hit for the Hutchinson Wheat Shockers. At the time, only Babe Ruth, in the American League, had ever hit more than that. Oh, and Solomon's batting average was a stunning .421. That he did it in the Southwestern League raised questions, but those questions could only be answered at the Polo Grounds.

Of more concern to McGraw was another statistic: Solomon had made 31 errors at first base, a position where half that many errors is considered unacceptable, especially in a 154-game season.

But the New York press was revved up. They dubbed Solomon "The Rabbi of Swat." McGraw had to use him, but he waited until the Giants had clinched the pennant, then buried Solomon in the outfield rather than risk him at first base.

The experiment lasted two games. Solomon did manage three hits – a double and two singles – in eight at bats.

Though born in New York City, the Solomon family had moved to Columbus, Ohio, when Mose was a youngster. McGraw asked the player to remain in New York for the World Series, for publicity purposes, but wanted Solomon to do it for nothing.

The player refused, saying he couldn't afford to spend an extra week in New York. Besides, he had already agreed to play professional football back in Columbus.

This annoyed McGraw who a few weeks later sold Solomon to a minor league team in Toledo.

Solomon played in the minors for several seasons, during which his highest home run total was ... seven.

Later he moved to Miami and was a successful building contractor. His son, Joseph, was a professional baseball player, but never made it to the big leagues.

 
 

Despite putting up some big numbers, Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider, like Mickey Mantle, Snider's counterpart with the New York Yankees, is much remembered for what might have been.

No doubt Snider deserves his spot in the Hall of Fame — starting with his 407 home runs, and a five-year streak when he hit at least 40 homers each season, drove in 585 runs, and twice batted over .333 — but he was a moody player not always popular with teammates and fans.

Like Mantle, it was injuries that prevented Snider from reaching his full potential. During his last seven seasons, from ages 31 through 37, Snider his only 91 homes runs. Compare that with Hank Sauer, a National League outfield who didn't become a regular until age 31, after which he hit 259 of his 288 home runs. Had Snider remained healthy, he might have been knocking on the door to 600 home runs before he retired.

But still he was baseball royalty, the best-known of the several players who've been nicknamed "Duke" or "The Duke."

Little remembered today, Roger Philip Bresnahan has a plaque in Cooperstown, New York, at the Baseball Hall of Fame, honored as a fierce competitor and one of the greatest catchers of all-time. His physical dimensions — five-foot-nine, 200 pounds — create the image of a prototypical catcher, round and slow, but Bresnahan was anything but.

His nickname was either a joke or a mistake. Bresnahan was born in 1879 in Toledo,, Ohio. His parents arrived in the United States about nine years earlier,, and may have emigrated from Tralee in County Kerry, Ireland. It's hard for me to believe anyone believe Bresnahan himself was born in Ireland, but that's given as the reason he was called "The Duke of Tralee."

He arrived in the major leagues in 1897 as an 18-year-old pitcher for the sixth place Washington Senators of the National League. Bresnahan appeared in six games, earned four decisions, all victories. Despite his auspicious start, Bresnahan did not return to the Senators in 1898, and when he did resurface in the National League in 1900, it was as a catcher for the Chicago Cubs, but his stay was very brief.

He was with the Baltimore Orioles of the American League in 1901, but after 65 games in the 1902 season, Bresnahan finally landed with the team that would make him a star — the New York Giants. He and manager John McGraw had an often stormy relationship, but McGraw greatly respected the ultra-competitive player who was so versatile he could play anywhere, though catching was his primary position.

Bresnahan was unusually fast for a catcher, and in the course of his career stole 212 bases. He was not a particularly good hitter — his lifetime batting average was .274 — but in 1903, when he spent most of his games in center field, he hit .350 to lead the Giants.

He and McGraw parted ways in 1909 when Bresnahan was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals where he was a player-manager. He remained in St. Louis four seasons, but his Cardinals never finished better than fifth place. In 1913 he went to the Chicago Cubs, leaving the major leagues after the 1915 season when he batted just .204. That season he also managed the Cubs to a fourth place finish.

In 1916 he returned home to Toledo and purchased the local team — the Mud Hens — that played in the American Association. He also managed the team for five years, playing occasionally. Owning the minor league team was a losing proposition, and after he sold it in 1924, he and McGraw were reunited when the managed hired Bresnahan as a coach. He reportedly was hard hit by the 1929 stock market crash and worked a variety of jobs until his death in Toledo in 1944.

Bresnahan played 1,380 games, less than a lot of position players in the Hall of Fame. He was a catcher in 974 of those games, an outfielder in 286 of them. He also played every infield position several times. He would have retired undefeated as a major league pitcher were it not for being used in two Baltimore games in 1901. He was charged with a loss in one of them.

He is credited with inventing shin guards, and was the first catcher to use them. Reportedly it was one of those innovations that other players — even catchers — ridiculed at the time, but the shin guards quickly caught on.

 
 

That's his name — Prince Semien Fielder, forced to retired in 2016 because he needed spinal surgery. It was unlikely he'd ever change his mind. Fielder carried between 260 and 280 pounds on his five-foot-eleven-inch frame throughout his 12-season career.

He's the son of former major leaguer Cecil Fielder, and played first baser, though often was used as a designated hitter his last few seasons. His career batting average was .283, and he hit 319 home runs, which was less than half of what had been predicted for him when he exploded for 50 in 2007, when he was just 23 years old. Two years later he hit 46 home runs, but his power diminished every season after that.

Henry Kawaihoa 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, his had 29 home runs and an incredible 63 doubles.) 

In high school Oana had starred in five sports – track, swimming, football, basketball and baseball. He was usually called by the obvious nickname, "Hank." The "Prince" business began as a publicity gimmick, when some sports writers spread the phony tale that Oana was descended from Hawaiian royalty.

 
 

The first Prince Hall was one of the strangest, most infamous men in major league history — Harold "Hal" Chase, recalled mostly for fixing games, a suspicion that followed him throughout a long career as a player from the New York Highlanders (Yankees), Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, New York Giants, and the Buffalo Blues of the short-lived Federal League.

He is widely regarded as the best fielding first baseman of all-time, though statistics don't support that claim. Apparently, several people are willing to believe many of his errors were deliberate, part of his plots to throw games.

Chase started with the Highlanders in 1905, when he was just 19 years old. How he managed to keep playing until 1919 is a mystery, given his reputation as a gambler who liked sure things.

No doubt he was an excellent player at times. In 1906, he batted .323 for the Highlanders, and .311 five years later. In 1916, with Cincinnati, he led the National League with a .339 batting average. His 17 home runs with Buffalo in 1915 led the Federal League. When he was forced out of baseball, he left with a .291 lifetime batting average.

Few players have been written about more than this evil prince.

Because he was a New York Giant teammate of "King Carl" Hubbell, right-handed pitcher Harold Schumacher was designated "Prince Hal," and while Schumacher toiled in Hubbell's shadow, he was, for several seasons, truly a member of baseball royalty, winning 61 games during a three-year stretch (1933-35).

His total of lifetime wins — 158 — likely would have been much higher if he hadn't been lost to the Giants for three years during World War Two when Schumacher served with the U. S. Naval Reserve. He was only 31 when this interruption occurred.

 
 

With Schumacher off to the war, baseball had its third Prince Hal in 1944 when left-handed Harold Newhouser, classified 4-F, shook off the effects of three straight losing seasons to win an astounding 29 games for the Detroit Tigers. Teammate Paul "Dizzy" Trout won 27 games, which wasn't as much a surprise because Trout had won 20 games the year before, and the combined total of 56 wins by the two pitchers was remarkable — but only good enough to get the Tigers into second place behind the St. Louis Browns, who won the only pennant in team history.

"Prince Hal" Newhouser reportedly was a temperamental guy, not popular with teammates, but he must have earned some love the next season when he led the Tigers to the American League pennant with 25 wins. (Trout had 18 victories that season.) Newhouser also won two World Series games as the Tigers beat the Chicago Cubs.

Newhouser had his third amazing season in a row in 1946, posting a 26-9 record, but the Tigers finished second, behind Boston. Because Newhouser's best seasons came during and just after World War Two, he never received full credit for his accomplishment — 80 wins in just three years. This would delay his admission into the Hall of Fame.

Newhouser retired with a lifetime total of 207 wins (against 150 losses), and he also was a 20-game winner in 1948 when the major leagues were at full strength. He finished his career as a relief pitcher with the Cleveland Indians.

In recent years, baseball has had another prince — slugger Albert Pujols, dubbed "Prince Albert." And a prince he is, having his 633 home runs through the 2018 season, which he spent with the Los Angeles Angels. He spent his first 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, and his career went into a slow decline when he joined the Angeles in 2012. He drove in more than 100 runs each of his first 10 seasons, hit 41 or more home runs six times, and didn't slip below .312 until his final season in St. Louis.

This part wouldn't be complete without a mention of the late Bob Prince, long-time play-by-play announcer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Because he spent most of his career in Pittsburgh, his fame was limited, but Pirate fans loved him, even if the team's management eventually let him go, only to welcome him back ten years later, in 1985, when it was much too late. Prince was dying of cancer, and passed away in June of that year, a few weeks before what would have been his 69th birthday.

A lot of folks recall New York Giants announcer Russ Hodges for his radio coverage of Bobby Thomson's pennant-clinching home run in the 1951 playoff between the Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. However, Hodges had nothing on Prince who broadcast a more significant home run: the one Bill Mazeroski hit to win Game Seven of the 1960 World Series against the heavily favored New York Yankees.

The New York City-based media continues to celebrate Thomson's home run, which allowed the Giants to get beaten by the Yankees in the World Series that followed, while Pittsburgh's incredible victory over the Yanks nine years later has been virtually ignored.

 
 

Christopher Columbus Campau, born in Detroit in 1863, was called "Count" because . . . well, he looked like one. As far as I can tell from reading old New York State newspapers, Campau was quite a celebrity in the early 1900s, probably because he spent most of his last seven years in baseball playing or managing teams in Rochester and Binghamton. Campau was best-known as an outfielder, but also played first base on occasion.

Of his 21 seasons in professional baseball, only two — 1888 and 1890 — were spent in what were considered major leagues. In 1894, he played two games for the Washington team of the National League, but spent most of that summer with New Orleans of the Southern Association, and Detroit and Milwaukee of the Western League. The only reason his "major league" batting average was as high as .267 was that season in the American Association when he batted .322 for the St. Louis Browns. (Other teams in the league included the Louisville Colonels, Toledo Maumees, Rochester Broncos, Columbus Solons and Syracuse Stars.)

On a certain level, however, Campau was quite a player. With the Detroit Tigers of the Western League in 1895, he his .359 with 13 homes runs, and a year later, with the Seattle Yannigans/Rainmakers or the short-lived New Pacific League, he hit .403 with 13 home runs 32 games. (I should mention the New Pacific League folded after 32 games, and that second baseman Bob Glenalvin of the Portland Gladiators batted .448.)

While in New York State each summer from 1899-1905, he considered New Orleans his home. He began the 1903 season managing the New Orleans Pelicans, but soon resigned and was back in Binghamton in June.

After 1905, Campau was an umpire, but only until he tired of the treatment he received from players and fans who were notoriously rough in the early 1900s. His SABR biography by Stephen V. Rice says Campau spent several years working at race tracks throughout the country, and in Canada and Cuba. He died in New Orleans in 1938, at the age of 74.

John Phillips Jenkins Sensenderfer pre-dated Count Campau, and was called "The Count" for the same reason — the Philadelphia native looked and behaved like royalty.

Sensenderfer was an outfielder for the Philadelphia Athletics in the National Association (1871-74). Over four seasons he played just 51 games, and had 234 opportunities to bat. His 70 hits gave him a batting average of .299. He struck out only three times, which wasn't unusual at the time, but what was highly unusual is that he did not draw a single base on balls.

Later he became active in politics and served two terms as a county commissioner.

 
 

What are the odds that two men named Earl born in Snohomish, Washington, would grow up to be major league baseball players?

The first "Earl of Snohomish" was Earl Averill, who didn't turn pro until he was 24 years old, which delayed his arrived in the big leagues until he was 27, but he made up for lost time, getting more than 2,000 hits during a 13-season career, which ended with him having a .318 batting average. Though only five-feet-nine, Averill had power, hitting 238 home runs, with a career best 32 in 1931. (Averill hit a home run in his first at bat in the majors.)

The outfielder spent most of his time with the Cleveland Indians. His best year was 1936 when he batted .378, with 232 hits. His son, Earl Averill Jr., was a catcher and outfielder for five major league teams between 1956 and 1963. Only twice — in 1961 and 1962 — did Averill Jr. play in more than 90 games, and did it with the Los Angeles Angeles, mostly in the outfield.

However, the junior Averill did something his Hall of Fame father never did. In fact, no Hall of Fame player could match this unusual record. In 1962, Earl Averill Jr. reached base 17 consecutive times. Of course, this includes getting to first base on a fielder's choice, a few walks, and one fielder's error, but it was the longest on-base streak of the 20th century, and no one in the 21st century has matched it, either.

Earl Averill Jr. was born in Cleveland, which makes the second "Earl of Snohomish" a first baseman named Earl Torgeson. who played in both the National and American Leagues, but is best-remember for his six seasons with the Boston Braves. (Though he was always known as Earl, that actually was Torgeson's middle name. He was born Clifford Earl Torgeson.)

The six-feet-three-inch Torgeson was a fine all-around player, and though he never batted .300, he drew a lot of bases on balls, and his on-based percentage often was over .400. He had flashes of power, and in 1950 hit 23 home runs for the Braves, topping that the following season when he hit 24. In those days, few players hit more than 20 home runs in a given year. He was a tough competitor who had more than his share of brawls.

In retirement, he managed in the minor leagues, but later became director of parks for Snohomish County. He died of leukemia in 1990, at the age of 66.

 
 

Baseball's "Rajah" was Rogers Hornsby, perhaps the best hitter who ever lived. Some say Ted Williams, but I give Hornsby extra credit because he batted right-handed, faced far more right-handed pitchers than lefties, and was a couple steps further from first base than the left-handed hitting Williams.

While it's true Hornsby played in a hitter's era, what he did from 1921 to 1925 still staggers the imagination. Playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, Hornsby's batting averages during those five seasons were .397, .401, .384, .424 and .403. He was the league batting champion each one of those five years, as well as 1920 when he hit "only" .370, and 1928 when he hit .387. His lifetime batting average was .358. He had 301 career home runs, twice leading the league.

He was obsessed with hitting, and tended to overrate his defensive ability. He came into the majors as a shortstop, then was moved to second base. His defensive liabilities are why the best-hitting second baseman is not rated number one at his position, though it's open to debate whether any other second baseman could help his team as much as Hornsby ... except he was almost universally disliked, particularly when he became a manager, first for the Cardinals, and later for the Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Red, with a few minor league teams in between.

He may have expected too much from his players, and wanted them to follow the rigid rules he'd set for himself. For example, he refused to go to movies, saying they were harmful to the eyes. He used the same excuse to explain why he did read. He didn't drink, and believed in getting lots of sleep. He was a perfectionist, spoke his mind, and often gave unwanted advice.

Harlond Clift, who played third base for the St.. Louis Browns while Hornsby was the manager, said, "He was mean ... I played my greatest time for him, but everyone hated him." Other players echoed those sentiments.

As for his nickname, I assume it was inspired by the word that was used for royalty in India, though it's possible, I suppose, that it's another example of how his name was spoken by Brooklyn Dodger fans, who never heard of anyone who put as S after Roger. Come to think of it, neither have I, except for Hornsby.

  Almost royalty . . .  

Herbert Jefferis Pennock was in the major leagues for at least parts of 22 seasons (1912-34), missing only 1918 because of military service in World War I. The left-handed pitcher picked up most of his 241 wins during his 11 years with the New York Yankees (1923-33). He started five World Series games and won them all.

Pennock gets his nickname from his hometown, Kennett Square,, in the southeast corner of Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia. As you might expect of someone who arrived in the major leagues with the Philadelphia Athletics at the age of 18 and hung around until he was 40, Pennock spent little time in the minor leagues, appearing in 13 games with Providence of the International League in 1915 after the Athletics sold him to the Boston Red Sox, and 16 games with Buffalo of the International League the next season before he rejoined Boston.

It was in 1919, after the war, that Pennock emerged as a front-line pitcher. He had a 16-8 record for Boston that season. And in those days,, once you made it with the Red Sox, you could count on being sold or traded to the New York Yankees some day. Pennock became a Yankee in 1923 and responded with a 19-6 record, and was on his way to a Hall of Fame career.

 
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