Wednesday, April 10, 2013
MLB All Name Team, The Finale: R-Z
C: Pop Swett and Pi Schwert - I haven't done a platoon in the past, but these names were so oddly similar and easily interchangeable it seemed appropriate to go with the combo platter. Pop Swett played one single season for the Boston Reds in 1890, smacking a single home run and batting .191. Pi Schwert was a .208 hitter in two years with Yankees, and might have gone on not to suck had World War I not interfered with his baseball career. After serving in the Navy, he went on to become the only former Bronx Bomber to date to serve in Congress, representing Western New York.
1b: Razor Shines -This was the hardest of choices for me and the fan vote didn't help matters by finishing in a three way tie. I have therefore played reluctant dictator and chosen this Expos scrub. Although his name does sound vaguely intimidating, his .183 career batting average and zero homers were not. Razor did achieve impressive longevity at the minor league level, forging a sixteen year career Bull Durham would have been proud of. Since retiring as a player he has managed several minor league teams and is currently with the Great Lake Loons. Honorable Mentions: Chicken Wolf, Ed Smartwood
2b: Mike Tyson - The inclusion of a celebrity has become a requirement for this list, and it is hard to beat the long series of bizarre incidents that are brought to mind when the name of a man as mentally balanced as a seesaw with a midget and a linebacker on either side is invoked. The baseball version of Iron Mike started for the Cardinals during the 1970s, hitting around .250 over eight seasons. The Northsiders in Chicago saw something they liked and signed him to a contract, probably for way more than what he was worth. That statement is true regardless of the sums as he proved to be worthless and was forcibly retired within two years of adding his name to the long list of terrible Cubs.
SS: Tony Suck - I try to let the great ones on this list speak for themselves so I will be brief. Believe it or not, Tony was actually born with the surname Zuck and intentionally changed his name to Suck. He lived up to the new name, striking out four times in eight National League plate appearances in 1884 while never managing to reach base via hit.
3b: Butts Wagner - The older brother of Hall of Famer Honus Wagner had it tough. While Honus spent nearly a quarter of a century manning the Pittsburgh Pirates infield, gaining renown as one of the best hitters to ever play the game, Butts managed only one season in the big leagues and only one career home run, which did happen to help win a game for the best named team in baseball history, the Brooklyn Bridgegrooms. The unfortunately nicknamed brother also managed to worm his way into popular culture. For some inexplicably reason Butts was depicted as an eccentric inventor during a boy's long (erotic?) dream sequence in the book The Mystery of the Wagner Whacker.
OF: Pussy Tebeau - Nuff ced. Pussy played two major league games for the Cleveland Spiders and I would like to personally thank God for allowing his awesomeness into the annals of Major League Baseball history. I might even Tebeau.
OF: Count Sensenderfer- Unlike most players on this list, Sensenderfer was not utterly terrible. Nicknamed Count for his aristocratic bearing rather than a desire to drink blood after the sun goes down, Sensenderfer played in some of the first recorded professional games in baseball history, scoring an unbelievable 200 runs during the 1868 season. He played his entire career in Philadelphia and later went on to a career in politics, serving as Count Sensenderfer, Philadelphia County Commissioner.
OF: Chappie Snodgrass- Chappie was a nickname, but his real name wasn't that great either. Born Arnzie Beal Snodgrass, Chappie gets this team back on track in the useless turd department. He managed only one career hit in ten major league at bats for a whopping. .100 batting average. OF Honorable Mention: Live Oak Taylor, Homer Summa, Rip Repulski, Chick Shorten.
P: Crazy Schmit - My research came up with two possible reasons for Schmit's nickname. The first theory is that he was released from a mental institution prior to his Major League Career. Another tidbit I found suggested Crazy was a wee bit fond of alcohol and his behavior train would remove itself from the rails of civility after a round of overindulgent imbibing. He played for the Cleveland Spiders 1898 team, which is considered the worst in the history of baseball. A major contributor, Schmit managed to win two games while losing only eighteen.
P: Mysterious Walker - What is the opposite of a sandwich? Walker's career was successful at the beginning and the end, but hit a bit of a lull in the middle. As a college athlete he starred in football, baseball, and basketball at the University of Chicago. After graduating he chose a career in professional baseball, earning his nickname by playing incognito for the minor league San Francisco Seals. This is the part that did not go so well. The Mysterious One went 7-24 over five seasons, finishing his career in 1915 with the Brooklyn side, who had now ingeniously changed their name to the Tip-Tops (they also performed for a time as the Superbas, whatever the hell those are). Following his playing career Walker went into collegiate coaching, manning the helm as a football, baseball, basketball coach, and once serving as athletic director. He certainly made the rounds leading teams at Utah St, Mississippi, Oregon St, Williams, DePauw, Carnegie Tech, Washington & Jefferson, Texas, Dartmouth, Wheaton, Loyola (LA), Rhode Island, and Michigan St - all in a span of less than twenty five years!
P: Cy Slapnicka - Like Walker, Slapnicka was another unsuccessful pitcher either unable to cope with an odd name or just burdened with a lack of talent. The man must have known something about the game, however, as he was able to parlay it into a 50+ year career. Mainly a minor leaguer, Slapnicka played at the lower levels for eighteen years and compiled a 1-6 during short stints in the big leagues. Over his decades of service he learned enough to gain employment in the Indians organization, acting as General Manager from 1935-1940, then spending the next twenty years as a scout for the franchise. His most famous signing? Hall of Famer and fellow Iowan Bob Feller.
P: Lil Stoner - Jung Bong now has a partner on the all marijuana team. Apparently the weed assisted his pitching, as the Tiger hurler managed a 50-58 career record, rather impressive when compared to the other losers on this list. He was said to have a wicked curve thanks to a deformity on his pitching hand, which he received after his brother nearly chopped the digit off. His brother was also the source of his nickname, since the young boy was unable to pronounce Ulysses or any of the other eight presidents Lil Stoner was named after. Even Stoner's great breaking ball could sometimes fail - Babe Ruth is said to have hit his longest home run off the pitcher, an epic 600+ foot blast.
P: Cannonball Titcomb - A combination of the vaguely sexual and outright bizarre, Titcomb's name exemplifies everything we look for in a great name. He is also the ace of this sorry staff, barely managing a career winning record of 30-29 and also pitching a no hitter in 1890 versus Syracuse. His minor league career included stints with the Jersey City Skeeters, the Rochester Hop Bitters, and the Providence Clamdiggers. Honorable Mentions: Phenomenal Smith, Charlie Wacker, Pete Rambo, Biff Schlitzer.
Well that's it folks, except for one last late addition to one of our earlier teams. Sometimes the nicknames aren't listed unless you go to a player's page so oversights can easily occur. While researching this list I came up a bit of nickname greatness I had overlooked. This player not only had one great moniker, he had three, and they are way too good not to be included retroactively: Arlie Latham, AKA the Dude, AKA The Hustler from Hustletown, AKA...wait for it....."the Freshest Man on Earth."