What's In A Name?

Sometimes when I’m watching a baseball game, the names of the players will catch my attention. Is there such a thing as a quintessential name for a baseball player? One that can call to mind the sounds, smells, and excitement of being at the diamond?

Well, yes.

"Buster" Posey is such a name. If he was anything other than a baseball player, it just wouldn’t work. Can you picture a Reverend Posey? Didn’t think so. The baseball player’s father is Gerald Dempsey “Buster” Posey II. Obviously “Buster” III is carrying on his family name tradition.

Dennis Ray “Oil Can” Boyd is also a great name for a major league player. He was a pitcher from 1982 to 1991. The nickname is from his drinking days in Meridian Mississippi, where the rot-gut whiskey from the local moonshiner was referred to as “oil.”

How about Russel Jay “Rusty” Kuntz? That name belongs to a baseball player for sure. In the American League from 1979 to 1985, he’s been the first base coach for the Royals since 2012.

Frank Edwin “Tug” McGraw is a classic name for a pitcher. He got his nickname from his mother when he was a baby. He was one of the top National League closers in the early 1970’s.

Mordecai Brown was a pitcher from 1903 to 1916 (There's just something about the name Mordecai that fits America's favorite pastime). The press dubbed him “Three-Fingers” because of a farm accident that resulted in the loss of most of his right index finger. His handicap became an advantage when he learned to throw a baseball with an unusual amount of topspin that resulted in ground balls.

Kirby Puckett is one of my favorite player names. He was an outfielder with the Minnesota Twins from 1984 to 1995.

Cornelius Mack has a nice baseball-y ring to it. He started with the Washington Senators in 1888, and played in the big leagues until 1896.

Astacio “Melky” Cabrera is a left-handed outfielder from the Dominican Republic. He started with the Yankees in 2005, and is currently with the Chicago White Sox.

Some names sound like a seafood restaurant menu: Catfish Hunter, Mudcat Grant, Dizzy Trout, Hank Conger.

Others have names that seem to refer to the game itself: Homer Bailey, David Mark Winfield, Roland Glen “Rollie” Fingers, “Bombo” (means"fly ball" in Spanish) Rivera.

And I can’t fail to mention those names that make you think of other things (I’m stealing this from Dayn Perry’s article from last year): Tucker Tubbs (sounds like a County Sheriff from The Dukes of Hazard); Earl Burl (could be a saxophonist on a street corner in New Orleans); Skye Bolt (A Norse God-of-Making-Out-With-Cheerleaders); and Rock Rucker (sounds like a redneck who could fend off attackers with a severed deer head and crescent wrench).

And of course, I can't resist mentioning Hunter Pence, which sounds like "underpants" if you say it fast enough.

All right, I'm out.


I'm Thankful for Lexemes

Baseball season has officially started! And that got me thinking about baseball words and terms. And drinking. Don’t know why, but the two seem to go hand in hand.

A lexeme is the smallest or minimal unit of lexicon in a language that bears some “meaning”. A lexeme has a morphological form, semantic content (or meaning) and a syntactic category. Lexeme is basically an abstract notion used in linguistic morphology, the concrete realization of which is a word.

Okay, enough of the boring stuff.

There are a surprising number of baseball terms that are also cocktails. Here’s some that I found:

Airmail - A baseball slang for an errant throw where the ball flies high over the intended player’s head.

Shake together 1 ounce light rum, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 1/2 ounce honey syrup, and 1 cup ice. Strain into a champagne flute. Top off glass with champagne.

Bender - A curveball.

A wild drinking spree.

Bomb -A home run.

Also called a depth charge, a mixed drink that is made by dropping a drink in a shot glass into a larger glass of alcohol.

Caddy - A substitute in the late innings of a lopsided game to act as a defensive replacement for an aging power hitter or to pinch run.

Mix 2 shots whiskey, 1/2 shot cherry liqueur, 1/2 shot Martini Rosso, 1/2 shot angostura bitters.

Cement Mixer - A baseball pitched with the intent to break out of the strike zone that fails to break and ends up hanging in the strike zone. 

A shot drink consisting of 1 part Bailey's Irish Cream, 1 part lime juice. (The drink is traditionally ingested by taking the shot of Bailey's, holding it in the mouth, then sipping the lime juice and swirling the two around the mouth. The acidic lime juice causes the cream-based Bailey's to curdle. The curdled Bailey's rapidly gains viscosity and sticks to the drinker's teeth, reminiscent of cement.)

Chase - To swing at a pitch well outside of the strike zone.

To chase an alcoholic drink that you've imbibed, you follow it with a stronger or weaker alcoholic drink. 

Double - A hit where the batter makes it safely to second base before the ball can be returned to the infield. Also a two-base hit.

To increase the number of shots or measures of alcohol in a drink. 

Handcuff - A hard-hit ground ball that bounces directly at an infielder may be difficult for him to get his hands up in time to grab. He may appear to be handcuffed in that situation. A pitch thrown high and inside may handcuff a batter because he can't get his hands far enough away from his body to swing the bat. 

Mix 1 oz. Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, Coca Cola, 1 dash Vanilla Extract.

Granny - A grand slam home run.

Mix 2 shots rum, 1/2 shot apple schnapps, 1/4 shot cinnamon schnapps, 2 shots apple juice.

Hammer - To hit the ball hard, typically for extra bases. A curve ball, usually of the 12 to 6 variety.

Mix 3 ounce coconut rum, 2 ounces peach schnapps, 2 ounces 7-Up.

Moneyball - refers to Michael Lewis's 2002 book. "Moneyball player" most often refers to one who has a high on-base percentage, and does not steal a lot of bases.

Mix 2 oz. vodka, 5 oz. Green River Soda, lime dollar sign ($) twist, and ice. Strain.

RhubarbAn argument or fight in a baseball game. Hence, Rhubarb, a novel by H. Allen Smith.

Mix juice from 1/2 lime; 10 muddled mint leaves; ice; 2 ounces vodka; 1 ounce raspberry vodka; 1 ounce Cointreau or other triple sec;  1 ounce rhubarb syrup. Strain and garnish with 2 lime wedges and 1 long, thin slice of rhubarb stalk.

So, I'll bring my adoxography (add-ox-OG-rah-fee -- skilled writing on a trivial subject) of musings to an end.