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.