The Hall of Name

An old joke goes: “My father was almost President of the United States.  He commanded PT-108.”  OK, that one’s not great, but a lot of humor comes from varying the truth just enough to form a brain-jarring contrast.  And for some people, that’s just the way their mind works, and there’s not much they can do about it.  Worse still, under pressure, they’ll write it up and inflict it on others.

The top 10 position players (by career BRef WAR) are all names that trip off the tongue of every true baseball fan.  Herewith, my list of those who just missed this list because their names were not quite right.

  1. Wonderful Terrific Monds: A great name in its own right, one of the greatest in baseball history.  And just one letter from being a guy with 762 homers. He never got above AA, and he’s the only player on this list who never made the majors.  But he’s on this list because his name should come up every year on every list he can make.
  2. Gary Rath: Or as I call him, the Bombino.  Career ERA of 11.25 in 8 innings pitched.
  3. Austin Hays: Lee Maye was the obvious alternative here, but he was a pretty solid player.  And indeed, Hays might be as well before his career is over. 
  4. John Dobb: The Michigan Apple.  (I had to look up Michigan’s biggest fruit export.)  Pitched 2 innings for the White Sox in 1924 for an ERA of 9.  He didn’t face the Georgia Peach, but he walked Tris Speaker.
  5. Steven Baron: Also known as The Wrench.  26 AB over 3 seasons.  Career OPS+ 0f -27, creating a mammoth 182 point career difference with the greatest Brave of all time.
  6. Bob Speake: Just keep typing, Bob, and you could have made the HOF.  4 seasons for the White Sox and Giants in the 50s.  Career WAR of 1.6.
  7. Jack Wanner: People talk about the rarity of Honus Wagner’s baseball card.  But honestly, if you can find the baseball card of a guy who got 8 at bats for the 1909 Yankees, it would be really valuable.
  8. Barney Mussill:  I was torn between Mussill and Bob Meusel.  Neither is a one-character change, but both are pretty phonetically close.  I went with Barney because I suspect none of you has ever heard of him.  He was 24 in 1944 when he made 16 pitching appearances for the Phillies after his initial callup from the Selective Service System.
  9. I got nothing for Hornsby.  Nothing.  Suggestions welcome. 
  10. Damon Hollins:  Dave Hollins was obviously the better baseball player, but he was never Mayor of Richmond.

Author: JonathanF

Alive since 1956. Braves fan since 1966. The first ten years were pretty much wasted. Exiled to Yankees/Mets territory in 1974 --- bearable only with TBS followed by MLB.TV.

20 thoughts on “The Hall of Name”

  1. Different sport, and a difference of more than one letter in the last name, but since both first and last names are so close, I think it fits within the spirit of what you’re doing:

    There’s a U.S. national soccer team player (also plays in MLS) named Cristian Roldan. He’s 10 years younger than Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, who is one of the best soccer players ever and is still playing.

  2. I’m stumped on Hornsby as well. Best I can do is Nick Hornby, who of course never played baseball, but he did write about fandom in a different sport. His memoir of obsession with a sports team is certainly something many of us Braves fanatics can relate to.

  3. @6 Bruce Hornsby? No way he should be int he Hall. Fielding wise–low UZR. No range.

  4. Nice, sansho1.
    AAR: No Bruce Hornsby: that’s just the way it is.
    tfloyd: Insufficiently high fidelity to the concept.

  5. Not a perfect fit, but maybe we could consider Trader Horne, who appeared in all of eleven major league games, all for the 1929 Cubs (incidentally, on the same team as Rogers Hornsby, who reportedly was quite kind to him).

    While his ML career was brief, he threw more than 3,700 minor league innings, drank with Babe Ruth during Prohibition, caught flak from the Chicago press corps for taking too many pictures on the way to ML Spring Training in California (the trip was his first time west of Illinois), and even though they traded him mid-season, the Cubs liked him so much they voted to give him a share of their World Series Money.

    He also shares the important distinction of having a first name (Berlyn) that is slightly different than its usual spelling.

    (source was this lovely bio from SABR: https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/trader-horne/ )

  6. Berlyn? I thought that’s what country folks did to peanuts…

  7. @9–I confess to falling short of high fidelity to the concept. My wife won’t play trivial pursuit with me because when I don’t know the answer I volunteer the answer to a question that wasn’t asked.
    But then she’s a funny girl.

  8. Anderson tonight – 13 batters and 8 Ks (1 LOB – due to his own error). It’s gonna be a good year.

  9. Bryse pitching well today. Good to see our guys competing for spots racing to the top instead of racing to the bottom.

    Boy, Freddie looks skinny.

  10. @17 Freddie does look skinny.
    Wilson looked okay though a lot of hard hit balls. AJax with a mammoth HR.

  11. What are we gonna do with all these bench guys? Goins is now staking his claim. All except the ones we thought were the best (Lamb, Kipnis) are hitting the snot out of the ball. Goins, Adrianza, Kazmar, Harris, even Panda. Contreras with a HR today to match Jackson’s yesterday. I hope whoever we pick hits as well during the season. I looked and Goins has a habit of having good springs and flopping in season.

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