It’s too easy to root for the best players. Anybody could want Joey Votto to get a hit, because you know there’s a pretty good chance he will. It’s far more rewarding to root for that guy hitting .220, or that pitcher with a 4.6 k/9. They’ll break your heart often, but when they make you happy. Boy, it’ll be worth it.
My favorite player when I first started following the Reds was Jacob Brumfield. The reasoning behind this was solely because “Jacob Brumfield” sounded like a name a kid on my street would have, it was the kind of name I could identify with. The fact that a Jacob Brumfield played for the Reds meant that one day, I could play for the Reds.
But on the other hand, my name is not one of athletic greatness. Whenever I was playing baseball or football or whatever imaginary game in my basement, I knew that my name would never be the star pitcher’s or star center fielder’s. I actually took names from the authors on my parents’ bookshelves to find a better name. Until I was about 14, I would call myself Jonathan Gash. THAT is a name.
So now that we have the dead season upon us, I want to celebrate the names, the ridiculous and the sublime, that make baseball what it is. This is largely inspired by a Joe Posnanski post where he said that Wally Moon was the most 1950’s name ever. That sparked me to take on this new project.
Let’s go through each decade of Reds’ history, from 1890s through the 2000’s and select the greatest names. We will have three categories: Best Name, Most Cincinnati Name, and Most 1890’s Name. I will list the names and how they got on the list below, and then choose my winners. Feel free to disagree in the comments.
Bid McPhee: A Cincy legend of course, but also quite the fey Irish sort of name. He’d get beaten up in today’s world.
Bug Holliday: Sounds about 5’4” and tweaked on whatever the upper of choice was back then.
Kid Baldwin: There’s a great RedsZone thread about how “in the olden days, you were called ‘Kid’ if you were the only one on the team without the French Disease.”
Pop Corkhill: So a guy named Pop definitely had the French (and every other) disease.
Germany Smith: The sort of name that would go out of style around 1918. Strangely enough, not the most German name on the list.
Jocko Halligan: Sounds like a Prep School bully. I may start referring to Hanigan as Jocko.
Old Hoss Radbourn: I had no clue he played for the Reds. That said, I’ve gone on about how this is my favorite old-school nickname.
Farmer Vaughn: In an agrarian society of 1/3 farmers, you have to be a REAL hick to be nicknamed “farmer.” Also, of COURSE he was from a place called Ruraldale, Ohio.
Ice Box Chamberlain: Was he enormous? Did he always bring the beer? Was he sexually frigid? The truth will never be known.
Bumpus Jones: Probably was sitting on the bench eating boogers with Farmer Vaughn.
Silver King: I like to imagine he was a Diamond Jim or an international silver thief who spent some time on the Reds. Not that he just had Holden Caulfield hair.
Dummy Hoy: I knew the name of course, but I didn’t know he was actually deaf. 19th Century people are assholes.
Heinie Peitz: Beating out Germany for the most German name. Und Ziss Herr Vas Mait Vor Zinsinnati.
Jot Goar: JOT GOAR! DESTROYER OF THE UNIVERSE! WILL FLASH GORDON BE ABLE TO SAVE THE QUEEN LOANNA FROM THE EVIL JOT GOAR? TUNE IN NEXT WEEK!
Socks Seybold: I didn’t realize the family cat played for the Reds.
Kid Elberfeld: Another “kid”. Probably got the shit kicked out of him by JOT GOAR.
Algie McBride: Sounds like a Redford character or a small-time politician.
Noodles Hahn: Jose Rijo had his lasagna. Noodles apparently had his rigatoni.
Pink Hawley: Makes me think of a Steve Buscemi character or a bad attempt to grow a beard.
And your winners…
Most Cincinnati Name: Heinie Peitz and his goetta-eating legions
Most 1890’s name: Jocko Halligan wins this award, steals your girlfriend, and rides off on his velocipede.
Best Name: JOT GOAR.
So I hope you enjoyed this one, and stay tuned for the next edition, coming up…eh…eventually.