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 1920’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. I realize this is a long time coming, but I had a bit of a life hiccup that makes for a good story for later. For now...the names:
Biff Wysong: Terrible pitcher, died young, and carried the true first name of Harlan. Sounds like a Steinbeck character.
Casper Asbjornson: What a wonderfully ethnic name for the Scandinavian Sensation. Wins major baseball points for being buried in Williamsport, PA, home of the LLWS.
Otto Bluege: Squeaky Bluege had a brother Ossie who had a long and distinguished career as a Senator. Otto lasted a year and a bit as a no-hit infielder. Also, how do you plan on pronouncing that name?Paul Derringer: Cincinnati's own deadball hero went a fantastic 7-27 one year and was a hoss for the 1940 championship Reds. He also was nicknamed Duke to emphasize his own badassness (seriously...Duke Derringer) and had a serious case of Kearnsears.
Kiki Cuyler: Hazen Shirley Cuyler is a hall of famer. I bet you didn't know that. I generally dislike the nickname "Kiki" but I accept it in the current situation.
Peaches Davis: Grew up in Durant, OK and generally looks like the sort of guy we would politely call "simple."
Ival Goodman: Although his name sounds like something Lennie would say to George, he was a great outfielder and gets credit for wearing GOODMAN 1 on the back of his jersey.
Jimmy Outlaw: James Paulus Outlaw was on the Reds for two years, and has a terrific back of a baseball card for 1938: 4 games, 0 plate appearances, 0 times in the field, 1 run scored. Also, almost definitely ran with Capone or his Cincinnati equivalent.
Kiddo Davis: Part time outfielder, mostly stood around for Ival Goodman to punch him lightly on the cheek and then ruffle his hair. Showed up for one game in 1926 at age 24, wouldn't return to the big leagues until 1932.
Pinky Jorgensen: I will never understand the popularity of "Pinky" as a nickname.
Harry Craft: A fantastic Real Amurrican name and also, possibly, my gonzo adult film name.
Jumbo Brown: 6'4" 295 lbs. of pure relief pitching mediocrity.
Dusty Cooke: The Reds Manager if he finished culinary school.
Nino Bongiovanni: Who is this? The kid who mowed my lawn?
Frenchy Bordagaray: I love that he played on the same team as Nino Bongiovanni. I only wish he could've been with Caspar Asjornsen and Otto Bleuge on the all-Holy-Roman Empire team.
Milt Shoffner: Sounds more like a mid-century novelist then a relief pitcher. Might've been a better novelist, too.
Johnny Niggeling: The Remsen, IA native was a first-generation Chinese-American away from simply always being punched.
Wes Livengood: Welsey Amos Livengood had a short career, but may have one of the best name-picture syncs I've seen so far.
So without further ado...
Most Cincinnati Name: Biff Wysong wins out by being somewhat reminiscent of the guys my grandpa smoke Pall Malls with. Though I can't see the name "Johnny Niggeling" without thinking of Madville, for whatever reason.
Most 1930's Name: Jimmy Outlaw lived a hard and short life, until he was shot at the hands of Kiddo Davis in a speakeasy over a floozy.
The best name: Wesleyyyyyyyyyy and the living is good. Curveballs are snapping, and the grass is mowed down. Oh spring training's come, and the Reds are good lookin, so hush RR, don't you cry.