What would this world be like without Engelbert Humperdinck, Newt Gingrich, and Steve Urkel? A lot quieter, for one thing. But also a lot less funny. While I feel sorry for kids who have to grow up with names like Reinhold and Aloysius - and that's just the girls - there are some names that practically beg for jokes. So, in celebration of the greatest sport ever created, here follows the All-Funny-Name Baseball Team.
Of course, to make things more difficult on myself, I had to establish some rules for which names do and do not qualify. First off, while both nicknames and real names are acceptable, they must have been commonly used as the players' proper names. For example, Pepper Martin would qualify as "Pepper," but not as "The Wild Horse of the Osage." Similarly, although some people would say that "Denton True Young" is a funny name, when was the last time you heard him called anything other than "Cy?"
Foreign names are tricky. Many of these, like Hideki Okajima, sound strange to English-speaking ears (to mix metaphors, as well as body parts), but are perfectly ordinary in their home countries. So I have avoided any foreign name which did not have some further humor.
Lastly, I have excluded any name which is otherwise ordinary, but which happens to be the same as another famous name. Thus, you will not see the likes of George Burns, Kenny Rogers, or Milton Bradley on this list.
On one final note, you will notice that these are mostly older players. Part of this is due to changing cultural standards (there aren't too many men named Ezra any more), and part is simply that baseball players take themselves a lot more seriously now than they used to. Another factor is the now-defunct Negro Leagues, which were a treasure trove of imaginative names. Players who did not have colorful nicknames were practically an anomaly; Cool Papa Bell, Satchel Paige, and Rube Foster are just a few examples who didn't make the list. Unfortunately, due to this "old-time bias," selection is limited for the more recent positions of relief pitcher and especially designated hitter.
1.) Boog Powell - Young star of the classic sitcom, "Boogie Powell, M.D."
2.) Stuffy McInnis - He must have had one heckuva long cold. How did he smell? Terrible!
3.) Prince Fielder - Sounds like someone Cinderella might meet at the ball.
Not-so-Honorable Mentions: Lu Blue, Kitty Bransfield, High Pockets Kelly, Mule Suttles
1.) Cupid Childs - Was he the one responsible for puppy love?
2.) Bingo DeMoss - And Bingo was his nickname-o. His real name was Elwood, which is what he was called before Bingo. B-4!? Bingo!!!
3.) Jerry Lumpe - So named because he just sat there like Bump Wills on a log.
Comical Mentions: Bobby Knoop, Bid McPhee, Cookie Rojas, Snuffy Stirnweiss
1.) Judy Johnson - Part of the fabulous tradition of thirdbasepersons that includes Ezra Sutton, Kelly Gruber, Robin Ventura, and Eva Longoria.
2.) Ghost Marcelle - If only he and his friends had paid Steinbrenner a visit, that old humbug might have changed his ways.
3.) Joe Stripp - After leaving the game, took a job with Chippendale's.
Ludicrous Mentions: Lave Cross, Pinky Higgins, Pepper Martin, Pie Traynor
1.) Oyster Burns - I told you not to eat your shellfish so fast!
2.) Jack Glasscock - But be very careful when you do.
3.) Shorty Fuller - He learned the game on the Sandlot alongside Biggie Smalls.
Absurd Mentions: Bones Ely, Granny Hamner, Arky Vaughan, Zoilo Versalles
1.) Shanty Hogan - He was born in a small wooden cabin . . .
2.) Muddy Ruel - Hello Muddy, hello Foddy . . .
3.) Val Picinich - Fortunately for him, he was out of the game before fellow catcher Yogi Berra came along.
Chuckle-Worthy Mentions: Sherm Lollar, Biz Mackey, Ivey Wingo
1.) Topsy Hartsel - Formed the famous "Furry Outfield" along with Flopsy in right and Mopsy in center.
2.) Ducky Medwick - If he looks like Ducky Medwick, walks like Ducky Medwick, and hits like Ducky Medwick . . . Part I of the Poultry Outfield.
3.) Heinie Manush - I can't think of any punch line that would be funnier than the name itself.
Laughable Mentions: Bibb Falk, Chick Hafey, Peanuts Lowrey, Les Mann
1.) Coco Crisp - I wonder if he eats his Wheaties?
2.) Turkey Stearnes - He was always amazed at how many people in New York knew his name. "Hey, Turkey, move it!" "Watch where you're going, Turkey!" Part II of the Poultry Outfield.
3.) Spot Poles - Which is very easy to do in Warsaw.
Silly Mentions: Ginger Beaumont, Mule Haas, Baby Doll Jacobson, Lip Pike
1.) Al Kaline - And his educated cousin, Dr. Ycell.
2.) Chicken Wolf - One of those mixed-breed creatures, like the tiger shark, the turkey vulture, or the bullfrog. Part III of the Poultry Outfield.
3.) Bake McBride - And serve with fava beans and a nice chianti.
Merry Mentions: Gavvy Cravath, Kiki Cuyler, Homer Summa, Taffy Wright
1.) Chili Davis - He played DH because he didn't know beans about fielding.
2.) Vladimir Guerrero - What country was he from? Should we call him Señor or Comrade? Maybe we should ask his cousin, Juan Pierre.
3.) Tim Salmon - I admit, there aren't too many good choices at DH, so I had to fish a little bit for this one.
1.) Dizzy Trout - Must have used a spinner as a lure.
2.) Urban Shocker - Was he a flasher, or did he just like joy buzzers?
3.) Oil Can Boyd - Broadcast immediately following Yan Can Cook.
Guffaw-Inducing Mentions: Ice Box Chamberlain, Noodles Hahn, Orel Hershiser, Catfish Hunter, Dazzy Vance, Early Wynn
1.) Firpo Marberry - Who doesn't love the zany antics of the Marxberry Brothers: Groucho, Chico, Zeppo, and Firpo?
2.) Huston Street - "Huston Street? Sure, just head down Chan Ho Park for five blocks, then hang a left on Gabby Street. Once you cross over Jason Lane, the asphalt will end, so you'll be on Dusty Rhodes."
3.) J.J. Putz - I'm sure people only made golf jokes. Really.
Wacky Mentions: Mace Brown, Skip Lockwood, Turk Lown
1.) Patsy Tebeau - He wasn't a pushover, he was just Crazy.
2.) Pants Rowland - Sounds like an item from a high-school bully's to-do list.
3.) Mayo Smith - You might not have to butter him up, but I'd recommend not putting him on hold.
Cachinnatory Mentions: Ray Blades, Mase Graffen, Birdie Tebbetts
All writings are copyright ©2011 by Nathan Robson and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the copyright owner. All rights reserved. My wedding went off without a hitch.