Monday, June 2, 2014

A Rose by Any Other Name (‘70s Version, Monosyllabic Edition)

There's no shortage of funny names when it comes to ballplayers. Today, we're doing the short, sweet ones. Next week, we'll tackle the mouthfuls. And the week after that, we'll focus solely on astoundingly awful agglomerations of alliteration.

Are my eyes playing tricks on me, or is that the longest bat in the history of the major leagues?

You’ll find this a little hard to believe, but Boots was not this guy's real name. Nope, "Boots" was actually “Charles Frederick.”

Anyhoo, whatever his name is, this dude was up for six years, primarily as a backup outfielder. Over those six years, he totaled  1100-some at bats and eight (count them – eight!) homers. He’s still in baseball, at age 65, acting as a hitting coach for the independent league Evansville Otters.

Found this interesting link to a resolution in the NY State Senate, “Honoring Charles "Boots" Day upon the occasion of his induction into the Mohawk Valley Baseball Hall of Fame, February 11, 2012.” Thanks, Google!

When your real first name is Elliot, even a nickname like “Bump” sounds good.

Bump Wills is the son of Maury Wills. Bump was in the majors for six years, finishing with 3,000 at bats and not quite 200 steals. A real speedster like his dad, Bump still holds the Rangers record for steals in a year, with 52.

Bump later played in Japan, and is now a high school coach in Washington State.

Throop …  Isn’t that a childhood respiratory disease?

George Throop had a major league career of four years, but totaled only 42 innings. He finished with a perfect record, at 2-0.

Interestingly for such an odd name, there are several other George Throops out there, including a former chancellor of Washington University (in St. Louis) and some guy who’s walking across the country to raise awareness of something or other (sorry, I can't for the life of me remember what).

Oh, one final thing … Our George was a towering 6’7”.

Butch Edge ... Sounds like the name of a razor. A razor for real manly types.

Like Bump, Butch had a really lame first name. Poor Butch was actually born “Claude Lee.”  

His career, however, was more like George Throop’s. Somehow or other, though, Butch managed to package his 51 innings, record of 3-3, and ERA of 5.23 into only one year.

Uh, Butch? Maybe you could do something about those specs too, huh?

Too bad Bill’s not a Butch or a Boots or a Bump. Bump Zepp … I like it!

Bill’s career was rather Throopian as well. He played for three years, finishing with a 10-5 record. He actually started 20 games for the Twins once, in 1970.

Unfortunately, he also seems to have torn his UCL. And that was a couple of years before the recently departed Dr. Frank Jobe started whittling on Tommy John’s elbow. So that was pretty much it for our Bill.

By the way, tells me that Zepp is probably a variant of Zapp, which is itself a variant of Zapf, which means “bung” or “stopper,” which probably was given as a nickname to someone who owned a tavern or who may have simply been soused all the time

I’d like to buy a vowel …

Now, if this guy was called Collin, or Justin, or maybe even Larry, he may not have made it to this post. Combine Zdeb with Joe, though, and you’ve got a sure winner.

Joe was up for three seasons. Though he hit .272 overall, he only got 345 at bats. There’s a famous story about his coming to spring training with long hair (much longer than this). Spoiler alert: it didn’t go over too well.

Oh, the “e” is silent.

And here’s a tip of the hat to Frank Snook. He was up for 27 innings with the ‘73 Pads, but never got a card.

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