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As we head into the vowel homestretch of our All-Letter teams, having completed E, I, U and even sometimes Y, we turn our attention to the formation of an O-squad. But let's try something a bit different and start with a little essay trivia question.

Since you can get the answer just by clicking "More," you're on your honour here, but how many of the Top 10 home run hitters among "O" players can you name?

Now, if you're into reading headlines, you surely have the only "O" member of the 500 homer club already, and likely one of the other nine as well. Here's a hint or two: three of the 10 (#3, #8 and #10, actually) are still active. Two of them made significant contributions to Canadian baseball -- one (#3) as a Blue Jay and one (#6) as an Expo.

But seriously, these are hard!

Top 10 "O" Home Run Hitters

  1. Mel Ott 511
  2. Paul O'Neill 281
  3. John Olerud 248 (through May 2005)
  4. Ben Oglivie 235
  5. Tony Oliva 220
  6. Al Oliver 219
  7. Amos Otis 193
  8. Magglio Ordonez 187 (through May 2005)
  9. Pete O'Brien 169
  10. David Ortiz 142 (through May 2005)
There have been almost 300 major league baseball players with a last or family name beginning with the letter "O." (Actually, 294 overall to be precise, including one actually named "Overall.") For the record, this does include the 96 men whose last or family name begins with "O'" such as the 25 (!) O'Briens and 19th century Hall of Fame outfielder Jim O'Rourke.

But including O'Rourke, there have only been two "O" inductees to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown, the other being the aforementioned hOme run king, Ott.

"O"DDS & ENDS ... Orval Overall, also mentioned earlier, is one of just seven O-players to have notched at least 100 wins in his career ... The all-time leader -- admit it, you wouldn't have gotten this without looking it up -- is a turn-of-the-20th-century righty who bore the nickname "The Curveless Wonder," Al Orth ... Claude Osteen, the man who became the LA Dodgers top lefty after some guy named Koufax retired, just missed with his 196-195 career mark ... Speaking of just missing, former Reds All-Star lefty Jim O'Toole couldn't quite become the eighth "O" to scale the single-century mark, retiring at the age of 30 with a 98-84 mark.

Down in the bullpen, saves-wise anyway, you've got the righty Gregg Olson with 217 and ageless LOOGY Jesse Orosco with 144, then a steep drop to another righty/lefty combo tied at 48, in the tragically short career of Steve Olin and Billy O'Dell, a lefty who won 19 games in the rotation of the '62 NL pennant-winning Giants ... only five O pitchers have amassed at least 1000 career strikeouts, with Osteen's meager 1612 leading the way ...

These O-Boys (hmmm, I think we may have a team nickname in the works there) sure didn't care too much for running, as just 12 of them cracked the 100 career stolen base barrier ... Amos Otis' 341 nudges out the lyrically named Darby O'Brien's 321 for the all-time lead ... But give O'Brien, an outfielder with the 19th century New York Metropolitans and Brooklyn Bridegrooms, some extra credit -- he swiped his bags in just six big league seasons, with a career best of 91, while Otis took 17 years and topped out at 52 ... And yes, Amos, the stolen base rules were somewhat uh, less stringent back then.

As for the leader, the skipper, the head coach, the big kahuna of these O-Boys, well, just 13 men with an O surname have managed in the big leagues, and three of them -- Ott, O'Rourke and Jack O'Connor -- are almost certain to make the team as players ... Since we will try to avoid player/manager situations where we can, that leaves us with only a couple of legitimate candidates ...

Danny Ozark (618-542) managed for seven and a half seasons, seven in Philadelphia and a half or so with the Giants, piloted three pennant winners and two 100-game winners, but never took the Phils to the World Series, much less won it ... Johnny Oates (797-746) managed four seasons in Baltimore and six-plus years in Texas, and like Ozark, captured three division crowns but never took his team to The Classic ... He also never managed a team to more than 95 wins, and his .517 career winning percentage trails Ozark's .533 by just a tick, so Ozark takes the reins and Oates is the bench coach and manager-in-waiting.

It might seem strange that one of the team's few Hall of Famers, O'Rourke, doesn't end up in the starting lineup ... But the .311 career hitter, while primarily an OF, played every position while in thebigs, including 227 behind the plate and six on the mound, so he's actually an idea super-utility player ...

Another OF, William "Darby" O'Brien, the previously-named O-team steals leader, also doesn't quite make the cut ... Nor does his namesake John "Darby" O'Brien, a RHSP of the same (late 19th century) era who won 22 games one year, but was just 59-65 career ...

Speaking of namesakes, there have been two Steve Ontiveroses ... Ironically the better of the two is not the one to make the team since 3B was a much scarcer position than RHSP, even if the hurler was a 1995 All-Star and the 1994 AL ERA champ ... I mean, who else is going to play 3B? Kevin Orie?

If we were just looking for cool "crossover" names, surely we'd find space for RHRP Ozzie Osborn (3-0 for the '75 CHW) and Tip O'Neill (a .326-hitting OF who also had a career 3.39 ERA in 36 games/33 starts) ... Other cool names include Jack O'Neill (what, you don't watch Stargate: SG-1??), Skinny O'Neal, Queenie O'Rourke, Peaches O'Neill, Rebel Oakes, Blue Moon Odom (and Heinie Odom -- think about it), Rowland Office, Chi-Chi Olivo, Stubby Overmire and Ole Olesen ... Whew!

Every team seems to have one problematic position, and even with Ontiveros the 3B-by-default, the hot corner ain't it for the O-Boys ... instead, midway across the diamond, we are left with a conundrum of mediocrity (relatively speaking), including Ken Oberkfell -- who won the job mostly because I personally remember him as being slightly better than Jorge Orta or Ron Oester. Other almost identical candidates include Danny O'Connell and Frank O'Rourke, as well as Spike Owen and Rey Ordonez ... Not exactly a Ryne O'Sandberg in the bunch ...

Another middle infielder not making the team, but deserving of mention for the games he didn't play in, is Ray Oyler hit .135 as the regular SS for the 1968 champion Tigers, who you might recall moved outfielder Mickey Stanley to shortstop to take on the Cardinals ...

Other late cuts included OFs Ben Oglivie, a .273 hitter with 235 career homers and Magglio Ordonez, who if he can stay healthy, will pass Benji's homer total in a few years ... Say -- Oyler, Oglivie and Ordonez all played for the Tigers, a propos of nothing ...

The last right-lefty pitching combo cut from the squad is the portsider Fritz Ostermueller, who was 114-115 career and won between 10 and 13 seven times, and Orval Overall, who finished up 108-71 and won 20 twice ... Overall has now taken the, uh, overall lead in "most times mentioned in a single Hall of Names article in which the player didn't actually make the team" ... We would've liked to have found room for a couple of former backup Buc backstops (say that three times fast) in Ed Ott, who has the shortest name in baseball history at five letters, and Junior Ortiz, the quintessential backup C for more than a decade ... But it's not to be, boys ... In fact, these boys won't be Boyz as we meet ...

**indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star

MGR Danny Ozark (618-542)
Bench Coach: Johnny Oates (797-746)

C Mickey Owen* (somehow almost won '42 NL MVP; Ott was 3rd)
1B John Olerud* (.295, 248 homers through 2004)
2B Ken Oberkfell (.278 over 16 seasons)
SS Ivy Olson (.256 mostly for CLE, BRK, 1911-24)
3B Steven R. Ontiveros (.274 in 8 MLB seasons; .312 in six Japan seasons)
LF Al Oliver* (.303, 2743 hits)
CF Amos Otis* (.277, 193 homers, 341 SB)
RF Mel Ott** (.304, 511 homers)
DH Tony Oliva* (.304; if DH had come along 10 years sooner, he'd be in Hall)

C Bob O'Farrell (Mike Scioscia type hit .273 over 21 seasons)
UTIL Jose Offerman (.274 over 14 seasons, did everything but P, C)
IF Jose Oquendo (You did see ESPN Classic's Utilityman: Quest for Cooperstown?)
OF Lefty O'Doul* (started as LHRP, ended up .349 career hitter as OF)
OF Paul O'Neill* (.288, 281 homers)
UTIL Jim O'Rourke** (.311, 2643 hits)

RHSP Al Orth (204-189; 27-17 in 1906)
LHSP Claude Osteen* (196-195, two-time 20-game winner)
RHSP Russ Ortiz (103-60 through 2004)
LHSP Jim O'Toole (81-55 from 1960-64; 98-85 career)
RHSP Roy Oswalt* (63-27 through 2004)

CL-RH Gregg Olson* (217 saves)
LHRP Jesse Orosco* (144 saves)
RHRP Steve Olin (29 saves in 1992)
LHRP Billy O'Dell* (All-Star in '58-'59 despite just 24-23, eight saves)
LONG-LH Bobby Ojeda (115-98)

Now, to choose a national anthem ... "The Star-Spangled Banner" begins "O, say can you see" ... But this is about names, and that anthem up north is actually titled "O, Canada" ...

O is for Osteen, Olerud and Ott | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Hartley - Wednesday, June 08 2005 @ 01:24 AM EDT (#119067) #
You forgot to add to your list an important O player.

Former Red Sox,Tigers and Brewers outfielder
Ben Oglivie- He was tied with Reggie Jackson with 41 Home Runs in 1980.

Mike Green - Wednesday, June 08 2005 @ 09:44 AM EDT (#119074) #
Ken Oberkfell at second base is not a good idea. He was an adequate defensive third baseman, but Oquendo would be a better choice at second.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, June 08 2005 @ 10:12 AM EDT (#119075) #
Oglivie is mentioned, Hartley, he just didn't make the team. Mike, I certainly have plenty of options at 2B and can't really say why I went with Oberkfell ... If I made a change, I'd lean toward going with Oester and leaving Oquendo in the utility role.
Mike Green - Wednesday, June 08 2005 @ 10:21 AM EDT (#119077) #
Oester would be fine; it's the OBP hound in me that would make me choose Oquendo. He was pretty good in that department in his prime, as well as being a good defender at second.

O is for Osteen, Olerud and Ott | 4 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.