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You may have heard, there's a little election going on over in Rome. I'm not quite sure if the final Pope candidate debates have been scheduled for CNN or not, or if the various people running for Pope are ...

Oh, never mind. I was raised Catholic, and these jokes are too easy. For now, we honor the process of dissecting candidates for an All-Pope Hall of Names team. First, we'll honor the latest in the long line of papal All-Stars, then work our way through the ranks any former altar boy would know -- Pope ... Cardinal ... Bishop ... Priest ... Deacon.

In the interest of sparing our sanity, we won't bother trying to build a roster of this motley -- er, saintly -- crew of ballplayers.

There have been 12 men named John Paul to play major league baseball (dare we call them "baseball's 12 apostles"?); shockingly, Angels C Josh Paul has not been nickamed "Pope Josh Paul," even, as far as we can tell, by Chris Berman. The best tangent nickname among these dozen belonged to "Admiral" John Paul Jones, who pitched back in 1919-20, when schoolchildren might have still known who John Paul Jones, the naval hero, was.

Amazingly,the 1961-62 BAL teams featured a RHRP named John Paul Papa - and Papa, of course, is Italian for "Pope," so essentially they featured "Pope, John Paul" in the bullpen. Whether or not that factoid gets us to "Cool Papa" Bell is a matter of debate for another time, though legend has it that Cool Papa was so fast, he could cross the Sea of Galilee without a boat and without getting wet.

The best of the John Pauls, believe it or not, was probably 11-year part-timer John Paul Wehner, the man who hit the last home run in Three Rivers Stadium and who set the record for most consecutive chances by a 3B without an error.

Only one man actually named "Pope" has appeared in a major league uniform -- OF Dave Pope who hit .265 in 230 games for 1952-56 BAL and CLE.

There has alo only been one man named "Cardinal" in major league history -- RHRP Conrad Cardinal, 0-1, 3.16 in six games for '63 HOU, who also appeared on the Giving Baseball the Bird all-avian team a while back.

However, especially in light of the very real possibility of the first Latin American pope being named, we might make also make allowances for Jose Cardenal, who also made a somewhat debatable appearance earlier this week on the controversial Junior Achievement squad.

And yes, there have been thousands of Cardinals in major league history if you count the guys who suited up for St. Louis. If you're looking for that kind of All-Cardinal team, try the outstanding work done over at Redbird Nation.

Just two men named "Priest" have broken vows in the majors -- 2B/3B Johnny Priest, who played 10 games for the 1911-12 Yankees, and LHSP Eddie Priest, who took to the hill twice for the 1998 Cincinnati Reds, lasting a total of six innings and compiling a 10.50 ERA.

Of course, many priests are also pastors, bringing to mind a slightly more effective former Reds phenom, RHSP Frank Pastore, who burned out quickly after starting 19-14 in 1979-80, and who, appropriately enough, ended up becoming a minister by profession.

And yes, we might as well recognize, that in the spirit of the "Cardinals" comment above, there have been hundreds and hundreds of "Padres" to play major league baseball.

Rising above the crowded floor of 17 major leaguers who have been nicknamed "Deacon" is OF Maurice Archdeacon, who inexplicably hit .333 in 384 AB for the 1923-25 CHW, then disappeared, never to be seen in a major league park again.

Of those who bore the nickname Deacon, the best player was probably Vern "Deacon" Law, who was 162-147 in 16 seasons, all with the Pirates -- only an All-Star once, in 1960, also his only 20-win season. However, you can make a decent case for an earlier Pirate RHSP, Deacon Phillipe, who was 189-109, from 1899-1911, including six 20-win seasons in a seven-year period and a career ERA of 2.59. Actually, Law's career ERA+ was 101, while Phillipe's was 120, so maybe not so much a "decent case" as a dead-set lock.

Either way, Law or Phillipe is the best player because of the presence of Hall of Fame manager Deacon Bill McKechnie, who compiled an 1896-1723 career mark and won two titles, one with the '26 Pirates and one with the '39 Reds -- he was also the first manager to win pennants with three different National League clubs, Pittsburgh (1925), St. Louis (1928) and Cincinnati (1939-40).

There must be something about Deacons, leadership and longevity -- McKechnie played for 11 years and managed for 25; Deacon McGuire played for 26 years and managed for six more. Deacon White played for 20 years and managed in parts of two.

Then there's Tom "Parson" Nicholson, who also went by "Deacon," primarily a 2B whose best season was hitting .268 for the 1890 Toledo Maumees (precursor to the Mud Hens made famous by Jamie Farr on M*A*S*H). If you've ever spent time in Toledo -- and I was there for the better part of a decade -- you'll understand why a man would acquire as many religious nicknames as possible.

Okay, who's missing? We've focused on religious titles and honorifics here, to the exclusion of players like OF Altar Green, 2B Johnny Temple, OF Ryan Church and fictional Kevin Costner perfect game owner Billy Chapel. As far as I can tell, there has never been a ballplayer named (or even nicknamed) Minister, Imam or Rabbi.

But surely someone is missing? So let's be creative as the election goes on in those far-off Rome Chambers -- incidentally, the name of a LHRP who lasted four innings in one appearance for the 1900 Boston Beaneaters.

A Pope-Up in Fair Territory | 12 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mike Green - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 08:59 AM EDT (#112594) #
Max Bishop was a fine second baseman.
Mick Doherty - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 09:07 AM EDT (#112595) #
Oh, God! (Pun intended.) I skipped over "Bishop" entirely!

There have been eight men named "Bishop" -- and Mike is right, Max was easily the best of them.

I suppose if we're going the other direction (from Pope *upward*) we might also consider Randy St. Clair and Angel Berroa ... insert "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim" reference here to match the earlier Padres and Cardinals references, too.
Mike Green - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 09:31 AM EDT (#112598) #
Would Larry or Lance Parrish fit the bill?
GreenMonster - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 10:53 AM EDT (#112606) #
And what about Elwin "Preacher" Roe? I think he'd make the team: 116 lifetime ERA+, 127-84 career W-L record, 5-time All-Star, two complete game World Series victories.
GreenMonster - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 11:07 AM EDT (#112610) #
And don't forget all of the Sextons who keep churches going--although their team would be much better if we include a particular Sexson. I wonder if Father Kelly needs to be considered for the team as well.
Jordan - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 11:18 AM EDT (#112611) #
This is really a stretch, but can we get some church Bells (Gus/Buddy/George) ringing?
Jordan - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 12:54 PM EDT (#112623) #
Judging from the news from Rome, it appears that we can now add Bruce Benedict to the lineup.
Magpie - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 07:37 PM EDT (#112657) #
Shurely, this is the appropriate place to remember Deacon White, one of the first players to battle against the reserve clause, circa 1889:

"I will say this. No man is going to sell my carcass unless I get half."

Ahead of his time.

Mike Green - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 10:02 PM EDT (#112784) #
Oh, Magpie, you've hit on a Mick sore spot. He did mention Deacon White is his piece. Mulligan!
Matthew E - Tuesday, April 19 2005 @ 10:19 PM EDT (#112790) #
Let's not forget guys like Miguel Batista and Dave Concepcion.

And I think it's obvious who the general manager of this team has to be...
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 10:10 AM EDT (#112826) #
Keith "Cardinal" Law?
Matthew E - Wednesday, April 20 2005 @ 11:00 PM EDT (#112979) #
John Paul Ricciardi.
A Pope-Up in Fair Territory | 12 comments | Create New Account
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