Well, It's My Birthday, Too
No, seriously, today really is my birthday. And in my best Jack Benny voice, I can tell you that I'm 39 today. (Really. I was celebrating my third birthday at the Toledo Zoo while Neil Armstrong was taking "one small step.")
So I thought I'd build myself a little Narcissism Central Hall of Names team to celebrate -- what,. an All-Mick(ey) team? Well, yes, but that comes tomorrow.
First, here's the start of what may or may not turn out to be 366 short Hall of Names teams ... it's the All-July 20 team. And against all odds, although only 32 men total have made the majors having been born on that date -- none on my actual birthday, alas -- two of them even made the higher-level All-July team, the July Franks, which debuted here more than a year ago.
If you want to build an all-birthday team of your own for Batter's Box Interactive Magazine ...
... just drop me a line and I'll send you a note with instructions, and I'll get it published for you, under your byline, on the appointed day.
These rosters are a bit pared down, since there are far fewer players to choose from than with a "normal" Hall of Names team (if there is such a thing) with just a 13-man roster including the nine lineup regulars, one utilityman, two starting pitchers and a closer.
Even at that, we had to cut a few corners to put this team together.
We learned quickly, for instance, that the collection of players born on July 20 could also be known as "The Land of the Backup Catchers," which further limited the talent pool.
The pool was so limited, in fact, that we were forced to go with two men named "Heinie," including the squad's only Hall of Famer. However, there was at least one other player with Hall of Fame talent born on 7/20, Tony Oliva, who is going to play in this team's outfield as we will go with his pre-ravaged-knees Gold Glove form in constructing this roster.
To get a presentable lineup on the field, we are also going to move Mickey Stanley from his usual outfield position to the infield -- but unlike his famous 1968 World Series move to shortstop, he will instead take residence on the 7/20 squad's hot corner, where he did play 18 games in his career. Counting the '68 Series, he played 81 at short, so we're pretty confident he can handle third base.
Now here's ...
The All-July 20 Team
**indicates Hall of Famer
MGR: Nobody born on 7/20 has ever managed in the big leagues
C Bengie Molina (.269, two Gold Gloves through 2004)
1B Gene Hasson (.293 in 47 games with 1937-38 PHA)
2B Heinie Mueller (.253, 1938-41 PHI)
SS Otto Bluege (.213 in 108 games, 1933 CIN)
3B Mickey Stanley (.248 over 15 years, did all but P, C)
LF Tony Oliva* (.304, three-time AL batting champ)
CF Gary Woods (original Jay hit .243 over nine years)
RF Heinie Manush** (.330, 1923-39)
DH Charles Johnson* (.246, 167 homers, four Gold Gloves)
UTIL John Hatfield (.279, 1871-76 NY Mutuals; did all but C)
RHSP Mike Witt* (117-116)
LHSP Oscar Graham (4-9 for 1907 WSH)
CL John Lamb (1970-73 PIT; 5 saves leads all 7/20 players)
Not many apologies to offer to those who didn't make the cut, but even with two catchers in the starting lineup, another four didn't make the squad; the best players left off the team were probably RHSP Don Black and LHRP Mark Lee, so that should tell you something.
Happy Birthday to me, and especially to Mickey Stanley, who seems likely to make both of the narcissistic Hall of Names teams I am publishing this week.
Postscript: an unofficial count indicates that this is the 100th Hall of Names story ever published, so my narcissism also begets a milestone!