It's taken some time -- almost two full calendar years -- but we've actually completed every single viable All-Alphabet team for Baseball's Hall of Names -- 26 letters in the English alphabet, 25 complete teams. (Here's proof: A * B * C * D * E * F * G * H * I * J * K * L * M * N * O * P * Q * R * S * T * U * V * W * X * Y * Z)
What? I mean, sure 96.2 percent is still an "A" in most schools, and there is the little matter of the fact that no player in major league history has ever made it to The Show with a last/family name beginning with the letter "X." Besides, we can tell ourselves, 25 is a nice, round, "baseball number" -- the size of an unexpanded regular season roster. (And, be forewarned, that little factoid is going to lead to a Hall of Names Batter's Box challenge come this off-season.)
But no "All-X" team, especially in this era of X-treme sports? Preposterous! So what to do? Actually, that's quite easy ...
... and we don't even have to go against the grain of all the previous Hall of Names teams by accepting the occasional "Xavier" first or middle name (there have only been nine total, anyway, and while another nice round baseball number, it wouldn't fill out a roster); no, instead, we're going to build a team entirely made up of players who had the letter "X" somewhere in their last or family name.
X-inclusive (X-clusive?) surnames
in the U.S. Top 1000 Common Surnames
Actually, that still leaves us with quite a small population to work from; in the United states, for instance, only 12 names with "X" somewhere in the them even appear anywhere on the list of the Top 1000 surnames in the United States, birthplace of The Great Game. (See table at left for complete list.)
And the rules for building the team remain quite specific; no exceptions for first/given names, even if they would make the team a whole lot better; so Alexander is #2 on the list at left, but Alex Rodriguez is not eligible to play short or third for this team; Maxwell is #5, but Hall of Fame OF Max Carey is not invited.
Junior Felix is eligible; Felix Millan, not so much. Mike Paxton, if he makes the squad, is welcome aboard; Paxton Crawford needs to stay home. By sticking to these rules, we are losing out on some great names (and pretty decent players) like Tex Hughson -- okay, that was a nickname anyway -- Dax Jones and the legendary Sixto Lezcano.
Speaking of nicknames and first names, we bid a fond farewell to the 10 Dixies, 16 guys named Max and eight dubbed Rex, not to mention the five nicknamed Mox or Moxie, two Roxys, a Roxey and a Roxie. And hopefully it would go without saying that we are not opening the doors to every single generic player who wore "Red Sox" or "White Sox" across their uniform.
And we did discover that in the long history of the Great Game, while you have your occasional Steve Sax and your Hall-of-Fame-bound Greg Maddux, at no time has there every been a player whose name, anyway, leads us to conclude, "Oh, in the end ... he -sux."
X-TRA INNINGS ... Our manager has more than 2000 career wins and has led his teams to 14 pennants and five World Series to date, though he's only won one so far ... That's right, it's Cooperstown-bound Bobby Cox ... Though other big league managers have included Charlie Fox (377-351, one pennant) and Russ Nixon (231-341), the bench coach really needs to be one of the greatest and most successful managers/coaches of all time, the University of Southern California's Rod Dedeaux ...
Yes, that's four Hall of Famers (two righties and two lefties, fortunately) fronting the starting rotation ... Okay, actually at this writing, three Hall of Famers plus a still-active Greg Maddux, but that's just a matter of time ... The guy in the fifth slot is one who once threw a perfect game for 13 innings and lost ... Harvey Haddix (136-113) just beats out his BBRef third-most-similar player, fellow lefty Joe Nuxhall (135-117), the youngest person ever to play major league ball when he debuted in Cincinnati at age 15, as well as righties like Doyle Alexander (194-174), Claude Hendrix (144-116) and Al Mamaux (76-67, and a two-time 20-game winner) ... Milt Wilcox was a solid citizen for the great Tiger teams of the 1980s, but a 119-113 career mark won't make it into THIS rotation, while the mystery of righty Nick Maddox -- 23-8 in 1908; 43-20 career, but done in 1910 at age 23 -- remains ...
It's a good thing that the rotation is so strong, because the bullpen is a bit dicier, especially at the front end, where southpaw Garland Braxton, who led the 1927 AL with 13 saves for Washington, is the default closer ... The bullpen could become a real family affair, as one of the leading 'pen candidates is none other than RHRP Mike Maddux, brother of the rotation's Greg, while the only other viable lefty down there right now is Bill Laxton, whose son Brett, a RHRP, was once traded for Jeremy Giambi but hasn't done anything else of note to make the team ...
Two of the great X-clusive names that WON'T end up on the roster are RHRP Steve Phoenix (0-0 in three games with 1994-95 OAK) and LHRP Jennings "Jinx" Poindexter, who even has an X-tra X in his nickname, and made it into 14 games with the 1936 Red Sox and 1939 Phillies ... The presence of a lefty closer means we can go with two right-handed long men, so the aforementioned Mike Paxton can join the elder Maddux ... You think righty setup men named Fox these days, you think Chad, correct? Well, he's been good, but Terry was even better ... That means apologies to two Foxes, Chad and Howie, AND to two Coxes, Danny and Casey, as the bullpen is now full ...
Okay, it's a bit of a reach to have Jimmie Foxx catching, but he did spend 108 games behind the plate in his career, and while he played significantly more at 1B and 3B, it's a real boon to the lineup to have him donning the tools of ignorance ... For one, it gets Richie Sexson into the lineup at 1B instead of being stuck with Gary Alexander, even with a 27-homer 1978 season on his resume, catching ... With Foxx behind the plate, we do need a defensively-minded backup, and that's not Alexander, and we don't know enough from the brief three-game 1884 career of Henry Oxley ... So that means Larry Cox is the backup backstop ...
Sexson beats out Mark Teixeira to start at 1B, though that may seem ridiculous by 2012 or so, but Tex's ability to play 3B also makes him a natural backup infielder at both corners ... Of course, Foxx can back up at both corners, too ... Other 1B who won't make the squad include 1932 AL batting champ Dale Alexander and former failed uber-prospect Billy Jo Robidoux, who ended up at .209 in parts of six seasons, but who still outperformed Brian Traxler, who was 1-for-11 with with the 1991 Dodgers.
The middle infield has a double play combination of Dal Maxvill and Nellie Fox, which won't let many grounders through the middle of the infield, while Steve Sax's bat beats out John Knox's glove (through he was a .274 career hitter with the Tigers) for the backup slot ... Dedeaux was also a major league shortstop, but had just the barest sip of coffee, with a single and an RBI in four AB (two games) with the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers ...
X-Games Manager Bobby Cox was a major league 3B for the NYY, but not even the best B. Cox to appear at the hot corner in New York City ... Billy Cox hit .262 in 11 seasons and flashed plenty of leather for the great Brooklyn Dodger teams, also putting in some time with the Orioles, where he preceded Hall of Famers George Kell and Brooks Robinson, and the Pirates, where he played next to Hall of Famer Arky Vaughan ...
Garry Maddox won eight Gold Gloves playing CF for the Phillies, and that's enough to push Otis Nixon over to LF ... Otis' career total of 620 SB demonstrates that he was, in fact, one Nixon who was a crook, ar at least a base thief ... Normally an OF, Charlie Maxwell is the DH because you don't want a guy who shares a name with a coffee that's "good to the last drop" patrolling the outfield, so Trot Nixon gets the job in RF ... Mike Devereaux, Pete Fox and Elliot Maddox are all the very definition of good reserve outfielders ... Of course. we already have a Maddox in the outfield, so just that randomly, Elliot gets the red card in his locker ...
Who's the utility guy? Well, Andy Fox has some World Series rings and is at .239 in nine seasons through 2004, having done everything but pitch and catch, but he doesn't quite match up with Charlie Dexter, who hit .261 with 183 SB in eight seasons over the turn of the 19th-into-20th century, but who caught nore than 100 games in addition to appearing everywhere but on the mound ...
Other X-ceptional players not making this squad include 3B/OF Ted Cox, a former Red Sox uber-prospect dealt to the Indians for Dennis Eckersley (actually, it was a six-player deal with one of the others sent BOS to CLE being our X-cellent long man Mike Paxton ... Ted Cox, for all the hype ended up at just .245 with 10 homers in five seasons, but that still outshone Robidoux ...
Let's not forget IF Manny Alexander, who's at .234 in nine seasons through 2004, and (no relation) OF Matt Alexander, who hit .214 with 103 SB and hung around for 14 seasons ... The greatness of Junior Felix (.264, 55 homers in six seasons) and fellow OF Gus Felix (.274 in five seasons) fall just short, as does the already-injury plagued career of young Texas OF Laynce Nix (.247/28/108 in his first season-plus) ... Laynce's little brother Jayson Nix, a 2B prospect, is still looking to make his big league debut with the Rockies ...
So at long last, meet ...
THE X-CLAMATION POINTS
What else are you gonna call the final one of 26 teams?
MGR Bobby Cox (2002 wins, 14 pennants, five flags, one title, through 2004)
Bench Coach: Rod Dedeaux (1332 wins, 11 national titles at USC)
C Jimmie Foxx**(.325, 534 homers, 9-time Al-Star, 3-time MVP)
1B Richie Sexson* (.271, 200 homers sthrough 2004)
2B Nellie Fox**(.288, 2663 hits, three GG, 1959 AL MVP)
SS Dal Maxvill (.217 in 14 seasons, '68 GG)
3B Billy Cox (.262 in 11 years)
LF Otis Nixon (.270, 620 SB in 17 years)
OF Garry Maddox (.285, 117 homers, 248 SB)
OF Trot Nixon (.280, 112 homers in eight years through 2004)
DH Charlie Maxwell* (.264, 148 homers in 14 years)
C Larry Cox (.221 in nine seasons)
COR IF Mark Teixeira* (100+ homers at age 25)
MID IF Steve Sax* (.281, 444 SB)
OF Pete Fox* (.298, 158 SB in 13 seasons)
OF Mike Devereaux (.254, 105 homers in 12 seasons)
UTIL Charlie Dexter (.261, 183 SB)
RHSP Pete Alexander** (373-208)
LHSP Sandy Koufax** (165-87)
RHSP Greg Maddux* (305-174 through 2004)
LHSP Eppa Rixey** (266-251)
5SP-LH Harvey Haddix* (136-113)
CL-LH Garland Braxton (Led '27 AL in saves with 13 for WAS)
RH-SET Terry Fox (29-19, 59 saves in 7 years)
LH-SET Bill Laxton (3-10, five saves in five years)
RH-LONG Mike Maddux (39-37, 20 saves in 15 years)
RH-LONG Mike Paxton (30-24 in four years)
So that's it, BauXites ... are you X-cited about this squad? I can guarantee you I missed some people, so any additional options you can provide will earn you X-tra credit!