The Big Boppers

Tuesday, October 25 2005 @ 09:00 AM EDT

Contributed by: Mike Green

Jazz shares history with baseball, rising in the Roaring Twenties, and falling late last century. And now, we'll try to get jazz and baseball to share a team.

The rules are the same as ever. We need an exact last name match. First names and nicknames won't help us. So, Canada's own pianist Oscar Peterson will not give us Oscar Charleston, but rather Fritz Peterson. Don't know how he'll do without Mike Kekich's family around to give support...Duke Ellington was one helluva bandleader, but still won't give us Duke Snider, and in fact there have been no Ellingtons to play major league ball...There was a Duke Gillespie (now that's what I call a loaded jazz name), but his career was, sad to say, brief and painful..And why exactly the Angel of Harlem did not spell her last name Halladay is a mystery to me.

We're also trying to stick with jazz artists of some renown. Woody Allen played clarinet every Monday at Michael's Pub in New York, but we can't take Dick Allen on his account. Freddie Green chugged away on the rhythm guitar namelessly, so we can't claim Dick Green for him.


Duke Ellington and Count Basie were great with little sticks in their hand, but lacked namesakes who were good with big sticks...Tito Puente, the great Cuban bandleader, (he of the original Oye Como Va) comes close with Tito Fuentes and his name rhymes with Clemente, but that's not good enough...Artie Shaw gives a piece for the bullpen with Jeff Shaw, but it is Woody Herman and namesake second baseman Billy Herman who is the real leader of this band.


Ella Fitzgerald would be so nice to come home to, but gives us only longtime Expo catcher Mike Fitzgerald..Sarah Vaughan helps us finish off the double play combination with Pirate great Arky...Alberta Hunter was a fine singer into her 80s and contributes Catfish to our team...but Billie Holiday has no baseball namesakes..Bessie Smith gives us a range of options from Ozzie to Reggie, but we need a closer more than anything, so Lee it is.


Here's where we make hay. Charlie Parker puts us in a fine mood with's no wonder with their shared affection for enhancers...Free jazzer Ornette Coleman appropriately gives us speedster Vince Coleman mainly to pinch-run...We need help at the top of the rotation and Lester Young leaps in to help with namesake Cy...Primo Trombonist J.J. Johnson holds the big unit and gives us the Big Unit...Father-son combo Dewey and Joshua Redman share the credit for lefty Mark who will be a long man in our pen...Trumpeter Miles Davis gives us a bitches brew of options...we'll take Eric the Red in centre...The great Chet Baker's namesake Frank (Home Run) will play in our hot corner every night...Dexter Gordon was fine 'round midnight and his namesake Joe was fine 'round the bag...LA session man and Joni Mitchell cohort Tom Scott leads us to Houston pitcher Mike...Wynton Marsalis, John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy will have to lay out on this tune...mercy be, so will Cannonball Adderly and Wayne Shorter.


Oscar Peterson's namesake Fritz will fit nicely in the swing man role...Errol Garner gives us Phil Garner, who will manage this unruly band of individualists...Dr. John tickles the ivories about the same way as pitching namesake Tommy heaved the horsehide..we'll use him in relief, which will be easier on his arm...Bop great Bud Powell was light and airy, words never associated with his namesake the large slugging firstbaseman Boog...Elvin Jones contributes Chipper...The deft and sensitive Bill Evans is matched by the deft and not-so-sensitive Dwight Evans...Vibraphonist and Modern Jazz Quartet founder Milt Jackson gives us DH Reggie..Fats Waller was black and blue, and Thelonius Monk was melodious (thunk!), but alas no ballplayers come from their tasty stews...Earl (Fatha) Hines boasted no baseball progeny of any import...Buddy Rich and Max Roach share names with Woody Rich and Mel Roach...don't ask.


Guitarist Wes Montgomery leads to KC closer and our set-up man Jeff Montgomery...Larry Carlton give us lefty Steve...Bassist Stanley Clarke could have given us longtime Yankee Horace, but we chose Hall of Fame outfielder Fred instead...No offence, Mick...Ron Carter gives us the Kid to catch...he'll do...Jean-Luc Ponty, Stephane Grappelly, Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian were masters of the strings, but don't have ballplaying namesakes of any import, but gypsy guitarist Reinhardt's ability to play the guitar despite two severely burned fingers is echoed in baseball by the accomplishments of Jim Abbott...Trivia: Jimi Hendrix' band the Band of Gypsies was named in honour of Reinhardt.


There are some mighty fine leftovers, who didn't quite make our jazz team. Ragtime pianist Jelly Roll Morton would have given us Expo pitcher Carl... Soprano saxist Sonny Rollins ("St. Thomas") has 60s Twins outfielder Rich and current Phillies shortstop Jimmy...Coleman Hawkins had body and soul; pitching namesake Andy had a fair arm...The great Louis Armstrong sires the not-so-great Reds' starter Jack...Carmen McRae was nice, Hal not so much...Guitarist George Benson breezed in briefly and could give us Kris Benson, but putting Fritz Peterson and Kris Benson on the same team would be asking for trouble.

So, without further ado, let's introduce the...


**-Hall of Fame
Mgr- Phil Garner*

C -Gary Carter**
1B -Boog Powell*(330 homers, 1000 walks)
2B -Joe Gordon*(1942 AL MVP, 253 career homers)
SS -Arky Vaughan**(.318 with power and plate discipline)
3B -Home Run Baker**
RF -Dwight Evans*
CF -Eric Davis* (282 homers, 349 steals, about 30 home runs saved)
LF -Fred Clarke**(.300 hitter with power)
DH -Reggie Jackson**

C -Mike Fitzgerald
CI -Chipper Jones*(.300 career hitter, 331 homers and counting)
MI -Billy Herman**(.304 career average)
OF -Vince Coleman* (752 career SBs)
OF -Dave Parker*(best player in the game 77-79)

RHSP - Cy Young**
LHSP - Randy Johnson*
RHSP - Catfish Hunter**
LHSP - Steve Carlton**
RHSP - Mike Scott*(1986 Cy Young, great from 85-90)

CL - Lee Smith*
RSet - Jeff Montgomery*
LSet - Tommy John*
RMid - Jeff Shaw*
LLong- Mark Redman
Swing- Fritz Peterson*

So jazzbo Bauxites, how can we make this team better? After all, it don't mean a thing...unless they can teach the "back in black" rockers a thing or two about ball.