Y or Y Not?

Saturday, January 28 2006 @ 02:02 PM EST

Contributed by: Mick Doherty

This was intended to be a Hall of Names roster made up of players whose first/given name started with the letter "Y." (See Y is for Yount, Yastrzemski and ... Yan? for the last/family name All-Y team).

However, once we eliminate nicknames (sorry, Yogi) and middle names, it appears that only only 12 players in the history of the Great Game have made the major leagues with such a first/given name; and since five are pitchers and four are catchers, while we might form a fine battery or two, a roster just isn't going to happen.

Perhaps most interestingly ...

...just two of our Y-Not players appeared in the bigs before the 1990s, and none appeared during the 69-year stretch between 1922 and 1990, while fully half, six, were active during 2005. Who were these folks? Well ...

C Yamid Haad (.069, 1999 PIT, 2005 SFG)
C Yadier Molina (.256, 2004-05 STL)
C Yorvit Torrealba (.250, 2001-05 SFG, SEA)
C Yohanny Valera (0-for-10 with 2000 MON)
SS/2B Yuniesky Betancourt (.256 with 2005 SEA)
OF Yamil Benitez (.243, 1995-98)
OF Yale Yeastman "Tod" Sloan (.234, 1913, '17, '19 SLB)
RHSP/RP Yancy "Doc" Ayers (65-79, 1913-21)
RHRP Yorman Bazardo (0-0 in one game with 2005 FLA)
RHRP Yhency Brazoban (21 saves for 2005 LAD)
RHRP Yovanny Lara (0-0 for 2000 MON)
LHRP Yorkis Perez (14-15, 1991-2002)

Brazoban and Perez would anchor a decent bullpen if this were a full roster, while Ayers, the top starter, didn't even have the decency to go by his given name, opting for the tasteful nickname of "Doc," instead. Sloan, who went by "Tod," got several cuppajoes with the 19-teen Brownies and earns extra points for having the first AND middle initials Y.Y. Betancourt better have a heckuva lot of range to cover the entire infield, while we cannot confirm if Lara and Valera ever formed the game's only exclusviely Y-Not battery with the 2000 Expos.

Speaking of batteries, what is it that draws Y-given-name players to the catcher's box? Haad, Molina, Torrealba and Valera make the list above while the aforementioned Yogi Berra, along with Yo-Yo Epps and Clarence "Yam" Yaryan are disqualified on the nickname rule, as are IF/OF William "Yale" Murphy (guess where we went to college?) and RHSP Stan "Yank" Yerkes. It wasn't a nickname, and he actually went by it, but Yank Terry's birth certificate reads Lancelot Yank Terry, so he's out.

Sorry to many others of the same ilks, such as SS Yo-Yo Davalillo, RHRP Youngy Johnson, the several players with the middle name "Young" and of course, RHRP Ryan Yoshitomo Kurosaki, who might've at least made a good play on our long-ago All-Scrabble Hall of Names team.

So the obvious question out there is ... what unusual first-initial letter ("J," for instance, would be a bad example, thanks to Joe, Jim, John, Juan, Jose and others) allows you to build the most interesting (which may be quite different from "best") Hall of Names team?