When you search the greatness of BaseballReference.com for MLB figures
born on Dec. 31 -- New Year's Eve babies, as it were -- there are 30
names returned. However, two of them -- one a manager (Jim Tracy), the
other a Hall of Fame umpire (Tom Connolly) -- were never actually players, so we are looking at a list of 28 options to build a team.
All that means, of course, is that we must be steadfast and, uh, resolute, in our team-building of ... (wait for it) ...
The New Year's Eve Resolutions
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star
This is actually a pretty decent team, given that nearly half, of our 28 roster candidates were or are pitchers, meaning we'll have to stretch a bit to fill out a lineup and possibly have a short bench. Let's see what happens ...
MGR Jim Tracy (never played MLB; 494-478 through 2006)
Player/Coach King Kelly** (173-148, one flag as player/manager)
C King Kelly** (.308, mostly as OF and C)
1B Al Lakeman (.203, 1942-49; mostly a C, 31 games at 1B)
2B Jose Baez (.245, 1977-78 SEA)
SS Bobby Byrne (mostly 3B; .254, 176 SB, 1907-17; 5 games at SS)
3B Al Metcalf (.219, 7-for-32, 1875 New York Mutuals)
LF Walt Goldsby (.243, 1884-88)
CF Donell Nixon (.275, 47 SB, parts of 1987-90)
RF Joe Simpson (.242, 1975-83; 3.00 in 2G as LHRP, 1983 KCR)
DH Sil Campusano (.218, 1988 TOR; .202 career)
C Fats Dantonio (.244, 1944-45 BRK)
2B Howard Berry (2-for-6, 1921-22 NYG)
3B/OF Charlie Flannigan (0-for-3, 1913 SLB)
OF Tom Berry (1-for-4 1871 PHA)
OF Loyd Christopher (.243, 1945, '47)
UTIL Pete Sweeney (did all but P, C; .203, 1888-90)
RHSP Esteban Loaiza (123-108, 12 years through '06)
LHSP Tommy Byrne* (85-69, 1943-57)
RHSP Fred Beebe (62-83, 1906-11, '16)
LHSP Ted Gray* (59-74, 1946-55)
RHSP Brian Moehler (63-79, 10 years through '06)
CL-RH Rick Aguilera* (86-81, 318 saves)
LH-SET Sam McConnell (1-0, 2004 ATL)
RH-SET Chris Reitsma (32-44, 37 saves, six years through '06)
LH-LONG Steve Engel (1-5, 1985 CHC)
RH-LONG Syl Johnson (112-117, 42 saves, 1922-40)
Auld Lang Syne-ing Off ... The only players born on this day not making the squad at all were LHRP Jim Murray, who threw six innings of relief for the 1922 Dodgers; RHRP Manny Muniz, who was 0-1 in relief for the 1971 Pbillies; and RHRP Ken Rowe, who was 2-1 with the Dodgers and Orioles from 1963-65 ... Yes, Donell Nixon is the kid brother of the legendary Otis Nixon, and though little brother was two years younger -- and had a higher career batting average (.275-.270) -- Donell left the game nine years earlier ...
You can make a lot of lineup adjustments -- and account for the fact that a backup catcher is starting at 1B! -- with the versatility of player/coach/starting C (and Hall of Famer) Mike "King" Kelly ... Kelly played at least a dozen big league games at all nine positions from 1878-1893 and was 2-2 with a 3.79 career ERA as a RHRP, though with Lakeman and Simpson also around as position players who pitched in the big leagues, there would be small likelihood of him being called on in that area ... A .308 career hitter, Kelly was power-speed before Rickey Henderson's parents were born ... His 69 career homers put him on the league's top 10 leaderboard six times, while his 368 career steals landed in the top 10 five times ...
Starting SS Bobby and rotation stalwart Tommy were both Byrnes, but apparently unrelated -- not that sharing a birth date would in any way suggest relation, especially since they were born 35 years apart, so it's fairly likely they weren't twins ...
In the big picture, any team with two All-Star lefties in the rotation, an All-Star closer in the bullpen and a Hall of Famer behind the plate can't be all bad as a year-ender, eh? ... Still, with Sil Campusano in the starting lineup and Esteban Loiaza fronting the rotation thismight be a team Torontonians have a hard time rooting for ...