Last year -- okay, yesterday, but that's still last year -- we built a Hall of Names team of players born on New Year's Eve, Dec. 31. Today, New Year's Day, has been more prolific in producing big league talent, with 48 players to the previous day's 28. That, of course, means ... uh, something.
And actually, it's 47 players and one manager who never played big league ball in Bill McGunnigle, who led the 1889-90 Brooklyn Bridegrooms to back-to-back league titles in two different leagues, the 1889 American Association and the 1890 National League. Could he lead this New (Year's) Age team to such success? Let's find out as we meet ...
The New Year's Daytrippers
** indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star
MGR Bill McGunnigle (327-248, parts of five seasons, 1888-1896)
C Dave Zearfoss (.208, 1896-98 NYG, 1904-05 STL)
1B Hank Greenberg** (331 homers; 1935, '40 AL MVPs; more career BB than K)
2B Joe Pittman (some SS/3B, hit .263, 1981-82, '84)
SS Frank Connaughton (.345, 1894 BSN; briefly with 1896 NYG, 1906 BSN)
3B Fernando Tatis (.298/34/107 with '99 STL; never an All-Star)
LF Lynn Jones (.252, 1979-86)
CF Ethan Allen (.300 career hitter, 1926-38)
RF Hack Miller (.322 career, 1200 AB, parts of 1916-25)
DH Earl Torgeson (.265, 149 homers, 133 SB, 1947-61; mostly 1B)
C Al Stokes (.181, 1925-26 BOS)
IF Tom Downey (.240, 1909-15, four teams; 2B/SS/3B)
IF Foster Castleman (.226/14/45 as '56 NYG 3B; .205 career, 1954-58)
OF/2B/3B Joe Martin (.219, two teams, 1903)
OF Hugh Nicol (.235, 1881-90; 383 SB)
OF Sherry Robertson (.230, 1940-43, '46-'52)
RHSP Tim Keefe** (342-225, 1880-93; CG in 554 of 600 career games)
LHSP Bob Owchinko (37-60, 1976-86)
RHSP La Marr Hoyt* (98-68, 1979-86; 1983 AL CYA at 24-10)
RHSP Ned Garvin (57-97, 1896-1904)
RHSP Carl Scheib (45-65, 1943-54; WWII debut at age 16 in 1943)
RHRP Charlie Devens (5-3, 1932-34 NYY)
LHRP Roberto Rivera (1-2, 1995 CHC, 1999 SDP)
LHRP Royce Lint (2-3, 1954 STL)
LH-LONG Rafael Roque (5-8, 1998-2000 MIL)
RHS-LONG Charlie Bishop (10-22, 1952-55)
New Year's Wishes ... Among those pitchers not making the squad was RHSP Bumpus Jones, who was just 2-4 in 1892 and '93, but who threw a no-hitter in his first MLB outing, the only pitcher ever to do so ... Jones is also the least likely pitcher in major league history to pitch a no-hitter, at least according to Bill James' "Expected No-Hitters" formula ...
With Owchinko the only lefty in the rotation, and not exactly an All-Star at that, the bullpen is overloaded with guys who throw from that side -- but still, there is no defined "closer" like the New Year's Eve team had with Rick Aguilera ... Actually, with seven career saves, Owchinko has as good an argument as anyone to be at the back of the bullpen for this team, but will have to "settle" for his left-handedness landing him the #2 slot in the rotation ...
Other pitchers not making the team include a host of cuppajoes in righties Kevin Beirne, Gary Wilson, Hiker Moran, Charlie Schmutz, Monty Swartz and Andy Bruckmiller, as well as lefty Gene Host ... Those seven combined to string together a career won/loss mark of 5-11, with Beirne's 3-3 leading the way; Torontonians might remember Beirne, as he came to the Jays as part of the ill-fated David Wells/Mike Sirotka trade ...
Oh, one other pitcher not making the roster was Jake Livingstone, who pitched two games and 12 innings for the 1901 NYG; which hand he threw with is a mystery of history, but we do know that he is one of four players in MLB annals to have been born in Russia ... Then there's the story of RHSP Monty Swartz, who lost his only decision in his only appearance with the 1920 Reds; the interesting tidbit is that the loss was a 12-inning complete game for Swartz, who managed to also go 2-for-4 in the contest and "retire" with a career batting average of a nifty .500 ...
Nicol's 383 career SB is driven by the fact that he had three individual seasons in which he stole 80, 101 and 138 bags ... So why isn't he mentioned with Rickey, Vince and Lou in the single-season base thief discussions? His totals were compiled before the SB rules were fastened down ...
New Year's Day produced a whole bunch of guys who caught in the major leagues, but they were all backups or utility guys who only occasionally donned the tools of ignorance; the best of the lot were Searfoss, who brings his .208 career average to the starting lineup, and Stokes, who didn't even match that in two years with the Red Sox ... Martin makes the bench as a versatile OF/IF, but perhaps most interestingly, he was once traded for another IF, Barry McCormick, whose birthday was Dec. 25 -- that's right, a New Year's baby straight up for a Christmas baby ...
There are 13 more New Year's Day arrivals who didn't make the final cut for this roster, the two best of whom were both outfielders named Tom, in Donovan and Mansell ... The former hit .254 for the 1901 Cleveland Blues, while the latter hit .259 in parts of three 19th century seasons ... Both of the aforementioned Toms also made one relief appearance on the mound apiece, with Donavan's career ERA of 5.14 over seven innings aided by 7 of the 11 runs he surrendered being deemed unearned, while Mansell worked 6.2 innings with 14 of the 18 runs he let in being earned, for an ERA of 18.90 ... Guess it's easy to judge why neither ever returned to the hill ...
Of the remaining cuts, the .233 average compiled by OF/2B/C Harry Berthrong for the 1871 Washington Olympics is by far the best of show, with other career marks including those of Randy Bobb (.100), Bill Bethea (.167), Frank Fuller (.175), Claude Rothgeb (.125), Miah Murray (.142) and David Lenz (.083) all in markedly brief big league appearances ... Oh, a couple of guys cracked the then-unnamed Mendoza Line as Howard Murphy hit exactly .200 (12-for-60) and Rudy Bell soared to .212 (11-for-52), each in part of one season ... And to be fair, 1B Teddy Kearns did hit .263 for his short stay(s) in the majors, going 5-for-19 in eight games spread over three seasons and six years ...