Almost lost in the hulabaloo of last week's execution of Saddam Hussein was the death of 93-year-old Gerald Ford, the only man to serve as President of the United States without being elected to a position in the U.S. government's executive branch.
And though Ford wasn't the baseball fan his predecessor Richard Nixon or his Republican successor Ronald Reagan were, the fact that he was an outstanding college football player while at the University of Michigan landed the story of his passing some time on ESPN and Fox Sports News. And now, Baseball's Hall of Names nods respectfully to the man who was the White House's ultimate relief pitcher -- he replaced both Spiro Agnew AND Nixon, after all -- by introducing not one but two all-name teams. To start, let's meet ...
The Gerry Manders
**indicates Hall of Famer
* indicates All-Star
Player/MGR: Gerald "Jerry" Coleman (73-89, 1980 SDP)
C Jerry Grote* (.252 in 16 years)
1B Gerald Perry* (.265 in 13 years)
2B Jerry Remy* (.275, 208 SB in 10 years)
SS Jerry Buchek (.220, 1961-69; also 2B/3B)
3B Jerry Kenney (.237, 1867-73, mostly NYY; also SS/OF)
LF Gerald "Gee" Walker* (.294, 124 HR, 223 SB, 15 years)
CF Gerald Williams (.255, 21 years; 21 HR with 2000 TBD)
RF Gerald Young (.246, 155 SB, 1987-94)
DH Jerry Lynch (.277, 115 HR in 13 years; great PH)
C Jerry Moses* (.251 in nine years)
IF Jerry Coleman* (263 in nine years; .275 in six WS)
IF Jerry Priddy (.265, 11 years, 1941-53)
IF Jerry Kindall (.213, nine years, 1956-65)
OF Gerry Davis (.301, 1983, '85 SDP)
OF Jerry Scala (.223, 1948-50 CHW)
RHSP Gerry Staley* (134-111 in 15 years)
LHSP Jerry Augustine (55-59, 11 saves; 1975-84 MIL)
RHSP Jerry Ujdur (10-10, '82 DET; 12-16 career)
LHSP Gerry Arrigo (12-10, '68 CIN; 35-40 career)
LHSP Gerry Hannahs (3-7, 1976-79 MON, LAD)
RHRP Gerald "Jay" Witasick (31-41, 5 saves through 2006)
LHRP Jerry Fosnow (3-4, 2 saves, 1964-65 MIN)
RHRP Gerald Alexander (6-3, 1990-92 TEX)
LH-LONG Jerry Nyman (6-7, 1968-70 CHW, SDP)
RH-LONG Jerry Davie (2-2, 1959 DET)
Ford Has a Better Idea?
Here's the second team assembled in the former US president's honor -- though there have only been 16 men with the surname "Ford" to play big league ball (plus two with that as a given first name and two middle-named Fords).
So we will have to settle for a starting lineup rather than a full roster. At least this team, unlike the Geralds, has a Hall of Famer in its ranks -- and we don't mean Ford Frick!
C Brook Fordyce (.258, 1995-2004)
LHSP Whitey Ford** (236-106, 2.75 ERA)
NOTES ... Russ Ford is a member of the Canadian
Baseball Hall of Fame ... His brother Gene is one of two Eugene Fords
to pitch in the big leagues, but neither was around long enough to earn
a spot on this roster ... Nobody named "Ford" (first, middle or last
name) has ever caught a game in the big leagues, so we open the door a
crack against the rules for Brook Fordyce and hope nobody rolls their eyes too much ...
A baseballreference.com search for MLBers named "Ford" actually returns three Hall of Famers -- but Frick was never a player and Frankie Frisch's nickname ("The Fordham Flash") doesn't qualify him ... Oddly, Whitey Ford, the Hall of Famer on the roster, is the only Ford to ever even make an All-Star team ...
Just to be clear, this team is only open to men named "Gerald." Though as you'll surely note a number of Geralds went by the name "Jerry," that does not make every Jerry who played at a MLB level eligible, as there were plenty of Jeromes and Jeremiahs and even three Jeralds who made the major leagues and went by that nickname ...
Kenney was traded by NYY to CLE in the deal that sent Graig Nettles to
the Bronx, but also sent Moses from CLE to NYY -- possibly the only
trade in MLB history in which a Gerald changed sides in both directions
... Moses was one of no less than seven Geralds who were or are
primarily catchers in their big league careers; Grote, who starts for
this team, is easily the best known, while Moses, who made one All-Star
team, is the backup ...
Don't be surprised if Texas' young backstop Gerald Laird knocks Grote to the bench and Moses off the team entirely in a few years -- his .266 career batting average is already the best of all the Gerald catchers ...
Well, that's not entirely true -- Gerry Shea hit a robust .333 (2-for-6) in his brief stint with the 1905 Cardinals ... The other three, all of whom went by "Jerry," were Willard (.249, parts of 1984-94), McNertney (.237, nine years, 1964-73) and Zimmerman (.204, 1961-68) ...
And actually, Shea isn't even the Gerald with the highest brief-career batting average ... Gerald "Gary" Johnson was 3-for-8 with the 2003 Angels, good for a .375 career mark, at least so far ... Of the other Geralds to not make the squad, the longest stay in the bigs came from SS/2B Jerry Snyder, a .230 career hitter who played for the Senators from 1952-58; one of his teammates from 1953-54 was RHRP Jerry Lane, who was just 2-4 during that time, then just 0-2 in '55 with the Reds to end up with a career mark of 2-6 ...
Including Lane, seven pitchers, mostly cuppajoe relievers, didn't make the squad after combining for a career record of 3-13; of that group, only LHRP Jerry Nielsen was over .500 career, winning his only decision while pitching with the 1992 Yankees and 1993 Angels ...
Batter's Box's own Gerry McDonald is hereby appointed this team's official statistician and minor league guru. Wait, we should double-check -- hey, Gerry, is your name "Gerald," anywway?