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I heard on ESPN tonight that Pirate RHSP Ian Snell is the first pitcher named "Ian" to ever appear in the big leagues.

Actually, he's only the second player named Ian in the game's long history. The other is Rangers' 2B Ian Kinsler, 0-for-4 against Snell, who was dominant in allowing no earned runs in a complete game win. So we had baseball's first-ever Ian vs. Ian matchup. (Alert the media!)

But that got me to thinking ... who are the players who had or have truly unique given/first names? It's a harder question than you might think.

For instance, I thought of Vance Law ... but did you realize there have been nine men with the first/given name of "Vance" to play big league ball? (That's not even counting the four with that last/family name and six more with the middle name "Vance"!) ...

Speaking of Vances, we're not looking for nicknames -- and besides, there have been two MLB players nicknamed "Dazzy" anyway.

Now, I'm sure there are plenty of players out there who have unique given names. But I admit, I am at a loss as to how to search for such monikers (any ideas, genius Bauxites?) other than to sit around scanning old rosters and picking out unique-sounding names then searching to see if they actually are unique ... not only did that not work out for me with "Vance," I must further admit that I have no real desire to slog through such old lineups.

There have been two Doyles. Both guys who went by Honus were actually named "John," and besides, there were two of them. Same deal with the three guys named (actually nicknamed) Ginger. There have been two players named Levi, but one went (actually, goes) by "Jared," so that sort of counts. Heck, there have even been three guys named Joaquin who went by that name (and one "Jackie" who didn't, plus five middle names) ... so, over to you, Bauxites.

Can we brainstorm up a few uniquely-named ballplayers? Maybe even put together a roster of such men? Dang, I can't come up with ONE such name, so coming up with 25 might be well nigh impossible. But let's see. Whatchagot?

Reader Challenge: Unique Names? | 30 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Dave Rutt - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#169813) #
Aquilino Lopez
King Rat - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#169814) #
I will bet any amount of money that there's only ever been one Drungo to play in organized baseball, let alone the major leagues.

Incidentally, as an Ian myself, I've always rooted for Mr. Snell, the first of our kind to reach the Show. I root for Kinsler too, but there can only be one first Ian.

Jdog - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:39 PM EDT (#169815) #

I'll throw a few out there who I think have a chance.

Torii Hunter

Nomar Garciappara

Grady Sizemore

Trot Nixon

Chone Figgins

Not sure how many of those names are actual first names, but I would guess at least 3 of those would qualify, No?


Dave Rutt - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:43 PM EDT (#169816) #
Yadier Molina
Bengie Molina
Kelvim Escobar
Nomar Garciaparra (does this count? his middle name is Nomar. So is Kiko Calero's, but he doesn't go by Nomar)

Rob - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:44 PM EDT (#169817) #
Mick, a Yankees fan who doesn't mention Tanyon Sturtze?

Well, I found, based on first names, Wingo Anderson and Gowell Claset, our LOOGYs; Jewel Ens, 2B/Manager; Anse Moore, outfielder. The only Wingo, Gowell, Jewel, and Anse/Anselm in ML history, I believe.

The trick is to look for a weird name like Urban (which isn't unique) and go from there based the "other" names of the returned players. Incidentally, Urbane Pickering (seriously, Urbane Pickering), could play third base.

I could keep going here for a while. If you want unique common names, try RHP Evelio Hernandez, 2B Cupid Childs, or, of course, Candy Maldonado.
Excalabur - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:47 PM EDT (#169818) #
Devon White is the only 'Devon' to play in the bigs, and 'Devin' is yet to be taken. 

Devo has two compatriots that used 'Devon' as a middle name, but they, of course, don't count.

Other quick searches:

"Andrea Spognardi" is the only Andrea in the book, but he went by 'Andy'.  10/34 for the '32 Red Sox as a September callup, playing 2B, 3B and SS.
Dusty Miller's first name was 'Dakin', but he only posted an 80 OPS+ for the 1902 cubbies.
Tracy Stallard's first name was 'Evan', the only one with that name (though 'Evans' was popular for a while in the 1800s), posting an ERA+ of 90 over six years in the '60s for the Red Sox. 

Cheating a bit, Ichiro! is the only Ichiro ever to play in the bigs, and I'm sure other Asian imports will also be a hotbed of unique names (though 'Hideki' has two owners now, and 'Cha' is a bit hard to search for)

Dave Rutt - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:50 PM EDT (#169820) #
How about a certain Blue Jays left fielder?

Also, Carsten Charles Sabathia.
Dave Rutt - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:56 PM EDT (#169821) #
Cris Carpenter (no, not that C(h)ris Carpenter).
Covelli Crisp (aka Coco)
Cordel Koskie
King Rat - Wednesday, June 13 2007 @ 11:59 PM EDT (#169822) #
Do unique spellings count, or just unique pronunciations? Because if spellings count, there's a former Jay manager who'd fit right in on a hypothetical team...
Smithers - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 02:37 AM EDT (#169826) #
Busting out an old-school Blue Jay, how could Glenallen Hill have been missed so far?  Seriously, has anyone here ever met a single person named Glenallen, let alone someone who went by that moniker?
XooM - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 02:54 AM EDT (#169827) #
As soon as I read the heading this name instantly popped up in my head: Ambiorix Burgos.
Dave Rutt - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 03:31 AM EDT (#169828) #
Harmon Killebrew
Tris(tram) Speaker
Vada Pinson
Ryne Sandberg
Graig Nettles
Bernabe (Bernie) Williams (the only other Bernabe is Jose Reyes' middle name)
Hazen (Kiki) Cuyler
Garret Anderson
(Constan)tino Martinez
Gaylord Perry
Rik (Bert) Blyleven
Ferguson Jenkins
Denton (Cy) Young
Early Wynn
Vida Blue
Orel Hershiser

Dave Till - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:56 AM EDT (#169830) #
Drungo LaRue Hazewood (played briefly for the Orioles in 1980, according to Baseball Reference).
kinguy - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 08:17 AM EDT (#169832) #
The first name that came to mind was Wilmer (Vinegar Bend) Mizell.  Wrong on both counts!  Who knew Dean Chance's given name was Wilmer?
Stan N - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:02 AM EDT (#169837) #

How about Rance?  As in Mulliniks...

Mike Green - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 09:34 AM EDT (#169840) #
Hosken Powell.  Believe it or not, Garth Iorg is the only player with the first name Garth, but not the only one with surname Iorg.  Sherry Magee's real first name was Sherwood and that hasn't been matched. On the other hand, Minnie Minoso's first name was Saturnino, but there was another one. Abram Harding Richardson was a fine 19th century second baseman and unique. Magglio Ordonez is unique, too.  Garret Anderson is the only one who spells his first name with one t.   Arvel Odell "Bad News" Hale was a one-of-a-kind third baseman for the Indians in the 30s.
Jeremy - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 10:15 AM EDT (#169844) #
I can't think of any other Delino than DeShields.  Nor can I recall a Marquis besides Grissom.
John Northey - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 03:29 PM EDT (#169865) #
Checking B-R I get..

Ones of a kind...
Glenallen Hill
Delino DeShields

Marquis Grissom, Porter (Bo), and 4 guys with it as a last name.
Rance Mulliniks, Pless (1956 KC A's 1B/3B)
Damaso Garcia, Blanco, Marte
Octavio Fernandez (Tony), Dotel, Rojas (Cookie)

How did we survive without
John Northey - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 03:52 PM EDT (#169867) #
Just thought - lets check the Lahman Database ( to get it free).

1551 first names in baseball history.

Most common...
John - 896
William - 803
James - 632
Robert - 481
Charles - 439

Out of the 14,870 players listed with a given first name, 881 different names came up just once. Some are not real names (A.) while others fit the theme nicely (Onesime).

Most played hitters...
CF: Tristram (Tris) Speaker - 2789 games
1B: Atanasio (Tony) Perez - 2777
OF: Vada Pinson - 2469
3B/1B: Harmon Killebrew - 2435
SS: Lucius (Luke) Appling - 2422
SS: Rhoderick (Bobby) Wallace - 2383
OF/1B: Wilver (Willie) Stargell - 2360
2B: Ryne Sandberg - 2164
OF: Sherwood (Sherry) Magee - 2087
CF: Bernabe (Bernie) Williams - 2076
CF: Fredric (Fred) Lynn - 1969
OF: Edd Roush - 1967
CF: Devon White - 1941
CA: Elston Howard - 1605
CA: Ralston (Rollie) Hemsley - 1593
CA: Fury (Gene) Tenace - 1555

John Northey - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 03:59 PM EDT (#169868) #
Pitching you say?

Starters - W-L
Denton (Cy) Young - 511-316 (plus 17 saves)
Gaylord Perry - 314-265
Rik (Bert) Blyleven - 287-250
Early Wynn - 300-244
Ferguson (Fergie) Jenkins - 284-226
Burleigh Grimes - 270-212
Mordecai Brown - 239-130 (plus 49 saves)
Vida Blue - 209-161
Orel Hershiser - 204-150

Ugueth Urbina - 237 saves
Greggory (Gregg) Olson - 217 saves
Elroy (Roy) Face - 193 saves
Lyndall (Lindy) McDaniel - 172 saves
Darold Knowles - 143 saves
Melquiades (Mel) Rojas - 126 saves
Huston Street - 60 saves

Killer team eh?
King Ryan - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 04:47 PM EDT (#169875) #
Not too long ago, the Mets had two players who had both a first name and a last name that had never been used before in the MLB: Lastings Milledge and Yusmeiro Petit
Mick Doherty - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 05:19 PM EDT (#169879) #
John, I should've figured you'd be the guy to fill the aforementioned "genius Bauxite" role to find a way ...

  I was going to question your results based on my own BBRef search for "Ryne" a while back, and the All-Star existence of Mr. Duren. But it turns out his given first name was "Rinold" which I am guessing makes both him and Sandberg eligible ...

That said, maybe there are TOO many options and we should stick to given names that players actually went  by, excluding Speaker and Perez  and the like. Dunno.

Rob - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:02 PM EDT (#169886) #
That said, maybe there are TOO many options and we should stick to given names that players actually went  by

Tanyon Sturtze: The #1 Result of Restricting Search Criteria since 1995!
Matthew E - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#169887) #
I noticed a while ago that both 'Yorvit' and 'Yuniesky' were unique names.

And, speaking of Tanyon Sturtze, I believe Aramis Ramirez is the only one of his type.

How about Darwin Cubillan?

DanInToronto - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:24 PM EDT (#169888) #

One of my favorites was:
SIXTO Lezcano

A few others:

Everyone's favorite hall-of-famer: GAYLORD PERRY

ANIBAL Sanchez

YORVIT Torrealba

What about ERLING SWEDE LARSEN (who got 1 AT BAT in 1936)

Then there was HUBBARD NORTHEN (1912-1914)

Two "Nemos" played, so that won't count (Nemo Leibold and Nemo Gaines)

Craig B - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:33 PM EDT (#169889) #

we should stick to given names that players actually went  by, excluding Speaker and Perez  and the like. Dunno

Absolutely, because if I ask you for a player with a unique baseball name and you say "Tony Perez", I'm not going to agree.  It's Kiki, Babe, and Branch - not Hazen, George and Wesley.

Craig B - Thursday, June 14 2007 @ 07:39 PM EDT (#169890) #

As such, we get back Yogi, Gee, and Fleet.

However, the existence of Vladimir Nunez vexes me to no end.  Damn you!

Also, no one has mentioned Claudell Washington or Shawon Dunston, I think.

Timmy - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 12:52 AM EDT (#169899) #

What about Mauro?  He really helped in 1989.

skippy23 - Friday, June 15 2007 @ 08:45 AM EDT (#169904) #
My two favorites:
Bif Pocoroba
Sixto Leszcano
whiterasta80 - Monday, August 25 2008 @ 11:43 AM EDT (#191222) #

I really thought Enos Slaughter would be unique, but there were two other Enos's and two other Slaughters. 

There was only one Estel (Crabtree). But that's the only unique on I could find

I figured I'd check my name just for kicks, and so far no Dylan's in the major leagues... but give the "90210 Jr." generation time, there are at least 4 in the minors.

Reader Challenge: Unique Names? | 30 comments | Create New Account
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