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You may not remember him, but today is Geoff Zahn's birthday. Zahn, a fine LHSP in the '70s and '80s, won 18 games once and was one of the first big two-time winners in early free agency, signing with both the Twins in '77 and the Angels in '81.

But this isn't about Zahn, the pitcher. It's about his name -- Geoff. There have been only five Geoffs in big league history, so though we were able to build a fine All-Jeff team back in '06, an All-Geoff team simply ain't happening.

Similar "sorry, ain't happening" notes to guys names Jon (rather than John), Kris (rather than Chris) and Marc (instead of Mark) among many others. Which leads us to this question ...

Who are the best alternatively-spelled common-name players in major league history? Don't limit your thinking to the four names above -- sure, Jon Papelbon and Kris Benson are in play here, but so is Shawon Dunston.

Who else belongs on this team?

Reader Challenge: You spell that HOW? | 42 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Mick Doherty - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 04:56 PM EST (#195053) #

For starters ... Zahn, Papelbon and Benson, of course. (Okay, actually, Zahn and Benson for starters and Papelbon for closer. Har!)

Dunston. Jon Matlack. Kris Wilson. Geoff Jenkins. Robb Nen.

Who else? 

zeppelinkm - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:05 PM EST (#195054) #

Jayson Werth is not a bad outfielder... If we get some serious OF talent, he'd be a good bench player but he wouldn't be the weak link on a team as the a starter, me thinks.



zeppelinkm - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:08 PM EST (#195055) #

Scot Shields finds himself in a familiar role on this team as the set-up man.

Always the bridesmaid Scot, always the bridesmaid.


zeppelinkm - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:12 PM EST (#195056) #

Hey hey (sorry for the 3 in a row...)

Earle Combs wants to play too! We got ourselves a HoF... (although from the looks of it, certainly not an inner circle kind of HoF'er)

Mick Doherty - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:20 PM EST (#195057) #
Torii Hunter in the OF with Combs and Jenkins (Werth to the bench, I'm afraid.) Nen and Shields setting up Papelbon. Dunston at short. The infield is weak and we will have many passed balls with no catcher yet ...
christaylor - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:21 PM EST (#195058) #
Jhonny Peralta deserves a roster spot, performance perhaps, but mostly for how odd the spelling of his name is... it reminds me of how I mis-spelled my friend John's name when I was a wee tot.
zeppelinkm - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:23 PM EST (#195059) #
OK, I promise to stop posting until somebody else. has But surely Shaun would be eligable for the Shawn/Sean name, right? Which would slot our very own Mr.Marcum into the starting rotation! Well, for 2010, at least...
JohnL - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:36 PM EST (#195060) #
Hopefully there's another manager out there besides Jimy Williams.
JohnL - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 05:47 PM EST (#195061) #
"alternatively spelled common name" doesn't seem to limit it to first names. So if the infield is weak, Jimmie Foxx could probably make the roster.

Is "Ryne" an alternative to "Ryan"? If so, there's a 2B HOF'er available.

groove - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 07:00 PM EST (#195063) #
Don't forget Gregg Zaun as the catcher...
Geoff - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 08:15 PM EST (#195064) #
While I am touched that the Geoffs received the honour of inspiring a team, I am upset that they are being referred to as "alternatively spelled".

It's the Jeffs that are alternatively spelled, kind yankee. Geoffrey found its way to English from Old French.

Medieval variants on "Geoffrey" include "Jeffrey" and "Jeffery". This form is still common in the United States, but is little known elsewhere. [source: wikipedia]

So the Jeffs are alternatively spelled, thank you very much. If you want a team of players that have messed with the original spellings of names, you can select from all those American Jeffs out there.

fozzy - Friday, December 19 2008 @ 10:53 PM EST (#195066) #
I've bookmarked this thread for 30 years from now, when almost every kid has a goofy variation on his or her name.

Having just named one myself, it's amazing how many different ways there can be to spell names; looking at my wife's grade 3 class lists is both hilarious and sad at once...

Some different ones I didn`t see mentioned, looking over last year's AL rosters: Jarrod Saltamacchia (TEX), Freddy Dolsi (DET), Dewayne Wise (CWS), Jamey Carroll (CLE), Michel Hernandez (TBR), Trever Miller (TBR), Chone Figgins (ANA), Jered Weaver (ANA), Neal Musser (KCR), Daric Barton (OAK).

I don't know if it's been done, but you could probably make an entire team of Jared and its variations.

Dave Rutt - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 12:39 AM EST (#195068) #
"alternatively spelled common name" doesn't seem to limit it to first names. So if the infield is weak, Jimmie Foxx could probably make the roster.

Actually, Jimmie Foxx could probably be included for both of his names!

How about Rickey Henderson?
Mick Doherty - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 01:28 AM EST (#195069) #
Maybe the most intriguing thing about this team so far is the possibility of a Zahn/Zaun battery. I've heard of double-A batteries, but this would be double-Z.

And Geoff, I cede your historical and literary points, but in this case, "alternative" means "less common" not neccessarily "copy." Given the preponderance of "Jeff" in North Armerica, which is the audience for baseball and the Hall of Names, and as demonstrated by the All-Jeff team linked to earlier in the main story lede, I think "Geoff" is clearly the "alternative" spelling here.

Reminds me of the old word game -- what does "GHOTI" spell? It's an alternative spelling for the word pronounced "fish" (or here in the digital age, "phish") ... enouGH + wOmen + emoTIon = GHOTI = fish.

Never mind.

Eyan Logan - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 09:36 AM EST (#195070) #
Edd Roush!
TimberLee - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 02:49 PM EST (#195073) #
Donn Clendenon
seeyou - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 03:19 PM EST (#195075) #
Rheal Cormier
Geoff - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 03:39 PM EST (#195076) #
And I shall cede that Geoff is less common (among North American men) but then I must posit that Michael is merely the more common form for Mickey.

Thus bolstering this team's staff with Mickey Lolich and workhorse HOFer Mickey Welch. Not to mention Mickey Tettleton and Mickey Mantle should find spots on Team Unusual.

As for shortstop there should be numerous choices, from Nomar to the Ozzies Smith and Guillen. Or do the Ozzies lose credit by having given names of Oswaldo and Osborne? (Yes, Ozzie Smith's real first name is Osborne. Forever remember him as "Ozzie" Osborne Earl Smith.)

And while I won't object to calling the 'Geoff' spelling uncommon, unusual or strange, it's not an alternative, creative or inventive spelling. That's the department for Jeffs.

CeeBee - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 05:28 PM EST (#195080) #
Graig Nettles could play a pretty mean third base.
Mike Green - Saturday, December 20 2008 @ 09:11 PM EST (#195084) #
Andruw Jones adds to the crowded outfield.  I'm guess that Darrell is the uncommon spelling rather than the Hall and Oates version.  Darrell Evans would make a fine third baseman or first baseman. 
clark - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 07:14 AM EST (#195091) #
Jorge Orta was primarily a second baseman for his first six seasons.  He could help out the middle infield.
kinguy - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 04:34 PM EST (#195100) #
...and Jorge Bell's purple ass could play LF or DH.
Mick Doherty - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 06:20 PM EST (#195104) #
Okay, based almoist solely on the nominations put forth in this thread, here is a standard 25-man Hall of Names roster. I arbitrarily limited use of any one name to two, which only applied to Ryne and Geoff anyway ... who else is missing? And can we get a LHSP, please?  Yes, the final two cuts are ex-Jays (ex-Jaeis"?) but at least the manager and the starting catcher also bore Toronto blue unis.

The All-ternative (Tori?) Spellings

MGR Jimy Williams
C Gregg Zaun
1B Daric Barton
2B Ryne Sandberg
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Graig Nettles
LF Geoff Jenkins
CF Earle Combs
RF Edd Roush
DH Jimmie Foxx

C Marc Hill
IF Shawon Dunston
IF Chone Figgins
C/1B/DH Jarrod Saltamacchia
OF Donn Clendenon
OF Andruw Jones

RHSP Jon Matlack
LHSP Geoff Zahn
RHSP Kris Benson
RHSP Jered Weaver
RHSP Neal Heaton

CL-RH Robb Nen
RHRP Jon Papelbon
RHRP Ryne Duren
RHRP Scot Shields
LHRP Trever Miller

RHRP Shaun Marcum
OF Jayson Werth
zeppelinkm - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 07:43 PM EST (#195105) #

How about putting Foxx at 1B and Andruw in to DH? I think that would make the lineup considerable more potent. And for what it's worth, I'd rather have Marcum taking the ball any day of the week over Kris Benson.  But given Shaun's injury and Kris Benson's greater experience, I will (begrudgingly) accept his pick over Mr.Marcum.

Regardless, we would probably rather have Bret Saberhagen in the rotation over either of them anyways! I think Darrell is the more common spelling, so what about Darryl Kile to the rotation? (sorry Mick... both are RHSP) but I think Jon Matlack is actually a lefty, so I don't think the rotation (although the pen...) is as righty leaning as initially thought. Saberhagen and Kile represent significant upgrades over Heaton and Benson. Although I'm a little on the fence about Darryl's eligability.  If you REALLY (and you have to really want it) another lefty in the rotation or somewhere in the pen, Jarrod Washburn is out there. Actually, he would be a better 2 of the guys currently in the rotation, so hey, why not.

Geoff - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 08:05 PM EST (#195106) #
Seriously, why Geoff Jenkins but no Mickey Mantle?

Mickey has generally been an alternative for some other name, but not for Mantle.
Geoff - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 08:09 PM EST (#195107) #
And Nomar has his father's name spelt backwards. Tell me that's not alternative. Or a better option at shortstop.
zeppelinkm - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 08:40 PM EST (#195108) #

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the spirit of this thread, but I don't think Mickey or Nomar are eligable. I think the spirit of the thread is to take names like John, Mark, Scott, etc, common names - but then find guys who have that common name spelled differently. Since we're in NA, "Geoff" is the funny spelling of Jeff (My brother's name is Geoffrey too, so please don't take offence!) and Scot is the funny spelling of Scott, etc.

Michael might be a more common form of the name Mickey, but Mickey itself is a given name itself and for a Mickey to be eligable, he'd have to spell it Mickie or Micky or something.  Alternate spelling of a name, not alernate form. Same goes for Nomar, what is that the "funny" spelling of? Norris?


Geoff - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 09:01 PM EST (#195109) #
Perhaps I am confused. Mickey is a given name, like for Mantle, who was named after a guy with the nickname Mickey (Cochrane).  Geoff is also a given name. But if you look at the list on BBRef of all the Mickeys in baseball I linked above, you'll see that most didn't have Mickey as a given name. In fact only Mantle and Tettleton from what I see. To be a true Mickey is a rare and beautiful thing.

And I explained Nomar, who has his father's name backwards. Backwards. How funny is that?

Now if you were to state there is a rule that the name has to be a homonym with an odd spelling of a common name, then it's a whole new ballgame.

clark - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 09:15 PM EST (#195110) #
In keeping with the spirit of the thread, not sure how we can put any Ryne's to use.  I would say that is just an uncommon name rather than an uncommon spelling. 
Geoff - Sunday, December 21 2008 @ 10:18 PM EST (#195111) #
If this team is only for players that have peculiar spellings of common names given by parents who clearly wanted to be really creative and inventive, this is where I take umbrage with the Geoffs being party to such a group. They simply shouldn't be in that category any more than any Mickeys or Bubbas or Randys (who may have their own category, for players named after nickname forms of other names -as well as Ryne Sandberg, named after Rinold Duren). To me it's a question of primacy. Whether you think Sean or Shawn has primacy, most agree that Shaun, Shawon or Chone comes as a cute reinvention of the spelling. Not so with Geoff, although I have met more than a handful of people who were convinced this was the case.

And although I argue this case and many others in all seriousness, I am quite lighthearted about these issues. it's all entertainment and there's no need to excuse yourself by saying your brother is a Geoff or you've hung out with Geoffs and you've never had anything personal against them. This is no Geoffism witch-hunt. I fight this good fight on behalf of Geoffs because it amuses me. And I have a good argument. And having this name has been a thorn for many years. If I had a dollar for every person I met who had a clue where it came from, I'd be a poor man. Where are my Geoff brethren to lobby Mick, the names expert, for a proper place in Hall of Names history? We should not stand for being categorized with men of names given by crazy parents who couldn't spell propely. That is no place for our namesake, who were supplanted by Jeffs.

It's categorically untrue.

Mike D - Monday, December 22 2008 @ 04:40 PM EST (#195115) #

I think Geovany Soto should be our starting catcher.  (I guess Salty and Zaun are better than Kirt Manwaring).  Darin Erstad and Jacque Jones are probably not good enough to make the team.

I also think the pitching staff has room for LaMarr Hoyt and Gregg Olson.  Do either "Curt"s or "Kurt"s qualify?

Brian W - Monday, December 22 2008 @ 06:28 PM EST (#195117) #
If you want a thoroughly average soft tossing right-handed starter, I suggest Bryn Smith (I've seen Bryn listed as an alternative spelling for Brian).

Mike Green - Tuesday, December 23 2008 @ 10:51 AM EST (#195121) #
Rickey Henderson would be an upgrade in left-field, as would Derrek Lee at first base. Dwayne Murphy would be a useful back-up outfielder, and perhaps you could use Dmitri Young (everyone knows Dmitry is the more common spelling!), Gregg Jefferies and Jeromy Burnitz.

On the pitching side, does Johan Santana qualify? Bret Saberhagen and Murry Dickson surely do. Charley Radbourne, Allie Reynolds and Dolf Luque might.   No comment about Orel Hershiser.  I guess that one of Burt Hooton or Bert Blyleven should make it.  Erik Hanson's name might be mud here, but he had a couple of really good years for Seattle. 

Chuck - Tuesday, December 23 2008 @ 01:26 PM EST (#195122) #

Dwayne Murphy would be a useful back-up outfielder

D-W-A-Y-N-E? How pedestrian.

Mick Doherty - Tuesday, December 23 2008 @ 01:40 PM EST (#195123) #

Do we have a manager? Should we allow Dorrel Norman Elvert "Whitey" Herzog, who, legend has it, has that first name because of a typo (for "Darrel") in the hospital where he was born?

Speaking of that name, I guess Darryl Strawberry could hit a few balls long for this squad ...

JohnL - Tuesday, December 23 2008 @ 04:21 PM EST (#195129) #

Do we have a manager?

I thought we did as of Sunday:

The All-ternative (Tori?) Spellings
MGR Jimy Williams

Mind you, even though I "nominated" Jimy, if Dorrel Herzog meets the requirments for this team, we can let Jimy be 3rd base coach.

Mick Doherty - Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 12:37 PM EST (#195159) #

Great input, much better team now ... four All-Stars don't even make the squad! Quibbbles, rants, additions? Hey, we have a list of cuts almost long enough to start up a second team!

The All-ternative (Tori?) Spellings (TAKE 2)
** Hall of Famer
* All-Star

Manager Dorrel "Whitey" Herzog
Coach Jimy Williams

Starting Lineup
C Gregg Zaun
1B Jimmie Foxx**
2B Ryne Sandberg**
SS Jhonny Peralta
3B Graig Nettles*
LF Earle Combs**
CF Andruw Jones*
RF Edd Roush**
DH Geoff Jenkins*

C Marc Hill
IF Shawon Dunston
IF Chone Figgins
C/1B/DH Jarrod Saltamacchia
OF Donn Clendenon
OF/1B Darin Erstad*

RHSP Charley Radbourn**
LHSP Jon Matlack*
RHSP Bret Saberhagen*
LHSP Geoff Zahn
RHSP Darryl Kile*

CL-RH Robb Nen*
RHRP Jon Papelbon*
RHRP Ryne Duren*
RHRP Scot Shields
LHRP Trever Miller

(The final cuts)
RHRP Shaun Marcum
LHP Neal Heaton*
1B Daric Barton
RHSP Kris Benson
RHP Jarrod Washburn
C Kirt Manwaring
OF Jacques Jones
RHSP LaMarr Hoyt*
RHRP Gregg Olson*
1B Derrek Lee*
OF Jayson Werth
RHSP Murry Dickson*
RHSP Jered Weaver

zeppelinkm - Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 02:21 PM EST (#195163) #

*Breaking news*

Derrek Lee has announced his retirement from baseball after learning that Darin Erstad was picked for the Hall Of Names Alternate  Names team over himself.

"I just thought to myself, man, is this team more about the names, or is it more about the players? I thought it was about the players."

Lee has a right to complain, as his career OPS+ of 122 is considerably higher then Erstad's 94 OPS+. While Erstad is a dynamic defensive player anywhere on the diamond, Lee is also one of the finest with the leather at 1B in baseball.

"Can't they let Chone run around in the OF when some how both Don and one of the regular's can't?" asked Lee softly as he sat quietly in the corner of the locker room, reflecting on how quickly and how far his star has fallen.


Mike Green - Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 05:49 PM EST (#195171) #
Mick,  what's the beef with Rickey?  Is the spelling not uncommon enough, or is the great Rickey not good enough, or did you just forget (there were a lot of choices there)?  By the way, I second Mike D's nomination of Geovany (not Giovanni) Soto.  He's certainly better than Marc Hill, and likely Zaun too (much as I am a fan).
zeppelinkm - Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 07:39 PM EST (#195173) #
Let's put Rickey in LF, Soto to C, Combs to DH over Jenkins, and Lee in over Erstad on the bench. (and of course the corresponding bench moves to accomodate the new starters..)
zeppelinkm - Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 07:59 PM EST (#195174) #

Which version of Alan/Allan/Allen would be considered the most common? There's a pretty good SS available if Alan is on the short list, but I am having a hard time finding out.

Just doing a google search comparison (to see the number of hits back... extremely scientific) we get 267,000,000 hits for Alan, versus under 70,000,000 for Allan, so i'm going to have to say that at least at this point it is inconclusive and we can't overturn the standing decision.

Geoff - Wednesday, December 24 2008 @ 09:12 PM EST (#195178) #
I'd like to know why Ryne Sandberg, named after a nickname for a player named Rinold makes the team while Nomar has to watch Peralta takes his spot at shortstop.
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