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The astute greatness of longtime Bauxite Mike Green recently wrote in another thread, "Somewhere between Rob Deer and Adam Dunn lies Jack Cust (as a hitter). Is it a coincidence that all have four-letter last names? I think not."

This, of course, set me thinking -- is it really unusual for great players to have four-letter last names? Immediately, I thought Babe, Ty, Willie, Whitey and Nolan would protest. But as it turns out, only 19 of the more than 250 players inducted currently in Baseball's Hall of Fame -- yes, that's including the coming class of '09 -- have/had a last/family name of exactly four letters.

Still, if we twist and turn a little, make a projection and an exception, we can fill out a pretty fine All-Hall-of-Famer roster we can only dub ...

*** Indicates NOT (yet?) in the Hall of Fame
** Indicates Negro League Hall of Famer
* Indicates ineligible for Hall of Fame

MGR Connie Mack

C Carlton Fisk
1B Johnny Mize
2B Jeff Kent***
SS John Montgomery Ward
3B George Kell
LF Cool Papa Bell**
CF Willie Mays
RF Babe Ruth
DH Ty Cobb

C/1B/3B Jimmie Foxx
OF/DH Jim Rice
UTIL Pete Rose*
OF Larry Doby
OF Pete Hill**
OF Sam Rice

RHSP Dizzy Dean
LHSP Whitey Ford
RHSP Waite Hoyt
RHSP Addie Joss
RHSP Nolan Ryan
RHSP Early Wynn

FOUR SCORES ... and seven years ago, okay, never mind the historical puns ... The only position not represented on this roster by a Hall of Famer is the keystone sack, second base ... Our options there are the recently-retired Jeff Kent, who will have a good induction argument in five years, and Pete Rose -- he came up as a second baseman -- who would be in the Hall of Fame, of course, if not for, erm, other issues ... Rose doesn't have to manage -- good thing for the team! -- either, as the winningest manager of all time was a four-letter guy in Mr. Mack ...

Think the Georgia Peach might have an issue or six with giving up an outfield spot to Say Hey and to Cool Papa? The man supposedly once accused the other outfielder (Ruth) of being a "n---er" so that roster mix might be bad for morale ... Anything ugly happens, Cobb can go home and Jimmie Foxx would be a pretty decent DH, hey? ... And that doesn't even account for a guy who actually was written into the lineup card as a DH more than 500 times, Jim Rice, but then he's not technically a Hall of Famer until August ...

The pitching staff runs just six deep and there is no bullpen, but with those six guys around, there shouldn't be too much need for a Goose Goss[age] or a Bruce Sutt[er] ... Besides, those six combined for an eye-popping 1,182 career complete games in rolling to a 1407-1004 won/loss mark ...

So here's the challenge ... what players belong on the best possible roster of four-letter family names, NON-Hall of Fame division?

And a second challenge -- who would belong on a three-letter last name team? I'll spot you Mel Ott, Ron Cey, Lee May and Leon Day -- there are two Hall of Famers and two All-Stars. Who else belongs, er., threelongs?

One Damn Fine Team | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
zeppelinkm - Saturday, January 24 2009 @ 12:05 AM EST (#195830) #
How about John Kruk to go in RF with Dunn in LF and let's put Jim Ray Hart at 3B with Norm Cash across the diamond at first.  I suppose Cust DH's and Deer to the bench?  
CeeBee - Saturday, January 24 2009 @ 08:59 AM EST (#195832) #
A few more fours. Tony Pena, Lou Blue, Felipe Alou, Tommy Herr, Stan Hack, Larry Bowa, George Bell, Fred Lynn, Sammy Sosa, Barry Zito, David Cone, Tommy John, Vida Blue, Jim Kaat,  and Jack Aker for the pen. There's tons more but that's at least a start.
CeeBee - Saturday, January 24 2009 @ 09:17 AM EST (#195833) #
I feel guilty about the lack of a bullpen. Quite a Jay's presence with Duane Ward, B.J. Ryan and Billy Koch. Can also throw Sparky Lyle into the mix.
zeppelinkm - Saturday, January 24 2009 @ 02:23 PM EST (#195839) #

Hill and Cano can battle it out for 2B as well... And what about Zaun at catcher? Blue Jays all over the diamond, although Rios probably isn't good enough for CF with Lynn around.  Is JD Drew good enough for this team? Rob Beck might make the bullpen too.

dan gordon - Saturday, January 24 2009 @ 03:23 PM EST (#195840) #
The 3 letter name team wouldn't be nearly as good, but still, there is some talent to be had.  The rotation could include the likes of Jimmy Key, Vance Law, Cliff Lee and both Bill Lee's.  Robb Nen could close, with help(?) from Esteban Yan.  Derek Lee at 1B, Ron Cey at 3B and outfielders Jason Bay, Jermaine Dye, Mel Ott and Carlos Lee give considerable power.  There is a fine 2B in Nellie Fox.  Shortstop and catcher seem a little weak.  Rudy Law gives you a great pinch runner, and Steve Sax fills the invaluable role of second baseman who can't throw to first.  Someone else may be able to come up with a better catcher than Ed Ott or a better shortstop than Manny Lee.  No doubt there are others I have omitted.
Mick Doherty - Sunday, January 25 2009 @ 04:01 PM EST (#195844) #

Excellent, dan!

That's almost a complete 25-man roster you provided there (see below) with a HELL of a starting rotation and, as you noted, the only questions marks at C and SS ... if we find guys to fill those roles and move Ed Ott (wait, how 'bout Milt May?) and Manny Lee to bench roles, this team is actually in better (arguably) shape than their four-letter counterparts ... 12 All-Stars, three more HOFers and a Cy Young winner who hasn't made an All-Star team (yet) ... 112 wins in the '09 AL West! We also can use some bullpen filler and I'd love it if six roster spots weren't taken by Lees, but not sure we can instigate the old standby "no repeats" rule here and still get a full roster?

** HOF
* All-Star

RHSP Leon Day**
LHSP Jimmy Key*
RHSP Vern Law*
LHSP Cliff P. Lee
RHSP Bill C. Lee*

CL-RH Robb Nen*
RHRP Esteban Yan
LH-LONG Bill F. Lee*

C Milt May
1B Derek Lee*
2B Nellie Fox**
SS Manny Lee
3B Ron Cey*
LF Mel Ott**
CF Jermaine Dye
RF Jason Bay*
DH Carlos Lee*

Vance Law*
Dick Nen
Rudy Law
Steve Sax*
Ed Ott

Mick Doherty - Sunday, January 25 2009 @ 04:03 PM EST (#195845) #

Wait, speaking of repeats ... I think Carlos Lee moves to the bench, and the double-triple-name Lee May is the DH. That leads us to think about Dave May as a possible CF cndidate ... Rudy May for the bullpen ... who else? Dave "Mr. May" Winfield is not eligible, sorry ...

Mike Green - Sunday, January 25 2009 @ 09:01 PM EST (#195846) #
Joey Jay fills out the bullpen. Felix Pie might make a true centerfielder in a few years, but Dummy Hoy will do the job there instead of having Jermaine Dye trying to cover too much ground.  Johnny Ray was a fine second baseman; there were questions at the time whether he or Sax was better.

Joe Tex sings the national anthem. 

Mike Green - Sunday, January 25 2009 @ 09:04 PM EST (#195847) #
Incidentally, I'd rather have Jimmy Wynn instead of Jim Rice on the four-letter team.  It's a pet peeve; Wynn was passed over completely in the Hall of Fame voting and was far superior to Rice.
CeeBee - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 08:46 AM EST (#195850) #
A few more 3's to consider. Preacher Roe and Danny Cox on the mound and Billy Cox and Mike Lum on the bench maybe.
zeppelinkm - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 10:21 AM EST (#195851) #

While those pesky 3's do have a fine team, I'm not so sure they would win more games then the 2nd choice 4's (which is losing Kent unfairly for the time being anyways!) A 7 game series would be something to watch but over a 162 games, I think these guys have all the bells.  Multiple combinations of players found this to be the winning, money combination.  Can they hack it? They have more then enough heart.

OK OK! I'm done. 

The 2-4's

OF  Fred Lynn
OF  Jimmy Wynn
OF  John Kruk
C   Jack Rowe
1B  Norm Cash
2B  Robinson Cano
SS  Jay Bell
3B  Stan Hack
DH  Adam Dunn

Bench: Jim Ray Hart (3B/OF), Moises Alou (OF), Heinie Groh (2B/SS/3B), Gregg Zaun (C), CUTS: You could make a great argument for about 15 players that could be on this bench.


Smokey Joe Wood (RHP) 
Brandon Webb (RHP)
Tommy John (LHP)
David Cone (RHP)
Jim Kaat (LHP)

Bullpen, Duane Ward, Billy Koch, BJ Ryan, Rob Beck, Doug Jones, Sparky Lyle

And i'm not sure about Kaat in the rotation over Jose Rijo anyways.  But honestly, the rotation fronted by Wood, Webb, and Cone lines up well against the 3's, and there is simply NO way any team has ever trotted out such an incredible bullpen. Seriously, look at that bullpen.

Great depth on the bench too. There is no major drop off in talent from any one position to another going from starter to bench, and Groh could probably start over Cano without too much complaint. If Cano doesn't return to form this year, Hill makes the team.

Mike Green - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 10:40 AM EST (#195852) #
The 2nd string team for the four-letter words could be improved by replacing Kruk with Hall of Meriter George Gore.  With three centerfielders out there, Tommy John would be in heaven.
Mike Green - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 10:57 AM EST (#195853) #
Other options for the 2nd string catchers: Tony Pena, Rudy York, Phil Masi, Muddy Ruel, Al Todd, Mickey Owen and Del Rice.  York would ideally be your 3rd catcher/first baseman, in the classic Jim Leyritz role.
zeppelinkm - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 11:02 AM EST (#195854) #
Don't know how Jones got in there, sorry... But take out Jones, put Rijo into the bullpen and remove Kaat from the SP and replace him with Noodles Hahn (LHP).
lexomatic - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 12:11 PM EST (#195856) #
kinguy - Monday, January 26 2009 @ 01:11 PM EST (#195858) #
And of course, Bobby Cox to manage the threes.
zeppelinkm - Tuesday, January 27 2009 @ 09:41 PM EST (#195903) #

Ladies and Gentlemen, your new (and old...) Toronto Blue Jays, with a little stretching...

C: Zaun, Gregg
1B: Lind, Adam
2B: Kent, Jeff
SS: Hill, Aaron
3B: Iorg, Garth
RF: Rios, Alex
CF: Cruz, Jose
LF: Bell, George
DH: Glenallen Hill

Bench: Kevin Cash, Derek Bell, Homer Bush, Turner Ward, Jeff Frye


David Cone
Luis Leal
Dennis Lamp
Jim Gott
Dave Bush


Duane Ward, Billy Koch, BJ Ryan, Scott Eyre, Darren Hall, Shawn Camp, Scott Brow

So obviously we're stretching a bit with Lind at 1B and Hill at SS, but it's the best way to field this team with the serious surplus of talent at 2B.  You just gotta pray you get the 1985 version of Garth Iorg...

zeppelinkm - Tuesday, January 27 2009 @ 09:48 PM EST (#195904) #

PS: I also realize we're violating the use the name once rule, and we probably could fill out the team without breaking it, but the team sure is a lot better if we do!

I'd set the lineup up like this:

Zaun, Rios, Bell, Kent, Hill (GA), Hill (A), Lind, Cruz, Iorg

Pretty weak group from an OBP POV, but they've got some pop. I'm debating if George Bell would be better in the 3rd spot or if you dropped him down a bit and shifted other guys up... It's a slow night, tonight.

Mike Green - Tuesday, January 27 2009 @ 10:09 PM EST (#195905) #
Other bench possibilities for the BJ4s- Jorge Orta, Mike Huff, Luis Sojo, Derek Bell, Phil Roof and Doug Ault. 
One Damn Fine Team | 19 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.