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 ...
THE FOUR-LETTER WORDS
*** 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?