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If you've been reading Da Box over the past four or five years, you know one of the sidelight features in Baseball's Hall of Names deals with players who share(d) certain initials. We've assembled teams for every possible double-initial, as well as many other obvious ones like MD, PR, BS and others.

Recently I got to thinking about baseball initials ... you know, the kind you scratch on your scorecard during a game, abbreviations like HR, RBI and HBP. Forget building a roster of these guys -- it'll be hard enough to find representatives for all the obvious baseball abbreviations we can think of. So go ahead, play along ... what initials are missing? And who would be better to fill a role in the existing All-Baseball-Initials roll-call that follows? ...

Let's kick things off on the mound ...
There's only one "natural ERA" in baseball history, that is, a player whose first-middle-last initials were ERA. That'd be 1975 World Series controversy epicenter Ed Armbrister (a Cincinnati OF who hit .245, 1973-77) whose full name is Edison Rosanda Armbrister.

Apologies to some guy in the current Yankee infield, Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez, but AER doesn't work, and to Edward John "Rube" Albosta, as the nickname makes the abbreviation E"R"A ... and ooh, you just missed out, Elden Le Roy Auker! So Eddie Armbrister is it, apparently.

If our pitcher wants to plunk (not "Eric Plunk," jut hit 'em straight up) someone, there has never been a major league player with the natural initials HBP. Although those initials became well-associated with the aforementioned '75 Armbrister controversy, the closest we get is Harold William "Buddy" Pritchard, an .091-hitting middle infielder with the 1957 Pirates, who has that whole nickname thing going again. But as a bonus, the "B" could stand for two different things, his nickname of "Buddy" or a shortened form of his given middle name, "Bill."

Woo, we're off to a rip-roaring start, huh?

Of course, a pitcher's primary concern is probably his W-L mark. Believe it or not, there has apparently never been a big league player who was both given and went by a W.L.-initialed name. Oh, you can make arguments for three All-Star pitchers in lefty William "Spaceman Bill" Lee or righties William "Big Bill" Lee  and William "Billy" Loes but all three went by B.L. names, as did Negro League Hall of Fame 1B Walter "Buck" Lee.

That win/loss mark matters more if the innings pitched number runs up higher, of course, so what about IP players? (And no, that has nothing to do with intellectual property, legal beagles.) In fact, there are only two candidates -- and one, John Lloyd "Ike" Powers, a RHRP for the 1927-27 Athletics -- only gets there via the nickname route. That leaves us with Irv Porter, an outfielder who singled in four at-bats in his only game with the 1914 White Sox.

If our pitcher wants to intentionally pass a batter to first base and is tired of the H"B"P route, there's only two options, that is, players with the initials IBB ... Isaac B. Benners, an outfielder who hit .185 for two teams in 1884 (and, most intriguingly, has a career line showing one homer and zero RBI ... is that possible?) and Isaac Burr Butler, a RHSP who was 1-10 with a 5.34 ERA for the 1902 Baltimore Orioles. Makes sense to go with the pitcher ...

Now, from the offensive side, using the newfangled metrics of the Jamesian age, there has NEVER been a big league player with either the initials OPS or OBP. But the old tried-and-true pre-sabremetric measure of greatness, the home run, still provides us with numerous options, including an All-Star middle infield in 2B Harold Reynolds and the still-active shortstop Hanley Ramirez.

Lost in the didn't-go-by-it haze are a couple of former Dodger greats in another shortstop, Harold "Pee Wee" Reese, and OF Harold "Pete" Reiser. A more recent All-Star OF, Henry Rodriguez, does qualify, but Hall of Fame SP Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn, not so much. With all those HRs on the board, shockingly there is only one natural RBI in big league history, 1990s Tigers/Twins OF Riccardo Benay Ingram. Still, even with the lack of RBI, there is only one man "left on base" (LOB) in big league history, in Luther Owens Barnes, a .243-hitting middle infielder for the 1972-73 Mets.

We should note that we are ignoring even the most common one-letter abbreviations (like H and K and E) -- there would simply be too many possibilities and we've gone down that road previously anyway, building Hall of Names rosters back in 2004-05 for teams of players whose last/family names began with each letter of the alphabet. (Well, except "X" -- there has never been a big league player with a last name starting with "X" ... Oh, 1985-90 minor league catcher Joe Xavier, why couldn't your talent vault you to the big leagues?)

Still, there are plenty of other abbreviations out there that do call to mind some significant All-Star, even Hall-of-Fame-level players. For instance ...

  • GB (Games Behind) ... HOF 3B George Brett
  • SO (Strikeouts) ... All-Star RHP Steve Ontivero
  • BB (Walks/Bases on Balls) ... All-Stars like Bert Blyleven? Bobby Bonds? Barry Bonds? Bob Boone? Bill Buckner? Many others ... again, we have done an entire roster just of the double-initial BB players ...
  • SB (Stolen Bases) ... All-Stars like Steve Busby? Steve Blass? Sal Bando?
  • AB (At-Bats) ... With an eye on 2009 rookie All-Star Andrew Bailey and a nod to Hall of Fame umpire Al Barlick, let's go with Albert Belle ...
  • SS (Shortstop) ... More double-initials! Sammy Sosa? Scott Sanderson? Steve Sax? Steve Stone?
  • LF (Left Field) ... A number of All-Stars you've never heard of (Lou Fette, Lou Finney, Larry French), so let's go with Lonny Frey, a fine three-time All-Star 2B who hit .269 over 14 seasons between 1933-48.
  • CF (Center Field) ... A huge number of All-Stars you HAVE heard of, including Cecil Fielder, Chuck Finley, Chone Figgins, Cliff Floyd, Curt Flood (arguably the most influential player in the history of the game OFF the field) and Carl Furillo. Oh, and one Hall of Famer,  Carlton Fisk.
  • RF (Right Field) Jammed with HOFers including non-qualifying pitchers like Robert "Bob" Feller, Rube Foster and Red Faber, which leaves us with a battery of Rick Ferrell and Rollie Fingers along with guys who were "just" All-Stars like Ryan Franklin, Rafael Furcal, Ron Fairly, Robert Fick and Ray Fosse. All that said, we'll go with Fingers ... hands down (Har!).
  • DH (Designated Hitter) ... Sorry, "Doc" Halladay, we're left with All-Stars like Danny Haren, Dave Henderson, Don Hoak, Dave Hollins and Dick Howser. You'll remember that last guy more as a manager than a shortstop, which he was, but his combined success in those two areas -- he started at shortstop in the All-Star Game as a 1961 rookie AND managed a World Series champ in the 1985 Royals -- earns Howser this spot.
  • SP (Starting Pitcher) Apologies to many fine candidates, but can this be anyone other than the greatest Starting Pitcher who ever lived, Satchel Paige? (I know, I know, that's a nickname. So sue me.)
  • RP (Relief Pitcher) Rafael Palmeiro? Roger Pavlik? Let's go with Rico Petrocelli.
  • CL (Closer) Clem Labine or Cliff Lee? It will probably be Lee in the long run, but it's a tossup now and given what the abbreviation stands for, we'll go with the 96 saves (and two NL save titles) racked up by Labine.
  • PH (Pinch-Hitter) Pete Harnisch or Pat Hentgen? This is a Blue Jays site, I'm not dumb. It's Hentgen, and pretty easily.
  • LCS (League Championship Series) There have only been two, and with all due respect to the 19th century utilityman Leonard Clark Stockwell, we'll look sideways past the nickname rule and Louis Francis "Chief" Sockalexis, the fine young OF from whom, legend has it, the Cleveland Indians took their name. 
  • NL (National League) This one's pretty easy -- Hall of Famer Napoleon Lajoie.
  • AL (American League) Options are surprisingly limited, so here's to another former Jay in Al Leiter.
  • MLB (Major leage Baseball) A number of players had these most generalizable of all baseball initials, but the best, such as they were, ended up being 1990s RHRP Melvin Lynn Bunch Jr., 1980s-'90s RHSP Michael Lawrence Birkbeck and our leader in the clubhouse, SFG OF Marvin Larry Benard, who hit .271 with 54 homers from 1995-2003.

Woo. That's enough of that! But what other baseball initials or abbreviations can we use on this list, and who are the best players to bear those initials? Is there anyone missing from the above list? Over to you, Bauxites ...

Off the scorecard ... initially speaking | 9 comments | Create New Account
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S P - Sunday, October 11 2009 @ 01:22 AM EDT (#207367) #
PR (Pinch Runner) ... Pete Rose is the obvious one left out

I challenge anyone to find one for LOOGY. Better yet, how about xFIP.

CeeBee - Sunday, October 11 2009 @ 10:30 AM EDT (#207371) #

PB (Passed Ball) - Paul Blair, Pat Burrell

WP (Wild Pitch) - Wally Pipp, Wes Parker, Wally Post

BS ( Blown Save) - Bruce Sutter, Bill Skowron, Benito Santiago, Bobby Shantz, Bret Saberhagen, Bill Singer

FC (Fielders Choice) - Fred Clarke, Frank Chance, Frank Catalanotto

PO ( Put Out) - Paul O'Neill 

CS ( Caught Stealing) - Curt Shilling, Cy Seymour, Curt Simmons, Casey Stengel(manager)

Mike Green - Monday, October 12 2009 @ 05:04 PM EDT (#207421) #
The SF options would be Sid Fernandez, Scott Feldman or Steve Finley. 
John Northey - Tuesday, October 13 2009 @ 01:39 PM EDT (#207449) #
Well, an obvious one to dig into is the TO team.  From a Canadian great like Tip O'Neill to Troy O'Leary, Tom O'Malley...
Mick Doherty - Tuesday, October 13 2009 @ 05:34 PM EDT (#207457) #

John, we actually did an All-TO team once upon a time. (Hey, I live near Dallas. They're initials one used to hear a lot around here!)

But seriously, I give up ... what baseball abbreviation is T.O.? I may be missing something head-slappingly obvious, but other sprots have Timeouts and Turnovers ... baseball, not so much!

Mike Green - Tuesday, October 13 2009 @ 09:19 PM EDT (#207466) #
I figured that LOB would leave us hanging, but sure enough Luther Owens Barnes was a utility infielder for a couple of years.
Alex Obal - Tuesday, October 13 2009 @ 09:23 PM EDT (#207467) #
LOOGY. Lou Gehrig.
Mike Green - Tuesday, October 13 2009 @ 09:31 PM EDT (#207469) #
Ike Pearson was, appropriately enough, a swingman. 
Off the scorecard ... initially speaking | 9 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.