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So we worked up the All-John squad recently (and did so without making a single bathroom joke -- yay Batter's Box!) only to be reminded that there is an alternate way to spell that name, depending on your country of origin.

In fact, it's quite likely that more countries on this planet spell the name "J-U-A-N" than "J-O-H-N" anyway, so let's see about all the Juan Gones and the many Juanderful pitchers we've had in major league history as we meet ...

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In building the historical Baseball Hall of Names, we've cobbled together more than 200 teams, including rosters for every initial and many combinations of initials, days and months of birth, popular culture "themes," and one each for the 25 Most Common North American Surnames (family names), as well as 30+ for shared first/given names.

But that latter group has been put together rather haphazardly (see First Things ... Uh, Second? for an earlier trek along this path); in fact only nine of the 25 Most Common Male Names in the U.S. (would like to know of a Canadian equivalent free online somewhere?) have been covered with a Hall of Names squad, indeed just six of the top 10. So our next targets, in order are John, Richard, Charles and Joseph ... as first/given names, of course -- Tommy John, J.R. Richard, Ed Charles and Rick Joseph, among others, thanks for stopping by the booth, but your last/family name does not qualify.

All that said, let's start with the second most-common male name (we've already covered #1 with a long-ago look at The James Gang) as we compile a team that can only be called ...

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In the most recent Advance Scout, Da Box's own Alex Obal pegged Minnesota's Jason Kubel "already one of the ten greatest position players to ever come out of South Dakota, and may even be in the top five after a full season." Is that so? Sounds like a Hall of (Place) Names challenge, the first we've undertaken since the All-Mexico squad back in mid-June.

But let's not limit ourselves to South Dakota, hmmm? After all ...

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You might have noticed in yesterday's Meet the S.S. All-Stars, that we tabbed the final roster with the team name "The S.S. Minnows." This was not to disparage the team's talent level or to strip it of potential "big fish" status; instead, it was simply an homage to the name of the vessel ("The tiny ship was tossed") that stranded seven famous "castaways" on a tropical island in the 1960s.

Well, we've done it for shows like Star Trek and The Simpsons so let's go Hall of Names on one of the iconographic TV sitcoms of all time, as we build ...

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It's actually hard to settle on a final total of the number of big league ballplayers in MLB history with the initials S.S. -- do we count Sam "Pony" Sager, for instance? (Yes, we do -- and he even actually makes the team!) Okay, then what about Harry "Slim" Sallee? (No, we don't.) How about All-Star John Stanley "Jack" Sanford? (Nope, not him either.)

But that's okay. We still have plenty of options to form a full roster of players whose given first name (regardless of what other name or nickname they actually went by) and last/family name both started with the letter "S," the 19th such double-initial combination we have examined here on Batter's Box. Given all that, it's time to meet ...
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Again ... that's initially speaking ...

We'll go off the beaten path for a moment in this double-ititial odyssey for the Hall of Names (See the first four double-initial teams, "AA" Through "CC", "DD" Through "FF", "GG" Through "JJ" and "KK" Through "MM," here), and see if we can't put together a full team, or even a full roster, of players by combining the nine (there's a good baseball number omen) letters which did not have at least nine players reach the bigs with double initials.

Those letters, unfortunately, include II, QQ, UU and XX, each of which contributed exactly zero double-initial players; UU and YY, each of which produced just one; and NN (five), OO (eight), VV (two) and ZZ (three). So that's a total of just 20 players, eleven of whom were pitchers, but let's see what we can do anyway ...
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Today is Larry Sherry's 71st birthday. So hat's off to the former Dodger World Series MVP and here's a question -- really don't know the answer here -- but could we possibly put together an entire team of players whose names internally rhymed, like "Larry Sherry" did? (You can see that spelling similarity is optional.)

Sherry (53-44, 82 saves career) is joined by another former Dodger RHP in Ed Head (27-23, 11 saves), and still another righty in the more recent Mark Clark (74-71, 10 years, five teams). Paul Schaal was a solid 3B for 11 years with the Angels and Royals. That's Harry Carey in the announcer's booth.

Who else?

Today, I am 40. Last year at this time, I "celebrated" my Jeck Benny birthday Hall of Names style with a look at both an All-July 20 team and an All-Mick(ey) team.

This year, let's focus on the number. No, I'm not (quite) having a midlife freakout, and thanks to guys like Darrell Evans, Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Warren Spahn and Roger Clemens, this day instead is all about celebrating the greatest Age-40 Seasons (for both hitters and pitchers) in the history of the Great Game. Yes, it's time to meet ...

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Initially Speaking, That Is (Part 4: KLM)

If you've been reading recently, you know that we've taken up the yoke again that we started back in August of '05, what we then termed "an interesting twist on the Hall of Names (initially speaking) ... who are the best double-initial players for [...] letters of the English alphabet?"

The first two installments were done back then, and after a short (10 months, call it short of a year, anyway) recess, the third came online last week. So we now have, AA through CC, DD through FF and GG through JJ and here take a swing at KK, LL and MM. I feel confident we will see a couple of guys named Lajoie and Mantle in this story, but let's see how it plays out ...

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We did something like this once before, but honestly, I can't find the thread, so let's start from scratch. Here's your challenge:

Using last (family) name-to-first (given) name overlaps, what is the longest string of players you can build? For instance, there's Mark Corey Thurman Munson, tying together the former Pittsburgh RHRP Mark Corey, recent Jay RHRP Corey Thurman and Yankee captain and catcher Thurman Munson. But that's just three guys ... surely someone can do better?

The only rules are these:
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With the All-Star Game now in our rearview mirror, perhaps we should salute the 2006 ASG MVP with a look back at an old Hall of Names classic, The Youngs and the Rest List.

But instead, let's look to build a team of players who are literally All-Star names -- though it turns out this might be harder than we originally planned, so be prepared to help ...

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Initially Speaking, That Is  (Part 3: G-J)

Back in August of '05, we started what we then termed "an interesting twist on the Hall of Names (initially speaking) ... who are the best double-initial players for each of the first 23 letters of the English alphabet?"

Unfortunately, after the first two installments, AA through CC and DD through FF, we just sort of ... stopped. But we're back, moving on from Barry Bonds and Frankie Frisch to the likes of Gary Gaetti, Harry Heilmann and Joe Jackson. Yes, we're skipping the vowel, and changing the above declared goal to read ...

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In the recent Bicentennial Men Hall of Names feature here on Batter's Box, which formed a fine All-Star team made up of big leaguers all born in the year 1976 a number of people stepped up with alternate all-year teams, and so we also met at least partial squads from, among others, 1957, 1959, 1980, 1982 and 1983. [Wednesday 7/5 Update: already added to this story are teams or partial teams for 1903, 1934, '35, 1945, '46, '47, '49, 1951, '55, '58, 1963, '64, '65, '66, 1970, '75, '77, '79 and 1981.]

Nice teams, one and all. But what's the very best year for producing big league talent? I'm going to set the bar pretty high with the year ...

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Believe it or not, this is the 200th installment of Batter's Box Interactive Magazine's Hall of Names. The complete archive is shown on one page here. Admittedly, I can't take full credit for the list of 200; 23 have been written by guest contributors while four more I have co-authored with someone. Anyway ...

How to celebrate such a milestone, if indeed we can label it as such? Well, anyone in or near the U.S. reading this who can remember the year 1976 will remember the utter overload and preponderance of the number 200, especially in lists.

That year was the birthplace of baseball's 200th birthday as a nation, or "bicentennial." (Subject of a previous Hall of Names entry, here.) It was the second of back-to-back titles for the Big Red Machine. It was the year of Mark "The Bird" Fidrych in Detroit. It was an MVP year for Joe Morgan and Thurman Munson and meant Cy Young Awards for Jim Palmer and Randy Jones. It was the year before big league baseball landed in Toronto.

It was also the year of the birth of a 104 major league ballplayers -- so far, anyway ...

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These days, we don't think much about Cuba as a provider of major league baseball talent; other than the rare exception of a Hernandez brother or a Contreras, there simply aren't many natives of our neighboring island to the south who make the big leagues any more.

But that's all about politics. And the truth of the matter is, a lot of very fine players throughout big league history have been born in Cuba; no less than 150, in fact, still the fifth most of any country in the world outside the USA, and half again more than the larger and friendlier Mexico, the most recent country visited for Baseball's Hall of Names.

But Cuba? Sure, how would you like a team that looks like this? ...

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