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Ir'a Christmas Eve (or by the time some of you read this, Christmas Day or Christmas Past), and that means time for Bauxites everywhere to gather 'round the (Hot Stove enflamed) fire and join in a round of Christmas Carols, Hall of Names style.

Yes, mid-1980s journeyman catcher Steve Christmas (Reds, White Sox, Cubs, 1983-1986), even with a career OPS+ of 27, is going to get used a lot in this holiday "card," but ideas also came from the 2003 Holiday Chatter thread, not to mention the (2004-05) New Year's Wishes from Baseball's Hall of Names foray. But for now, let's all just join together and sing ...

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Christmas Day is just nine days off now, meaning most schools are closing down for a while following a week of exams, people at work are trying to finish spending (or finish justifying, depending on how well the employer's year went) the 2005 budget, and baseball fans are stuck in the midst of five months of what is collegially referred to as "the offseason."

The winter holidays are great in so many ways, but for baseball fans, frankly -- except for the Winter Meetings, which are already over -- they are a time of reflection and anticipation and ... ah, hell, a time of baseball-free boredom.

So maybe if we all close our eyes and hope real hard, St. Nicholas will bring us ...

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What kind of nonsense is this? Not nonsense, but actually perfect sense, especially on a site dedicated to a team called the "Jays."

According to our good friends over at the incomparable, there have been four major leaguers who went by "A.J." and four more by "B.J." -- and now, of course, one of each of those (Burnett and Ryan) are teammates for the 2006 TO Jays. Alas, C.J. Nitkowski was not acquired to complete the A.-B.-C. J. trifecta, but Nitkowski is more than welcome to join ...

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I guess it's about time that I do a Hall of Names team based on my own name -- no, not "Doherty," as we'd be limited to only a couple of Johns who flashed through the AL in the mid-1970s and early 1990s, respectively. Nor will I limit this squad to a repeat of the All-Mickey team a while back.

No, here we will be looking at the literally hundreds of players who have been able to offer a positive answer to the claim in the first line of that 1973 hit single "Playground in My Mind" that Clint Holmes unleashed on the world, beginning "My name is Michael ..."

Of course, there are some rules ...

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Back in 1991, the then-still California Angels headed into Spring Training with a couple of very big bats scheduled to be in the middle of their lineup. Future Hall of Famer Dave Winfield had come over the previous season from the Yankees for Mike Witt, while former NL MVP Dave Parker had arrived in the off-season from the Brewers for Dante Bichette.

It didn't work out as planned, as Parker was released in September to hook on with eventual AL East champion Blue Jays for one last fling while the Angels finished 81-81 but still seventh and dead last in the AL West. Winfield also fled to Toronto the following year to win a World Series ring (Parker had retired by that point) while the Angels "improved" to sixth place while falling to 70-92, and the Halos as an organization were Dave-free (unless you count homerless 1B Alvin Davis who was released before the end of June).

Still, in Spring Training of '91, hopes were high and grins were wide as Parker unveiled the tee-shirt he wore under his uniform, bearing the slogan "Mama Said There'd Be Daves Like These." Indeed, two of the top three or four Davids ever to play major league baseball converged briefly that summer and like sands through the hourglass, they will undoubtedly anchor ...

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Recently, after we toured a Hall of Names gallery for each of the 25 most common North American surnames, we also took a dive into the It Makes Census pool, which had a 25-man roster composed of one player each from the candidates with those 25 surnames.

Well, first things ... uh, second, as it turns out ... as we now undertake the same process with the 25 most common first/given names. But there is a bit of a twist ...

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"Roy" has always been an important name in Toronto Blue Jay terms. Roy Hartsfield, of course, was the team's first manager, compiling a career 166-318 mark in three seasons from 1977-79. Roy Howell made the 1978 All-Star team as a Blue Jay (.270/8/61 as the team's starting 3B). Roy Lee Jackson had four solid years (1981-85) as a RH setup guy for the Jays after being acquired from the Mets in exchange for the team's very first expansion draft pick, Bob Bailor. And it appears that Jackson is the primary "Roy" in team's history not to bear a family name beginning with "H."

Oh, yes, you all know Mr. Halladay, right?

Well, with perhaps some competition from a fellow down in Houston who has been pretty good this post-season, Halladay is likely to be at or near the top of this Hall of Names team's rotation; that's right, it's time to meet ...

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Jazz shares history with baseball, rising in the Roaring Twenties, and falling late last century. And now, we'll try to get jazz and baseball to share a team.

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So we've completed construction of the newest wing on Baseball's Hall of Names -- full (or in a few cases, nearly full) rosters representing each of the 25 most common North American surnames. Of course 25 is a magic number in baseball -- it's the number of players on a regulation in-season roster. Which leads us to this rhetorical exercise:

What is the best possible roster we could build consisting of 25 players, each bearing a different one of those 25 most common American surnames? It's quite a bit trickier than simply choosing the best player off each roster ...

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And: Walking the "Sandy" Beaches

Now, as you may recall from the most recent Hall of Names entry regarding "Walkers," I admitted that we've been saving the 17th-most-common North American surnmae for last in this presentation of the Top 25; that name is Thompson and the fact of the matter is, you'd put off doing your wife's (and father-in-law's) name, too, just to make sure it was done properly.

Such is the case here as we attempt to construct a roster from the 40 or so big leaguers who have borne that particular surname. Of course, as always ...

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All-October 20

As regular readers of this feature on Batter's Box will no doubt already know, I make no qualms about the fact that I stole -- er, borrowed -- the whole concept of "Baseball's Hall of Names" from that "other" Mick Doherty, he would no doubt claim "the original" Mick Doherty, dad.

In lieu of spending actual cash on a birthday gift (no, seriously, dad, it's on the way), I'm here to spend some cache instead ... in the form of an All-Birthday Hall of Names team. Some may recall that we've encroached on this territory before, with an All-July 20 team that celebrated (ahem) my own date of birth.

So now, exactly three months later, we revisit the concept and put together a team that, frankly -- no, wait, there are no Franks on the team, so instead, we'll put together a team that [affect Cary Grant voice here] Judy, Judy, Judy (Johnson), would just beat the living hell out of my own all-birthday lineup.

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You know the old baseball saying, passed down from little league coaches of yore, "A walk's as good as a hit," right?

Well, does that mean that our All-Walker team will be filled with Hitters? Well, with Harry, Larry, Dixie and Todd in the lineup, it just might be.

Just two of the top 25 most common North American surnames remain in our quest for the perfect Hall of Names lineup/roster; for reasons that we'll delve into later, we're saving the #17 name for last and skipping right to #25, which you will have surmised from the preceding paragraph, is "Walker."

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The 18th most-common North American surname is "Garcia" -- and it's the highest-ranking non-Anglo surname on the list; yes, yes, we've already unveiled the All-Martinez team, but keep in mind that Martinez ranks 19th, or just behind Garcia, among North American surnames.

Latino naming conventions are somewhat different, of course, so we will make some allowances for what "surname" means by focusing on those players who commonly used the name as the "second" or "family" name -- you know, the one that appears on the back of the jersey. That means that former All-Star middle infielders Carlos Jesus Garcia Guerrero and Damaso Domingo Garcia Sanchez are eligible. They'd better be ..

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There have been 29 major league players with the surname "Martin" -- just four of them have been All-Stars, and one of those four -- the one you've probably thought of already -- will both start at 2B and manage the team, at least until an impatient owner fires him ...

Of course Martin, the 16th-most common North American surname, is literally only 75 percent of the name that Martinez is (the first six of eight letters is three-quarters, or 75 percent, natch) and Martinez is the 19th-most popular North American surname (though there have actually been more big league Martinezes, 33, than Martins), so we'll visit Hall of Names team for both ...

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The fifteenth most-common North American surname is "Harris." Honestly, it's not a sexy baseball name. Now, if we were talking gridiron, as in the NFL, we'd have a running back named Franco and a defensive back named Cliff in our Hall of Fame and All-Pro coffers, with one of the first black quarterbacks, James, also a Pro Bowler, along for the ride.

But for baseball? Well, the biggest name is that of a Hall of Famer, sure, but a manager -- Bucky. Actually, like his (Sparky) Anderson predecessor, Bucky Harris was also a starting 2B in the big leagues, but where the Andersons had Garrett and Brady and a few other guys to populate the lineup, the case can be made that Bucky, at .274 over parts of 12 seasons, is actually the best hitter -- even the best player -- on an All-Harris team.

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