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Let's start with our shocking statistic of the day, the one that will make you think "who?"

Since rookie Tommy Hunter joined the Texas Rangers rotation on a regular basis back on June 28, he leads the American League with a 1.97 ERA, over eight starts.

That has led the Rangers TV crew, Josh Lewin and Tom Grieve, to tag the young righty with a wonderful nickname that works on about six levels: Tommy "Big Game" Hunter. Genius!

In honor of that, let's dole out some other "those really should be" nicknames to players around the game, Toronto and otherwise. The do not need to be -- and in fact, shouldn't be! -- "real" nicknames, but rather just plays on words using player names.

A few rules (and examples) ...

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Yesterday, my dear ol' dad -- from whom, as I have openly admitted previously, I stole the whole "Hall of Names" concept -- sent me this one-line e-mail:

At the moment, the Athletics' pitcher, Outman, is pitching to the Yankees' Swisher.

Now, from a Hall of Names perspective, that's clearly Advantage: Defense. The batter is a swish-waiting-to-happen while the hurler is named "out, man!" Yikes!

What hitter/pitcher matchups can you imagine that might trump even that one? Note: they don't have to be contemporaries who actually faced each other. In fact there are no rules -- first names, last names, nicknames -- go to it! Spelling is an optional luxury; it's all about the pronunciation. For instance, you could have '90s pitcher Reynoso facing old-time infielder Granny for a fierce Armando/Hamner (Arm & Hammer) matchup. Or possibly the greatest matchup ever in the history of the universe ...

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After seeing the Dustin Pedroia commercial that's running for an MLB video game for the seventy thousandth time this week, I decided to see if we could build a Hall of Names team built entirely of players named "Dustin." And though there are nine men who have had that given first or middle name who've reached the big leagues to date -- and nine is a nice baseball number -- the simple answer is "no, we can't."

Just at a glance, we can see at least three -- McGowan, Hermanson and Nippert -- are pitchers, so there would not be a full eight on defense to fill out the lineup card.

Ah, but what if we include all those guys nicknamed "Dusty" or named "Dustan," etc.? Yes, if we expand our parameters a little ...

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So the Toronto-biased talk has started already, albeit quietly -- Travis Snider, 2009 AL Rookie of the Year? Well, we'll see. But you know what? He may already be one of the three or four best players in MLB history with the given first name "Travis."

Actually ...
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Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9
Industrial output ... Financial imbalance
Thrusting it between his shoulder blades

  • from Revolution Number Nine by the Beatles

Ted Williams. Reggie Jackson. Minnie Minoso. Enos Slaughter. Bill Mazeroski. Roger Maris. What do these men all have in common? (No, this isn't a trivia thread, sorry.) Simply -- they are the only men in baseball history to have had the uniform #9 retired by a big league ballclub.

Now, "9" is a magic number in baseball. Nine innings in a game. Nine players on the field defensively -- and nine in the lineup, pre-DH. You get the idea. So in a reverse twist on Dan McIlroy's excellent "Lobby of Numbers" series, let's see what kind of roster we can build strictly of players who wore the uniform #9. (I'm going to need some help here!) ...

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Almost three and a half years ago, when Baseball's Hall of Names was just starting to grow, we examined teams for the most common family names in North America; sitting at #9 on that list was A Pretty Good Squad, Moore or Less. (Alas, there never has been a player named Les Moore, so there is no all-contradictary names team on the horizon.)

But what about that other sense of Mo(o)re and Les(s)? Can we build a squad of players bearing names like More, Most and Very? Staying away from nicknames, this might be more than we can handle, at the very most!

But let's see ...

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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 ...
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The top offensive prospect in the Texas Rangers minor league system -- I guess you'd call him a "hot" prospect -- is 1B Justin Smoak. Okay, okay, get it overwith -- yes, the power-hitting youngster can really "Smoak" the ball. He's "Smoak"-ing hot. But the Hall of Names question arises -- is it true that where there's Smoak, there's Fire?

Coming up with a team of players with heat-related names -- one that could "Smoak" the opposition -- might prove a hot proposition, as the owner of the one name we've punned on forty-six times already, young Smoak, hasn't even reached the major leagues yet. So anyway ...
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On another slow, nearly-baseball-free December's day. I found myself wandering the greatness of and landed on this page, which outlines the 43 men who have been the first overall picks in the June Amateur Draft.

Of course, this led me to the standard Hall of Names question ... what kind of roster would this group of names comprise?

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Each year around this time, we take a musical tour through Baseball's Hall of Names to ring in the new year -- and in fact, these tours have more commonly been New Year-themed (see Auld Lang Syne and Just Another New Year's Eve from years past). But before we completely run out of New Year's songs -- or have we already? -- let's back up a week and try our lyrical hand at Christmas. (We sort of did this a few years ago, but this is the first real attempt at a carol).

So with a nod to Gus, Buddy, David, Cool Papa and George (among others) -- or had you figured that out for the headline already? -- let's join together in a chorus of ...

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You may not remember him, but today is Geoff Zahn's birthday. Zahn, a fine LHSP in the '70s and '80s, won 18 games once and was one of the first big two-time winners in early free agency, signing with both the Twins in '77 and the Angels in '81.

But this isn't about Zahn, the pitcher. It's about his name -- Geoff. There have been only five Geoffs in big league history, so though we were able to build a fine All-Jeff team back in '06, an All-Geoff team simply ain't happening.

Similar "sorry, ain't happening" notes to guys names Jon (rather than John), Kris (rather than Chris) and Marc (instead of Mark) among many others. Which leads us to this question ...

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So we spent some time this week discussing who should be each team's "Mr. Franchise" (the full discussion is in this thread) and given the results, tried to fill out a full standard-Hall-of-Names 25-man roster.

The lineup and bench were no problem -- four legitimate Hall of Famers didn't even make the roster... but the pitching staff runs short. We have only seven arms available, five more Hall of Famers, one who certainly will be in six years or so, and another -- well, as you'll see, a projection, at best.

So how can we make this team better? Note that four of the six listed as not making the team all played primarily the same position, OF, with three primarily in RF alone..

Can we fill out the pitching staff somehow? Your thoughts ...?
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We all know that when you hear a reference to "Mr. Cub," that's the one and only Ernie Banks. So he's this team's starting shortstop. Or maybe first baseman, we'll see. What are we going for here? Well, we have 30 teams in the big leagues, and a standard Hall of Names roster includes 25 players plus a manager, sometimes some coaches, maybe an owner or a mascot -- you get the idea.

What kind of team can we build of players who were their franchise's equivalent of Banks? That requires two steps, and who knows, possibly some heated arguments (which is always fun). First, we have to identify everyone from Mr. Brave to Mr. Mariner, all the way from Atlanta to Seattle. Then, we have to see if our list can make up a legitimate roster. To that point, a few rules ...

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In another thread, Mike Green muses, "As long as Bob Walk isn't pitching ..." which led me to think, "Yeah, and you could pull him from the game and lose nothing by bringing in Grant Balfour."

See where this is headed? I have nothing specific in mind, but instead just invite everyone here to brainstorm and nominate the players who would make up the all-disastrously-named squad. From Balfour and Walk to Klutts and Kluttz, who belongs on this team? Remember, no nicknames, so Hugh "Losing Pitcher" Mulcahy is right out ...

Long-time readers of Batter's Box may know that one of the semi-regular "sidebar" features we've provided to Baseball's Hall of Names is the occasional look at an all-birthday team of players born on the same day (in different years, of course). We've done most major dated holidays and a variety of others. So occasionally I'll glance at the greatness of to see if there is an interesting all-birthday team for that day -- and we've found some pretty good ones!

Given that we haven't done such a squad in some time, let's take an extra step and work through an entire weekend of teams, for Oct. 17, 18 and 19, respectively. The interesting thing about these teams is that one of the very first players born on each of those days to make the major leagues (Buck Ewing, born 10/17/1859; Candy Cummings, born 10/18/1848; and Mordecai Brown, born 10/19/1876) all made the Hall of Fame, but not a single player born Oct. 17-18-19 since then has so much as sniffed Cooperstown induction. and only a total of 11 have even made an All-Star team.

Let's take a look at these three sets of Mister Octobers ...
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