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So we are well past the time of this season's Midsummer Classic, headed into the heat of the pennant races and still months off from the annual awards-fest that follows the crowning of the World Series champion. But favorites are already emerging to win, for instance, the '07 Rookie of the Year awards (FWIW, Vegas says Ryan Braun in the NL and Daisuke Matsuzaka in the AL).

But that leads to an interesting question ... historically, which league produces the best Rookies of the Year? And to answer that, let's dive into a special edition of Baseball's Hall of Names ...
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Jason Frasor turns 30 today.

Nobody born on Aug. 9 has (yet) been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, though one may "percivere" into the shrine one day and another has "neon"-ed his way to consideration for the NFL Hall in Canton.

Actually, no less than 55 men born on this day have played in the major leagues, including a half dozen or so (like Frasor) still active. So presumably we will be able to cobble together a pretty decent 8/9 ballclub in this "Frasor" edition (even though Jason isn't even going to make the team!) of the Hall of Names, which we can only call ...

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I'm not quite sure what it was that got me thinking about the name "Joel" -- maybe it was the acquisition  (and insertion into the rotation) of ex-phenom Joel Pineiro by the Cardinals. Maybe it was the debut with the Nationals of young righty Joel Hanrahan, whose two-game career OPS+ (347!) and ERA+ (130) portend great things. Heck, maybe I just heard a song on the radio by Billy Joel.

Regardless, it was off to BaseballReference.com, where I found that a search for the name "Joel" currently has 25 returns -- and 25 is a magic number in the baseball world. The question is, can we flip that 25 into a passable 25-man roster? Let's see ...


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Well, it's August -- the trade deadline has passed, we are well into that time of the season known as "the pennant race," even closing in on that related time called "the stretch drive."

But it's August ...
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I'll be honest -- I'm not much of a fisherman. Been out maybe four or five times in my life, mostly for perch on Lake Erie when I was much younger. So when the idea came to do an All-Fish Hall of Names team, I had some misgivings. Most of what I know about fish comes from the menus of fine seafood restaurants.

And did you realize ...
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"Reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."
-- Richard P. Feynman

Feynman was a great man, a brilliant physicist and one of the leading thinkers of the 20th century. But, at least as far as this chapter in Baseball's Hall of Names is concerned, when it came to PR, he didn't know jack.

Or, more appropriately, he didn't know Pete -- as in Rose (Sr. or Jr.) or Reiser or Runnels, just a few of the many players in big league history with a name that bore the initials "P.R."

But given my own chosen profession -- make that PRofession -- of corporate communications, maybe by invoking the help of baseball's marketing godhead Bill Veeck, we can formualate a decent roster of players from these PR (take your) "hacks." Maybe not.

Let's find out as we meet ...

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Initially Speaking, That Is

More than two years ago, we started a special "series" of Hall of Names features that sought to answer the apparently-not-so-burning question, "who are the best double-initial players for each of the ... letters of the English alphabet?" We kicked off in August of '05 by looking at teams of players with the initials AA, BB and CC. Then things ... slowed down a bit.
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Thanks to AWeb for this idea ... I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it myself. With the relase of the latest Harry Potter movie and the last Harry Potter book this summer, let's forget about quidditch for a bit and see if these wizards and muggles can't play a bit of baseball. So, as AWeb wrote, this is "in tribute to the Potter-release day ... [though] I'm not sure if there are enough 'normal' names to make up a team" ...

And while it's true we won't find a big leaguer named "Hermione" or "Severus" we will take this opportunity to pull out the Hall of Names Sorting Hat to meet ...
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I admit it, I can get pretty narcissistic here on Batter's Box when my birthday rolls around. So before this year's rendition completely rolls into the history books, what can we do to, um, "celebrate" this year? In years past, we've already seen the All-July 20 team and the All-Mick(ey) squad, even putting together one HoN entry that featured two teams, All-"Doc" and All-MD ... then last year, upon reaching a milestone (or is that millstone?), we met the All-Age-40 team, followed later (without actually waiting for, y'know, today) by the All-Age-41 squad. So are we totally out of ideas?

Not on your (okay, my) life ...
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Not sure what got me thinking about Disney's irascible rodents, but Chip and Dale were awfully persistent in getting what they wanted. Presumably, if they'd wanted World Series rings, they would have made a fine double-play combination.

But to be honest, there haven't been all that many Chips on the big league table, and a surprisingly low number of Dales as well. Can we chipmunk-ey around enough to to put together a legitimate Hall of Names team? Let's see ...

(After you! No, I insist, after you ...)
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Every once in a while,wandering -- okay, "surfing," if you must -- the Web allows you to discover something, quite accidentally that is, as the old Vulcan Spock used to intone, "simply fascinating.'

One place good for such surfing is the wonderful baseball site BaseballAlmanac.com, second perhaps only to the genius of BaseballReference.com on the entirety of the Web for MLB historical nuggets. Just this week, I was, um, researching something very important at work (yeah, that's it) when I stumbled upon the Last Player Standing/Born in Each Year page at the Almanac, which is essentially a monument to long-lasting players, listing ...
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If I still worked for American Airlines -- and I haven't for more than two years -- I probably would have noticed before late evening that today's date is a plane ... that's right, today is 7/7/7.

And such a unique date cries out for a Hall of Names team, made exclusively of players born on July 7 ...
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As promised, after the recent All-Phillips family name Hall of Names treatise, we're back to examine how the first-named Philips (and Phillips, and even the Filomenos and others) of the world come together for a HoN treatment.

There have been more than 100 players in MLB history who carried the name "Phil," in some form, as a first or middle name, even as we discount the few who went by "Phil," even though it wasn't actually anywhere on the birth certificate. (We're looking at guys like you, William Franklin "Phil" Irwin and Pinson Lamar "Phil" McCullough!)

Anyway, even though the first-named Phils outnumber their middle-named counterparts by more than two-to-one, it turns out we can build rosters for both of them. Let's start at the beginning, then, and meet ...
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According to BaseballReference.com, baseball history has thus far seen 26 men with the family name "Phillips" -- that's not including the middle-named John Phillips Jenkins Sensenderfer or the first-named Phillips Steere Paine.

The list includes exactly zero Hall of Famers, not even any All-Stars, but 26 is more than a typical roster of 25 (though to be fair, two of them were "just" managers in the bigs, so we are starting at 24), so it's at least theoretically possible we will be able to "Phil" up this team. Let's see ...
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Sometimes, a Hall of Names story just happens.

Yesterday, Batter's Box's own Mike Green tagged a Colorado player with the nickname Manny "Habeas" Corpas, and pretty soon, with contributions from Mike, Alex Obal and Magpie, we had an entire Hall of Names roster of players with "Latin" names -- no, not an All-Latin-American team, that'd be too easy.

Instead, this is the team team that plays pro bono until a post mortem is necessary. They "May" scream mea culpa at some point, but it will be a bona fide effort. So let's move on and start by meeting the captain of this ad hoc squad, none other than the man actually named ...
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