When you enter the last name of the first 43 Presidents of the United States into Baseball-Reference.com, someone comes up. Sometimes it's a minor league player and sometimes it's a major leaguer who was clearly named after the president. Every president shares a name with at least one professional baseball player, past or present.
Except for one.
Yeah, way to ruin the string, pal. But we're not here for opinions on President Obama, which seems like something the Internet just isn't interested in. Today is Presidents Day. This means it's time to find the best presidential baseball names in the history of the sport. Apologies to Jack Roosevelt Robinson, Abraham Lincoln Wolstenholme, John Truman Wasdin, and Zip George Washington Zabel, but here are the top five presidential baseball names.
It's a two-fer! A very uncomfortable and awkward two-fer. According to Baseball-Reference's Bullpen, Bridges was indeed named for both the third President of the United States and the first president of the Confederate States of America. His full name is basically Hey Remember Slavery Bridges, which probably wasn't his parents' intent. Unless it was. God, this makes me uncomfortable. This is the final sentence of this paragraph as we move on to the next paragraph.
On the field, Bridges was one of the best pitchers in Tigers history, and he's on the short list of best pitchers not in the Hall of Fame. He was Lincecum-sized, but he threw hard and had one of the better curveballs in baseball history. From the The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers:
As Birdie Tebbetts, who caught Bridges for eight seasons, remembered many years later, "Bridges won for 12 years with a curve every hitter knew was coming. He tipped off every curve, but if he got rid of the tip-off, he wouldn't have been able to throw the curve."
Bridges was also a World War II veteran, missing the entire 1944 season for his service, so there's far, far more to him than his name. His incredibly uncomfortable, odd, and awkward name.
It's possible that Teddy Roosevelt is the most fascinating person who ever lived. Even if you give him significant demerits for being born into privilege and having the means to pursue his varied interests, he was still a weak, asthmatic kid who became a taxidermist, Naval war historian, colonel, New York City police commissioner, and President. He was shot during a speech, finished the speech, and never had the bullet removed. He had a photographic memory, was a speed-reader, became blind in his left eye during a boxing match while he was the sitting president, and skinny-dipped in the frigid Potomac River every winter.
Ted Lilly is a former major league pitcher. He was known for throwing baseballs and wearing hats. He was recently charged with insurance fraud.
They're basically the same guy, just in different eras.
You know his dad had to be negotiated down.
"Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Marco Polo Andrew Carnegie Jim Jeffries F. Scott Fitzgerald Tuskahoma McLish"
"Closer. Still needs some pruning."
"Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Marco Polo Andrew Carnegie Jim Jeffries F Scott Fitzgerald Tuskahoma McLish"
"You just took a period out, that doesn't even count.
His dad apparently carped the hell out of that particular diem when he got the chance:
"There were eight kids in the family, and I was No. 7 and my dad didn't get to name one of them before me. So he evidently tried to catch up," he told the Oklahoman in 1999.
Is it the best baseball name? He's competing against General Crowder, Urban Shocker, and Johnny "Ugly" Dickshot, so not quite. He has the most elaborate baseball name, possibly, and that's enough for induction into the Baseball Name Hall of Fame, though.
It's the most obvious presidential baseball name in history, and it belongs to one of the greatest pitchers in history. Alexander had one of the more tragic baseball stories, coming back from World War I with shrapnel in his ear, worsened epilepsy, and crippling alcoholism. He was destitute after retirement, saying, "I'm in the Hall of Fame, . . . and I'm proud to be there, but I can't eat the Hall of Fame."
One of my favorite parts of Alexander lore is who played him in the Grover Cleveland Alexander movie:
I don't know if presidents were in his karass or a granfalloon, but that's an interesting coincidence, at the very least. It's also amusing that he pitched for the Phillies on non-consecutive occasions. It would seem like an easy choice for the best presidential baseball name in history, except for ...
His given name was Ulysses Simpson Grant Stoner, but he was known as Lil Stoner.
This ... this would be one of those names you would never get tired of today. We got used to "Pujols" sounding vaguely dirty and "Randy Johnson" sounding explicitly dirty, but we would never get used to Lil Ulysses Simpson Grant Stoner. Jersey sales would shoot through the roof. The production-to-popularity ratio would be horribly imbalanced, but no one would care. The only way he could sell more shirseys is if he picked 69 as his jersey number.
He had brothers, too.
- Washington Irving Stoner
- Theodore Roosevelt Stoner
- Benjamin Franklin Stoner
- William McKinley Stoner
No, those were actually the names of his siblings. Stoner was apparently an interesting cat, too, becoming an expert on irises and a devoted opera fan, so don't reduce him to nothing but an awesome name. A supremely unique, fantastic, and awesome name. A magnificent, evocative, delightful name. Since we're spending this entire article on names, though, holy crap, look at that name.
Happy President's Day, everyone. Bake a cake in the shape of an executive order.