What’s in a name? A great many syllables, if you’re Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. But while the former journeyman pitcher’s title is impressively weird, it has many rivals – most of them old-timey – for the goofiest name in professional baseball history.
I’ve compiled a brief, unordered list of those names. Who is the funniest? And whom, as I quickly scoured over a century of data, did I unjustly overlook?
Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish, 1944-64 – Indians/Phillies/Cubs/Reds/Dodgers/White Sox
McLish’s father played for keeps. He wasn’t allowed to name his other seven children, so he made Cal’s name count – a title reminiscent of everyone’s favorite fictional U.S. President, Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho.
Tony Suck, 1883-84 – Augusta Browns
Tony may have the most amazing name of all – not just because it would suck to be named Suck, but because that surname aptly described the catcher’s lack of baseball prowess. Take a gander at the eye-popping stat line from his two year career: 205AB, .151BA, .205 OBP,.161 SLG, .864 FP.
Luckily for Tony, he probably wasn’t ever razzed about his name. An old, but still insightful piece at Futility Infielder points out that the use of “suck” as derogatory slang didn’t enter into American lexicon until 1971.
Skeeter Barnes 1983-1994 – Reds, Expos, Cardinals, Tigers
From the window to the wall, Skeeter rarely hit a longball. He had just 14 in his career.
Rusty Kuntz, 1979-85 – White Six, Tigers, Twins
Dick Pole, 1973-78 – Red Sox, Mariners
Calling him Richard would be too formal.
Urban Shocker, 1916-28 – Browns, Yankees
If Shocker were still around, perhaps he would pursue a hip-hop career in his native Cleveland.
Razor Shines, 1983-87 – Expos, first base coach for the Mets 2009-2010
Shines didn’t get much playing time, but with a sweet name like that, does it matter?
Stubby Clapp, 2001 – Cardinals
Clapp’s given name is Richard, which prompts the question: why didn’t Dick ever stick as his nickname? It would have excellently complimented his last name.
Pussy Tebeau, 1895 – Cleveland Spiders
Charles Alston “Pussy” Tebeau’s career was short and sweet: He went 3-6 with two walks, one RBI, and one stolen base in two old-timey games. But he led the league in the percentage of sentences he ended with “See.”
Johnny Dickshot, 1936-45 – White Sox/Pirates/Giants
His full name was John Oscar Dickshot, but his teammates called him “Ugly.”
A nice tidbit from his obituary:
Upon retirement, Mr. Dickshot opened a tavern in Waukegan, called the Dugout, which he ran for the next 20 years. His granddaughter, Michelle McDermott, said he would often call his wife at home from the bar, demanding that she look in his encyclopedia to settle a dispute over baseball trivia.
A made-up tidbit:
His batting song was Bon Jovi’s Shot through the Heart.
Butts Wagner, 1898 – Senators, Bridegrooms (Brooklyn)
Albert “Butts” Wagner wasn’t quite as successful as his younger brother, Honus, but his name inspired at least one Sir Mix-a-lot hit.
Also of note from his Wikipedia page: “Wagner is depicted as a eccentric inventor during a boy’s long dream sequence in the book The Mystery of the Wagner Whacker. Wagner invents an automatic bat machine, and the boy helps defend him from organized crime figures who want to steal the invention.”
That’s supposedly fiction, but it sounds like a true story from old-timey times to me.
Boob Fowler, 1923-26 – Reds/Red Sox
A former teammate at Grinnell College, Jim is currently working towards a Masters in journalism at the University of Iowa and is assistant editor at IowaWatch.org. Be sure to check out Jim’s work at Iowa Environmental Focus, and also his blog, How To Train A Watchdog: (Mis)Adventures in Non-Profit Journalism. Unfortunately, none of these sites have anything to do with America’s pastime.