As a follow-up to my earlier Shirt column on nickname/non player name bats, I present to you a half-dozen more:
GONZO: Used by a Gonzales, but not by a famous one. No, this was the LS block letter notation on many Orioles bats of utility player Rene Gonzales, the first of 2 Birds to wear #88 during Cal Ripken Jr.’s tenure (Albert Belle was the second).
SLAKMAN: Another Orioles, this time OF Joe Orsulak. (Kudos to Ripken Family collector Bill Haelig Jr. for coming up with these two).
R.J. and BIG UNIT: Both of these were used on LS and Rawlings bats by the Big Unit, Arizona pitcher Randy Johnson, during his first tour of duty with the Diamondbacks.
HOT ROD: Borrowed from the hoops star/announcer of the same identity, and used by Met/Dodgers/Cubs catcher Todd Hundley.
(Uniform number note: While www.baseball-almanac.com carries comprehensive uniform number histories for each player, they missed one on “Hot Rod”. Hundley wore #99 for the Cubs for the first several weeks of the 2001 season, until OF Damon Buford was released, at which point he switched to the #9 listed for him on the website (since corrected).
BAM-BAM: Up-and-coming Astros flychaser Hunter Pence, a candidate for 2007 NL Rookie of the Year.
COOL LARRY: This one is used by Tampa Bay’s Delmon Young, as a tribute to his father (Larry), who has acted as an unofficial coach and his biggest supporter without crossing the line over to obnoxious sports dad territory.
BIG BROTHER/LITTLE BROTHER
The folks at Game Used Forum initiated an interesting topic recently when a thread was posted regarding minor leaguers using major leaguers’ bats, and potential confusion because of it.
To take it one step further, consider the case of Carlos Lee and…Carlos Lee.
The current Astros slugger, a member of the White Sox through 2004, has a younger brother who spent some of MLBer Lee’s Sox years as a catcher in the White Sox farm system. A collector friend of mine, David Beal, who works for one of those farm teams (Winston-Salem Warthogs, High-A Carolina League), confirmed for me that MLBer Lee would give bats to farmhand Lee for the minor league backstop to use. THAT one could be a sticky wicket!
An interesting story of research that took a collectible out of one realm and correctly placed it squarely in another. See you then.