Tuesday, October 25, 2011

1912 Pittsburgh Pirates: Flavors of cups of coffees of excessive prepositional phrasing

The Pittsburgh Pirates of the early 20th Century were one of the best National League clubs of the era. From 1900-1912, the team never finished lower than fourth in the league. They won 90 games nine times in that span, took four pennants and won the World Series in 19091, a season in which they'd compiled a staggering 110-42 record. The Pirates of the era were led by superstar shortstop Honus Wagner, outfielder/third baseman Tommy Leach and ace Deacon Phillippe2, among others.

1912 found the Pirates employing several players of outstanding moniker for a cup of coffee or two. Rather than give each player (many of whom only played a handful of games) his own post, let's explore them in brief and revel in their fantastic names.

Ham Hyatt (1B/OF) - Robert Hamilton Hyatt would play more than any other player on this list, sticking around for much of the 1910s. Ham was a slugger in the minor leagues before and after his time in the majors, hitting 15 home runs for the Vancouver Beavers of the Northwestern League in 1908. In parts of five seasons with the Pirates (1909-1910, 1912-1914), Ham hit six home runs and batted .277. He'd get a chance to start more with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1915, but he was out of big-league ball until getting some pinch-hit opportunities with the New York Yankees in 1918. He played his final three seasons with the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League, crushing 39 home runs and batting well over .300.

Name rating = Good, but doesn't take the bacon.

Jim Viox (IF) - Jim Viox is most notable for his last name resembling some kind of evil nerve gas in a Michael Bay movie. Viox debuted in 1912 and became the Pirates' starting second baseman during Pittsburgh's rough years. He batted .317 in 1913 and was a patient hitter, collecting 222 walks in 1989 plate appearances. He also led the league in unsuccessful evil plots. The Pirates released Viox in 1916 and, as will become a theme on this list, Jim was a successful minor-league ballplayer.

Name rating = Good enough for a James Bond flick.

Stump Edington (RF) - As a 20 year old, Jacob Edington hit .302/.339/.377 in 59 plate appearances with the Pirates in 1912. Those would be his only big-league plate appearances, as he then headed into the minor leagues and became a slugger in the Texas League. He is perhaps best known for always hitting the cutoff man. Eh? Get it? Stump...cutoff? [He actually had both arms, rendering this joke moot and irrelevant, like the rest of this blog.]

Name rating = Origins unknown. Probably should have run a bulldozer after baseball. Or been a private eye.

Ovid Nicholson (LF) - Also known as "Ovid Nicholson." Career batting line: 5-13, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB, 2 K, 1 SH. Good minor-league player, etc.

Name rating = Literally epic. This name, folks, is a winner. Proposed nickname in revisionist baseball history: Ovidraptor.

Ona Dodd (3B/2B) - Texan Dodd played four games at third base and one at second base. He never got a hit but walked once in 10 plate appearances and played from 1913-1918 in the Texas League but was never great.

Name rating = Top-notch. Author proposes that the baseball term "Texas Leaguer" be renamed "Ona Dodd."

Rivington Bisland (SS) - Bisland's career numbers indicate that he was inept with the bat (.118/.189/.127 in 112 plate appearances, career OPS+ of -6) but a good fielder. His 1912 totals with the Pirates were one unsuccessful pinch-hit appearance, though he played 12 games with the [terrible] 1913 St. Louis Browns and 18 games with the [godawful] 1914 Cleveland Naps. He is notable for two interesting facts: He died in Austria in 1971 and online sportscasting company Game Broadcasting Live LLC features a senior vice president who shares the name Rivington Bisland. It seems only natural to assume that Senior VP Bisland is actually the same person, thereby making him 121 years old, his foreign death a fake [Cremation? Yeah, right...] and the VP guy a vampire. Gather yon pitchfork3, denizen, for a bloodsucker must be smote!

Name rating = Also the name of that asshole kid who ran over your toes with a golf cart at the country club because he was on his third highball of the front 9. His dad totally owns a dealership.

1 The 1909 World Series was a classic. The Pirates won Game 1 and then alternated wins for the rest of the series with the Detroit Tigers. They clinched the title with a convincing 8-0 shutout behind the strong performance of Babe Adams, who picked up three of the Pirates four wins in the series.

2 Deacon Phillippe started and completed 5(!) games of the first World Series in 1903 with a 3-2 record. When asked about Jim Leyland's decision to not start Justin Verlander against the Rangers on short rest in Game 4 of the 2011 American League Championship Series, Phillippe was visibly confused by the phrase "short rest" and queried the reporter several times on Verlander's "level of hangover."

3 Frankenstein, Dracula, what's the difference? One represents man's will to tamper with nature, the other represents man's will for eternal life. Well, that, and apparently vampires are made of glitter like they're manufactured in a damn Hello Kitty factory.

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