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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Unusual First Names

Most people have names they share with others, be they first or last.  One only has to look in a phone book to see that.  When I'm not going by Hackenbush, I'm David Allen.  You can't get more common than that.  Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated by unusual names.

What started this train of thought was that while sorting a bunch of junk wax I came across a card of Kal Daniels.  I vaguely remember him from his time with the Red and Dodgers.  He even ended his last season (1992) as a Cub.  I guess it was knee problems that shortened his career to just seven seasons.

Here's the card :

 Check out the back-- Kalvoski?  Kalvoski!!?
 Yes, Kalvoski!

Here's the origins of the name as reported by Bill Plaschke in an L.A. Times article from 1991, "Need an Enigma? Go See Kal : Dodger Is Loved in Hometown, but Not by Some Teammates"  

"His mother had hoped it would be easier for him. That is one of the reasons she named him Kalvoski.
She had endured a difficult labor before his birth, and when he was finally born, she was too exhausted to remember any of the seven possible names she had picked out.
"I'm laying there all tired, and the nurse says, 'Why don't you name him Kalvoski?' " Ella recalled. "I said, 'What?' She said, 'It means, 'the great one.'
"I thought that sounded good to me.""

 Here's a couple of Kal's Dodgers cards:

Needless to say that Kal is the only "Kalvoski" ever to play in the major leagues.  In fact it's hard to find another person in the United States with that name.

I wondered about some of the current players on my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, who have some unusual names themselves.  Using as the source I did a little research and came up with this:

There are five current Cubs players who are the only major leaguers ever with their first names.  They are:
Starlin Castro
Aramis Ramirez
Geovany Soto
Reed Johnson
Koyie Hill

In two more cases Cubs players are only the second major leaguers with their first names:

Darwin Barney -- Darwin Cubillan pitched for 4 different teams between 2000-2004. 
Marlon Byrd -- Marlon Anderson played for 6 teams in his 11 year career ending in 2009.

That's a lot of unusual names on one team.  Or is it?  How does your favorite team stack up?


  1. I looked up a few! My all-time favorite, Tino Martinez, is the only "Tino" or "Constantino" which is pretty cool.

  2. I looked over the Angels roster for this year and was very surprised that they have at least 6 guys who have a unique first name that I couldn't find another player has ever had: Ervin Santana, Jered Weaver, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Maicer Izturis and Kendrys Morales. I didn't count the Japanese pitcher, Hisanori Takahashi, but there have been 4 other minor leaguers with that first name.

  3. The Reds don't have many...Joey, Brandon, Scott, Paul...tons of others have shared those names.

    There is Yonder Alonso, though the Cubs had a minor leaguer named Yonder Linares in the late 1990s. Devin Mesoraco is the only one who spells it that way, but there have been a couple of other Devon's in the MLB.

    Homer? Nope. Bronson? Nope. Edinson? The only major leaguer, but there are a couple of current minor leaguers that share his first name.

    Dontrelle Willis and Aroldis Chapman both have unique first names, and not even any minor leaguers share those names.

    This was a cool little exercise.


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