Monday, December 21, 2015

No, Not THAT Guy... Playing the Name Game

Last month, when I was digging through a multi-sport dimebox at my second-ever card show looking desperately for as many different Blackhawks players as I could possibly find, there was a card that immediately caught my eye; however, he wasn't on ice.  This was a card of a baseball player, a pitcher, from the pre-WWII era who I'd been searching for.  His name might sound fairly familiar to you.

There must be some misunderstanding, the man who drummed for and later fronted British prog-rockers Genesis did not abandon a career on the mound in order to pursue his musical dreams.  Phil Collins the baseball player died 3 years before Phil Collins the musician was even born.  These two men just both happen to share the same name and one of them took that moniker to much greater heights of fame... I think you know which one.

The pitcher was a Chicagoan who got a one game try out with his hometown Cubs in 1923 at the age of 21.  He wasn't seen in the Big Leagues again until 1929, at which point he became a stalwart of the middle of the Phillies rotation.  Most importantly though, is that single game with Chicago made him a need for my CATRC.

Besides the joy of unexpectedly landing a long-needed card from a random dimebox, this development got me thinking, how many other Cubs players share names with famous people?  It turns out that there are quite a few:

Collins wasn't even the only musician:

One of these guys was half of the famous country duo Brooks and Dunn, the other one played two partial seasons off of the bench for the mid-70's Cubs.  Can you guess which Ronnie Dunn is which?

Hint - it's the one wearing a v-neck with the sweet mustache... wait a minute...


Pardon my french, but that famous quote from the Dave Chappelle show is something that can be uttered by both of these men as a truth.  Rick James the ballplayer was a first round ('65) flameout who pitched in all of 3 games while Rick James the man behind the microphone sang about superfreaks and wore A LOT of leather.

Hey hey we're the Monkees!...

Well, actually, only one of the men depicted above was a member of the Monkees; the other was an outfielder around the turn of the 20th century.  Although, as you can see, one commonality they shared in their respective professions was a flair for over-sized, floppy collars.

Additonally, there's another Davy Jones "floating" around who doesn't dabble in music:

That's right, pirate Davey Jones - ye of locker and Pirates of the Caribbean fame, argh!

Speaking of Hollywood, there's an actor with a movie that is aired and aired and aired and aired again this time of year who definitely didn't play in the infield for Chicago:

Jimmy Stewart the actor had a much more successful career than Jimmy Stewart the ballplayer. Of course, he had a much more successful and lengthy career than quite a few people.

Additionally, I think the Cubs franchise would have puttered on just fine without baseball Jim Stewart's .236 career average here.  I didn't need an angel or a movie repeating ad nauseam to tell me that.

Getting back to sports though, which one of these guys do you think was actually famous for biting off an ear?

I don't know; it looks like the guy in the pinstriped, powder-blue pajamas is chewing on something, after all.  It could be a big ol' wad of chaw, or it could be Evander Holyfield's hearing organ - I guess the world will never know for sure.

While Mike Tyson is the only shared-name that jumped off the pages at me across sports, there were several notable cases within the sport of baseball itself:

Jose can you see (by the dawn's early light) which one is which?

While our Jose Reyes might have only been called up as a favor for serving so long as organizational depth, at least he never was arrested for domestic abuse...  too soon?

Unfortunately, Pedro's older brother never did don a Chicago Cubs uniform.  If he had, maybe the Cubs of the early 90's would have been a team worth watching.

As such, the Ramon Martinez that actually did wear Cubbie blue got to be part of one of those Cubs teams worth watching - the 2003 Cubs.  Then, the backup infielder had to stick around and see the whole thing implode the next season.  Urgh.

Both of these men were rather good hurlers.  That said, Chicago's Bill Lee was never cool enough to take the mound in a full spaceman's outfit;  Boston's Bill Lee was one the great personalities of his era.

I guess, to be fair, that was at least partially because space travel wasn't possible until more than 20 years after the other one retired.  I GUESS that's a pretty good excuse; I'll allow it.

Here we have a situation where this same-name thing was actually confusing.  Card collectors and fans during the late 90's/early 00's, I'm sure you all are on the same page as me here.  Two players with the same moniker, having come up at about the same time and playing the same position made them hard to differentiate at times.

It's too bad they never made it to the same team at the same time - that would have been quite interesting.

Two famous sluggers sharing a famous name.  One made it into the Hall of Fame, the other really only qualifies for the Hall of Very Good.  I think you know which is which.

While Cardinal Carpenter might have cheated pitcher's death several times and had a much longer and storied career, it was the Cubs version that was traded to Boston for the rights of some guy named Theo...

I think, correct me if I'm wrong, that trade worked out pretty well for Chicago.

In fact, that trade almost seems unreal - almost as unreal as the fictional characters who share names with the following Cubs:

Dang it Bobby!  That boy ain't right.

Those phrases pretty accurately describe both the cartoon son of Hank Hill and the busted 2B prospect.  I still can't believe we got the Pirates to take him in the Aramis Ramirez/Kenny Lofton deal.

Okay, obviously Tom Gordon's real name wasn't actually "Flash;" but, this one is too cool not to include.  First of all, when you're nickname is pervasive enough to make it onto the nameplate of your baseball card, you know you're pretty good.

Second of all, while the "real" Flash (savior of the universe) was busy saving everyone of us, the other one made a long career out of saving games as a closer for several teams.  The nickname works on two levels!

Although, Flash Gordon might be an outdated reference of childhood wonderment for kids of today; we do have a Cub who shared a name with someone who continues to bring children joy to this very day:

Why did one of the coolest names in baseball history have to wasted a low-life like the one Jim Hendry signed just so the lineup could be more left-handed?  Why?

The namesake and founder of the world's best-known board game company stood for fun and friendly competition; ironically, two things that the baseball playing version seemed to be completely against.

Moving on, one thing you absolutely have to have to play a Milton Bradley game is a sturdy table, something our next star might be able to help you with:

Nope - this Ethan Allen had nothing to do with the founding of the popular furniture company.  The "only" thing he created was 1,325 hits on the diamond and his own board game, All Star Baseball for Cadaco-Ellis.  Also, as the head coach of the baseball team for Yale, Allen mentored a young George H.W. Bush.  How's that for a career?

While we're on the subject of politicians...

Turns out there was a founding father who also signed that name, who was also a hero of the American Revolution as a colonel and a general and later parlayed that into a career in politics.  Looks like the name "Ethan Allen" is a pretty accomplished one, huh?

At that, let's call it a day on the Cubs name game.

There are a few other names with some less-famous connections, but the above were definitely the most eye-catching.  When I started this little research project, I had no idea there'd be so many hits!

Of course, there are far more of these occurrences when we open the parameters to everyone who has ever played Major League Baseball.  I'd like to know, what are some of the best examples from your favorite franchise?  My curiosity has been piqued.

All of this, just because I finally found a card of a pitcher who just so happened to share his name with the guy from Genesis.  This is the world we live in, these are the hands were given... and I use them to research similar funny coincidences and blog about it.

Go me?


  1. Ugh....Freaking Bobby Hill. He was part of the Aramis Ramirez trade which was probably the worst trade in Pirates history.

    Love the post. My brain works like that whenever I see names of players that match pop culture.

  2. Whoa, quite a list! Also, Rick James may have been the best Chappelle show skit of the entire show's run.

  3. The Brewers had the African-American version of Kevin Brown. They also had one of the two Jeff D'Amicos and the far more famous of the Ryan Brauns (as opposed to the Royals pitcher). For 8 games, they employed Cris Carpenter -- a former Cardinal whom I recall always being referred to as the punter for the Georgia Bulldogs in the mid-1980s.

    Now you've got me thinking on these! I may have to copy this post somehow...

  4. Fun post! Bob Gibson and the white pitcher also named Bob Gibson come to mind.
    I always say the MLB Player's Union should have a clause like the Screen Actors Guild where you can't use the same name as someone else who came before you. So you'd have to use a middle initial or something. It would really help cut down on confusion.

  5. I still get the Alex Gonzalezes confused.

  6. Speaking of musicians...(you know I'm a Stones fan)..
    I keep a Ron Woods (Tigers) card just because.