The most recent issue of Sports Illustrated ends with a journalistic flourish. Columnist Steve Rushin dedicates the last-page article, “You Say Mlicki, I Say Krenchicki,” to some of the delightful names in the brotherhood of Major League Baseball players.
Including the reference to Wayne Krenchicki in the headline, more than half of the players mentioned in the article are former Cincinnati Reds. One is even a current Reds outfielder, of whom Rushin says, “A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, Shin-Soo Choo.”
Later, Rushin offers an unusual fact about Cincinnati baseball history, probably the top club when it comes to players with unusual names.
“45 years before the Reds employed a catcher named Johnny Bench they had a pitcher named Johnny Couch,” Rushin quipped.
Among the other Cincinnati players in the piece are Danny Graves, Jimmy Greengrass, Don Blasingame, Kirk Saarloos, Larry Biittner, Tony Cuccinello, and Scott Servais. These players constitute just a smidgen of Reds who have worn unusual monikers.
Rushin could have easily written the entire column on just Reds players. Here are some ideas he could consider if he decides to do a similar column for a future diction of SI.
Several Reds have booze-related names, such as Pop Corkhill, Tim Belcher, and Dave Burpo. Actually, Curt Flood and Josh Fogg could also be linked to this list when you think about having a bit too much.
For some reason, the Reds have had a penchant for guys with names designed to keep you warm. Among these are Hal Jeffcoat, Cliff Heathcoat, and Jim Bluejacket. One might wonder if this last would have been more comfortable in a Dodger uniform.
Some players were saddled with morbid names. Cincinnati had both Ricky Bones (pronounced as two syllables) as well as Jimmy Bloodworth.
Cincinnati, which has four World Series championship celebrations in its long history, has had nearly as many players with celebratory names. Cesar Geronimo was a main component of the Big Red Machine, and a few decades later Geronimo Berroa joined the team. Just a few years before the Machine, Angel Bravo donned a Reds uniform.
The Reds also own the distinction of having had two players whose names are pronounced like the same adverb, only they are spelled differently. Alan Knicely played for Cincinnati nearly seventy years after Pete Knisely.
Other names that stand out for their uniqueness are Paul Householder, Bob Owchinko, and Frank Sigafoos. I should wait until December 25th to mention a final Red who certainly wraps up this list: Steve Christmas.
Doug Poe once delivered newspapers to Johnny Bench, Tony Perez and Joe Morgan, three customers who have made him a lifelong fan of the Reds.
Sports Illustrated,July 2013.