Adjectival

On Wednesday night a little-known player with a very odd name hit a game-winning homer in the tenth inning for the Red Sox. Jonathan Van Every. We wondered if having an adjective as a last name (or part of one) is more common than we imagined, so we took a look.  

Scanning through Baseball Reference in alphabetical fashion*, our first adjectival seems to be Don August, but only if we hold him in high esteem. There are countless Bakers, but nobody Baked (other than Barry Zito, perhaps). We almost had another in Ed Beatin, but the spelling error is a problem. Then we got to Karl Best, definitively an adjectival, and a superlative one at that! Tommy Bianco, in translation, qualifies, but we are sticking with our mother tongue for this investigation. If we include colors (we are holding them out — Blue, Gray, Brown, Green, etc. — along with names/nationalities like English, German, or the French) then the crew of Blacks is in, with one oddity: every player who has played MLB with the last name "Black" has a one-syllable first name. Bill, Bob, Bud, Bud Jr., Dave, Jon, Joe, and John. Why is this?  

Nate Bland is another rarity, though frankly I found his play quite tasteless. And my mind was left a Blank by Coonie, Fred, and Matt. In 1912 Bunny Brief started his medium-length five year career. Harry Bright began his in luminous fashion in 1958. Rounding out the Bs, Frank Buttery slipped in and out of the league in 1872 in a mere 18 games. 

Mark Clear. Jim Converse. Coco Crisp. All the Crosses. Alvin Dark, Ron and Dell Darling, Buddy Dear, Mark Dewey, Jake Early. Carl, Harry, and Hugh East. Jamie and Ted Easterly (we'll keep cardinal directions off the rest of the list, like colors and nationalities). George Fair. Darcy Fast. Finely following Fast is Frank Fleet. And Charlie, Fred, and Mike Frank. Ed and Roger Freed. Jim, Mike, and Roy were all Golden, and there have been several players who were Good. A whole bunch of players are and have been Gross. 

Eight players were Hardy, and Bob, playing in the 1920s, was Hasty. Andy, Charlie, Ed, and Hugh were all High, though hopefully they didn't play in that state. Pat Hilly played for a spell, his career up and down far too quickly. 

Joe Just. Bill and Vic Keen. Harry, Jeff, and Joe Keener. Bill and Dick were both Kenworthy, the first father/son gay breast-implanted baseball players ever. (We kid, we have no idea if they were related, much less gay. Kenworthy isn't even an adjective, for that matter, unless you are a doll). Guy, Kerry, and Lee Lacy. Tom Lawless played with impunity. Seven guys were Little, a couple Lively, and sixteen Long.  Billy, Ernie, and Johnny were all Lush, playing in the days before Prohibition.

The Ms provide a motherlode:  Alex and Woody Main.  Evan Meek. Roy Meeker. Garrett Mock. Eric Moody. Forrest More. Darryl Motley. 

Not many Ns, but for one whose name is actually qualified as "The Only Nolan", from the nineteenth century.

There have been no Atheists or Agnostics, but there have been a bunch of Pagans and even a Papish! If we were French we'd mention the Petit, but we're not, we're actually Petty, like Charlie and Jesse.  

Quick! It's Eddie and Hal! No problem, Randy is Ready!

Woody Rich, Pop Rising. Harry Sage. Several Savages. Mac Scarce. Bill Sharp. Bill, Chris, Dave, and Rick Short. Many Smalls.  One Smart guy (JD). Three Starks. Adam Stern. Of course, there's Doug Strange (and Alan and Pat, too). Jamal and Joe Strong. Even a guy named Sturdy, literally: Guy Sturdy.  DIck Such. Bill Swift, x2.   

Some players get tan, but Bruce and Chuck were Tanner than most. 

Dixie Upright – what a name.  Jack and Luke Urban, one actually somewhat urban (Luke was born near Boston in Fall River) the other more rural (Jack a Nebraska native).

In the end, there have been a number of Wise men (ten in fact), but many more Young ones (38).  

We love those adjectives.  Without them, nouns would be ___

* If we missed any, and we surely did, please add in the comments.

13 comments… add one

  • Bravo.

    YF April 30, 2009, 11:38 pm
  • Holy shit SF, how long did this take you?
    Dixie Upright gets my vote for best baseball name on the list. Though Dick Pole wins overall, whether his name is applicable or not.

    Atheose May 1, 2009, 7:30 am
  • Holy shit SF, how long did this take you?
    Not a short amount of time. Thank goodness I am self-employed. It was fun, though, most of the time!

    SF May 1, 2009, 9:04 am
  • There’s also Frank Chance of Evers to Tinker to Chance fame. While not always used as an adjective, chance can be. Plus, he gets extra credit by being part of the most famous DP combo in history along with two other guys with “noun” last names. (ok evers isnt really a word but ever is!)

    sam-YF May 1, 2009, 9:27 am
  • This is definitely one for the YFSF scrapbook.

    YF May 1, 2009, 9:48 am
  • Thought of Chance but decided against, Sam. There are several like this.

    SF May 1, 2009, 10:21 am
  • You forgot double-adjective former Met Butch Huskey.

    tete May 1, 2009, 10:50 am
  • There is no “e” in husky!

    SF May 1, 2009, 12:13 pm
  • Eddie Stanky?

    SamW May 1, 2009, 12:32 pm
  • Bless you, Blossom Dearie.

    attackgerbil May 1, 2009, 1:27 pm
  • And propers to Tom Lehrer for carrying the adverbs

    attackgerbil May 1, 2009, 3:45 pm
  • Love, love, love this post.
    Am I incorrect in noting that Jonathan Van Every is the only one of the bunch whose adjectival name is not generally used to end a sentence? No one ever says, “He’s very every,” as opposed to the others (very strange, fair, etc., or even, “I’m tanner, just, lively.”
    Probably because “every” is used exclusively for counting, and unless there are any guys named Each, All, None or No, Jonathan may be anything but an everyman.

    Paul SF May 1, 2009, 8:30 pm
  • Dixie Upright was my uncle. Born R.T. Upright, the nickname “Dixie” was given when he played minor league ball in Iowa. The initials R. T. do not stand for anything… this was common in the south years ago.

    Ken Upright Jr. May 21, 2009, 9:52 pm

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