Monday, July 23, 2007

Fishin' For Ideas

I was sitting around my in-laws’ house the other day, taking advantage of their infatuation with my son to relax and consider some new story ideas, when one hit me: a “Fish ‘n Chips” All-Star team featuring players who share names with types of fish or brands of potato chips.

The potato chip part was short lived – outside of Rick Wise, there weren’t too many exciting options – and the post eventually turned into what you see below: an All-Star team composed entirely of players who share names or nicknames with various fish.

Has this been done before? It’s entirely possible. The Internet is a big place, full of creative people, and it wouldn’t be surprising if someone else had thought of it first. But I’ve never actually seen something like this anywhere, so it can’t hurt to give it a try. Right?

(The name of the associated fish is listed in parentheses.)

C – Sleeper Sullivan (Sleeper) – Sullivan was a catcher in the National League, American Association and Union Association from 1881 to 1884. His given name was Thomas Jefferson Sullivan, his nickname “Old Iron Hands”, and he was not a good offensive player: a career batting of .184 and OPS of .422.

1B – Chubby Dean (Chub) – It was tempting to go with Commissioner Chub Feeney in this spot, even though he didn’t play in the major leagues. Dean is an interesting case, however, a North Carolina native who came to the Philadelphia Athletics as a 19-year-old first baseman in 1936 and spent two full seasons at the position before becoming a full-time pitcher.

2B – Johnny Ray (Ray) – A 1996 inductee into the Bizarro Hall of Fame, Ray was a solid second baseman for Pittsburgh and California from 1981 to 1990. His career came to a surprisingly abrupt end when the Angels released him at the age of 33 despite offensive and defensive numbers that were still reasonably good.

3B – Art Garibaldi (Garibaldi) – Until working on this post, I didn’t even know there was a garibaldi fish, let alone one that was the state saltwater fish of California. That’s more impressive than the accompanying player, whose major league career spanned about three months and 71 games.

SS – Bobby Sturgeon (Sturgeon) – Sturgeon played five seasons for the Cubs and missed three years for World War II before being traded to the Boston Braves in 1948. According to Baseball Library, he was involved in two incidents during Jack Robinson’s rookie season: one in which he chose to fire a relay into Robinson’s chest rather than complete a double play and another in which Robinson took revenge and broke two of Sturgeon’s ribs in a play at second base.

OF – Lipman Pike (Pike) – One of the first professional baseball players, Pike was also the first great Jewish player. A tremendous power-hitter for his era, he led the league in round-trippers four times and remains one of only two players in major league history to simultaneously hold the career record for homeruns and triples (Roger Connor is the other).

OF – Kevin Bass (Bass) – I’ll always remember Bass for two reasons: one, he had a card in the 1988 Topps set, the definitive baseball card set of my youth, and two, his Chris Berman nickname was originally Kevin “Large Mouth” Bass, but Berman changed it after word got out that Bass was offended by the moniker.

OF – Sam Crawford (Wahoo) – The greatest triples hitter in baseball history was nicknamed after his hometown of Wahoo, Nebraska. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1957 (where he joined his old outfield mate with the Detroit Tigers, Ty Cobb), Crawford finished his career 39 hits shy of 3,000, the second closest any player has come to reaching that mark without going over.

DH – Tim Salmon (Salmon) – Salmon was a great player who served as the face of the Angels for fourteen seasons (winning the American League’s Rookie of the Year award in 1993), but I’ll always remember him for something more personal: at the first Red Sox game I ever attended back in 1995, Salmon played right field at Fenway and was subjected to a prolonged “Saaaaaaaaaaaal-mooooooooooooon” chant from the faithful in the bleachers. Not sure how anyone could talk smack to a guy who ended up with a .330-34-105 line for the year, but they did.

SP – George Haddock (Haddock) – Not only was Haddock born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (I was also born in Portsmouth, about 113 years later, and later attended high school there), he was a pretty fair pitcher, winning 63 games for Brooklyn and Boston between 1891 and 1892. He pitched 761 innings combined in those two seasons.

SP – Catfish Hunter (Catfish) – Hunter won 20+ games for five consecutive seasons from 1971-75, a period of time that coincided with the best championship run by a non-Yankees team in major league history. After leading Oakland to three straight World Series crowns from 1972-74, he was granted free agency and signed with the Yankees, going on to add two more rings to his collection.


rstiles said...

How can you forget Steve Trout, starting pitcher

My Hero Zero said...

There have been 24 players with the surname "Fisher," but my personal fave is Showboat Fisher.

Then, of course, there's every player named "Jesus," who allegedly was a fisherman of some reknown.

rstiles said...

The Indians had a shortstop in the 1980s....Mike Fischlin...

One More Dying Quail said...

I didn't exactly forget Trout (although I was gonna go with Steve's dad, Dizzy)'s just that I pretty much settled into a one player per position setup, and felt that three starters would be too much. And there's no way I was leaving either Haddock or Catfish off.

Ryan Karp was also available.

Fisher - good one. Wish I'd thought of it.