Skip to main content

More full name stuff

The other day, I was reading the fascinating SABR Baseball Cards blog post by Andrew Aronstein on a pivotal meeting of baseball card collectors 50 years ago.

It was the precursor to annual baseball card conventions, I suppose, but on a much smaller scale. The total number of attendees fell well below the current CDC guidelines for crowds in our virus-ridden world.

Photos accompanied this great historic post and the most interesting thing about those pictures was how well-dressed the attendees were. Every person showed up in a suit-and-tie or at least a sport coat. Can you imagine that happening today? The clothing choices of current baseball card show goers alarms me nearly every visit. Find something without stains, buddy.

The post was another reminder of how life was a bit more formal a half a century ago.

Another example comes from baseball cards. I mentioned on this post (in fact, this entire post is a continuation of the theme of that post) that Topps used to include full names of players on the backs of its baseball cards. First name, middle name, last.

It did that through much of the 1950s and then picked it up again for the early 1970s, ending the practice after 1975 Topps. Donruss then acquired the tradition, providing full names for players on its card backs from its debut set in 1981 through its 1992 set.

To me, growing up with the '74 and '75 Topps sets and then later buying early '80s Donruss, discovering the full name of a player -- particularly when the player's first name didn't match the first name that you knew -- was one of the most interesting parts of the card back. (No wonder nobody cares about card backs anymore, no full names, no cartoons).

Those names have interested me ever since, just because can you imagine the alternate reality if we actually used a player's real first name?

Would Bake McBride be the lovable cult figure he is in baseball circles if people knew him as "Arnold McBride"?

Would "Mick The Quick" catch on if he was merely "John Rivers"?

Would we have as much fun if we only knew a baseball player named "Ralph LaCock"?

Would we feel good about Kevin Brown if he was "James Brown"?

And what would we know about Bo if Bo was actually "Vincent Jackson" on his baseball cards?

Thanks to family tradition, preference or happenstance we know the players by names other than their given names. That's why it's Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr., not George and George Jr.

But seeing those full names on those baseball cards was a fascinating look into naming traditions and a tradition in of itself until Donruss abandoned the practice in 1993.

I broke down some of the players on those Topps and Donruss cards with "unfamiliar" first names and listed them by position. I limited it only to those mid-70s Topps sets and the '80s Donruss sets because that's what I collected when I was noticing full names.

You'll no doubt know many of these, but a few may throw you.

First Base

John Powell
Dudley Hargrove
Carroll Chambliss

Second Base

Jesus Trillo
Octavio Rojas
Rigoberto Fuentes
Elliott Wills


Russell Dent
Fredrick Auerbach
Colbert Harrah
Derrel Harrison

Third Base

Roberto Bonilla
Clell Hobson
Ronald Garrett


John Dempsey
Gorrell Stinson
Fury Tenace
Leo Whitt
Nathan Ott
Bobby Moreland


Carl Smith
William Morris
Daniel Staub
Arnold McBride
John Rivers
John Johnstone
George Griffey
George Griffey Jr.
James Thomas
Ralph LaCock
Walter McReynolds
Vincent Jackson
Johnnie Baker
Otis Gilkey

Designated Hitter

Pedro Oliva
Herman Davis

Starting pitcher

Lynn Ryan
Buford Champion
Ralph Caldwell
George Seaver
Wilfred Siebert
John Messersmith
Bertram Burris
Dewey Hoyt
Marcus Garland
William Clemens
Jose Martinez
James Brown
Charles Fernandez
Charles Terrell

Relief Pitcher

Howard Sutter
Frank McGraw
Albert Lyle
Henry Garber

There are good and bad parts to the world being much less formal than it was 50 years ago. Sometimes, I guess, you need to sacrifice interesting card backs to wear blue jeans.


Chris said…
I can see why most of these guys would go by the name we know, but Gene Tenace missed out on a much cooler moniker.
Trevor P said…
Is "Fury Tenace" Gene Tenace? He could have gone by Fury and he went with Gene?
Base Card Hero said…
I noticed the suits right away too. It really reminded me of pictures from my grandparent's photos in the 60's and 70's.

Suits, cigarettes, and laughter.
In 1989 we had decided that we were going to name our son David, so we went through the Donruss Padres cards to see what others had paired with David and we got to David Francis Dravecky and decided that is what we would name our son. This was after my wife refused to let me name one of the sons after Anthony Keith Gwynn, cause she didn't like the name Tony.
You forgot Guerrant McCurdy Scarce and Garrabrant Alyea.
steelehere said…
As someone that has gone by his middle name instead of his first name his whole life, modern technology has been an annoyance for confusing people about this at times. For example, airlines only let you book with your full name even if you don’t use you first name. When I visit my kid as her school they have a machine that scans my drivers license and kicks out my first and last name regardless of if go by my middle name.
Old Cards said…
Great lineup. Forrest Harrill Burgess known as Smoky. Always thought this was one of the great nicknames in baseball. I know he is too far back for your team, but your post made me think of him.
I think that when the social distancing subsides (hopefully sooner than later and on a permanent basis) that we should go back to the formal dress when out in public. Nah, I did that for work for two decades, I love my shorts and polos now.
carlsonjok said…
Only marginally related, but this post reminded me of how, from 1958 through 1969, Roberto Clemente's Topps cards referred to Bob Clemente front and back.
Bo said…
Thanks for the link to the SABR post. Fascinating article.
Fuji said…
I feel like this should be turned into one of those online quizzes people take on Facebook. Based on my self-scoring, I'd get around 30% correct if I was given the player's full names. If it was the other way around, I think the only two I knew off the top of my head were Vincent Jackson and Lynn Ryan.

As for dress code... I don't wear clothing with stains to shows. But some of my cargo shorts are well-worn and have a hole here and there. ;)
sg488 said…
Former A,Mack Neal Babitt
Jim Jones said…
He should've gone with Fury.

Popular posts from this blog

Just added my dumbest want list ever

As collectors, we do some dumb stuff.

We buy cards we can't afford. We buy cards we can't store. We buy cards of players and teams we don't like just because "it fills the set." We buy $100 packs and $1000 boxes. We justify it all because "it's a hobby," which grants us permission for just about anything that passes approval from our significant other, but there are plenty outside the hobby that would say, "that sure is dumb." And under the clear light of day, I'd probably have to agree with them.

Most of the time I don't think about the reasonableness of what I do. Usually, I just ask the budget and if the budget nods its head, then I'm buying whatever card thing I want.

But I'm entering weird territory today.

I haven't actually bought anything yet, but today I posted a want list for 1967 Topps on my blog.

I feel completely ridiculous typing that.

I've mentioned many times my interest in the '67 set. It's …

You can't cancel memories

I've just gone through what has been the strangest 24 hours of monitoring sports news during my entire work career.

I'm sure as a casual fan, it must have been wild to catch updates about this league postponing and that tournament canceling as you went about your day, working or running errands or whatever.

Now imagine your job is to stay on top of sports news and to disseminate that news as quickly as possible and that was me. Within 10 minutes of each other last night, the local ECAC college hockey league canceled its playoffs and the NBA suspended its season and my head was spinning. Throw in all the other sports cancellations and delays that you've all heard about, and then add the stuff that we care about only locally -- like state basketball and hockey championships being scrapped -- and it was quite the whirlwind of erasing a whole lot of stuff that had been so important for so long.

Maybe none of it really matters, I thought, if we can just cancel everything just …

While I'm waiting for that "work from home" order

A lot of people are being told -- or just plain choosing -- to work from home these days.

My place of work has not made working from home a mandate yet. But a number of people have chosen to do so anyway and my workplace is looking like a ghost office right now.

I'm still going into the office, just because some of my duties are a little difficult to achieve remotely. But I'm ready to work from home. I mean really, really ready. I've done plenty of work at home in my days, why not do all of it there?! Let's go! I don't want to socialize with people anyway!

So while I fantasize about being close to my card room 24-7, why don't we check out some of the minor updates to my card room? I haven't made too many changes since I first unveiled the room last summer, but Baseball Card Breakdown recently showed off some of his home displays, so I thought it was a good time for that myself.

Now, what you're looking at above is the entrance to the card room. Since m…