January 29, 2008

Baseball Player Name of the Week

We have a tie!: Ferd Eunick and William Adolph Wambsganss, both of the 1917 Cleveland Indians.

Not much information is available online about Fernandas Bowen Eunick, but I imagine his was not an easy life. According to Baseball Reference, he's "also known as Fred." Ferd was born in Baltimore in 1892, died there 67 years later, and on August 29, 1917, made his first and last appearance in the majors. He lasted all of two at-bats, getting a hit in neither of them.

Bill Wambsganss, by contrast, had a long and successful career, but he's remembered almost exclusively for making the only unassisted triple play in World Series history, in 1920, against the Brooklyn Robins. "You'd think I was born on the day before and died on the day after," he said decades later.

Gotta love the body language, in the photo above, of the runner getting tagged for the third out.

Of course, I'm just the latest in a long line of observers to fixate on Wambsganss' name. Soon after he arrived in Cleveland, Ring Lardner wrote a limerick:
The Naps bought a shortstop named Wambsganss,Who is slated to fill Ray Chapman's pants.
But when he saw Ray,
And the way he could play,
He muttered "I haven't a clam's chance!"
Anyway, they don't name 'em like they used to. Also on that 1917 Cleveland team: "Pop-Boy" Smith, Red Torkelson, and Braggo "The Globetrotter" Roth.


JL25and3 said...

Unfortunately, things didn't work out so great for Ray Chapman.

Emma said...

Yeah, I thought about getting into that, but it sort of ruins the funny-name mood...

JL25and3 said...

Well, here's something more to your liking. The Library of Congress recently posted a trove of photos from 1910-1915 here: http://tinyurl.com/ypfe4o.

The collection includes a lot of pictures of ballplayers (filtered out at http://tinyurl.com/ypt3af), including a Giants prospect by the name of Pfeifer Fullenweider.

Not surprisingly, the 1911-12 A's are well represented. Chief Bender, Eddie Plank and Connie Mack are there, and Eddie Collins looks ready to spit in your eye. There are some lesser lights with good names: Lep Long, Carroll "Boardwalk" Brown, Topsy Hartzel and Harl Maggert.

But here's the kicker: in all that, there's not one fucking picture of Bris Lord, "The Human Eyeball." So the obsession continues...

Emma said...

Awesome, thanks so much, JL! Those are amazing, and Pfeifer Fullenweider just made my morning. I've noticed that having a "pf" combo somewhere in your name boosts your chances at NotW honors immensely.

Ah, Bris Lord, don't think I've forgotten. Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee.

GLScoop said...

Well, I can tell you what I know about my grandfather, Fernandas Bowen Eunick. He died in 1959, 8 years before I was born in Baltimore, MD. Played high school ball against Hall of Famer George Herman (Babe) Ruth. Worked his way through the minor leagues, played in Montreal, among other places til he got his shot at the show in 1917. Played in one game at the end of the season. Cleveland wanted him to come back the next year, but his future father-in-law made him decide - baseball or my grandmother. And he chose to walk away from his dream for her. He never really forgot the game - played semi-pro ball as long as he could and died - literally - at an Old Timers event at Baltimore's Memorial Stadium on December 9, 1959. He was inducted in the Maryland Professional Baseball Hall of Fame in 1956 - I have the trophy and pics of him receiving it at home.

And for the record - NO ONE called him Fred - no idea where they got that from.

When people ask that question about any person, dead or alive you'd want to have lunch with - my answer would always be him. Very proud to know my grandad pursued his dreams.

If you have any questions - just drop me a line.

Kimberly Eunick Hay
Ferd's only grandchild

Emma said...

Thanks so much for commenting -- it's great to hear more of the story, and it sounds like your grandfather had an amazing life. If you don't mind I'd like to re-post your comment as its own entry.

I'd love to hear anything else you'd like to share; Blogger won't let me email you directly through your comment, but I'd love for you to drop me a line at ekspan @ gmail.com.