Colors or money?
Suppose a game or series could be arranged between two all-star baseball teams chosen according to whether their surnames are a color or refer somehow to financial products. I can remember playing this game with a high school friend who ended up pitching in the Giants minor league system, long before fantasy baseball became popular. Since his name was neither a color nor a financial product, and he failed to make the big leagues, his name is of no concern in this context. I’m sure he would agree.
This game was an offshoot of Stump the Chump, where two or more young sports fans held impromptu baseball trivial contests. Questions were along the lines of, “Who hit the most home runs ever?” The surprise answer, of course, was not Babe Ruth and his timeless 714, but Sadduharah Oh, the great Japanese League slugger. We probably knew Oh’s statistics, at the time, but somehow I can’t remember. I think he played for the Giants of Japan.
Right now there are seven Browns and two Whites, plus a Whiteside and three Blancos, on major league rosters. Even though most of today’s Browns are marginal players, there have been some great ones, and Giants fans are prepared to welcome a new one, outfielder Gary Brown, who shows great potential. If Brownings are to be allowed, which makes some sense, that would only make a good pitching staff better, putting Tom Browning in the rotation along with Vida Blue, Bud Black and Jose Valverde.
Whites, Greens, and even a Rose and a Salmon have been bona-fide major league stars. As it stands today, the color named team would prevail in the fantasy matchup simply because they would have more and better pitching, although a team with Bobby Bonds in right field and Barry Bonds in left could carry the light hitting (.196 avg, 0 HR in three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates) Will Pennyfeather in center and still score a few runs. The prospect of the fleet-footed, power hitting, Bobby Bonds of 1971 hitting ahead of his son, who was also a handy base stealer, at any point between 1986 and 2002, would intimidate most pitchers.
The Giants are, in fact, the best
The Giants would make a disproportionate contribution to both teams, especially if the rules are interpreted to allow Spanish surnames. Having had both Bonds’s on the roster, along with Bud Black, places them solidily among the top all-name teams in baseball history. Their current lineup is color-heavy, and promises to become moreso. The financial team could be improved if nicknames were to be allowed. Any player called “money”, “big money,” “easy money,” or “moneybags,” would then be permitted. However, the difficulty in discovering and verifying nicknames makes this impractical, and the nicknames would have to replace surnames, not first names.
Green, with 13 listed, going back to Danny Green, an outfielder from 1898 to 1905, is among the most popular names in major league baseball history, along with Brown, which totals over 50 all time, including my favorite, Buster Brown, a pitcher between 1905 and 1913. MLB.com lists him officially as “Buster” but further identifies him as “Charles ‘Yank’ Edward Brown,” a 6 foot, 180 pound right handed Iowan who won 51 games and lost 103 in his career. Whether the second nickname refers to his patriotism or a penchant for hitting long fouls down the line is a fact lost to history.
Brad Penny is a quality major league pitcher, but he would certainly show some wear and tear against a lineup which could send Pete Rose out as a leadoff man and follow him white Dick Green, Tim Salmon, Frank White, and Gregor Blanco, platooning Henry Blanco and Eli Whiteside at catcher.
Since good pitching beats good hitting, the color named rotation of Mordecai “Three Fingers” Brown, Vida Blue and two Bud Blacks, (each in their best statistical year, which is what makes this game interesting), would be a challenge for any lineup, let alone one restricted by name. The statistical margin is so great they could easily carry the original Bud Black, who went 2-3 lifetime for the 1952-56 Detroit Tigers, but 1980s Houston Astro ace Mike Brown is eligible.
Harry Ralston “Bud” Black (1981-95)
William Carrol “Bud” Black (1952-56)
On the field:
3B Pete Rose
2B Dick Green
LF Tim Salmon
1B Frank White
CF Gregor Blanco
RF Mark de Rosa
C Eli Whiteside
SS Tyler Greene
On the field:
2B Dave Cash
3B Don Money
RF Bobby Bonds
LF Barry Bonds
1B Norm Cash
CF Will Pennyfeather
SS Ron Cash
C Kevin Cash