Names are almost as fascinating--not to mention as much fun--as statistics, especially in baseball.
In fact, I always imagined special baseball cards: you know the ones with two or three players and a clever title? Like Buc Hill Aces, a 1959 card that featured Elroy Face, Ron Kline, Vernon Law, and Bob Friend? Or Tribe Hill Trio, a 1962 card with Barry Latman, Dick Stigman, and Jim Perry?
Well, I wanted to design some of my own. Like Steve Decker and Bud Black, on a Black & Decker card. Or Chili Davis and Carney Lansford on a Chili con Carney card. Or especially Brook Jacoby and Joey Meyer on a Jacoby & Meyer card.
A couple of years back, I remember scoring an Athletics/Mariners game where each team had a Suzuki--Ichiro and Kurt--each team had a Sweeney--Ryan and Mike--and each team had a Chavez--Endy and Eric--in their respective starting lineup. That was wonderful!
Well, this year I could not help but notice the influx of Brandons on the Oakland Athletics.
To start with, last year the team had Brandon McCarthy, but this season they added Brandon Inge, Brandon Moss, and then Brandon Hicks. And don't forget, that Brandon Allen was also on the team for a minute. While, across the bay, the Giants own Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford.
I started thinking about that first name, Brandon. I could not remember a baseball card or player with that name as I was growing up. There were lots of Willies and Johnnys and Robbys, but no Shanes, and no Brandons.
Furthermore, I don't remember a team having four guys with the same first name before, let alone three of them being on the infield at the same time, but that is what the A's have indeed had on several occasions.
Anyway, I decided to check out the name Brandon, and lo and behold, no player made the majors with that first name until the year 2000, when Brandon Kolb and Brandon Villafuerte were the first.
Since, those Brandons broke the name barrier, there have been a total of 35, which is a lot when you think there were none until 11 years ago, and over three a year on average since.
Compared to Shane--which first appeared in 1978 with Shane Rawley, then again in 1987 with Shane Mack, has only had a total of 17.
This does make me wonder how the name suddenly became so popular? When I was younger, Mike, and Bill, and Mary and Sue were vogue names. Oh, and Debbie. But, now it is Brandon and Zach and Alexandra.
But Shane or Brandon never hit it anywhere, save Alan Ladd in the terrific George Stevens movie of 1953 (don't forget the part of Joey Starrett, son of Van Heflin, who utters the infamous, "Come back Shane" line is played by another Brandon, in de Wilde).
But, just for fun, I was trying to guess the next big name, and I think I have it.
Dylan. Which we have to thank Bob Dylan for. Or at least his fans who named their kids after the great singer/songwriter.
As of now, only Dylan Axelrod has cracked the majors. But at present there are 26 Dylans working their way up the minors, with with the retired Dylan Tedders apparently being the first to even make that level.
As Bob Dylan did suggest: "Something is happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones." However, that is a name I won't touch for every era seems to have had more than its share!