A spitballer named Rudolph and other ballplayers with particularly festive holiday names
Frosty Duggleby and other festively named ballplayers
We'd argue that the most wonderful time of the year would be a calendar month that featured a much heavier dose of live baseball action than December has to offer, but that doesn't change the fact that it's time for jingle-belling and caroling out in the snow.
'Tis the season for roasting chestnuts on the open fire and eating figgy pudding, if that's still a thing people do. It's also the perfect time to celebrate a host of current, former and probable future MLB players whose names help to put you in the holiday spirit.
Joe Benz aka "Blitzen"
Joe Benz pitched for the White Sox in nine MLB seasons and never posted an ERA higher than 2.90. In May of 1914, he came this close to pitching back-to-back no-hitters when he held the Cleveland Naps hitless and then surrendered a lone, ninth-inning knock in his next start against Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators.
"Blitzen" appeared in one game for the 1919 Sox, who infamously threw the World Series later that season.
John Joseph Troy -- affectionately known as "Dasher" -- appeared in 292 MLB games, including 85 for the New York Gothams (who later became the Giants) in their inaugural 1883 season. Troy's former manager Ted Sullivan prohibited the middle infielder from drinking beer as a stipulation for keeping him on the team in 1888, but changed his stance in the middle of the season. Legend has it that before a bases-loaded at-bat, Troy said that if his manager fetched him a glass of beer, he'd clear the bases. Sullivan got him the pint and Troy promptly knocked an inside-the-park home run off the center-field wall.
Perhaps fittingly, Troy was probably better known for the second act in his baseball life as he ran the beer concession at the Polo Grounds after retiring as a player.
The list of Hall of Fame second basemen with a higher on-base percentage than Cupid Childs' .416 lifetime mark looks like this:
1. Rogers Hornsby
2. Nope, that's the end of the list
Childs played on the famed Cleveland Spiders in the late-19th century. Born Clarence Lemuel, Childs earned his nickname with his portly appearance, which resembled the mythological figure we associate with Valentine's Day. He grew up in Baltimore and signed a deal to play for his hometown Orioles, but bailed to play for the Spiders in the National League when the American Association withdrew from Baseball's National Agreement.
In 1,457 career MLB games, Childs struck out just 228 times and posted a .306 lifetime average. He's not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Minnie Minoso aka "The Cuban Comet"
Minnie Minoso -- otherwise known as the "Cuban Comet" -- was the first black player to ever suit up for the White Sox. In 1951 he finished second in AL Rookie of the Year voting and was named to the AL All-Star team. He'd accomplish the latter feat eight more times in his 17-year career.
Minoso received MVP votes in eight different seasons, won three Gold Glove Awards and led the league in HBP eight times from 1953-61.
In 1976, Minoso came out of retirement to record his first MLB hit in 12 years, at the age of 50. He's the fourth-oldest player in MLB history to get a hit. Sadly, Minoso passed away earlier this year at the age of 90.
Christmas broke into the Majors in 1983 and spent parts of three seasons playing for the Reds, White Sox and Cubs. He went only 6-for-37 in his career at the plate, but one of those hits was an emphatic, game-winning homer for the Sox in September of '84.
You could call it a Christmas miracle. You really could.
Rudolph was born in New York City in 1887 and, when he was 18, he wrote a letter to the then-owner of the Reds asking if he could pitch for the team when it traveled to New York to play a couple of games in the city and Brooklyn.
Eventually, Rudolph got a shot with the Giants, thanks to a good word from his manager in Toronto and a bunch of stories in the New York Press about how he deserved to get a Major League shot (they were written by his brother). A member of the 1914 Boston Braves team that miraculously stormed into first place and swept the Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, Rudolph was one of the handful of pitchers allowed to keep throwing spitballs after the pitch was outlawed in 1920.
Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy aka Connie Mack
Mack was a so-so professional ballplayer in the late 19th century: .244/.305/.300 with five homers and 127 steals in 11 seasons with the Nationals, Bisons and Pirates (Mack served as a player-manager for three years with the Buccos). But it's the second act of his baseball life that earned him entry into the Hall of Fame.
Over the course of his 50 years (!!!) as the Athletics' manager, Mack won nine pennants and five World Series. He still holds records for most wins, losses and games as a skipper.
Ebenezer "Ed" Beatin
With a name like Ebenezer Ambrose, it's not hard to see why this former Spiders pitcher went by just "Ed." Beatin began his professional baseball career with the Pennsylvania State Association's Peanut Eaters, which was a real team that existed back in the 19th century.
Beatin was his era's version of James Shields as he relied heavily on his famous "slowball" and was an absolute workhorse. In 1890, Beatin went 22-30 and threw 474 1/3 innings for the Spiders. My arm hurts just thinking about that.
Ty Cobb slashed an other-worldly .390/.467/.535 for the 1913 Tigers, but that didn't stop them from going 66-87, good for a sixth-place finish in the American League that season. One of those 87 losses was credited to a 22-year-old first-year player named Al Clauss.
Clauss -- a New Haven, Conn., native -- appeared in only five MLB games, all for the 1913 Tigers. He posted a 4.73 ERA and struck out one batter over 13 1/3 innings.
"Frosty" Bill Duggleby
Bill Duggleby earned his nickname for his disinterest in being friendly with his teammates. He was a starting pitcher for the Phillies (and briefly for the Pirates), but it was his bat that earned him a spot in the MLB record books.
In his first career MLB appearance, Duggleby stepped to the plate for his first at-bat and mashed a bases-loaded home run, making him the first player in history to hit a grand slam in his first career at-bat. That record stood for 107 years, until Jeremy Hermida pulled off the same feat for the 2005 Marlins.