Smed here. Ever since I saw my first baseball cards, I’ve been a guy attracted to unusual names, and names that roll off the tongue.
Nomar Garciaparra is one example of a great name that just rolls off the tongue, especially if one can trill the r’s at the end.
Bob Sheppard, the late great Yankees announcer, also loved names that he could work with. He once commented about Mickey Kluttz or Steve Sax. Yeah, you can’t do much with them.
I remember, as a kid, reading the series of Fireside Books of Baseball, with short stories, essays, poetry, cartoons and songs that celebrated baseball in pop culture, society and art. In one of those books were the printed lyrics to the song “Van Lingle Mungo” by David Frishberg.
You can see it in the link there – the song celebrates the names of the singer’s youth, titled after one of the best names ever to play the game…Van Lingle Mungo.
At first, I thought that was a total made up name. But Mungo was real as you can see in the link. And he was the real deal – had the Brooklyn Dodgers been worth a hoot, and if he hadn’t gotten hurt, then he could have been a HOF contender. Of course, about a gazillion players can say that, but only one named Van Lingle Mungo.
One of the most unusual names is Johnny Dickshot. Yep, that’s his name. The self-proclaimed “Ugliest Man In Baseball”. He struggled in the majors a bit except for during the War, but he was a good player in the PCL, and then that was a feather in your cap!
Then you get to players like Brad Clontz.
There’s nothing you can do to spice up that name. It sounds like a Don Martin sound effect.
It doesn’t even have the puerile humor of Rusty Kuntz. It’s just…well…Clontz.
Brad’s career was fairly short and uneventful. Bobby Cox used him a lot in 1996 despite his 5.69 ERA. He even got into three World Series games.
I tried to figure out if Cox was stubborn or if Clontz just had a bad stretch. To the data.
Clontz was used in more games than any Braves relief pitcher that season. Outside of the “Big Three”, Mark Wohlers and Steve McMichael, Cox didn’t trust many pitchers until Terrell Wade, Pedro Borbon (Jr.) and Mike Bielecki stepped up, and Wade and Borbon were lefties.
He had 18 holds, five blown saves and allowed 33% of his inherited runners to score. Not great, not bad.
Clontz had a side-winding delivery. He was tough as nails against righties, but lefties could see the ball very easily.
Clontz’ OPS+ vs. Righties – 59
Clontz’ OPS+ vs. Lefties – 190
His home / road splits were also extreme:
Clontz’ OPS+ at home – 63
Clontz’ OPS+ on the road – 122
He really CLONTZED it on the road, and against lefties. In Coors Field, he was lit up, but he also was skulled in the Astrodome and Jack Murphy! But Coors Field was his nemesis, 11 runs in 3 1/3 innings.
Clontz exited the major league scene after 2000, but hung around the minors until 2005 when he was the closer for the Marlins’ AAA club in Albuquerque.
Not bad, and much better than the sound of his name. He didn’t CLONTZ at least!