On Baseball’s Grandest Stage: A Team with Great Pitch and Greatest Hits

Carlos Santana may have been the most obvious choice for this article. (via Arturo Pardavila III)

Now that the networks are playing their postseason theme songs, the sound of playoff music is in the autumn air. In recognition, I hereby present my 25-man postseason roster comprised entirely of musician/ballplayer namesakes, each bearing the name of the other. This is my club. Beat It.

INFIELD

First baseman — Jim Morrison (11.7 WAR)

Musical namesake: Jim Morrison of The Doors

Astute fans of American baseball would Tell All the People that Jim Morrison, American baseballer, was far less a first baseman than a third baseman, second baseman, shortstop, designated hitter and outfielder. And they would be right. In fact, Morrison played half as many games at pitcher–count ’em, three–as he did at first base. Still, when constructing a playoff-caliber roster, the harmony-seeking GM must play musical chairs, as it were.

And so the versatile Morrison, despite his 5-foot-11 height, gets the nod at first base. What’s music to my GM ears is this: In 24 lifetime chances at first base, Morrison, whose mojo began risin’ with consecutive 2.4-WAR seasons as the White Sox second baseman in 1979-’80, committed zero errors, just as he yielded zero runs in 3.2 innings as a mop-up pitcher for the ’88 Braves.

Pro: Situationally durable: In 1982, played all 162 games.

Con: Situationally slow: In 12-year career, stole 50 bags and got caught 37 times.

Walk-up song: Pitchers Are Strange

Second baseman — Don Johnson (4.7 WAR)

Musical namesake: Don Johnson of Heartbreak infamy

Astute fans of American music would Tell It Like It Is: That Don Johnson, on the heels of his Miami Vice hot streak, climbed to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 with his first (and definitely foremost) single, Heartbeat. Three decades hence, an endurance test of its high-pitched histrionics and Dweezil Zappa guitar licks is enough to convince any listener who is not an heir to the Don Johnson estate that 1986 played host to a four-minute, 58-second misfortune.

Heartbreak? More like Earache, am I right?

Don Johnson the ballplayer–one of two so named–played in the majors from 1943 through 1948, a time that encompassed the heartbreak of World War II but predated the Heartbreak of ’86 and its accompanying music video, a mystifying montage that features Don Johnson as a wartime videographer who saves a boy’s life by body-slamming the bejeebers out of him.

Son of big league vet Ernie Johnson, Don enjoyed his finest campaigns in the war years, posting a career-high 71 RBI in his 1944 All-Star season and helping the Cubs to the 1945 National League pennant with 94 runs scored.

Pro: Unselfish: Led baseball with 22 sac hits in 1945.

Con: Un-strong: Posted eight career homers and .337 slugging percentage.

Walk-up song: Let It Roll (Down the Third-Base Line)

Shortstop — Bobby Brown (7.2 WAR)

Musical namesake: Bobby Brown of New Edition…and Bobby Brown

Prior to becoming a practicing cardiologist, an interim president for the Texas Rangers and president of the American League, Bobby Brown played third base and shortstop for the Yankees. In so doing, he went to four World Series and won them all. He wasn’t just along for the pinstriped ride. In the 1949 World Series, he notched a bases-loaded triple in Game Four and a two-run triple in the decisive Game Five and totaled six hits in 12 at-bats while posting five RBI. He tripled again in the final game of the 1950 World Series, plating Joe DiMaggio with the second run of a three-run inning en route to New York’s 5-2 win. All told, he batted .439 in World Series play.

Retroactive Review: A Jim Abbott Double Feature
A new book and documentary resonate deeply, providing a connection to the pitcher that goes beyond baseball.

Prior to becoming a reality-show antihero, symbol of pop-culture excess and tragic if sympathetic figure, Bobby Brown the singer pioneered new jack swing while leading New Edition and his solo self straight up the Billboard.

No doubt, the trajectories have differed for the two Bobby Browns, but we can say this: Each might call it–can you hear it coming?–My Prerogative.

Pro: Smart: Nicknamed Doc, he became one during baseball career.

Con: Slow: Caught stealing more times (10) than he stole (9).

Walk-up song: Count Me Safe

Third baseman — Randy Jackson (11.8 WAR)

Musical namesake: Randy Jackson of The Jacksons

Randy Jackson, the musician, is barely a musician. These days he’s more often tabloid fodder for his legal woes, but, once upon a time, he was a Jackson in more than name. The sixth brother of the Jackson 5, Randy played his way into the family business when the fraternal band dropped the 5 moniker to become The Jacksons. With them, he played percussion and keyboards and sang backup to brother Michael for more than a decade. Today, with Michael gone, The Jacksons go on without Randy as the foursome of Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlin continue to tour.

Still, for a time, Randy was a genuine Jackson. After all, he co-wrote, with Michael, Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground), which hit Billboard’s No. 7.

Randy Jackson, the ballplayer, played his way into the 1950 Cubs lineup as a 24-year-old practitioner of hot-corner play after impressing the bigwigs with a 1947 tryout at Wrigley Field. His 1956 trade to the Dodgers made him the main Brooklyn third baseman and pushed Jackie Robinson to a utility role. Across his decade in the bigs, which included two All-Star nods, he racked up 103 home runs, 415 RBI and one great nickname. Handsome Ransom.

Pro: Had pop: Posted seasons of 21, 19, 19 and 16 dingers.

Con: Had ploddingness: Stole just 36 bases.

Walk-up song: Shake Your Vladdy (Down to the Ground)

Catcher — Carlos Santana (24.6 WAR, and counting)

Musical namesake: Carlos Santana, of course

I hear ya: “Santana hasn’t played catcher in four years, you nincompoop!”

My nincompoopery is duly acknowledged, friend, but you gotta face the music: This is my team, and I’m nurturing it like London nurtured The Sex Pistols. It’s true that Santana, in his first start at first base, started a triple play, so he’s obviously got some infield skill, but like a lot of GMs, I need an experienced mitt behind home plate. Hope You’re Feeling Better.

Pro: Patient: Once led baseball in walks.

Con: Porous: Once led AL in passed balls.

Walk-up song: wOBA Como Va

OUTFIELD

Center fielder — Davy Jones (17.6 WAR)

Musical namesake: Davy Jones of the Monkees

Davy Jones, the entertainer, was at one point one the world’s biggest stars.

Davy Jones, the ballplayer, was at no point one of the world’s biggest stars.

Still, the turn-of-the-century scrapper was at several points a notable figure among various owners of big league teams. Within a nine-month span across his first two seasons, Jones jumped four different contracts. Jones was fast and feisty. He stole 20 or more bases four times in his 15-year career and would have stolen more were it not for injuries and illness. All told, he stole 207 bags, notched 119 assists and played in three World Series. Sadly, his Tigers lost them all–and in consecutive seasons.

Pro: Aggressive: Stole 30 bags and scored 101 runs in 1907.

Con: Too aggressive: When teammate Ty Cobb (in)famously charged into the stands to beat handicapped heckler Claude Lueker, Jones encouraged him.

Walk-up song: Last Train to Wrigleyville

Right fielder — Dave Clark (1.1 WAR)

Musical namesake: Dave Clark of the Dave Clark Five

With regard to the identifier 5, Dave Clark beat the Jacksons to it. Having first called his band the Dave Clark Quintet, the eponymous drummer changed the name to the Dave Clark Five and quickly took the Tottenham Sound to chart-topper heights and British Invasion distances with the hit Glad All Over.

With regard to the signifier 5, Dave Clark beat his own best mark in assists–just three–by throwing out five runners from right field in 1994. It would remain his top mark. In fact, across his 13-season career, Clark would post a sad-all-over Total Zone rating of -31. By any measure, he was not good at D.

Still, given that no ’60s British pop-rock band was called the Roberto Clemente Five or even the Al Kaline Trio, I’ll have to settle for Clark.

Pro: Once homered twice in one game–off Dwight Gooden!

Con: Those homers came off a diminished Doc on June 24, 1994, his final start before he tested positive for cocaine and got hit with two long suspensions.

Walk-up song: Because (the Team Has No Choice)

Left fielder — Eddie Murphy (8.6 WAR)

Musical namesake: Eddie Murphy of…ugh

Audiences today know Eddie Murphy as the voice of Donkey in the Shrek franchise. Back in the ’80s, however, Murphy was the world’s biggest star. So bright was his cinematic shine that, naturally, he stepped into the recording studio to pursue that most vain of vanity projects. The unfortunate result: Party All the Time, a song so ear-wormingly awful that Blender, Buzzfeed, AOL Radio and VH1 have all included it in their lists of history’s worst songs.

Fourteen years later, the music video for his space-cadet duet with Michael Jackson–titled Whatzupwitu–ranked third in the 1999 MTV list of history’s 25 worst music videos. No. 1 on the list: Don Johnson’s Heartbeat.

As for baseball’s Eddie Murphy, he was less famous for his on-field exploits than for his on-field integrity. In the 1919 World Series, he was one of the White Sox who refused to become a Black Sox. His nickname: Honest Eddie.

Pro: On-base skills: Led baseball in hit-by-pitches in 1914, with 12.

Con: Off-base tendencies: Led baseball in caught-stealing in 1914, with 32.

Walk-up song: Whatzupwit Ur Plan to Throw the World Series

Designated hitter — Ricky Nelson (-0.9 WAR)

Musical namesake: Ricky Nelson, 1950s teen heartthrob

Given my druthers, I’d designate Nelson not for hitting but for assignment.

Sadly, however, the 1950s did not produce a teen heartthrob named Cruz, Nelson.

Yep, you gotta play the Mariner you’re dealt, and in this case, I’m dealt a mid-’80s Mariner who, among his 123 major league games, notched only three starts as a designated hitter. In them, he went a measly 1-for-11.

Still, that hit came against Toronto ace Dave Stieb. Though just a soft little single to right field, it counted. In fact, it was his last major league hit.

Ricky Nelson, 1950s teen heartthrob, recorded a soft little single called Be-Bop Baby. It became a hit. Perhaps Ricky can be my BA-BIP Baby.

Pro: Despite poor WAR, had talent: As a 23-year-old in Class A, batted .307 with a .778 OPS while posting 101 runs scored and 43 stolen bases in 140 games.

Con: Despite good skills, couldn’t hit big league pitching: After batting .254 as a rookie, went .200, .000, and .167 in next three (and final) big league seasons.

Walk-up song: I’m Walkin’ (Or I’m Whiffin’)

PITCHING STAFF

STARTERS

LHP — Kenny Rogers (42.4 WAR)

Musical namesake: Kenny Rogers of Kenny Rogers Roasters

The Gambler, as he was known, got his nickname from a recognizable source: country star Kenny Rogers, he of the hold ’em-or-fold ’em advice. Across his 20-year career, The Gambler won 219 games and lost 156. He added 28 saves. Along the way, he pitched a perfect game and won a World Series. Yanks decorated his life.

He lost a World Series, too, though by no fault of his own. In the 2006 Fall Classic, he notched the Tigers’ lone win in their 4-1 series loss to St. Louis. Clearly, Detroit hadn’t made a life out of readin’ people’s faces and knowing what the Cards were.

But Rogers? With the possible help of a mysterious tarry substance, he hurled eight scoreless innings to claim the Game 2 win.

Pro: Good move: Ranks second all time in pickoffs, with 93.

Con: Bad mojo: Once assaulted a cameraman…who got it on tape.

Walk-up song: We’ve Got Tonight…And Tomorrow…And Possibly Game Three

RHP — Bob Welch (38.9 WAR)

Musical namesake: Bob Welch of more than you realize

Again, I hear you: “I’ve heard of Bob Welch the pitcher,” you say, “but Bob Welch the musician? You mean like at open mic night at the local tavern?”

Nope. Welch, in fact, was an early member of Fleetwood Mac, serving as lead guitarist on five studio albums from 1971 through 1974 and writing or co-writing several songs, including Sentimental Lady, a tune he re-recorded upon going solo following his mid-’70s departure from the notoriously troubled band.

Bob Welch the pitcher had a memorable start, as well. As a rookie reliever in Game Two of the 1978 World Series, he whiffed Yankees drink-stirrer Reggie Jackson with a full-count four-seamer to finish an epic five-minute at-bat and give the Dodgers a 4-3 win. Welch was just 21. Thirteen years hence, after winning the ’81 World Series with the Dodgers, he went 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA to win the 1990 AL Cy Young award.

Pro: Durable: From 1986 through 1991, averaged 34 starts.

Con: Ding-able: In 17 seasons, never whiffed more than 196.

Walk-up song: Toss Softly To Me

RHP — Dave Stewart (27.4 WAR)

Musical namesake: Dave Stewart of Sweet Dreams

Dave Stewart, the musician, has been “solo” for years, with projects ranging from Mick Jagger’s supergroup SuperHeavy to collaborations with Ringo Starr and Nelson Mandela, but he’s best known for his work with the band for which he played a kitchen sink’s worth of instruments: Eurythmics.

Sweet dreams were made of that, for sure.

Dave Stewart, the pitcher, has been retired for years now, but he’s best known for his menacing mound glare and mid-career durability. With the A’s, Stewart was the AL’s games-started leader in four straight seasons and its complete-games and innings-pitched leader in two apiece. From 1987 through 1992, all with Oakland, he averaged 248 innings pitched per year.

Dave Stewart and Bob Welch, like Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox, were teammates. On the 1990 A’s they won a combined 49.

Pro: Victorious: Won 20 in five straight seasons and three rings with three teams.

Con: Notorious: Days before accepting Good Guys Award, got busted with hooker.

Walk-up song: Here Comes the Change Again

BULLPEN

RHP — Phil Collins (10.2 WAR)

Musical namesake: Phil Collins of Genesis and Phil Collins

Phil Collins, the longtime singer and drummer, is loved and loathed alike.

To date, he has sold more than 150 million albums, meaning somebody sure adores his saccharine brand of prog-rock, but critics and peers can’t stand the guy. Calling his music “sterile pop” and his personality “insufferable” and “smug,” they’ve routinely denounced his presence near the top of the charts.

Phil Collins, the onetime starter and reliever, is scarcely remembered, let alone loved or loathed. Despite his obscurity, though, the 5-foot-11 righty pitched fairly well in both roles. As a starter, he hurled 64 complete games among his 141 outings. As a reliever, he finished 111 games among his 181, saving 24. All told, he pitched to a 4.66 ERA across his eight-year big league career, which ended in 1935. His RA9, however, was a much-higher 5.33, meaning he gave up a lot of unearned runs. Why?

One reason was that Collins–whose nickname, tellingly, was Fidgety Phil–made a lot of errors himself: 26, for a .922 fielding percentage. In 1932, when he won 14 games and saved three, he made nine errors in 52 chances. So, yeah, maybe his managers loved and loathed him alike.

Pro: Rescuer: Led NL in saves in 1933, albeit with six.

Con: Needed rescue: Led baseball in homers yielded in 1934, with 30.

Entrance song: Don’t Let Him Steal Your Base Away

RHP — Michael Jackson (9.7 WAR)

Musical namesake: Yeah…Michael Jackson

The King of Pop and the veteran reliever had more in common than just a name. That’s right: Each wore just the one glove!

Unlike pitcher Jackson, singer Jackson never knew the sting of being underrated. From age seven, when he joined his brothers to form the Jackson 5, to his death at age 50, he stood at the top of pop. He might have become a situational punchline, but he was never less than world famous. His namesake pitcher, on the other hand, toiled atop mounds for eight major league teams across 17 seasons but never made an All-Star team despite several stellar campaigns.

In 1994, with the Giants, and 1998, with the Indians, he posted ERAs of 1.49 and 1.55 across a combined 106.1 innings. In that ’98 season–his first as a full-time closer–he notched 40 saves and then added four postseason saves.

Still, fame never came.

With teammate Eddie Murphy, he can sing Whatzupwitdat?

Pro: Plate-full success: In ’93, led baseball with 81 games pitched.

Con: Bases-full failure: Yielded record 10 grand slams.

Entrance song: Wanna Be Pitchin’ Somethin’

RHP — Don Johnson (4.2 WAR)

Musical namesake: Heartbreak’s Johnson

As mentioned, baseball gave us two Don Johnsons. This one pitched as both a starter and a reliever for five teams across seven big league seasons. Prior to his rookie season, with the Yankees, teammate Joe DiMaggio called the 6-foot-3 righty “the best player I ever saw in my life.” Johnson made good on that critique by hurling a 10-inning, complete-game victory against the Philadelphia Athletics in his debut, yielding just two earned runs.

He followed that performance with another complete-game win–this one nine innings–while yielding only five hits and no earned runs against the Senators. Johnson was just 20. His performance soon began to suffer, though, and a series of injuries and a battle against the bottle derailed a promising career. In 1958, following two seasons in the minors, he finished his career by pitching 17 games for the Giants, posting a 6.26 ERA.

Pro: Resourceful: In school, used homemade glove.

Con: Not resourceful: In box, batted .058.

Entrance song: Your Glove is Safe with Me

LHP — Brian Johnson (0.7 WAR, and counting)

Musical namesake: Brian Johnson of AC/DC

On May 27, 2017, in his first start at Fenway Park, Boston’s Brian Johnson registered a complete-game shutout of the Mariners while striking out eight batters and walking none in the Red Sox’s 6-0 victory. In so doing, the 6-foot-4 southpaw became the first Red Sox pitcher to register a complete-game shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998.

On April 8, 1980, in his first studio session with AC/DC, Britain’s Brian Johnson recorded a complete track for the album “Back in Black.” In so doing, the 5-foot-5 right-hander became the first AC/DC singer since Bon Scott–who, tragically, had died just three months earlier–to record a song for the hard rock band from Down Under.

In 2016, after 36 years with the band, Johnson retired from AC/DC.

In 2016, after one game with the Red Sox, Johnson pitched in the minors.

In 2018, Johnson became a starter for the Red Sox.

In 2018, Johnson is rumored to be returning to AC/DC.

Pro: All-purpose: In college, won award as nation’s top two-way player.

Con: All over: In rookie season, albeit a one-game season, had BB/9 of 8.3.

Entrance song: Whole Lotta Rosin

RHP — Chris Martin (0.7 WAR, and counting)

Musical namesake: Chris Martin of Coldplay

Neither Chris Martin the pitcher nor Chris Martin the singer is married to Gwyneth Paltrow. One of them was, of course, but today, each Martin plies his craft without the accompaniment of that noted lifestyle expert.

Pitcher Martin, currently with Texas, long had deeper concerns than celebrity romance. Having declined to sign with Colorado in the 2005 draft, the 6-foot-8 right-hander injured his shoulder and left baseball, taking jobs at Lowe’s and UPS. While playing catch with a coworker, he noted a return to strength. Five years after his rejection of the Rockies, he signed with an independent team, worked his way up and, in 2014, debuted with the team that had drafted him. Following a brief stint with the Yankees and two excellent seasons in Japan, he signed with his hometown Rangers in 2018. Call it the Adventure of a Lifetime.

Pro: Unbowed: See above.

Con: Untested: Has pitched fewer than 80 innings in the bigs.

Entrance song: Viva la Heata

RHP — Ozzie Osborn (0.2 WAR)

Musical namesake: Ozzy Osbourne

Pitcher Ozzie Osborn, vis-a-vis rocker Ozzy Osbourne, is the embodiment of alternate spelling. Contra-Ozzy, Ozzie never bit off the head of a bat or urinated on the Alamo–presumably, anyway. No reports have yet emerged.

Born Danny Leon, not Ozzie, Osborn pitched just one season in the bigs. In 1975, with the White Sox, he appeared in 24 games, finished seven and won three. He compiled a 4.50 ERA but a better 3.74 FIP. The man had talent. In the minors, he had ERAs of 3.07 or better in eight of nine seasons.

Still, like his alternately spelled namesake, he lacked control. In consecutive games, versus the White Sox and the Brewers, he yielded nine walks across 10 frames. Overall, Osborn sported a BB/9 of 5.7. Mama, I’m Comin’ Home.

Pro: Iron Man: Often went four-plus innings in long relief.

Con: Shot in the Dark: Had career fielding percentage of .889.

Walk-up song: WAR Pigs

RHP — Don Williams (0.0 WAR)

Musical namesake: Don Williams, country singer

When it comes to baseball and bullpens, two men named Don Williams have met the mandates. One pitched in 11 games from 1958 through 1962, the other in three games in 1963. Neither pitched particularly well.

Don Fred Williams, a 6-foot-2 righty, accrued a 7.20 ERA (albeit with a 3.89 FIP) across 20 innings for the Pirates and A’s. Donald Reid Williams, a 6-foot-5 righty, pitched to a 10.38 ERA (with an 8.71 FIP) across 4.1 frames for Minnesota.

Neither won a game. Neither lost a game.

Neither earned a save.

Still, in light of the former’s 0.0 WAR, versus the latter’s -0.2, Don Fred Williams gets the postseason nod. I Believe in You, I’ll tell him.

Pro: Good start: Retired Gil Hodges, Ron Fairly, Frank Howard consecutively in career debut.

Con: Bad start: Faced nine batters in lone inning of 1962 debut, yielding four earned runs.

Entrance song: Lord, I Hope This Pitch Is Good

RHP — Rick James (-0.1 WAR)

Musical namesake: Rick James of Super Freak

The two Rick Jameses had more in common than you might think–and less.

To the first point, they were contemporaries, born just a year apart. And each got off to an early start. After starring at an Alabama high school, the pitcher became the sixth overall pick in the baseball’s inaugural first-year player draft and got his call-up to the Cubs just two years later, in 1967, at age 19.

As for entertainer James, he joined his first big-time band, the Mynah Birds, in 1964, at age 16, not long before his arrest in Canada for having dodged the other draft, the one that could’ve taken him not to Wrigley but to Vietnam.

To the second point, the pitcher really was Rick James, born Richard Lee James. The entertainer, born James Ambrose Johnson Jr, really wasn’t. He had taken the name Rick James Matthews, later shortened to Rick James, in efforts to remain dodged.

Despite his conviction and imprisonment, James the entertainer would go on to a stellar career punctuated by the crossover hit Super Freak but also blighted by drug addiction, legal issues and collaboration on Eddie Murphy’s Party All the Time, which James wrote and regrettably produced.

As for the pitcher James, he would peak not at No. 1 but at 19, having pitched in just three games for the Cubs. In his last big league game–his only start–in the 1967 season finale, James yielded seven earned runs in nine innings.

Pro: Stick-to-it-iveness: In only start, threw 55 pitches in first inning.

Con: Stuck-it-to-him-ness: Posted RA9 of 15.43.

Entrance song: Super FIP

Closer — Brian Wilson (6.6 WAR)

Musical namesake: Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys

Let it be known that at the height of their careers, pitcher Brian Wilson looked like a musician and musician Brian Wilson looked like a pitcher. Clean-cut and fresh-faced, the Beach Boys bassist/singer epitomized the wholesome evocations of mid-’60s America in the time before the good old-fashioned zeitgeist shifted to one of Flower Power, psychedelia and Woodstock’s verboten brown acid. Never mind that Wilson would dive into drugs in a way that few artists had. At the height of Beach Boys acclaim, they were all apple pie.

The pitcher, conversely, seemed an aesthetic mash-up of heavy-metal identifiers and glam-rock markers, all look-at-me machismo and ’tude. His thick black beard, tatted-up body and fluorescent orange spikes gave him a stage presence like no other closer in history. Indeed, the Fu Manchu of Goose Gossage had nothing on that Fear-The-Beard beard.

Pro: Clutch: In 17 postseason games, posted 0.00 ERA, two wins and six saves.

Con: Crumbly: Following four peak seasons, succumbed to arm trouble.

Entrance song: Shut Down

BENCH PLAYERS

Catcher — Brian Johnson (2.2 WAR)

Musical namesake: AC/DC’s Johnson

Every team needs a backup catcher. I’m picking the eight-year vet.

Granted, Johnson was no WAR Machine, but he did accrue a 2.2-game positive value across his 471 games in the bigs. Plus, he’s clutch. On Sept. 18, 1997, his 12th-inning homer beat the Dodgers and pulled his Giants into a first-place tie with LA in the NL West. To this day, Giants fans call it the Brian Johnson Game.

They don’t call it the Joe Walsh Game.

Walsh, a catcher for the 1910-’11 Highlanders, had been my only other candidate for a backup role, but his -0.1 WAR, and total of five games played, disqualified him. In addition, a Brian Johnson-Brian Johnson battery is potentially electrifying. High Voltage!

Pro: Postseason experience: Played in ’96 and ’97 NLDS.

Con: In-season shortcomings: Played to a -3 Total Zone rating.

Walk-up song: Let There Be Sock

Outfielder — Danny Thomas (0.8 WAR)

Musical namesake: Danny Thomas, actor/singer

History knows Danny Thomas as more an actor and TV honcho than a singer. After hitting it big in 1950s-’60s sitcom Make Room for Daddy, Thomas went on to become a hugely successful producer and commercial pitchman, entering American homes as a frequent drinker of Maxwell House coffee and frequent fundraiser for his brainchild, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

Still, as a singer, he released seven albums.

Meanwhile, history probably forgets Danny Thomas the ballplayer, whose story is sadder than his namesake’s. A member of the Worldwide Church of God, the talented Brewers outfielder refused to play ball from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday and lost his job, and career, because of it.

Pro: Talented: Posted .820 OPS across 201 plate appearances.

Con: Troubled: Suffered mental health problems upon big league arrival.

Walk-up song: Danny Thomas Theme And My Blue Heaven

Outfielder/pitcher — Charlie Daniels (0.1 WAR)

Musical namesake: Charlie Daniels, fiddlin’ singer

Charlie Daniels played just three major league games, two as a pitcher and one as an outfielder and all in 1884. He wasn’t particularly good but wasn’t especially bad, sporting a 4.32 ERA across 16.2 innings and a .273/.385/.273 line in 13 plate appearances. Where he faltered was in the field. He committed one error on the mound, two in the outfield.

Still, a two-way bench player is valuable in postseason play.

Let’s hope he’s not an Uneasy Rider of the bench.

Pro: Good arm: Whiffed 12, walked two.

Con: Good grief: The two outfield errors came in three chances.

Walk-up/entrance song: The Chuck’s Gonna Do It Again

Middle infielder — Joe Walsh (-0.3 WAR)

Musical namesake: Joe Walsh of The Eagles and solo fame

By WAR, Walsh should not have a place on my postseason team. He trails several remaining candidates in value, namely, Bobby Brown the outfielder (2.1); Jack White the outfielder (-0.1) and Jack White the infielder (-0.2). If you’re willing to cut some slack on spelling and construction, he also trails Matt Broderick the infielder (0.0)–remember, Matthew Broderick sang in The Producers and lip-synced as Ferris Bueller–and Al Greene the outfielder (-0.2).

He is, however, the best remaining Joe Walsh.

Indeed, a third Joe Walsh played in the majors. In 1891, Joseph R. Walsh played 38 games at shortstop and second base and racked up a WAR of -0.5 in the process. Still, despite the lesser WAR, you might think Joseph R. Walsh, as opposed to Joseph P. Walsh, is better suited to postseason play. After all, he played 238 innings to Joseph P.’s 27. He had 106 plate appearances to Joseph P.’s eight. And in fact, Joseph P. failed to reach base in those eight appearances, all in 1938.

But let’s compare nicknames.

Joseph R.’s was Reddy. Joseph P.’s was Tweet.

A tweet isn’t just a Twitter message. It’s birdsong, man!

Walk-up songs:

***

Like it or not, that’s my postseason roster. I can’t just pick any ol’ name out of the studio. There’s no major leaguer named Ray Charles, or James Brown, or even James Taylor. There’s definitely no Sid Vicious.

Granted, I’m probably forgetting a five-time All-Star named Stevie Wonder, a three-time MVP named Elvis Presley and an elite closer named Art Garfunkel. But as Garfunkel himself has crooned, this is All I Know.

And yeah, I hear ya: There’s a lotta old-school guys in the lineup. But Cut Me Some Slack. Today, everybody’s named Tyga or Skrillex or Lil Uzi Vert. On the other hand, there’s Blake Shelton, and you’d expect two of every three slap-hitting second basemen to be named Blake Shelton. Alas, they are not.

In a perfect world, I could wait for minor leaguers to reach The Show. In the sticks there’ve been 16 James Browns, four Steve Millers, four Steve Perrys, three Sam Moores, two George Joneses, and one each of Glenn Miller, John Lennon, Louis Armstrong, Hank Williams, John Mayer, Johnny Cash, Don Henley and Ricky Martin. But just as Jack White himself has sung, I Can’t Wait.


John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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Dennis Bedard
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Dennis Bedard
“It’s Not Unusual” to have Tom Jones (1902-1910) in your lineup. John Fogarty (1885) would make a fine utility player (“Put Me In Coach”) For away games, any team would want Roger Miller (1974) as he could sing “King Of The Road” on those long road trips The Colorado Rockies would be wise to sign Joe Walsh (all three of them) to serenade the hometown crowd with “Rocky Mountain Way” For the dog days of August, you might want to bring up King Cole (1909-1915) from AAA ball to keep the fans awake with “Those crazy, lazy days of summer,… Read more »
Dennis Bedard
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Dennis Bedard

And lastly as a sort of clubhouse psyche , you would want Jack Wilson (2001-2012) on retainer to assist players going through busted relationships. He would break out the 45 RPM of Lonely Teardrops while weeping broken hearted players laid across the proverbial shrink’s couch.

87 Cards
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87 Cards

Back in the ’80s, I heard about a sensational player from the community of Ryansarm way out in west Texas. The dude could do it all—hit for average, power, OPS, OPS+. RC; throw; field; run, speak fluent cliché and tolerate Tim McCarver’s voice for long-periods of time. His name was Dunne Hindley and his birth-name contributes to why is he had to go underground and hasn’t been seen in a while. Teams shied away from Dunne when they received cease-and-desist trademark letters from a very-protective former Eagle.

hopbitters
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hopbitters

Hey Maggot Brain – you forgot “Kidd Funkadelic” Mike Hampton. You can’t leave him sitting in the (Nappy) Dugout.

Paul G.
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Member
Paul G.

Very entertaining.

I figured Bernie Williams and Jack McDowell would be the ringers. Alas.

I think Dave Stewart won 20 games for 4 seasons in a row, not 5. Unless you mean the Eurythmics guy.

Jetsy Extrano
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Jetsy Extrano

Fun stuff in here! And I learned about Bobby Brown, quite a guy.
https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/abd081a0

Gotta be something you can do withOzzy and “hit off the end of the bat”?

Jballin
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Member
Jballin

Umm… Steve Howe? Maybe in in a roundabout way?

JV19
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JV19

How about Bronson Arroyo the pitcher and Bronson Arroyo the musician? They’re the same person, but he has released an album. Sure, calling him a musician may be a stretch, but these articles are supposed to be fun.