Getting the job done in baseball

There are many passions in my life. I obviously love baseball. But there is also history, genealogy, gardening, golfing, the origin of words, etc. Since there did not seem like anything better to do on the freezing cold March Saturday, I thought I would combine a couple of my passions for this post. This one is about names and where they came from.

The origin of names has always been a passion of mine. Surnames did not just spring up out of nowhere. They often described where a person was from, what he did, who his clan was, who his father was and many more. For example, in Swedish culture, Eric Pederson was Peder’s son and his son would be Ericson.

I have watched a lot of baseball in my time and read a million box scores. Those surnames confront me on a daily basis. So I figured I would channel my inner @dianagram and list them out for you. Who knows, this could either bore you to tears or be mildly interesting. I will go alphabetically because it is easier.

Jeff Ballard – a ballard master was in charge of arranging the ballast in the holds of ships. Jeff, one of the most popular Orioles ever, was a ballast that held steady the Orioles’ rotation in 1989.

Len Barker – A barker was originally a tanner since tanning leather used the bark of trees to do the job. Later it became a word for a pitchman and barkers can still be found at fairs around the country. Not too many people tanned Len Barker fastballs.

Trevor Bauer – A bauer was a farmer and Trevor keeps getting sent to the farm club. Maybe someday the former #1 draft pick will put it together and reap a harvest from his pitching.

Mike Baxter – A baxter was a baker. So Mike scored 26 runs in 2012, or two baker’s dozens.

Chief Bender – A bender cut leather or was a bent wooder, a guy who made wood parts. Bender, a Hall of Fame pitcher from the dead ball era sort of fits those descriptions.

Emilio Bonifacio – A boniface was an innkeeper. And I’m sure Bonifacio has stayed at his share of inns during his career.

John Bowker – a bowker bleached yarn for a living. Alternatively, in some parts of a old England, a bowker was a butcher. John Bowker spent most of his short career on the bench, so he heard his share of yarns.

Smokey Burgess – A burgess represented a borough at official functions. Smokey, who had a long, eighteen-year career, usually represented the pitcher when he pinch hit for him.

Gary Carter / Carter Capps – A carter carted things around in his cart. A carman was similar and we’ll let Don Carman do that for us. A cartwright made carts, but certainly did not invent baseball.

Yurendell de Caster – A caster made small bottles. Yurendell made just two small Major League at bats in 2006, but is still playing in the Mexican and independent leagues.

Joba Chamberlain – A chamberlain was a steward for royalty. Mariano Rivera could be considered royalty, could he not?

Happy Chandler – A chandler was a dealer or a trader, which suits Happy to a tee since he was voted into the Hall of Fame as a baseball executive.

Aroldis Chapman – A chapman was a peddler. Aroldis peddled himself after he defected from Cuba.

Lou Collier / Zach Collier – A collier worked on a coal barge, which could not have been too pleasant. Zach Collier has been a disappointment for the Phillies since they drafted him in the first round several years ago. He ended up hitting in the minors like Lou did in the Majors.

Dexter Fowler – A dexter was a dyer and a fowler was a keeper or catcher of birds. We have a jackpot here with two occupation names in one guy. And Fowler has caught his share of fly balls hit by Cardinals.

Bob Feller – A feller cut wood. Mr. Feller broke more than his share of bats with his fastball.

Darrin Fletcher – A fletcher made arrows. There have been nine Fletchers in the Major Leagues. Darrin, who had a long career, is the most recent. The Royals have a minor league player named Brian Fletcher.

Vern Fuller / Larry Walker / Michael Tucker – Fullers, walkers and tuckers were all occupations involving cloth. Tucker has become popular as a first name and there are six such first named players in the minor leagues right now.

Jeff Granger / Wayne Granger – A granger was another word for farmer.

Ben Grieve – A grieve or greave would have been a bailiff, foreman or a sheriff.

Eric Hacker – A hacker made hoes.

Bryce Harper – A harper played the harp, something  I cannot imagine Bryce ever doing.

Bob Horner – A horner made cutlery, handles or combs, mostly from horns as you can imagine.

Wally Joyner – A joyner or joiner were skilled carpenters.

Wee Willie Keeler – A keeler was a barge man or worked on coal riverboats.

Braden Looper – A looper operated a looping machine to close the opening in the toe of seamless hose or to join knitted garment parts. Braden Looper was a closer, so that works.

Sean Marshall or Brett Marshall – A marshall was a horse doctor or shoesmith.

Jordy Mercer – A mercer was a seller of cloth.

John Milner – A milner worked in a mill.

Paul Molitor – A molitor was a miller by trade.

Al Nipper – A nipper was a boy who assisted a wagoner by delivering or picking up goods.

Jarrod Parker – A parker was a park keeper.  Jarrod tries to keep things in the park.

Scott Proctor – A proctor was a university official.

Mark Redman – A redman maintained passages in mines.

Bob Skinner – A skinner was a mule driver or delivered hides. Bob wasn’t mule-headed.

Joe Tinker – A tinker was a pots and pans dealer or a knife sharpener. Or he finished with Evers and Chance.

Bill Travers – A travers was a toll collector on bridges. He was rarely popular.

Jacob Turner / Justin Turner – A turner was a lathe worker.

Adam Wainwright – A wainwright was a master builder of wagons or wains. Adam now often carts the Cardinals on his back.

There you have it. By the way, a tasker was a common farm laborer and when I did the family genealogy, that is what my ancestors did generation after generation. How boring!

Have a great weekend!

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