The Closet Moderate: April 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Old Time Baseball Name of the Week (2)

Oyster Burns.

Thomas "Oyster" Burns was an outfielder (and sometimes shortstop) who played from 1884 to 1895. Most of his playing career is with the Brooklyn Bridegrooms (later the Dodgers) and the original Baltimore Orioles (later moved to New York and became the Yankees), but he began his career with the Wilmington Quicksteps, a team that should also qualify as a good old-time baseball name.

Ol' Oyster was a fairly good ballplayer, finishing his career with a .300 batting average and 129 triples -- more than any current player has today. The 1890 season was his best, and a good one for the Bridegrooms as they finished first in the National League. He also hit for the cycle that year.

According to the Dodgers Encyclopedia, Burns got his nickname because he sold shellfish in the off-season. Oyster (or "Erster," if the Brooklyn fans pronounced it anything like my Brooklyn-born grandparents) stayed with the Bridegrooms until 1894. After a year with the New York Giants, he retired, living in Brooklyn until his death in 1928.

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Old-time Baseball Name of the Week

Cannonball Titcomb.

Old-time ballplayers had the best nicknames, but this one was clearly worthy of blogging.

Ledell "Cannonball" Titcomb was a left-handed pitcher from 1886 to 1890. He put up a lifetime record of 30 wins, 29 losses, with an ERA of 3.47. Not terrible, anyway. In Titcomb's final season, while pitching for the now-defunct Rochester Broncos, he threw a no-hitter against the equally defunct Syracuse Stars. The teams both folded at the end of the season. Titcomb bounced around the minor leagues for two more years before retiring in 1892 after an arm injury. He died sixty years later and was buried in Kingston, New Hampshire.

Why was he given the nickname "Cannonball?" My internet research is inconclusive. One source suggests that he was a hard-thrower, which seems reasonable enough. Another suggests that, at 5'6'' and 157 lbs., his physique resembled a cannonball. The hard fastball sounds more likely, but who knows?

So, will this be a regular feature of the Closet Moderate? Or will it be something else my fellow bloggards and I forget to blog about? Only time will tell!

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