It’s opening day for the Cardinals and thus, an appropriate time to revisit some of the funniest, most interesting names to have donned the Cardinal uniform over the years.
We’re talking the modern era here, which discounts the likes of Mordecai “Three Fingers” Barnes, Bugs Raymond and the illustrious Tuck Stainback—all of whom played for the team in the early days of the franchise.
So, as a proud native of St. Louis and lifelong Cardinal fan, I give you my nominees for the 12 most interesting Cardinal player names of the modern era!
Sixto Lezcano (1981) : He was acquired in a series of trades Whitey Herzog made when he first came to the team. Came with a rep for having a big bat and arm—he had neither.
Esteban Yan (2003): You knew the 03 team was in bad shape when they took a flyer on this well-traveled reliever with a penchant for only allowing inherited runners to score, which must have endeared him to the rest of the pitching staff. Had a big fastball which he threw with absolutely no movement—Basically, got lit up like a Christmas tree.
Boots Day (1969): You had to know the glory days of the franchise in the 60’s were long gone when a banjo-hitting outfielder named Boots Day was getting playing time.
Placido Polanco (1998-2002): His name makes him sound like world-class opera singer. Traded to the Phillies in the Scott Rolen deal—he was missed.
Gibson Alba (1988): The tall, lanky Dominican lefthander with the odd first name. First MLB appearance: May 3, 1988. Last MLB appearance: May 8, 1988. FIVE days and gone! That pretty much sums up Gibson Alba.
Bake McBride: (1973-1977): An outfielder on some really bad early/mid 70’s Cardinals teams who ran like the wind. As a 10 year old, I tried to get his autograph once before a game—and he told me, “I’ll catch you later man!”
He never did.
Heathcliff Slocumb (1999-2000): Big, relaxed—almost cavalier like attitude on the mound. Played on 8 teams over a 10-year career. Seems he didn’t make very good second impressions.
Scipio Spinks (1972-73): I’ll go out on a limb here and wager that he’s the only player in MLB history with the first name Scipio! His career was cut short when he was destroyed on a play at home plate by the Reds all-star catcher/bully, Johnny Bench.
Charlie Chant (1976): No memory of him whatsoever other than the fact that he had maybe one of the five coolest names, not only in Cardinal history but baseball history.
Kiko Calero (2003-04): Serviceable middle inning /mop-up reliever—It’s hard to believe that we were blessed with him and Estaban Yan in the same year.
Marc Rzepczynski (2011-2012): Nickname—Scrabble. there was nothing funnier than listening to Mike Shannon attempt to pronounce his name after a long, drawn out rain delay in early April.
But, the undisputed champion for most interesting name in Cardinal history:
Stubby Clapp (2001): Insert your own joke here. Defines the term “scrappy”. Even scrappier than Joe McEwing—and that’s saying something.