This all started when Old Hoss Radbourn’s birthday (December 11) was right around the corner, and people on the internet were petitioning to make it a national holiday. Since I have always been obsessed with the worst dudes ever, I looked up Cap Anson’s birthday to see if that would also make a good national holiday. After discovering that he and Ty Cobb were born three days apart, I vowed to graph the birthdays of disturbing baseball personalities to see if I could glean any numerical insights. After running out of disturbing people, I decided to look up the birthdays of the first 365 players I could think of, and graph the results:
All of my data came from Wikipedia, except for poor Kip Yaughn, who does not HAVE a Wikipedia, as I mentioned in my previous entry. So I learned all kinds of other exciting details about the subjects of my list, such as: Ellis Burks’s middle name is Rena! Jay Buhner once posed (fully clothed) with a copy of A Lesson Before Dying! Steve Jeltz was born in France! And apparently my boyfriend shares his birthday with multiple people named Steve (Garvey and Carlton.) I also found all kinds of good pictures and personal details about the players involved. I now know what softball team currently features Shawn Chacon, and that if Jose Mesa is not lying about his age, he fathered a kid when he was 13.
While the birth dates are available online for anyone to peruse, normal people probably do not spend time analyzing this stuff. So I suspect I have drawn some original conclusions, some of which the players themselves may not be aware of. Johnny Evers, Mark Lemongello and C.C. Sabathia were all born on July 21, which was also the date of the Next Step Up reunion in 2006. (How indeed did Johnny Evers and his plain moniker get to share this day with the latter two and their fabulous nomenclature?) Or, while facing Edgar Martinez in the 1995 ALDS, was David Cone aware that not only were they born on the same day, but in the very same year? Former teammates Joe Girardi and Pat Kelly probably knew they shared a birthday (October 14), but is that why Pat Kelly wore number 14? Someday I would like to interview Pat Kelly and ask him. Although on my list of potential interview subjects, he is somewhere below Sean Taggart and above Rick Honeycutt.
At first I thought that November 17 was some sort of magical relief pitcher birthday, as I had Mitch Williams, Jeff Nelson and John Rocker all down for this date. Upon fact checking I discovered that Rocker was actually born on Edge Day (October 17) and I must have transposed a digit when entering it into Excel. (More like Over The Edge day based on his reaction to the populace of the 7 train.)
Hank Aaron’s birthday (February 5) and Babe Ruth’s (February 6) fall one day apart. If Barry Bonds’ birthday was February 4, that would be even better, except not really, since “Barry Bonds” and “better” should never be used in the same sentence. Except as in “what do Supertouch-Better and Barry Bonds have in common? They’re both overrated.” Disclaimer: I fucking love Supertouch but Better is not one of my favorite tracks. This will be extrapolated upon in the next issue of my paper zine I Question Not Me #2, due sometime in 2011.
How I compiled the list: I wrote down the names of the first 365 players I could think of, over the course of three days. Mathematical calculations aside, this list is probably disturbing enough on its own merits, considering which players came to mind, and for what reasons. Some are inextricably linked by esoteric details, such as John Kruk and Jim Mecir (it’s good that Mike didn’t let me name a cat after John Kruk, that misinformed disparager of club feet), and some people that just popped into my head, like Alejandro Pena. Others earned adjacent listings due to bitter rivalries, like Johnny Mize and Freddie Fitzsimmons. (My joke about Freddie Fitzsimmons demanding a DMS band called DFITZSIMMONS totally went over everyone’s heads on Twitter. Although DFITZSIMMONS is a bit too long to shave into the back of anyone’s heads and they probably wouldn’t have a catchy intro that would get subsequently covered by Bulldoze.) Still others ended up after each other because they rhymed, like Alvin Dark and Chan Ho Park, or I got on a roll and listed an entire family, like the Alous, Boones or Molinas. I refused to list Curt Schilling even though he did come to mind at various times because I dislike him for a variety of things, mostly for wanting to leave the Phillies in the mid 90’s. Also I hesitated about putting Jim Rice on the list because I’m still mad at him for saying mean things about Derek Jeter.
Originally I was doing a hand-drawn chart that plotted the birthdays but with each player’s number from when I looked them up (from 1-365). This was a logistical nightmare when drawn by hand, and I couldn’t figure out how to accurately represent it in Excel either, so I ended up plotting the dates without attaching them to names. If anyone is curious about the identities of the players included, or who corresponds with which numerical spot, a table is included at the end of the article.
The very last person to make the list was Tomas Perez. For some reason I started thinking of that dude on the Brewers who caused an epic mid 90’s collision at 2nd base, and cannot remember his name. (Jose Valentin perhaps?) A google search of “Jose Valentin Epic Collision” did not yield any useful results, but one of the first hits did remind me of the existence of Marlon Anderson. My sister and I had once concocted a fake feud between Marlon Anderson and Tomas Perez, so I had to let Perez get the last word by giving him the final birthday spot. To be fair, I would have included Anderson as well as Marlon Byrd if we still had room. And then Paul Byrd for good measure, if I hadn’t added him earlier.
I realized afterwards when going through the list that Brien Taylor had never played a major league game. I still decided to count him since he was a first round draft pick. If you take umbrage at his inclusion, Marlon Anderson’s birthday is January 16. Also, I discovered that I had Jose Valentin twice, but ended up changing the second entry to John Valentin, the son of Mineola. One of the unintended consequences of this study was that I also found out where a lot of these dudes were born, and have nicknamed them accordingly, such as Jamie “The Sellersville Riot” Moyer. Sadly, I doubt he was in attendance at the Blood For Blood show in 2002 where the riot occurred.
I had so much fun doing this project, so even though I am done with the first set of 365, I want to keep looking up baseball birthdays until I have at least one player for every day of the calendar year. Although for this next step I will allow myself to look at rosters and box scores for player ideas, since completing the list might require some dude on the 1914 Reds or 1933 Browns who I otherwise would have never heard of. More graphs coming soon (or not so soon, as I might get distracted by an equally ridiculous task.)