Ossee Freeman Schreckengost (1879-1914) was a former Major League Baseball catcher and first baseman who enjoyed a long career as a member of seven different major league teams. He is also a significant part of why this blog came into existence.
Some history: our funny names list began in the summer of 2006 when my brother Rob mentioned some ridiculous baseball player names – Coco Crisp, “Piano Legs” Hickman, and Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell among them – and I decided it would be fun to compile a list of humorously named baseball players.
I began searching baseball-reference.com for every funny name I could find, then looked for U.S. Senators with funny names, and then created a Google Doc and invited Rob and my friend Arto to contribute. Five years and 1500 names later, Arto decided to create this blog.
I bring this up for two reasons:
1. Without funny baseball names, this blog wouldn’t exist.
2. When you combine funny-namedness with sheer hilarity, Ossee Schreckengost may be the funniest baseball player of all time. (Turk Wendell comes close)
Case in point: Exhibit A, this email I received from Rob several years ago.
“I know he’s on your list, but this has to be written down. He is now my favorite funny name player ever. Read page 7 of this book, under Rube Waddell. Apparently Ossee didn’t like Rube because, when they were roomies with the Philadelphia A’s, that annoying Hall of Famer ate in bed. Schreckengost refused to sign his 1903 contract unless the Athletics ordered Rube to stop eating animal crackers in bed. This was because, understandably, the crumbs kept him awake.”
Exhibit B: Ossee briefly played on the worst baseball team in history. In 1899, the Cleveland Spiders lost 134 games (14 more than the second-worst team ever), including 101 road losses. Teams today only play 81 road games, and this was generally true in the 1890′s as well, so how did this team lose 101 games on the road?
Well, it all started in 1898 when the Spiders’ owners bought a team in St. Louis that they renamed the St. Louis Perfectos (a year later, they would become the St. Louis Cardinals). The owners decided the Perfectos would sell better since they were in a bigger city, so they traded all the Spiders’ talented players (including three future Hall of Famers) to the Perfectos. In the Spiders’ first 16 home games, they sold an average of 199 tickets, and teams refused to play there because they wouldn’t make enough money from their share of ticket prices to cover their traveling costs. After July 1, the Spiders only played 8 games at home for the rest of the season, and they played a record 112 games on the road – losing all but 11.
The team was relegated to the minor leagues after that season, and named the Cleveland Lake Shores.
Two bright spots:
1. The Cleveland Lake Shores made it back to the majors in 1901 and were renamed the Cleveland Indians.
2. Ossee Schreckengost played well enough to get traded from the Spiders to the Perfectos after 43 games that year. Perhaps because of this, he would end up playing nine more seasons in the major leagues.
Exhibit C: Ossee Schreckengost played for the American League champion 1902 Philadelphia Athletics. Among his 14 teammates were: Socks Seybold, Lave and Monte Cross, Dave Fultz, Topsy Hartsel, Bert Husting, Highball Wilson, and – of course - Rube Waddell, who ate animal crackers in bed.
The team’s manager was Hall of Famer Connie Mack, which was a shortened form of his birth name, Cornelius McGillicuddy.
Exhibit D: Ossee Schreckengost was born Ossee Schrecongost before changing the spelling of his name. It’s the little things that count.
Exhibit E: Ossee’s final at-bat was the last out of the October 2nd, 1908 perfect game thrown by Hall of Famer Addie Joss. Only a man like Ossee could end his career with an out and still go down as a part of history.
Ossee Schreckengost passed away at age 39 of uremia in 1914, and was buried in this grave in Kittanning, Pennsylvania. We hope he is able to rest peacefully in a place with no animal cracker crumbs.
The People’s Verdict:
The jury unanimously agrees that Ossee Schreckengost was awesome. Though he could never make the Baseball Hall of Fame (he was removed from the ballot in 1939 after failing to earn more than 1% of the Hall of Fame votes for the second time in three years), he deserves a spot in the Funny Names Hall of Fame.
100 years after his playing career ended, Ossee Schreckengost is gone but not forgotten.