Happy Columbus Day everybody! In honor of everybody’s favorite autumn holiday (just admit it, folks – Thanksgiving is overrated), we are going to celebrate the discovery of the New World and the good old US of A in patriotic fashion! So let’s get on with it. I’ve decided to pick one guy for each of the three colors of the American flag who happens to have an unusual name involving that color:
1. Red Schoendienst – Albert Fred “Red” Schoendienst (born 1923) has done about everything you can do in baseball – the 10-time All-Star racked up 2,449 hits to go along with a .289 career average in a career spanning from 1945 to 1963. He later went on to be a manager and coach. In total, Red was a member of five World Series Champion teams – as a player in 1946 and 1957, as Cardinals manager in 1967, and as a Cards coach in 1964 and 1982. Remarkably, all 5 Series went to a seventh and final game. Even more remarkable, the Hall of Famer still serves as a Special Assistant Coach for the Cardinals. All told, he has worn a Big League uniform as either a coach, player, or manager for 67 consecutive seasons. Sixty-seven! (that means he has been wearing a Major League uni since 1945, for those who don’t feel like doing the math.)
A great quote on his nickname comes courtesy of a blog called Big League Stew: “Let’s start with his nickname, “Red.” It isn’t one of these namby-pamby newfangled nicknames that combine the first initial of the first name with the first syllable of the last name, like A-Rod or B-Mac or J-Hey. It’s a real no-nonsense nickname, the kind we don’t give anyone anymore. “
There is nothing namby-pamby or newfangled about ol’ Red. Anyone who stays around the Big Leagues for two thirds of a century ain’t namby-pamby. (Even if I don’t exactly know what namby-pamby means).
2. Whitey Herzog – Dorrel Norman Elvert “Whitey” Herzog (Born 1931) is another Hall of Fame Cardinals legend. He got his nickname due to having light blonde hair while in the minors. Although he didn’t have much success as a player, he was a great manager. Beginning his managerial career in 1973 with the Rangers, Dorrel Norman Elvert was hired by Gussie Busch in 1980 to lead the Cardinals. He went on to win a World Series Championship to go along with three National League Championships between 1980 and 1990. Of his baseball career, Herzog has said on several occasions, “Baseball has been good to me since I quit trying to play it.” Well said!
3. Vida Blue – Vida Rochelle Blue Jr. (born 1949) has an undeniably awesome name. Although not as verbose as Dorrel Norman Elvert Herzog, there is something poetic about Vida’s name. Blue had an excellent career as a Major League starting pitching, going 209-161 with a 3.27 ERA, to go along with 6 All-Star selections, 3 World Series titles, and an AL Cy Young and MVP award to boot. Vida is also one of the few players to wear his first name on the back of his jersey, having done so when he was with the Giants. Blue has had a checkered off-field career that is both sad and inspiring. A figure in the 1980s’ baseball cocaine scandal, Blue struggled with substance abuse during and after his career. But he has also remained extremely active in charitable work, often promoting baseball in the inner city.
Well done, Mr. Blue.