Joe Btfsplk: Oh Vowels, Where Art Thou?

“My work is destroyed almost as soon as it’s printed.  One day it’s being read;  the next day someone’s wrapping fish in it.”–Al Capp

joeJoe Btfsplk
was an infamous character in the long running comic strip L’il Abner, by the late cartoonist, Al Capp (1909-1979).  Known as “the world’s worst jinx”, Btfsplk walked around with a cloud over his head, 24/7.   Poor Joe was generally relegated to a life as a loner, as nobody would get near him due to his penchant for wreaking disaster on anyone and anything who ever got close.  His only other claim to fame? His image was briefly licensed for a series of animated TV commercials–by Head and Shoulders!

As hard as his name is to spell, it’s not so difficult to pronounce, once you know the trick.  Capp would apparently demonstrate it thusly at his public lectures:  he parsed his lips, stuck out his tongue, and blew out air.  In other words, a raspberry as this little tyke demonstrates.

Not surprisingly, it was a baseball name Evan P. Rutckyj, that dislodged this bit of decaying ephemera from my rotting neuronal archives.  Rutckyj is a Canadian born pitcher buried in the low minors in the New York Yankees farm system.    The name is pronounced ROOT-ski.  This silent final J is a bit of a letdown.   Six consecutive vowels ought to all be pronounced.   If he ever makes to the Bronx Bombers, though, he’s sure to get a dose of what that little fella in the video above is dishing out.   This in turn, led me to think of other vowel challenged names, including former MLB players Eli Grba and Kent Hrbek.  All this led me, further, to the recall of one of the funniest stories ever to appear in The Onion, Clinton Deploys Vowels to Bosnia.  Got any favorite vowel challenged names?  Or a preferred alternative pronunciation for Rutckyj?  Let us know in the comments section.  And be sure to avoid Joe Btfsplk.


Joe Btfsplk, the world's worst jinx, in this excerpt from the March 20, 1947 strip

Joe Btfsplk, the world’s worst jinx, in this excerpt from the March 20, 1947 strip

You can read my Signatureown brand of  insanity on The Millennium Conjectures.  Or you can just pretend you never heard of me.


About Mark Sackler

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."-Alan Kay; Let's invent a better future, together.
This entry was posted in funny names in baseball and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Joe Btfsplk: Oh Vowels, Where Art Thou?

  1. Pingback: Time Out: Joe Bftsplk – The Millennium Conjectures™

  2. kerbey says:

    It takes me awhile to figure things out, so I started reading and thought, “I don’t remember this guy in Andy Capp…” Then I reread it and figured out it was L’il Abner. In many of my 40s yearbooks, they have L’il Abner dances, with patrons dressed up as characters. Never this guy, though. Poor little Eeyore dark cloud. It does remind me of my mother-in-law’s maiden name. Hyvl. And all her relatives with that name. Rhymes with Evil.

  3. Arto says:

    Lots of great Eastern European athletes suffer from this Vowel Deprivation Syndrome. It’s a plight.

    Dario Srna. Martin Skrtel. Martin Frk. They all seem to have lost something on the way home from the hospital.

  4. wdydfae says:

    Brilliant post!

  5. ksbeth says:

    if the vowel fits……

  6. rgayer55 says:

    I did an entire essay on Irritable Vowel syndrome. Only four people have read it though, since everyone’s so hung up on consonants. The story is languishing inside the tome “The Perils of Heavy Thinking”, which can be found on Amazon (in case anyone ever gets bored with consonants.)

  7. Edward Smrdel, Jr. says:

    I was proud that prior to the 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournaments, my daughter was placed on the All-Names Team. A reserve forward for the Marist College women’s basketball team, the comment was something like she was consonantally challenged. Her name: Sarah Smrdel. By the way, when my grandfather emigrated from Slovenia in the early 20th century, he also dropped the silent j at the end of our name. Whenever anyone questions the spelling, because Slovenians are known to be, let’s say financially conservative, I always say: Hey, we’re Slovenian, we’re too cheap to buy vowels.

  8. logereborn says:

    So difficult to spell that even Capp Ent. misspelled it on their own button!
    Al Capp’s creation (7 July 1940) deserves recognition as the inspiration for DC comics’ Superman character MR MXYZTPLK (1944.)

Leave a Reply to logereborn Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s