The Twins appear to be making history today with Simeon Woods Richardson on the mound. He’s believed to be the first person in MLB history to have a 16-letter name on the back of his jersey. The 13-letters of former catcher Jarrod Saltalamaccia pales in comparison.
As Twins go, my understanding is that the record for longest surname was set in the mid-1970s, and I found out the hard way. When I was a kid, the radio station in Cedar Rapids had a baseball trivia question each afternoon at 4:30, with the winner getting two tickets to the Cedar Rapids Astros/Cardinals/Reds/Giants or whoever they were affiliated with at the time. My school bus got me home at 4:20, and I was regularly calling in for tickets. I think I won about 70 tickets over the course of a few years, though that wasn’t 35 winnings. Sometimes they gave more than two tickets, particularly for special events like the Midwest League All-Star game.
(Memorable questions that got me seats: 1. Who replaced Lou Gehrig at the end of his Iron Man Streak? 2. What is the most amount of runs that can be scored on six hits? Answers in comments.)
At any rate, early in 1977, on the day after the question was, “Who has the shortest name in baseball?” (Ed Ott, at the time, which I won as the result of having his baseball card), the question was, “Who has the longest surname in baseball?” The DJ gave the clue of it being 12 letters. I thumbed through my trusty April issue of Baseball Digest and confidently called in with Claude Westmoreland, who was listed on the 40-man roster of the Dodgers.
I was shocked when he told me I was wrong. I was even more shocked to find that Paul Thormodsgard had made my favorite team, the Minnesota Twins. Apparently he was in camp as a minor league invitee, because he wasn’t listed on the 40-mans in the magazine.
He’d go on to throw 218 innings that year, starting 37 games and finishing with an 11-15 record and a 4.62 ERA. His ERA was still under 4 after his Sept. 5 start, but he gave up 26 runs in 24 innings over his last five starts. The next year he started 12 games before being sent down to Toledo. He must have gotten hurt, since he only threw four games there. He spent most of 1979 in Toledo before a September callup, where he gave up three hits and a run in an inning. That winter he was traded to Philadelphia for Pete Mackanin. Thor pitched one year in the minors for Philadelphia, but didn’t get called up, and hung it up after his 1980 season.
For his career, he was 12-21 with a 4.74 ERA and an 84 ERA+.
Though Thormodsgard is the first Twin I’m aware of with 12 letters, we’ve also had Trevor Hildenberger. Are there any others?
But lest you think Woods Richardson is anywhere the world record for longest last name, that pales in comparison to the world record as listed by Guinness. Though good old Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Sr. passed away on October 24, 1997, in Philadelphia, that wasn’t his full name. His full named totaled 747 letters (sans “Sr.”) and was, as verified on January 1, 2021, and found at https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/67285-longest-personal-name, Adolph Blaine Charles David Earl Frederick Gerald Hubert Irvin John Kenneth Lloyd Martin Nero Oliver Paul Quincy Randolph Sherman Thomas Uncas Victor William Xerxes Yancy Zeus Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorffwelchevoralternwarengewissenhaftschaferswessenschafewarenwohlgepflegeundsorgfaltigkeitbeschutzenvonangreifendurchihrraubgierigfeindewelchevoralternzwolftausendjahresvorandieerscheinenvanderersteerdemenschderraumschiffgebrauchlichtalsseinursprungvonkraftgestartseinlangefahrthinzwischensternartigraumaufdersuchenachdiesternwelchegehabtbewohnbarplanetenkreisedrehensichundwohinderneurassevonverstandigmenschlichkeitkonntefortpflanzenundsicherfreuenanlebenslanglichfreudeundruhemitnichteinfurchtvorangreifenvonandererintelligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum.
In other Twins name news, I noticed the other day that the Twins have eight (8) pitchers on their 40-man roster (including the 60-day IL guys) whose first name starts with the letter “J” – Jorge Alcala, Jordon Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Jovani Moran, Jhon Romero, Joe Ryan and Josh Winder. They are joined on the 40-man by Jose Miranda, Jermaine Palacios, Jorge Polanco and Jake Cave, for a total of 12 out of what is now 50 guys, counting injuries. And there’s also Griffin Jax and Ryan Jeffers.
In terms of the pitchers, perhaps it’s a good omen to have this many “J” names, given that this is an organization with Johan Santana, Jim Kaat and Jim Perry in its top seven in bWAR for pitchers since moving to Minnesota in 1961, along with Jim Merritt as the career WHIP leader and Joe Nathan as the career leader in saves.
The stuff we come up with trying to come up with a Game Thread intro for a team that has assured itself of not having a winning record...
What I’m not able to come up with is the starting lineups, since it won’t be posted before I leave for church. Can someone get those?