Baseball

What’s in a Name? The Kansas City Royals All-Name Team

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The Kansas City Royals have had a total of 938 different players put on a KC jersey in their 53 years of existence. While there have been plenty of memorable players to pass through Kauffman Stadium (and Municipal Stadium), for each star and memorable player, there are dozens who are forgotten.

However, some of those forgotten players have one thing that may etch them a small role in baseball history: a memorable name.

This is the chance to look at some of the best names who have appeared in a Royals box score. For this list, there is no minimum criteria. If he played one game with the Royals and is therefore on this list, he is eligible for the Royals all-name team.

Additionally, selections are purely subjective to my opinion, which you find to be wrong. Feel free to sound off if you believe elsewise. So without further ado, let’s get to it!

Catcher – Nick Dini

At the risk of sounding a recency bias alarm, I made this selection because catcher is probably the weakest position in terms of names. Nick Dini suited up 20 times for the Royals in 2019, slashing .196/.270/.357 in 64 plate appearances. He also played in Omaha this past season and signed a minor league deal with the New York Mets this past November.

There were a few other contenders, though the strongest competition probably comes from Nelson Santovenia, who appeared in four games for the 1993 Royals. Ultimately, Dini gets the nod just because a full first and last name with just eight letters is a little unusual, plus the fact that his last name rhymes with “teeny” may elicit a few chuckles.

First Base – Kila Ka’aihue

Aren’t Hawaiian names the best? Kila Ka’aihue gives you an All Star-level name: alliteration, unusual, and quite fun to say. This is one of the easiest selections on the team.

Kila didn’t log much time for the Royals in 2008 and again in 2010-11, slashing .221/.305/.382 with 11 homers over 87 games. Nonetheless, he was a cult figure for a short bit due to his great name and excellent minor league numbers.

Not-at-all relevant fun fact: I was at the game where he hit his first major league home run (September 20, 2012 against Chicago) and I saw him play in Japan (for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp) in 2013.

Second Base – Emilio Bonifacio

This was a two-horse race with Rico Rossy (who logged more time at shortstop and third base), but the nod goes to utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, who spent most of his two months with the 2013 Royals as the starting second baseman. The “fun to say” factor wins out in this race.

Bonifacio, the older brother of former Royal and current MLB outfielder Jorge Bonifacio, appeared in 42 games after being purchased by Toronto in mid-August 2013. He played rather well, slashing .285/.352/.348 and posting 1.1 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) in his short time here—over a third of the total (3.2) he accumulated over 12 years in the majors.

Shortstop – Buddy Biancalana

Buddy Biancalana is a cult hero for other reasons, nearly all of which have to do with David Letterman. Letterman debuted the tongue-in-cheek “Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter” during the 1985 season. Even better, Letterman had the Royals infielder on his show shortly after the 1985 World Series. At -1.6 career WAR, Biancalana may hold the record for worst professional athlete to appear on Letterman (please reach out if I’m wrong).

Buddy Biancalana appears on the David Letterman Show on November 6, 1985

Outside of Letterman and the 1985 World Series (check out his Series highlights at the 5:49 mark in the video above), Biancalana had a non-descript MLB career, playing for the Royals from 1982-87, slashing .213/.269/.293 with six home runs in 293 games in a Royals uniform.

Nonetheless, the alliteration combined with the wonderful alphabet soup that is “Biancalana” makes him a must-have on the Royals all-name team. If on-field performance mattered, the nod would’ve gone to U L Washington and his famous toothpick, but it does not, so Buddy earns a well-deserved spot.

Third Base – Rance Mulliniks

Another spot where Rico Rossy finishes runner-up. This time it’s to Rance Mulliniks, based on a couple key criteria: one, I enjoy the way “Mulliniks” rolls off the tongue, and also for the fact that both the first and last name are quite rare. Seriously, how many Rances can you name besides this one?

On the field, Mulliniks ended up with the Royals in 1980-81 as a left handed-hitting third baseman, which was kind of a terrible thing to be if you wanted to be a Royal in that era (thank some guy named Brett for that). So, he actually only played five of his 60 games with the Royals at third base, with the rest at shortstop and second base.

However, he was dealt to Toronto ahead of the 1982 season and was a semi-regular third baseman there for a decade afterwards, eventually batting .272/.354/.407 over more than 1,300 MLB games, lasting 16 years. Due to his primary position being third base, we’ll give him this spot.

Outfield – Coco Crisp

Yes, criticize me for the originality, but c’mon, this is one of the top baseball names of the 21st century, at the very least. Coco Crisp is such a great name that many times spanning over a decade, whenever his name would come up on TV, if my sister (who is not a baseball fan) was within earshot, she would laugh. That tells all you need to know.

Coco had an accomplished career, playing 15 years and racking up over 1,500 hits. However, his Royals legacy is just 49 games in 2009, when he batted just .228 and battled injuries all season. Nonetheless, that’s 48 more games than the number required to earn a spot on our roster.

Outfield – Paulo Orlando

With the inclusion of Paulo Orlando, we now have a member of both World Series championship teams represented on the All-Name Team. The rhyming and “fun to say” factor help him rise above in an outfield that is surprisingly underwhelming on the name front. Bonus points because his name allowed Rex Hudler plenty of opportunities for mildly amusing puns.

Orlando’s entire MLB career was the 2015-18 seasons with the Royals, in which he slashed .263/.289/.384. Most notably, he hit .302 in 484 plate appearances in 2016. This past season, Orlando suited up for the American Association-champion Kansas City Monarchs, going 5-for-12 in the postseason as he became the first player to win a championship for both of Kansas City’s professional baseball teams.

Outfield – Bombo Rivera

I was prepared to roll with Bip Roberts, solely based on the unusual first name until I stumbled across this name. Bombo Rivera is a type of name that if he played today, fans would definitely yell “BOMB-OOOOOOOOOOO” every time he came to bat or did something. Even better if he hits, well, a bomb.

However, Bombo did not hit many bombs, launching just ten over 335 MLB games spanning three teams. His Royals career is truly a blink-and-you miss it, as he appeared in just five games in 1982 (the last games of his career), going 1-for-10 with zero bombs for Bombo.

However, something important happened: I had no idea this man existed before this project. You probably did not either. Now we both do. Thus the good that comes out of the All-Name Team.

Designated Hitter – Harmon Killebrew

Harmon Killebrew‘s Royals tenure is the oddball tacked on to the end of a 22-year career that was otherwise entirely spent with the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984, he finished his career by batting .199 with 14 homers in 106 games for the 1975 Royals, mashing a total of 2.4% of his career 573 homers in a Royals uniform.

His inclusion on the team is a slam dunk based not on a unique aspect of his name, but by how perfect and fitting it was for him. As morbid as it sounds, “harm” and “kill” being the prefixes in the first and last names of a menacing slugger is absolutely perfect. Of course, that leads to his equally-perfect nickname of “Killer”. Just look at this man and tell me that his name doesn’t absolutely fit this beast of a man spectacularly.

Starting Pitcher – Hipolito Pichardo

The first time I ever saw a Hipolito Pichardo baseball card as a kid, I just kept saying his name over and over again. What a delightful name I thought it was then and still is now. Sadly, I discovered his name is nor pronounced “Hippo-LEE-to” like I once thought, but is instead “ee-POL-it-to” which isn’t quite as fun, but it’s still a doozy. The rhyming last name makes this a strong contender for best name in Royals history.

On the baseball side, more than three-quarters of his 281 appearances with the Royals (between 1992-98) were out of the bullpen, but he did spend his first two seasons as a starter and much of 1998 as well, which is good enough to get the starting assignment. He went 42-39 with a 4.48 ERA over 669.2 innings as a Royal.

Fun fact, on July 21, 1992 Pichardo tossed a one-hit shutout over the Boston Red Sox. Nearly 30 years later, it is still the most recent one-hit shutout thrown by a Royal at Kauffman Stadium.

Relief Pitcher – Aurelio Monteagudo

The man who owns this impressive five-syllable last name (mon-tee-ah-GOO-do) also is one of three players who have the distinction of suiting up for both the Kansas City A’s and Royals (joining fellow pitchers Dave Wickersham and Moe Drabowsky). He pitched sporadically for the A’s from 1963-66 then re-emerged with the 1970 Royals, posting a 2.96 ERA in 21 relief outings.

Anyways, the five-syllable last name (joining Buddy Biancalana in that category) is a certainly a major boost, with the rhyming first name also being a plus. This is a name that today’s public address announcers would have a lot of fun with.

Relief Pitcher – Richard Lovelady

The only member of the 2021 Royals on the team, Richard Lovelady‘s name certainly raised a lot of eyebrows amongst those in the peanut gallery when he debuted in 2019 solely due to his name. Of course, if he really wanted to lean in to his unusual last name, he could choose to go by a common nickname for Richard, but he explicitly (and understandably) goes by his given name. That said, he’s a worthy addition to the All-Name Team

On the mound, he’s just 2-3 with a 5.62 ERA in 46 career games, but he went 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in 20 games in 2021 before going down with Tommy John Surgery. As a result, we probably won’t see him in 2022, but we’re probably bound to see the All-Name Team represented by him in the future.


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Main image credit Embed from Getty Images

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