Friday, December 01, 2006

December 1st, 1925

Cal McLish Born

Given my fondness for wacky names, I would be remiss in not including Cal McLish. Now, at first blush, that seems silly. Cal McLish? Nothing special or funny about that. Well, we'll get to the name in a moment, but first let's pay a little respect to the man's career. McLish was a pitcher and had a fifteen year career for (deep breath) the Dodgers, Pirates, Cubs, Indians, Reds, White Sox and Phillies. McLish was something of a round number kind of guy, finishing with an exact .500 winning percentage (92-92) and a 4.00 ERA. His best years came back-to-back in 1958 and '59 for the Indians; he posted a 2.99 ERA in '58 and won nineteen games and went to the All-Star game in '59. Although McLish pitched as a righty, he was ambidextrous and often claimed to have better stuff--but less control--from the left side. He got by most of his career, especially the most successful part, on the strength of an excellent change-up; and is still co-holder (with Greg Maddux among others) for most consecutive road wins with sixteen.

Now for the name. Like the list of McLish's teams, this one requires a deep breath before getting it out. McLish's full give name was Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. No, really, it was. Incredibly, despite having that many names to choose from, McLish also had two nicknames, being known to his teammates as either "Bus" or "Buster." McLish's explanation for his comically ornate name was that he was the only of eight children his father got to name, so his father decided to make up for this perceived slight by going rather crazy with the names on the one child he did get to name.

After his career, McLish coached for his onetime manager and longtime friend Gene Mauch and today he celebrates his eighty-first birthday.

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