Huntsville, ON – A local grandson is struggling to respond to an email from his grandfather, which consists of nothing but the names of 29 current and former Major League Baseball players.
José Bautista, the message begins. Rogers Hornsby. David Cone.
“Is he listing players he likes? Or players he thinks I like?” asks the grandson. “I want to say the right thing, but I don’t understand the criteria.”
Even experts from the Society for American Baseball Research have been unable to find a pattern, whether by team, position, or Zymborski Projection System near-age comps. From Xander Bogaerts (whose name is spelled correctly) to Ted Williems (whose name is not), Grandpa has covered all his bases.
Some players are listed only by nickname, like Oil Can Boyd, Vinegar Bend Mizell, and Turkey Stearnes, while others include their full name, number, and place of birth, like Jarrod Scott Saltalamacchia, #25, West Palm Beach, Florida. Some even come with Grandpa’s unique comments, such as Jon Rauch (too tall), Jackie Jensen (kissed your grandmother), and Fred H. Brown (Democrat).
“I’ve covered baseball professionally for more than 40 years,” says writer and researcher Grayson Stark. “But I can’t think of any connection between Sam Rice, Brad Penny, and Chandler Seagle – let alone why Buddy Crump, Bobby Del Greco, and Merv Rettenmund are all written in size 34 Helvetica font a full ten spaces below every other name in the email.”
Indeed, Grandpa has made ample use of the format bar in his RocketMail account. Carlos Delgado is written all in bold. TrOy PeRcIvAL is spelled with alternating capital and lowercase letters. Johnny Couch is handwritten on a yellow sticky note, a photo of which is included as an attachment.
All 29 names are also listed in the subject line, albeit in a completely different and equally confusing order. From Ed Ott to Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Birdie Tebbetts to Catfish Hunter, Eric Young Sr. to Bernardo Flores Jr., it almost reads like stream-of-consciousness poetry.
“Naming athletes is a time-honored means of male bonding,” says Dr. Melissa Greenbeck of the Institute for Studies in Male Communication. “I don’t know much about baseball, but by naming present-day superstar Randal Grichuk alongside historical greats like Babe Ruth and Cy Young, it’s clear this grandfather is trying to reach out to his Gen Z grandson.”