Famous Player Namesakes

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in 1973 Baseball Research Journal

A player with a famous baseball namesake made his debut for Cleveland in 1972. He was Larry Doby Johnson, who caught one game for the Indians and collected one hit in two at bats. Johnson was born in Cleveland in 1950 when Larry Doby was a leading star with the Tribe.

It is surprising that in the long history of baseball more persons named after famous major league players did not make it to the Big Time. Only two others immediately come to mind. Rogers Hornsby McKee, born in 1926, pitched briefly for the Phils in 1943-44; and Charles “Chuck” Klein Stobbs, born in 1929, pitched 15 years in the majors.

Major league baseball players have been named after celebrities in many different fields, from Rudolf Valentino Regalado to Jack Dempsey Cassini. The category of famous Americans most frequently represented in ballplayer names are the U.S. Presidents. More than 50 were named after the Chief Executives, including about a dozen after George Washington. Thomas Jefferson is next in popularity. The parents of one well known player from Tennessee took no chances and named their son Thomas Jefferson Davis Bridges.

Another player was named after an American President, a Roman Emperor, and an Indian Chief – Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.

Eighteen different Presidents are represented in this sample listing of major league baseball players.

Player Pos. Leagues Years
George Washington Bradley P-3B NL-UA-AA 1876-1888
Thomas Jefferson Dowd OF AA-NL-AL 1891-1901
James Madison Toy lB-C AA 1887-1890
Andrew Jackson Leonard OF-SS ML 1876-1880
Martin Van Buren Walker P NL 1928
William Henry Harrison Geer SS NL-AA-UA 1878-1885
Millard Fillmore Howell P AL-NL 1940-1958
Franklin Pierce Harter P NL-FL 1912-1914
Abraham Lincoln Bailey P ML 1919-1921
Ulysses. Simpson Grant Stoner P AL-NL 1922-1931
James Garfield Durham P-OF AL 1902
Chester Arthur Emerson OF-P AL 1911-1912
Benjamin Harrison Van Dyke P NL-AL 1909-1912
Grover Cleveland Alexander P NL 1911-1930
William McKinley Hargrave C AL-NL 1923-19 33
Woodrow Wilson Williams 2B NL 1938-1945
Calvin Coolidge Ermer 2B AL 1947
Franklin D. Roosevelt Wieand P NI 1958-1960