I’ve always had a fascination with oddball records and accomplishments, be they the result of a particular feat, the product of happenstance, or entirely calculated. Most career stolen bases by a player born in Rohde Island: Hugh Duffy (574). Who managed to score 33 career runs without ever stepping to the plate or even taking the field? Why, designated runner and former world-class sprinter Herb Washington, of course. We have Charles Finley to thank for the that one.
This brings us to this week’s featured autograph, a 1961 Topps Cal McLish. The card is badly centered, and for some reason McLish is squinting mightily. A Facebook user on my autographs page speculated that perhaps he just saw Marilyn Monroe. Not too likely, but it’s a theory. The autograph was not obtained by me in person, I purchased it off of eBay. Why? Because of McLish’s particular oddball record.
Cal McLish was born Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish, giving McLish the longest name in Major League history. Calvin Coolidge, of course, was the president when McLish was born on December 1, 1925. Julius Caesar was a Roman Emperor, and Tuskahoma is Choctaw for “great warrior.” So, how and why did he have so many names? McLish in an interview stated, “there were eight kids in my family, and I was the only one my father was permitted to name, so I guess he figured he’d make up for the situation.”You can find some logic in using the president’s name, they were still highly respected public servants. Tuskahoma makes some sense when you learn that Cal’s dad John McLish was ¾ Choctaw Indian and that Tuskahoma is the name of another Oklahoma City about 200 miles to the east of where Cal was born in Anadardo, OK. I have no clues on where his dad pulled Julius Caesar from, I’ll let you speculate on that. Good luck.
His career was a bit of a mixed bag, pitching parts of 15 seasons for seven different teams. With the shortage of players due to The War, Cal was called on to make his first start, for the Brooklyn Dodgers when he was just 18 years old, on May,13 1944. He won the game and even hit a double and drove in a run. When the Dodgers went to play St. Louis on August 21st, young McLish was asked to answer an even bigger call. He served in the 3rd Infantry Division in Europe, earning two battle stars, before the Germans surrendered in May 1945. He was discharged in August of 1946 but by that time had missed time equaling two seasons. His best years were with the Cleveland Indians in the late ’50s, where he was an All-Star in 1959 and even got some MVP votes. After his playing career he served as a pitching coach for several teams. In his later life he suffered from leukemia and sadly died on August 26, 2010 at the age of 84.The SABR BioProject has tons more great information on this interesting person known as Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.
One last thing, let’s have some fun with the B-R Play Index and see who McLish did really well against, along with who did really well against him. We’ll call it “WHO HE OWNED”, and “WHO OWNED HIM”.
CAL McLISH OWNED Frank Bolling
I found some others with lower slash lines than Bolling but most had a small sample size, around 10-15 PAs. I picked Bulling because he had a whopping 69 PAs against McLish in which he managed just 9 hits. He grounded into four double plays and hit .136. The rest of his slash line looks like this .174/.182/.356 (OBP/SLG/OPS). He did manage to hit a home run off of McLish on May, 23 1959, but then again so did three other Tigers: Lou Berbert, Al Kaline, and Rocky Bridges. Bulling is shown here on his 1964 Topps card looking rather serious.
Willie Kirkland OWNED Cal McLish
In just 19 PAs Kirkland had 10 hits off of McLish, with four being home runs and two doubles. Three of those home runs all came on July 9, 1961, a game in which McLish managed to give up eight earned runs in 6.1 but still managed to win as Jim Perry was not much sharper for the Indians. Kirkland’s slash line for his career against McLish was *.556/.579/1.222/1.801.Next post: The Criminally Underrated Vada Pinson
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