Lefty Marr passed away today, back in 1912. As he was born on September 19, 1862, he was only 49 years old when he passed. (This was roughly about average for 1912, if you can imagine that. 51.5 was the average male life expectancy. Wow.)
I note Lefty’s passing primarily because of his nickname. His parents did NOT name him Lefty. (Real name: Charles.) I’m not sure who did, right now. But Lefty is a classic baseball nickname. Steve Carlton was called Lefty, as I recall. Anyone since Carlton? Lefty is such a classic nickname, it’s too bad it’s fallen out of use.
Who get’s to be called Lefty? It seems like you need to be a starting pitcher (…how many middle relievers get nicknames?) and, of course, throw the baseball with your left hand, though this might be waived if circumstances permit. Though I can’t quite imagine the circumstances. It doesn’t seem like you could call someone “Lefty” in an ironic way. Perhaps if the pitcher was known for his strong liberal political views? Are there any pitchers with strong liberal political views?
The Twins have few left-handed starting pitchers. Milone is a lefty, but whether he’s a starting pitcher is open to question. I wonder what Phil Hughes or Mike Pelfrey (both righties) think about trade unions, national health care, women’s right to choose, and taxation? Research is needed. Who is the most leftist-leaning starting pitcher on the Twins staff? How can I find out?
Former Twins pitcher Al Williams comes to mind. Here’s a little quote about Al from the New York Times, 3 April 1984 (you could look it up):
“The 1981 Twins guide informs that since the Nicaraguan Government would not grant Williams a visa to leave the country to play ball in 1977, ”this prompted Al to sign up with the Sandinista National Liberation Front guerrillas and he was engaged in jungle fighting against the forces of Anastasio Somoza for the next 16 months.”
Al obviously loved the game of baseball.
I don’t think Al Williams was ever called “Lefty” — a missed opportunity for a great classic nickname. Still, though it wouldn’t be as good, the Twins could use a guy named “Lefty” in the starting rotation.
Has there ever been a pitcher known as “Righty”?
I thought, probably not… but then I look around, and find a good source (baseballreference.com) that says that pitcher Bob Miller was known as “Righty,” to distinguish him from the lefthanded Bob Miller. Why? Perhaps because the two were roommates with — who else? — the 1962 Mets. “Righty” Miller went 1-12 as a starter with a 4.89 ERA. “Lefty” Miller went 2-2 in relief, with a 7.08 ERA. Well, whadda ya know.
Meanwhile, Lefty Marr pitched four seasons in the majors, 1886, ’89, ’90, and ’91. He hit .289, playing for the Red Stockings, Colts, Reds, and Porkers. (That’s the 1891 Cincinatti Porkers, to those who are not in the know.) He hit .306 and .298 in his two best seasons (.193 with the Porkers, at the end of his career) playing third base and shortstop. Funny that he was not even a pitcher, but was still called “Lefty.” Perhaps I need to re-calibrate my criteria for the nickname. Perhaps more Twins are eligible?
Anywhoo. Here’s to you, Lefty Marr. Good game.