The Washington Natinals

So that “Natinals” thing across Adam Dunn’s Washington uniform this past week?

That wasn’t a misspelling. That was an alias.
Membership on the Washington National League team right now would make any player try to pretend otherwise. Firsthand exposure to the Nats shows that ex-General Manager Jim Bowden has left another franchise in tatters, at least in the short-term. The outfield is a defensive mess, the infield wobbly, and the ace of the pitching staff makes his second major league start tomorrow.
Elijah Dukes nearly got himself killed on David Wright’s first-inning fly ball at CitiField this afternoon. Sunglasses still perched atop his cap, Dukes missed catching the ball by about three inches, and missed getting conked in the noggin by the same measurement. The presumed good news is that if Lastings Milledge was still playing center for Washington, the ball would’ve landed 40 feet behind him.
Dukes’ glasses were down in time for him to see, but not catch, Daniel Murphy’s fading fly in the sixth. Dukes slid, and the ball hit him in the glove. Murphy was credited with a single, presumably because, given how he plays the outfield, Dukes’ glove is considered part of the field of play, and not an actual piece of equipment.
Even Nick Johnson threw away a Mike Pelfrey sacrifice bunt in the third, and just for good measure back-up catcher Wil Nieves tried to gun down David Wright by throwing the ball to Dukes in the sixth. Starter Daniel Cabrera gave up five runs – only one earned, though the six hits and four walks were his problem.
This is not to say the Nationals are hopeless. No one who has seen him doubts Jordan Zimmermann is the real thing, and even with only Dunn to protect him, Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-5 and was robbed of a third hit only by a Daniel Murphy slide that actually worked. Jesus Flores is one of the game’s most unsung two-way receivers, and Joel Hanrahan may have straightened himself out.
One of the intriguing questions facing new GM Mike Rizzo and the able and somehow-still-sane manager Manny Acta is whether or not to offload some of their supply of generic, identical outfielders (the A) Austin Kearns, Josh Willingham kind, and the b) Dukes, Lastings Milledge kind) and give Justin Maxwell a serious look in center. The recuperating former top prospect smoked a Brian Stokes fastball in the ninth off the top of the wall in right-center (in any other park it would have been an easy and a frightening homer). On the off-chance that Dukes might be convinced to pay attention and handle leftfield, and accepting Dunn as a necessity in the line-up, why not try Maxwell in center, and see if anybody wants any of the others.
The current Nats are going nowhere, and as the stories of Flores, Zimmerman, Zimmermann, and Hanrahan suggest, Acta and his coaching staff seem to be able to draw quick results out of younger, more focused players.

Well, not really, but his name came up on the field before the Mets and Nats played, and it permits me to address the dumbest of my Dumb Obsessions, and solicit your help.
Huckle was one of the two earliest products of the Met farm system to be summoned to the majors, from the low minors, in September, 1963. The other, Cleon Jones, was absolutely overmatched (.133 in six games). But Huckle fared far worse. A shortstop, he didn’t get into a single game, and never got another chance. His remaining claim to fame would be as Tom Seaver’s first professional roomate (Seaver said he never saw him awake, not once in any hotel room they shared – Huckle was an early riser who was dedicated to long walks at dawn).
I had heard of Huckle, but never of his fruitless cameo, until today. Photographer Steve Moore insists he was at several Mets’ games (and has the scorecards to prove it) with Huckle listed on the roster. Huckle would thus becomes the 51st member of the Bill Sharman Society, my list of players who can be proved to have been on major league rosters, but who never played in a major league game. The Elias Sports Bureau calls them “Zombies” but that doesn’t quite capture their sad fates. Sharman, of course, is the basketball Hall of Famer who originally doubled as a top outfield prospect for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After a stellar season in the minors, he was summoned to Ebbets Field in September, 1951, and spent the rest of the year on the Dodger roster. He never got a moment’s action – although one of the games he didn’t play in was that featuring Bobby Thomson’s famous homer.
Wilbur Huckle, in spring training with the Mets in 1964 (no, there wasn’t an ion storm – age has withered the negative and thus my only copy of the print).
In any event, if you have any nominations for the Sharman Society, put them in the comments and I’ll be happy and grateful to research them.

But there are flaws in every new ballpark and I suspect the Mets will address this one, eventually. This is the view from what would otherwise be about fifteen of the best seats in the press box.
Again, not a complaint, just a laugh. And a possible explanation if a reporter tells his office he really didn’t see the pitch. Or the batter. Or the umpire.


  1. 1948braves

    Close, but no cigar –

    Otis Davis, in April 1946, played for the the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was put in as a pinch runner. He never appeared again in the major leagues. Never had an at bat.

    This view is about as bad as the view I had at Shea Stadium in I believe 1970. The good news from that game was I saw Willie Mays hit two homeruns. So not all bad.


    Would “Mr. October” at the end of NAKED GUN qualify as a “zombie”? 😀 And, as far as the potential fate of the Nationals, if memory serves, didn’t GWB throw out the first pitch at their very first home game? If so, that fact would explain A LOT. I don’t mean to be getting too political in a baseball blog, but facts are facts!

  3. 1948braves

    A little trivia –

    Joe McCarthy and Earl Weaver are the only two managers who never played a single Major League ballgame that are enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

    Owner Ted Turner managed his Atlanta Braves for one losing game during the 1977 regular season, after his team had suffered 16 consecutive games. This practice has since been prohibited.
    “A manager who cannot get along with a four-hundred hitter ought to have his head examined.” – Joe McCarthy, manager from 1926 through 1950


    Keith, at least two other Mets made the roster and never played as Mets or anything else: Billy Cotton in 1972 and Terrell Hansen in 1992. The brilliant book (also an indispensable Web site) “Mets By The Numbers” covered/uncovered them in 2008. That same year, as the Mets kissed Shea goodbye by having a nightly numeral peel filled with car dealers and other sponsors, the blog I co-write, Faith and Fear in Flushing, decided to do a Shea Stadium Final Season Countdown Like It Oughta Be, a hypothetical but heartfelt exercise worthy of the occasion. Sure ours was fictional, but you can’t have everything.

    To peel No. 52 off our Shea right field wall, we had Messrs. Cotton and Hansen finally get their moment in the Shea sun, each presented with the uniforms they would have worn in game action (as MBTN noted, Hansen was 22, Cotton 21).

    If you’re curious how our Shea Goodbye countdown proceeded, you can check it out here:

    (Thanks for unwittingly lending us the headline.)


    You’re right, it is spelled wrong.

    It should be spelled E-X-P-O-S.

    Yeah, I’m still bitter.

  6. metsgrrl

    What about the fans who paid for their seats who find themselves with obstructed views? I agree that the press should certainly be able to see home plate, but the Mets are not talking about obstructed views. They say “there isn’t a bad seat” and “that’s not obstructed, that’s just a blind spot” or “we have televisions if you can’t see” (not true).

    is an example.

    Get up and walk around the park next time, Keith. Tell the story no one else is willing to tell, or is answering with “OH MY GOD IT IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BALL PARK EVER, YOU ARE UNGRATEFUL, SHUT UP”


    It’s going to take two or three years to clean up the Bowden/MLB trusteeship mess (the latter wrecked the farm system, although Bowden didn’t help matters any). If the Nationals can sign Stephen Strasburg, he should expedite the process (Walter Johnson for the 21st century?). What the Nats need is a John Hart type to oversee things and get everyone on the same page.

    Oh, and if I ran the Nats, I’d change the uniform. Get rid of “NATIONALS” (or ‘NATINALS”), and instead wear the curly “W” (think of the “P” on the Mike Schmidt-era Phillies). It’s a lot harder to misspell a single letter.

    Despite the Nats’ current ineptitude, it’s always good to remember that a summer with a bad baseball team is better than one with no baseball team. We in the Washington area can sadly attest to that.

    Incidentally, D.C. baseball maven Phil Wood has an intriguing entry on the misspelling controversy: I’m surprised he didn’t mention the misspelling of Jim Fregosi’s name (“Fergosi”) when he was hired to succeed Tony La Russa as White Sox manager in mid-1986.

  8. historymike

    The best spelling error I can remember is when Lasorda put on his uniform, went out to manage, and didn’t know that the name on his back had been changed to Lasagna. Apparently, of all the wild people he had on that team–Jerry Reuss and Jay Johnstone included–the culprit was, believe it or not, Steve Garvey.

    If I am correct, Bill Sharman was sitting on the Dodger bench during a big argument and the plate umpire–if memory serves it was Frank Dascoli–cleared the bench, meaning Sharman never played in a major league game but got thrown out of one.

    Apropros of the Nationals and Jim Bowden, I thought he was losing it a while back when Dan Evans was the Dodger GM and they had a meeting with their minor league directors and assistants to discuss a trade, and Bowden said he wouldn’t talk with the Dodgers unless Lasorda was in the room, because he represented the Dodgers. Uh, yeah. During Lasorda’s failed few months as GM, Bowden made a trade with him, Lasorda hadn’t read the player’s contract, and he didn’t know the player could leave at the end of the season. No wonder Bowden wanted him there.

  9. meyerlansky

    Ah Kieth, any one else, it’s sad but true…
    I share at least two of your passions, baseball and politics. The election of President Obama, then Stevie singin’ “Superstition” in the White House is the stuff of dreams.

    I have lived in D.C., yeah…interesting, and know that city can buzz. It’s got a vibe. It resonates, you can feel it. So if all this is possible, a good vibe what better time to be a pro ball player.

    I thought the optimism that seem to “grip the country” would inspire the youngsters on the Nats to gel or at least come out with a vengence.

    So here I am with the dregs of a bench on some of my fantasy teams. I have been closely following those, I wanted to be harsher but the out field, you are right, is…mundane. Let’s hope that D.C. optimism will just carry over to the bike couriers, the true heros of D.C.

  10. natsfan54

    Keith, I have a very obscure nominee for the Sharman Society (though I suppose obscure is the whole point of this exercise). James Conlan got a cup of coffee at the end of the 1939 season with the Washington Senators. He never a chance to play, and he quit baseball after that season to pursue a more lucrative career in business. The only reason I know this is because Mr. Conlan is in his early 90s and living in a retirement community with my grandparents. He is an amazing man and deserves to be recognized. Here’s a link that might help your research:

    Keep blogging about the Sharman Society!

    • Amy Huckle McCready

      My father is actually Wilbur Huckle. I just came across this! How cool! Would love to see it in person one day!

  11. ygb73

    Keith — It appears Huckle’s time with the 1963 Mets was in an unofficial capacity — records show they didn’t purchase his contract until after that season was over.

    That said, can I see a copy of Steve’s roster?

    Deets here:


    Jon @

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