5-Vowel Players: A Historical Look

Last time out we took a look at the players active in 2011 who had all five vowels in their names.  Now its time to expand our search, for all such names in baseball history.

There have been three players with all five vowels solely in their first names.  All of them were named Aurelio:

  • Aurelio Monteagudo: Son of one-time major leaguer Rene Monteagudo.  Aurelio was signed out of Cuba as an 18-year-old amateur free agent by the Royals in 1961.  Less than two years later, he was in the big leagues.  He was a middle reliever in his four appearances that year, then was moved into the starting rotation in 1964.  It didn’t go well, as he yielded seven homers in his first 19.2 innings as a starter.   He bounced between Triple-A and the Majors over the next decade before flaming out in 1973 (16BB, 8K in 30 IP).  He died at the age of 46.
  • Aurelio Rodriguez: 17-year (1967-1983) glove-first big leaguer with a career line of .237/.275/.351 but 88 runs above average on defense (6.3 defensive WAR for his career).  Was starting 3B for Tigers for most of the early 1970s.
  • Aurelio Lopez: Relief pitcher who spent his early years in the Mexican leagues.  Got his first real opportunity in the States at age 29 in 1978 with the Cardinals.   Traded to the Tigers before the start of the ’79 season, and was integral part of their bullpen for next six seasons, routinely pitching more than one inning in relief in each appearance.

There have been nine players with all five vowels solely in their last names.  Five of them were “Figueroa”s:

  • Bien Figueroa: The only Bien(venido) to ever make the majors.  Drafted as 22 year old, and it took him six years to get his shot in the big leagues.  He had a proverbial cup of coffee with the Cards in ’92.  He DID happen to get a hit in his first major league at bat, off of Pete Harnisch.
  • Ed Figueroa: Acquired along with Mickey Rivers by the Yankees in exchange for Bobby Bonds, Figueroa went 55-30 with a 3.18 ERA from 1976-1978, helping the Bombers reach the playoffs each year.  However, he had pitched 993.2 innings from 1975-1978, and suffered in ’79, before finally retiring in 1981 at the age of only 32.
  • Jesus Figueroa: Slender (5’10″, 160) outfielder signed as an amateur free agent by the Yankees in 1974.  He moved to the Cubs in the 1977 Rule 5 draft, and finally made the majors in 1980, compiling a .253/.298/.293 line in 115 games.  Dealt to the Giants, then never made it into another game in the bigs.
  • Luis Figueroa: Cousin of one-time single season strikeout leader Jose Hernandez.  Figueroa had two plate appearances for the Pirates at age 27 (2001), nine PAs for the Blue Jays five years later, then five PAs for the Giants in 2007.  Still playing in the minors at the age of 37 (over 6,400 PAs).
  • Nelson Figueroa: Career swingman (65 games as SP, 80 relief appearances).  Started and finished separate games in seven different seasons.  Horrible fielder for his position (career .912 fielding percentage).  He’s toiled for six different teams.

In the “non-Figueroa” group we have:

  • Dave Wainhouse: A 1st-round pick of the Expos in 1988, Wainhouse never had anything resembling a decent season in the bigs, ending his career with rates of 5.2 walks, 5.7 strikeouts and 11.1 hits per nine innings.  Of those with 105 or more innings pitched in their career (as Wainhouse had), he has the 4th-highest ERA (7.37).
  • Dee Cousineau:  Three sips of coffee with the Boston Braves (1923, 1924 and 1925).
  • Gene Rounsaville: Pitcher signed by the Phillies as an amateur free agent in 1965.  He somehow made it to the bigs despite striking out no more than 4.8 batters per 9 in the minors.  Got three weeks in 1970 to show what he could do in the majors, and didn’t impress.
  • Ralph Mauriello: Career minor-league that got a two week shot with the 1958 Dodgers late in a lost season.  As with his minor league career (in which he walked 6.1 per 9), his lack of control surfaced in the bigs, and he never saw a major league stadium again.

There are an additional 250 players who have all five vowels between their first and last names (no I’m not profiling them all).  Here’s a list for your perusal, with their debut date and date of last game:

For those of you wondering “but what about the ‘and sometimes Y’ vowel?” none of the 12 players with A-E-I-O-U in their first or last name have a Y to messy things up.  In researching how I could determine whether any specific “y” was a vowel, I came across this:

Sometimes, the letter y is a consonant, and other times it is a vowel. The rule for telling the two apart is simple: The letter y is a consonant when it is the first letter of a syllable that has more than one letter. If y is anywhere else in the syllable, it is a vowel.

Make of that what you will, and here is the subset of those that have all five vowels and a “y” in their first and last names:

Name Debut Final
Charlie Dougherty 4/17/1884 5/31/1884
Claude Willoughby 9/18/1925 5/28/1931
Maurice Van Robays 9/7/1939 9/22/1946
Francisley Bueno 8/13/2008 8/13/2008
Vince Molyneaux 7/5/1917 7/18/1918
Charlie Young 9/5/1915 10/3/1915
Michael Young 9/29/2000
Aneury Rodriguez 4/2/2011
Rube Yarrison 4/13/1922 5/7/1924
Bobby Tiefenauer 7/14/1952 9/21/1968
Larry Milbourne 4/6/1974 9/29/1984
Wandy Rodriguez 5/23/2005
Andy Dominique 5/25/2004 5/22/2005
Joey McLaughlin 6/11/1977 9/25/1984
Wayne Housie 9/17/1991 6/9/1993
Mysterious Walker 6/28/1910 9/29/1915
Yuniesky Betancourt 7/28/2005

Hope you’ve had your fill of vowel movements for now.

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4 Responses to 5-Vowel Players: A Historical Look

  1. rslitman says:

    Ah, finally someone as funloving as I am! I hope you don’t mind if I point out that in 1961, the Kansas City team would have been the Athletics. No Royals until 1969.

  2. Pingback: My name is supervocalic « God plays dice

  3. David says:

    Seeing Smyly pitch for Detroit tonight, what are the stats for MLB players with no vowels in their last name (I don’t count y as a vowel).

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