The Shortest (Named) Batteries of All-Time

Tuesday night saw another instance of a Dillon GEE – Cliff LEE pitching matchup, the brevity of their last names having been written about before.  In the midst of (re)publicizing that post to the Twitterverse, one of my followers noted:

William Tasker@FlagrantFan 

Now, of course, you need to go through all those games and find the lowest letter total of the four battery mates.

He was right.  It is/was the next logical step in the “short names” field of research.  I went back to my Retrosheet files for all the gamelogs that had complete lineups, and through 2012, this is what it shows.

As with the pitcher matchups, the “shortest” batteries in terms of last names is six letters long.  There have been only four pitcher-catcher tandems of six letters total, and they’ve teamed up for 11 starts.  The participants are Joey Jay, Charlie Lau, Vern Law, Jerry May, Ed Ott and Doug Rau.  Here is the chronology of the games, with the tandem’s team bolded.

Date VIS HOME Pitcher Catcher
19600629 MLN CHN Joey Jay Charlie Lau
19660613 CIN PIT Vern Law Jerry May
19660819 PIT CHN Vern Law Jerry May
19660823 PHI PIT Vern Law Jerry May
19670502 LAN PIT Vern Law Jerry May
19670716 PIT ATL Vern Law Jerry May
19670820 NYN PIT Vern Law Jerry May
19780904 MON CHN Rudy May Jerry Fry
19810516 CAL DET Doug Rau Ed Ott
19810521 CAL BAL Doug Rau Ed Ott
19810526 TOR CAL Doug Rau Ed Ott

So while the Lee/Kratz and Gee/Buck batteries from last night don’t quite join those pairings, they DO join the list for the fewest letters in a combined battery for both teams in the same game (15).  Prior to last night, there had been six games that featured a total last name length of 15 between the opposing batteries.  Garrett Mock and Josh Bard are the only battery to appear in more than one of these games:

Date VIS HOME Vis P+C Home P+C
19780514 CHN LAN Lamp/Cox Rau/Oates
19780809 CLE BOS Wise/Diaz Lee/Fisk
19780904 MON CHN May/Fry Krukow/Cox
19810526 TOR CAL Leal/Whitt Rau/Ott
20090909 PHI WAS Lee/Bako Mock/Bard
20090915 WAS PHI Mock/Bard Lee/Ruiz

And in case you were wondering (and you were), the battery with the longest combined last name?  It appears to be 23.  On September 27, 1940, the Chicago Cubs had Ken Raffensberger pitching to Clyde McCullough. In terms of the most letters of both batteries in one game, it appears to be 41, occurring on August 1, 1953.  In that game, Raffensberger, now pitching for the Reds, teamed up with Andy Seminick against the Giants’ Al Worthington and Sam Calderone.

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3 Responses to The Shortest (Named) Batteries of All-Time

  1. How awesome is this! Thanks for the hat tip and great job with the data.

  2. Sean says:

    jarrod saltalamacchia caught a john rheinecker start august 16, 2007. that’s a 24 character combination of the battery’s last names.

    how about the combination of saltalamacchia and kameron loe? salty caught 2 games loe started (august 23 and september 3, 2007). i’m guessing that’s among the largest difference in length of pitcher and catcher last names.

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