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10 Most Unpronounceable Names in MLB History

Adam MacDonaldAnalyst IIJanuary 13, 2017

10 Most Unpronounceable Names in MLB History

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    In "Who's on First", Abbot and Costello's most famous routine, the duo make reference to the fact that baseball players have some really strange names. They may well have been referring to nicknames, but over the years there have been some players with real names that were unusual, to say the least.

    The names on this list might not be as unpronounceable as Mike Krzyzewski (which for some bizarre reason is Shi-SHEV-ski), or as totally stupid as Who, What, I Don't Know and Because, but they still give fans and announcers headaches when they appear in a lineup.

Mike Scioscia

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    Los Angeles Dodgers (1980-1992)
    Los Angeles Angels (2000-2012) (mgr)

    Scioscia has a number of question marks. Hard or a soft C? Two syllables or four?

    It's two, and you pronounce neither C, instead ending up with "SO-sha."

Kent Hrbek

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    Minnesota Twins: 1981-1994

    Kent Hrbek had a good career. He spent 14 years in Minnesota, was an All-Star, won the World Series twice and had his No. 14 retired by the club.

    That doesn't stop people wishing he had some more vowels in his name. Add an I between the H and R and his name is straightforward. Although, admittedly, it would be less memorable.

Chone Figgins

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    Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels: 2002-2009
    Seattle Mariners: 2010-2012 

    Figgins is easy enough, but the Mariners' versatile speedster has a unique spelling of Shaun for his first name. It's not a hard CH as in "cheese," and it doesn't rhyme with "phone."

Jarrod Saltalamacchia

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    Atlanta Braves: 2007
    Texas Rangers: 2007-2010
    Boston Red Sox: 2010-2012 

    Jarrod Saltalamacchia's name isn't actually that hard to pronounce, certainly when compared to other names on this list. It just looks like a mouthful when one first looks at it. If you ignore the H, it's spelt phonetically (SAL-ta-la-MAC-ia).

    Or you could go with Salty and save yourself the trouble of trying to pronounce the longest name in MLB history.

Red Schoendienst

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    St Louis Cardinals (1945-1956)
    New York Giants (1956-1957)
    Milwaukee Braves (1957-1960)
    St Louis Cardinals (1961-1963)
    St Louis Cardinals (1965-1976, 1980, 1990) (mgr) 

    Red is easy enough. Schoendienst is not. As he is a special assistant with the Cardinals, he has been active in the major leagues in some capacity for almost 70 years, but his name is still no easier to pronounce.

    The OE isn't 'oh' or the duosyllabic noise in the middle of "Noël," but rather an "ay" sound, which gives you "SHAYN-deenst." But he's in the Hall of Fame so we should probably know how to get it right, at least.

Jeff Samardzija

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    Chicago Cubs: 2008-2012

    Jeff Samardzija almost ended up playing football for a living, spending two years at Notre Dame but failing to catch a single touchdown pass.

    Baseball writers' only saving grace here is that Samardzija plays for the Chicago Cubs, so there's very little reason to talk about him.

Doug Mientkiewicz

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    Minnesota Twins: 1998-2004
    Boston Red Sox: 2004
    New York Mets: 2005
    Kansas City Royals: 2006
    New York Yankees: 2007
    Pittsburgh Pirates: 2008
    Los Angeles Dodgers: 2009

    This is one of those names where you see it and put on your Eastern European hat as you try to pronounce it. However, by doing that, you're overthinking it.

    You would probably say "Ment-KEE-witz" but all three syllables are wrong. It's "Min-CAVE-ich," and it's hard to know exactly how he reached that pronunciation from the letters he had.

Marc Rzepczynski

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    Toronto Blue Jays: 2009-2011
    St Louis Cardinals: 2011-2012

    During the Cardinals' run to the championship last year, Marc Rzepczynski pitched very well out of the bullpen, with an ERA of 1.23 in the NLCS and World Series. This was a nightmare for announcers who had to battle with a name which is 11 letters long and has only two vowels.

    The first mistake most people will make when they attempt to say Rzepczynski is to start with the R. That would just be too easy. MLB.com lists his official pronunciation as "Zep-CHIN-ski," which makes sense only if you take out the R and middle Z.

Nap Lajoie

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    Philadelphia Phillies (1896-1900)
    Philadelphia Athletics (1901-1902)
    Cleveland Naps (1902-1914)
    Philadelphia Athletics (1915-1916) 

    One of the greatest pure hitters in baseball history, Nap Lajoie holds the all-time record for the best batting average in a single season (.426). However, the Hall of Famer also has a name fraught with pronunciation pitfalls.

    A Google search doesn't help much, either. Wikipedia lists it as 'La-ZHWAY'. Baseball Reference has "La-JWA" and "La-JA-way." Others claim it's "La-zha-way," "La-JOY" or "La-JO-ee." If you're going by the natural French pronunciation, it's none of the above, as it should be "La-ZHWAH."

Carl Yastrzemski

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    Boston Red Sox 1961-1980

    Yaz's name doesn't get any easier when you realise that his nickname, which you would assume is a shortened version of his full name, isn't actually the first three letters of Yastrzemski.

    To this day, the ultimate test of Red Sox fans' devotion is asking them to spell his name without taking five minutes to think it through.

    For the record, it's "Ya-STREM-ski."

    Adam MacDonald is a Scottish journalism student at GCU. He has been a featured columnist for the Boston Red Sox since October 2010. You can follow him on Twitter, tell him what you thought of this article, or send him a funny picture of a cat, by clicking here.

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