Stars known by three names accounted for all of the answers in a category of a popular game show last week, and I correctly identified three of them. David Lee Roth of Van Halen was the musical answer, while Billy Bob Thornton and Joe Don Baker were the two actors I recognized.
For some reason I had anticipated that the category would include a sports figure who fit the description, but the other two answers were not athletes. Upon reflection I understood why no sports stars appeared, for I could think of only a handful who go by three names.
Here are the best examples from baseball, enough to fill out a lineup.
First Base, Willie Mays Aikens
The slugger with the famous name helped propel the Kansas City Royals to a pennant and several playoff appearances.
Second Base, Billy Jo Robidoux
Primarily a left fielder, Robidoux would be asked to fill in at second for our three name team.
Shortstop, Chin Leng Hu
Because he spent most of his career with the Dodgers, this infielder gave broadcaster Vin Scully to declare Hu’s on first when he reached base.
Third Base, Jim Ray Hart
Pounding over a hundred home runs in his career, Hart was one of the power hitters for the San Francisco Giants of the Sixties.
Left Field, Wily Mo Pena
He broke into the Big Leagues with Cincinnati, who a few years later traded the underachieving slugger to the New York Yankees.
Center Field, Shin Soo Choo
After several great seasons in both Cleveland and Cincinnati, Choo signed a lucrative free agent contract to play for his current team the Texas Rangers.
Right Field, John Ford Griffin
With a sweet left handed swing, Griffin hit over .300 in two different stints with the Toronto Blue Jays in the early 2000s.
Catcher, John Ryan Murphy
He backed up Joe Mauer for a season with the Minnesota Twins, who several years later sent him to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Starting Pitcher, John Henry Johnson
Over a span of ten years the left handed spent time with Boston, Texas, and Milwaukee, but his best season was when he earned eleven wins for the Oakland athletics.
Relief Pitcher, Ryan Rowland Smith
Seattle relied on this guy to be the lefty specialist out of the Mariners bullpen for four years, and he returned in 2014 to enjoy a comeback year with the Arizona Diamondbacks.