The stars known by three names represented all the responses in a category from a popular game show last week, and I correctly identified three of them. Van Halen’s David Lee Roth was the musical answer, while Billy Bob Thornton and Joe Don Baker were the two actors I recognized.
For whatever reason, I had anticipated that the category would include a sports figure fitting the description, but the other two responses were not athletes. After reflecting, I understood why sports stars weren’t showing up, because I could only think of a handful who have three names.
Here are the best examples in baseball, enough to complete a lineup.
First baseman, Willie Mays Aikens
The slugger with the famous name helped propel the Kansas City Royals to a pennant and multiple playoff appearances.
Second baseman, Billy Jo Robidoux
Primarily a left fielder, Robidoux would be asked to come second for our three-name team.
Shortstop, Chin Leng Hu
Because he spent most of his career with the Dodgers, this infielder gave announcer Vin Scully to testify for Hu at first when he got to base.
Third baseman, Jim Ray Hart
With more than a hundred home runs in his career, Hart was one of the powerful hitters for the San Francisco Giants of the 1960s.
Left field, Wily Mo Pena
He broke into the majors with Cincinnati, who a few years later traded the underperforming 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 above .300 in two different stints with the Toronto Blue Jays in the early 2000s.
Catcher, John Ryan Murphy
He backed 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 ten-year span, the southpaw spent time with Boston, Texas and Milwaukee, but his best season came when he scored eleven victories for Oakland athletics.
Relay pitcher, Ryan Rowland Smith
Seattle relied on this guy to be the Mariners’ left-handed bullpen specialist for four years, and he returned in 2014 to enjoy a year back with the Arizona Diamondbacks.