By Elizabeth Muratore
Baseball is known for featuring players with unique names, but what about when two players with perfectly paired last names face off against each other? This happened notably in the 2021 MLB postseason, when Atlanta Braves reliever Luke Jackson pitched against Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder AJ Pollock in the National League Championship Series. May I present to you, the artist known as “Jackson Pollock.”
With that memorable matchup in mind, let’s examine today’s MLB landscape for some other potentially outstanding pitcher-batter last name combinations.
Eli Morgan facing Freddie Freeman: “Morgan Freeman”
The Cleveland Guardians faced the Dodgers earlier this year, from June 17-19, and won two out of the three games. Freeman had one at-bat vs. Morgan in this series, which resulted in a strikeout. The two clubs won’t meet again in 2022 unless they match up in the World Series, but if that happens, I hope someone notices when these two square off and makes a note of its significance.
Bryan Baker facing Jack Mayfield: “Baker Mayfield”
Baker is a reliever with the Baltimore Orioles and is pitching to a 4.01 ERA. Mayfield is in the Angels’ organization and on the Triple-A injured list; in the Majors this year, he was batting .186 in 70 at-bats with one home run and six RBIs. To my knowledge, neither player has been an NFL quarterback, though perhaps the two of them together could lead the Browns to victory.
Paul Fry facing Seth Beer: “Beer and Fry”
These two are currently in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ organization -- both are with the Triple-A Reno Aces -- so it’s unlikely they’ll get a chance to face each other in the Majors this season. Beer did come through already once in a name-related manner by hitting a walk-off home run on Opening Day, which was also National Beer Day. He made even more history beyond just the name-induced coincidence -- he became the first rookie in AL/NL history to hit a walk-off home run on Opening Day while his team was trailing. Now wouldn’t that be cause for some celebratory beer and fries?
Jordan Montgomery facing Taylor Ward: “Montgomery Ward”
All of you defunct department store aficionados out there, this one's for you. The original Montgomery Ward department store operated between 1872 and 2001, only for an online retailer with the exact same name to open in 2004. Meanwhile, these two MLB players, both far from defunct, actually squared off earlier this year, with Montgomery having the upper hand and retiring Ward in all three at-bats, including one strikeout.
Jhoan Duran facing Jarren Duran: “Duran Duran”
Eighties rock fans, rejoice. These two players have never faced each other, but that could change very soon, as the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins will play three at Target Field from Aug. 29-31. Both teams are currently on the outside looking in for the AL Wild Card, with the Twins three games back of a spot and the Red Sox six games back. Depending on how the next few days go, the clubs may both be “hungry like the wolf” to gain an advantage in the standings next weekend.
Shawn Armstrong facing Jeff McNeil: “McNeil Armstrong”
This one is, admittedly, a little bit of a stretch. But hey, so was going to the moon in 1969. Armstrong, who has bounced around the Majors a bit but is currently with the Tampa Bay Rays, and McNeil have never faced each other, but if they did, it would undoubtedly be one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.
Jeffrey Springs facing Drew Waters: “Springs Waters”
We’ve got another Rays pitcher with a useful name on our hands! And Waters just made his MLB debut this week with the Kansas City Royals, though sadly it came right after the Rays and Royals faced off for the final time this season, so there was no chance for a nice, refreshing “Springs-Waters” matchup. There’s always next year.
Ka’ai Tom facing Oneil Cruz: “Tom Cruz”
This one is an even bigger stretch than “McNeil Armstrong,” since these are two position players; Cruz plays for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tom was recently released by the San Francisco Giants. However, there’s always the unlikely chance that Tom comes back with a different team and pitches in an extremely lopsided blowout against the Bucs at some point down the road. If so, the “Tom Cruz” matchup would definitely have us at hello.
Jason Adam facing Jimmy Lambert: “Adam Lambert”
Our third Rays hurler of the list appears here against a reliever for the Chicago White Sox, and because both of these players are pitchers, it’s even less likely that we’ll ever see them staring each other down from 60 feet six inches away, unless Lambert has to be used as a pinch-hitter for some reason. Still, if this came to fruition, it would be pretty fun to see “Adam Lambert” gracing our TV screens again for a few minutes, even if neither pitcher can sing as well as their combined celebrity counterpart.
Elizabeth Muratore is one of the editors of the Here’s the Pitch newsletter. She also works as a homepage editor for MLB and co-hosts a Mets podcast called Cohen’s Corner. Elizabeth is a lifelong Mets fan who thinks that Keith Hernandez should be in the Hall of Fame. You can follow her on Twitter @nymfan97.