The Story Behind The Make-Believe Rosters In ‘Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball’
Super Nintendo was a way of life for those of us fortunate enough to grow up in the kid-centric 1990s, and among the console's proprietary sports video games, one title stood above the rest: "Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball." It was baseball's "NBA Jam." You could and did hit pop-ups that took 10 seconds to meander over the outfield fence into home runs. You could speed up a pitch after it'd left your pitcher's hand. It didn't even let you control fielders. It had sweet theme track. Players would break bats over their knees. But what I remember most vividly was the game's stable of made-up baseball players filling the rosters of real MLB teams.
Everyone except Ken Griffey Jr., obviously.
Seeing as Griffey will is destined for enshrinement in Cooperstown, I started reminiscing about the game and decided to look into why he was the only real human being depicted in the game. As you might have guessed, the 1994 release did not have a Major League Baseball Players Association license, so Nintendo had to come up with their own names -- or let you painstakingly change them to whatever the hell you wanted via a renaming setting. Future versions of the game did include the real names, but the original game featured rosters consisting of make-believe baseball players that vaguely resembled their real-life counterparts, with names like "Bambino" (Danny Tartabull) and "D. Crime" (Fred McGriff).
Turns out, the names weren't random. Via Wikipedia...
The Atlanta Braves are famous dance DJs, such as Sasha & Digweed (John Smoltz and closer Mike Stanton). A pitcher for the team is named G. Park, presumably in reference to Atlanta's famed Grant Park (Steve Avery). In addition, D. Crime and D. Neon likely refer to Fred "the Crime Dog" McGriff and "Neon" Deion Sanders, respectively.
The Baltimore Orioles pay tribute to Baltimore native John Waters with B. Divine (Harold Reynolds), P. Flamingo (Mike Mussina), M. Trasho (Mike Pagliarulo), and H. Spray (pitcher Jim Poole), as well as Waters himself standing in for Cal Ripken Jr.
The Boston Red Sox contain members from the show Cheers. Cliff Claven (Scott Bankhead), Norm Peterson (pitcher Greg Harris), and Sam Malone (closer Jeff Russell) are all present. Also included are Boston landmarks B. Common (Luis Rivera), M. Harvard (Tony Pena) and figures from early American history J. Adams (Billy Hatcher), J. Hancock (Rob Deer), A. Hamilton (Scott Fletcher). S.Heat stands in for flamethrower Roger Clemens.
The California Angels have famous actors on their team: F. Astaire (Chad Curtis), H. Bogart (Chili Davis), and J. Wayne (J.T. Snow).
The Chicago Cubs has game director Brian Ullrich standing in for Ryne Sandberg. The bullpen has some seemingly generic names, such as P. Drifter (Jose Guzman), T. Yokel (Frank Castillo), and R. Steel (Dan Plesac).
The Chicago White Sox are former basketball players from St. John's University: M. Sealy (Ozzie Guillen), C. Mullin (Ellis Burks), and M. Jackson (Lance Johnson).
The Cincinnati Reds are writers: B. Stoker (Tom Browning), P. Dick (Scott Service), and E. Queen (Chris Sabo).
The Cleveland Indians have famous actresses and glamour girls on their team: A. Margret (Paul Sorrento), A. Hepburn (Sandy Alomar Jr.) , M. Monroe (Reggie Jefferson), and G. Garbo (Jeff Mutis).
The Colorado Rockies contain famous names from horror movies, including G. Romero (Kent Bottenfield), B. Lugosi (Alex Cole), and T. Savini (Bruce Ruffin).
The Detroit Tigers are famous Motown singers: A. Franklin (John Doherty), G. Knight (Bill Gullickson) and R. Smokey (Gary Thurman).
The Florida Marlins have a unique list of players like R. Harrison filling in for Gary Sheffield and L. Vogelman filling in for Jeff Conine. The pitching staff includes S. McDonald standing in for Robb Nen, J. Bafus standing in for Charlie Hough, and G.Valkenar standing in for closer Bryan Harvey.
The Houston Astros are cartoonists: G. Larson (Todd Jones), W. Eisner (Craig Biggio), and S. Lee (Rick Parker).
The Kansas City Royals are based on U.S. presidents (the third batter is D. Ike, whose real-life counterpart is DH Hall of Famer George Brett). The pitching staff includes Bill Clinton standing in for Kevin Appier, George H.W.Bush standing in for David Cone, and Ronald Reagan standing in for Hipolito Pichardo.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are based on punk rock pioneers from Los Angeles and other areas around California including Exene Cervenka (Jose Offerman), John Doe (Mike Piazza), DJ Bonebrake of X (Brett Butler), Poison Ivy (Mitch Webster) and Lux Interior of The Cramps (Eric Karros), Jello Biafra (Ricky Trlicek), Klaus Flouride of the Dead Kennedys (Pedro Astacio), and Lee Ving of Fear (Orel Hershiser).
The Milwaukee Brewers have a pitching staff consisting of superhero "secret identities": P. Parker (Cal Eldred), C. Kent (Jaime Navarro), and B. Wayne (Ricky Bones), while their position players are fictional secret agents and detectives: J. Rockford (Pat Listach), J. Bond (Dave Nilsson), and P. Columbo (Dickie Thon).
The Minnesota Twins are not named for famous sets of twins. The players' names are based on celebrities of various backgrounds, from actor Adam West (Kent Hrbek), guitarist Jimi Hendrix (Dave Winfield) and pitcher W. Herzog (Rick Aguilera).
The Montreal Expos are people from the 1980s music scene in Manchester, England, including Bernard Sumner|B. Summer (Moises Alou), and Johnny Marr|J.Marr (Larry Walker).
The New York Mets are based on punk rock pioneers from New York including Johnny Thunders (Eddie Murray), Joey Ramone (Jeff Kent), Tom Verlaine (Bobby Bonilla), and Jerry Nolan (Anthony Young).
The New York Yankees have the nicknames of famous Yankee greats, such as Bambino (Danny Tartabull), and New York boroughs such as S.Island (Spike Owen).
The Oakland Athletics apparently hired more authors: H. Ernest (Mark McGwire), L. Byron (Mike Aldrete), M. Twain (Brent Gates), and L. Tolstoy (Dave Henderson).
The Philadelphia Phillies feature a Rocky homage in R. Balboa (Darren Daulton) and A. Creed (Dave Hollins). They also have a Philadelphia landmark – L. Bell (Ricky Jordan) – and some of the musicians produced by Phil Spector: D. Love (Lenny Dykstra), B. Medley (Wes Chamberlain), as well as Spector himself (John Kruk).
The Pittsburgh Pirates are named after characters from the soap opera Coronation Street' such example Emily Bishop|E.Bishop (Steve Cooke), Ken Barlow|K.Barlow (Tom Foley) and Phyllis Pearce|P.Pearce (Lonnie Smith).
The San Francisco Giants are members of Software Creations, the team that developed the game such example Michael Webb and Richard Kay stand in for (Willie McGee) and (Kirt Manwaring) respectively.
The San Diego Padres are based on punk rock pioneers from England including Billy Idol|B.Idol (Ricky Gutierrez), Dave Vanian|D.Vanian (Derek Bell), Johnny Rotten (Jeff Gardner), and Sid Vicious (Archi Cianfrocco).
The Seattle Mariners have Nintendo of America employees on their team such as J. Tingdale who stands in for Randy Johnson, D.Owsen who stands in for Omar Vizquel, and J.Hurt filling in for Jay Buhner.
The St. Louis Cardinals are comedians: H. Moe (Bob Tewksbury), O. Hardy (famous shortstop Ozzie Smith).
The Texas Rangers, appropriately, have a Western theme (their best pitcher, T. Mix, "fills in" for Kevin Brown). S.Jackson stands in for (Nolan Ryan).
The Toronto Blue Jays are players from the Wigan Warriors Rugby league team (E. Hanley(Darnell Coles), M. Offiah (Danny Cox), D. Betts (Paul Molitor).
FACTOID OF THE CENTURY: John Kruk was named after Phil Spector in a video game.
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