Lying in bed one night, brain wandering as it does, I found myself thinking about Josh Willingham. Not like that, and not even really necessarily about Josh Willingham. But have you ever really thought about Josh Willingham? Did you know his nickname is "Hammer" or that he has three sons, Rhett, Ryder, and Rogan? More to the point, did you realize his last name is the beginning to, perhaps, a particularly special #NaNoWriMo entry? To wit:
Willingham. Willing Ham. Willing ham. My brain kept turning it over, this at once descriptive and intriguing phrase, wondering how many others possess a surname that combines such a combination of optimistic eagerness (willing) and edible meat-based protein (ham).
I decided to find out. Working with David Roth, my friends and family, Baseball-Reference, and finally the White Pages (just kidding, I chuck those at racoons), I found seven of Mr. Willingham's meat-named forebears, and present them to you here. Let's not forget their eagerness, their meatiness, and their distinctive combination of the two:
A hard-throwing righty with a deceptive motion, Coolmeat pitched in middle relief for a few teams in the late 1980s and early 1990s without ever finding great success. The Curacao-born pitcher anglicized his last name from its original spelling of "Kuulmit" during his time in the Cincinnati Reds farm system at the behest of former Reds owner Marge Schott, who said it looked "Communist, or Hindu" in its original spelling.
Best-known as the first ethnic Peruvian to play in the Majors, Inclinedchorizo was a long reliever for some really crappy Braves teams. He was the player-to-be-named-later in the deal that brought the Braves Oddibe McDowell, but retired rather than play for the Rangers. "They know what they did," he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in what is to date his only comment on that decision. "Especially Kunkel." Inclinedchorizo is a real estate agent in Hialeah, Florida.
The mid-1970s Indians believed that they had discovered a proto-Moneyball market inefficiency in relief pitchers who looked like fussy hardware store owners. The results didn't show up in the standings, and the team's trade of Dennis Eckersley for Turkee-Upforit still stands as one of the worst in team history.
A local product, Readysausage was a three-sport star at Fernwood-Yeadon Regional High School. The Phillies rushed him through the minors, and while he hit well enough in limited action, health issues and a personal dispute with manager Jim Fregosi insured that he never really got his shot. He's currently Darren Daulton's personal assistant.
The question with Eagerbeef was never his right arm. It was his extensive collection of firearms and paranoid politics. He bounced around the American League in the early 1980s, before leaving baseball to become a mercenary.
In the interest of honesty, we should note that this absolutely isn't a real person.
A defense-first backup catcher for several American League teams between 1967 and 1975, Obligingpork is remembered for two statements. The first, from him, was that he aspired to be "The thinking man's Gene Tenace." The second, which appears on Obligingpork's gravestone, was from Twins teammate Harmon Killebrew: "If there's a better Hungry Hungry Hippos player in baseball, I sure never met him."