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February 24, 2012

BP Unfiltered

Fun with Baseball Reference

by Matthew Kory

[A quick warning/note: This post acknowledges the existence of bad words and makes fun of people's given names. Basically, if you don't find Beavis and Butthead funny, you won't find this post amusing either.]

Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start

If you didn't play video games in the 1980s, the above is likely gibberish to you. And, actually, it's gibberish even if you did play video games in the '80s. But the point is, if you did, you likely recognize that gibberish as a secret code. It's called the Konami code, and by typing that in at a certain point just before the game started, it gifted you with 30 lives in Contra. It kind of became a thing. There's even a band that presumably plays actual music that named itself Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start. Seriously.

But, BP writer whom I've never heard of, what does this have to do with baseball?

Ah ha! Nothing.

But! Learning that code was the earliest I can recall thinking about little secrets implanted in odd places. The code wasn't sinister in any way, it was just there as a kind of goof. There have been more mischievous, and some might argue malevolent, examples of people hiding things in unexpected places that maybe weren't safe for work. They ranged from the hidden in plain sight of the cover art for the movie The Little Mermaid to the not at all hidden in plain sight of Billy Ripken's 1988 Fleer baseball card.

I bring all this up because I typed "poop" into the search window on Baseball Reference today. I did not get a strangely named player or even a "0 hits for your search" dead end page. Nope.

Instead, I got this:

Sure, I could quarrel with the fact that the bar of Dove isn't, in fact, soap, but the general idea comes across quite clearly. I typed "poop," and therefore I have a potty mouth. My potty mouth is dirty, as are all potty mouths, and therefore it must be cleansed. This is not untrue.

But moral judgments aside, realize what this means. The fine people at Baseball Reference actually anticipated some sad excuse for a person with A) a sub-juvenile sense of humor, B) lots of time on his hands and C) very little imagination would at some point look at the search window and think "I'm gonna type 'poop.'" They thought and likely discussed the eventuality, possibly at a meeting with coffee, muffins, and, at least in my mind, a clearly worded memo on stationery to make sure they stayed on topic. That topic, by the way, was poop. As are all meetings featuring coffee, muffins, and memos, it was an effective one. Soon the plan, dubbed "Operation Dirty, Dirty Mouth," was hatched to make it clear that people who type weird things into the search window will soon be the unwitting recipients of not one but two images staring back into their very souls, forcing them to rethink their life's priorities and very likely sending them on a long and occasionally violent mission of redemption potentially starring Brad Pitt, or if he isn't available, maybe Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Then I typed "turd."

I did not, as you might guess, get a picture of a bottle of shampoo and a hippopotamus in full yawn. Instead, I was directed to the player page of one Mr. Robert Turdik. Mr. Turdik, whose name makes me giggle like David Letterman instructing a waiter to put his finger in a customer's water glass, played for the Utica Blue Sox and the Wilmington Blue Rocks in 1945, accumulating no stats that Baseball Reference is aware of. If you are a relative of Mr. Turdik and have information about his playing days, I suggest that you get in touch with Baseball Reference and change his name.

At this point I decided to go through George Carlin's list of seven words you can't say on television. The list, seen here, is not suitable for a family website, but that didn't stop me from typing 'em into the search window. I'm nothing if not intrepid! Most either brought me to the above image or were simply dead ends. However, one in particular gave a different result. I won't say which one, as you can probably piece it together with little trouble if you like, but here's what came up:

That, in case your monitor is off, is the color brown.

Other searches yielded the following results:

  • A search for "goat" gave me Goat Anderson. Anderson played right field and second base for Pittsburgh in 1907 and was bad at both. It seems Mr. Anderson was notable because Goat was his actual given name, as there are no quotations around the name and no nicknames or other names are listed. Sure, it's possible that his given name isn't known, but what fun would that be?
  • I should have known where searching for "Donkey" would lead: Adam Dunn.
  • I won't say what I searched for, but I found myself on the player page of a Mr. John Balls. Balls was a pitcher who played one game for Double-A Reading in 1929. Despite his lack of success on the field, he remains the most unfortunately named player in baseball history...
  • ...that is if you don't count John Cock, that is. And at this point, I may as well mention that in the 1990s the San Francisco Giants had a player in their minor-league system by the name of Darren Sack. There. See how much better your day is now?

Lastly, a man walks up to a woman at a bar. He buys her a drink, and the following conversation takes place.

Man: Hello. May I sit down?
Woman: Sure. Thanks for the drink. I'm Linda. What's your name?
Man: I'm Paul.
Woman: You sure are tall, Paul. Are you a professional athlete?
Man: As a matter of fact, yes. I'm a baseball player.
Woman: [turning fully to face him] A baseball player? Well! What team do you play for?
Man: The Indians, but I've played for a few teams.
Woman: Wow. [moving closer to him] That's so neat. What position do you play?
Man: I'm a pitcher.
Woman: A pitcher? [puts her hand on his knee] That's great! What is your name?
Man: Paul Assenmacher.
Woman: [leaves]

Matthew Kory is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Matthew's other articles. You can contact Matthew by clicking here

33 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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Feb 24, 2012 07:52 AM
rating: 2

Welcome aboard Matthew!

As for naughty names, they're part of the "Best names in baseball history" bracket going on at my blog:

Cannonball Titcomb beat Gene Brabender in the first round ..


Feb 24, 2012 07:59 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

Thanks, Diana!

Feb 24, 2012 13:56 PM

If the Baseball Reference guys had a sense of humor they would link Billy Ripken's page to the name that was on his bat.

Feb 24, 2012 08:33 AM
rating: 0

Inquiring minds want to know...

Feb 24, 2012 11:47 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Dave Pease
BP staff


Feb 26, 2012 16:32 PM

You missed the best one...


Feb 24, 2012 08:35 AM
rating: 1
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

Dude! It's:
up up down down left right left right b a SELECT start

You forgot the SELECT. Good luck winning Contra on three lives

Feb 24, 2012 08:43 AM
rating: -13

Oh no! I should have Googled it before I posted. I'm wrong. The code with SELECT is for two-players.

In my defense, I didn't own Contra; my friend Doug did, so I would only play it with two players.

Still...please minus my previous post as punishment.

Feb 24, 2012 08:45 AM
rating: 15
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

I have minuses your previous post and plused this one. The universe is now in balance.

Feb 24, 2012 08:47 AM
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

Except for my typo in my previous comment. I would minus that if I could.

Feb 24, 2012 09:05 AM
Marc Normandin

What, you can't delete that and pretend it never happened?

Feb 24, 2012 09:35 AM
rating: 3
BP staff member Ben Lindbergh
BP staff

If only.

Feb 24, 2012 09:36 AM
Dan W.

Also, for reasons of both wit and brevity, that group is often referred to as the Contra Band.

Feb 24, 2012 10:41 AM
rating: 2
BP staff member Andrew Chong
BP staff

The worst was when they watered it down for Super C and only gave you 10 lives. I will admit it wasn't enough for me to finish the game with only 10 lives and a continue. There is a fairly lengthy list of Konami games it worked on, including various Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle games(although not the first one for the NES... stupid water dam level!).

The best was when websites started using it too as easter eggs.

Feb 24, 2012 10:21 AM
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

I didn't own it either. But through the magic of the Google machine one can learn these things.

And yeah, beating Contra on three lives was, for me, an impossibility.

Feb 24, 2012 12:34 PM
David Coonce

The Red Sox had an outfielder in the 90s named Ethan Faggett. Unfortunate.

Feb 24, 2012 09:34 AM
rating: 0

True story told to me by a well-known figure in broadcasting. When Ethan F. was in the minors, this broadcaster was doing radio, partnered with a well-known ex-MLB player who has a reputation for clowning around in the booth. Before the game, they agreed that there would be no jokes about Ethan's last name - they figured the poor guy had gotten enough guff about it for his life and they would respect him just like they would any other player.

That worked until Ethan came up to bat, and my friend said, without a hint of jokiness, "The scouting report says Faggett likes to go the other way."

Needless to say, they couldn't find any words to say for a few minutes after that.

Feb 25, 2012 21:54 PM
rating: 2

Just yesterday, I learned that on basketball-reference, there's an entry for Chubby Cox.

Feb 24, 2012 10:44 AM
rating: 0

What, no Stubby Clapp?

Feb 24, 2012 11:05 AM
rating: 1

Pete LaCock.

Feb 24, 2012 11:44 AM
rating: 1
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

An oldie but a goodie.

Feb 24, 2012 12:32 PM

Of course, Pete LaCock is the son of former Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall. (He was signing autographs at Scottsdale Stadium during spring training 2011.)

Feb 24, 2012 21:24 PM
rating: 0

There's a Harry Bush. And some pretty good ones in the "Dick" search.

Feb 24, 2012 11:46 AM
rating: 0
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

I tried that but there were too many.

Feb 24, 2012 12:32 PM

Yes, the always popular Dick Pole.

Feb 24, 2012 18:34 PM
rating: 0

I always felt Randy Bush was under-rated even if a little dated. His parents certainly knew what they were doing.

Feb 24, 2012 21:23 PM
rating: 2
Joe D.

...and I know it wasn't pronounced *that* way, but my friends and I always treasured the baseball cards of Rusty Kuntz...

Feb 24, 2012 13:45 PM
rating: 5

Its contemporary, but I don't know why more people don't talk about Rich Harden. Deft move on his parent's part not nicknaming him "Dick."

Feb 24, 2012 13:50 PM
rating: 0

Type sausage and you get Randall Simon. You win, Baseball Ref.

Feb 25, 2012 02:32 AM
rating: 3
BP staff member Matt Kory
BP staff

I present: Bill Dingus (http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=dingus001wil)

Feb 25, 2012 14:15 PM

The Fister-Furbush trade offered some yuks recently.

Feb 27, 2012 06:50 AM
rating: 1

John Balls is my personal favorite.

Feb 27, 2012 13:54 PM
rating: 0
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