Baseball quiz: Stuck in the middle with you

They don’t get much attention, but middle names often have special meanings, as this quiz shows.

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“Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks

“Mr. Cub” Ernie Banks

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Today is the anniversary of the birth of President Grover Cleveland. Since I think in baseball terms, whenever I see the name of our 22nd and 24th president (making him the only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms in office), I expect his name to be followed by “Alexander.” President Cleveland served from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897.

The pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander was born Feb. 26, 1887 (happy belated birthday), and he was named for the president at the time. We’ll save his nickname of “Old Pete” for another time, but needless to say, it took less ink to print “Pete” than “Grover Cleveland.” Today’s quiz is about things I found in the rabbit hole when I learned it was President Cleveland’s date of birth. Have fun, and learn a lot.

1. When not called “Old Pete,” Grover Cleveland Alexander is almost always referred to by his full name, including his middle name. We all know the “Babe” is George Herman Ruth. What was Ernie Banks’ middle name?

a. Sunshine

b. Davis

c. Eddie

d. He had no middle name

2. What is Lance Lynn’s middle name?

a. Clance

b. Michael

c. Lindell

d. Louis

3. Speaking of Lance Lynn, which of these stars has the middle name of “Lynn?”

a. Nolan Ryan

b. Mookie Betts

c. Adam Duvall

d. They all do

4. Reggie Jackson’s middle name is the same as the last name of which fellow Hall of Famer?

a. Mickey Mantle

b. Pedro Martinez

c. Frank Thomas

d. Al Kaline

5. Start with chewy, smooth nougat. Then comes the layer of rich, delicious caramel. Then add the dry‑roasted, high‑quality peanuts. And what do you end up with? While high cholesterol and/or diabetes are possible, I’m actually describing a Baby Ruth bar. This candy treat was reputedly named after which famous individual?

a. Babe Didrikson

b. Babe Ruth

c. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

d. Ruth Cleveland

e. Ruth Westheimer

6. Guess who sang the 1972 hit “Stuck in the Middle With You”?

a. Steely Dan

b. Stealers Wheel

c. The Guess Who

d. Badfinger

7. Last season, the middle of the Brewers’ order (4-5-6) hit the most homers with 84. The Astros were next with 83. Which Chicago team had the most homers from the middle of their order?

a. White Sox

b. Cubs

c. Same

8. Last season, in the middle innings (4-5-6), the Dodgers’ staff allowed the fewest earned runs (136). The Astros’ pitchers were next at 147. Which Chicago team allowed the fewest runs in their middle innings?

a. White Sox

b. Cubs

c. Same

9. Grover Cleveland Alexander was not the only ballplayer who, in part, was named after a U.S. president. Which of the following players have a middle name saluting a president?

a. Jackie Robinson

b. Cal McLish

c. Ted Lilly

d. Tommy Bridges

e. Zip Zabel

f. All of them

g. None of them

Hope you had fun this week. Just so you know, I think anything over five correct answers is a great score on this weekly quiz. Two or three is middling. See you next week.


1. Mr. Cub was born Ernest Banks. He had no middle name.

2. Michael Lynn’s middle name is Lance.

3. They all do. However, Markus Lynn Betts has my favorite full name in baseball because his initials are M.L.B.

4. Mr. October’s full name is Reginald Martinez Jackson.

5. Curtiss Candy founder Otto Schnering claimed that the candy bar was named for Baby Ruth Cleveland, the long-dead daughter of President Grover Cleveland who succumbed to diphtheria at the age of 12 in 1904 — 15 years before the first Baby Ruth bar appeared on American store shelves. Schnering later admitted in Chicago Topics magazine that the brainstorm for the candy bar came to him while attending a baseball game.

6. Stealers Wheel sang the song written by band members Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan. You might remember Rafferty had the solo hit “Baker Street” in 1978.

7. The Sox hit 65 homers, while the Cubs hit 66. Both teams were around the middle of the pack.

8. Games are frequently lost in the middle innings, which is why the 271 runs allowed by the Cubs’ staff should be of concern. The Sox’ staff kept the team in games by permitting just 181 runs, the fourth-fewest in the majors.

9. Jack Roosevelt Robinson was named after Theodore Roosevelt, who died 25 days before Robinson was born. Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish was named for Calvin Coolidge, among others. Ted Roosevelt Lilly also was named after Roosevelt. Six-time All-Star pitcher Tommy Bridges has the full name of Thomas Jefferson Davis Bridges. That means he was named after the third president of the U.S. and the first president of the Confederacy. (BTW: On his first major-league pitch, Bridges got Babe Ruth to pop out.) Zip Zabel was a Cubs pitcher who set the record for most innings pitched in relief in one game on June 17, 1915. He came in for an injured Bert Humphries with two outs in the first and pitched the final 18¹⁄3 innings to earn the win over the Brooklyn Robins and opposing pitcher Jeff Pfeffer, who threw a complete game. Zip’s real name is George Washington Zabel. The correct answer is “All of them.”

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