Thursday, January 19, 2012

Wert, Yu've Got Company

On Valentine's Day, 1819, Christopher Sholes was born in Danville, Pennsylvania. Almost 200 years later, Yu Darvish has signed a contract to play Major League Baseball. And finally Don Wert may have a friend.

Sholes invented what we now know as the universal or QWERTY keyboard for the typewriter he patented (#79,265) in 1868. Between then and now, the only person to play Major League Baseball with a last name that's spelled out on this type of keyboard is Don Wert.


Like Sholes, Wert was born in Pennsylvania--in Strasburg, a short drive from Danville. Incredibly, the towns are exactly 79,265 Roman double-paces apart!
And so it was that on May 11th, 1963, Don Wert made his major league debut, becoming the only true keyboard baseballer, and connecting him with Sholes for eternity.

Three years ago, I started looking for possible names that could contend with WERT. Of course, a person with a keyboard-spelled name would have to not only exist, but be a ballplayer, and make it to the majors. After a few failed attempts, I typed YU (with ease, thanks Christopher Sholes!) into the ol' Internet Findin' Machine, and discovered that it was indeed a name, but more importantly the name of an already well-known pitcher in Japan. (I wrote a post about it at the time.) That pitcher was Yu Darvish.


In the three years since that post, it became more and more apparent that Darvish was headed for the bigs. And now, 49 years after Wert set the standard, Yu is officially a Texas Ranger, and should make his debut a few months from now.

But will Yu join Don in history once he throws his first pitch in the U.S.? Darvish (which came from Darvishsefad) is the family name, but in Japan, that is listed first. Ichiro is not the family name, but Suzuki has it on the back of his jersey. But I think that's because he's known only as Ichiro, like Cher or Jackee. Yu Darvish does have "Darvish" on his back when he plays, but still, Yu is his "last name," albeit not the family name, in Japan. (I went through this in the 2009 post, but now we're mere months from someone having to make the official decision!)
Even if you don't think Yu Darvish belongs in Don Wert's exclusive club, he at least gets into the "first name spelled on keyboard" group, along with Ty Taubenheim and Ty Wigginton. (The only MLB Ty's with the full first name "Ty.")

Also note: the Korean Baseball Organization has had plenty of players with the last name (or is it the first name?) Yu in recent years. It's only a matter of time before MLB is a virtual Yu-fest.

There could be more guys int he first name group, but it would have to be someone whose given name was initials, and I've yet to find any. C.V. Matteson doesn't count! Though I'm happy to give him an honorable mention.

There are also some guys in Korea with hyphenated names starting with Ui-.

Oh, and what do we have here?? Takamitsu Io! Currently playing in the Japanese league.....

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