A few days ago on twatter, there was a long thread where people took their initials and came up with the best athlete who shares the same letters – from memory. I meant to get around to this sooner – but I really couldn’t think of many S.L.’s. Having S.K. – Koufax is a legit choice would’ve been easier, but mine are S and L. I turned to Baseball-Reference again for some help. They obviously don’t have as big of an issue with this little exercise as I did – 46 MLB players share my initials. For brevity’s sake, I cut down the list to players who played more than 10 seasons – cutting 39 players! Before I share who made the cut – the distinguished S.L.s, here’s a few that didn’t quite make it:
Steve Luebber – Played in parts of five seasons in the big leagues, three with the Twins. The major of his games played were in 1976, appearing in 38 games, and 119.1 of his 206.1 career innings pitched. Appeared in one game with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979 entering the September 18th, 1979 game against the Boston Red Sox in the 7th inning down 5-3. Jim Rice led off with a double scoring Jack Brohamer and Fred Lynn – on base when Steve entered the game. After a passed ball advances Rice to third, Carl Yastremski sent Steve to the showers with another double, scoring Rice. Failing to record an out in his only appearance of 1979, Steve finished the year with an ERA of infinite. Finished his MLB career in 1981 with the Baltimore Orioles appearing in seven games. Called it quits in 1988 after a few years in the minor leagues.
Scott Leius – Another Twin! Another bottom of the order post-season performer, this time in the 1991 World Series! One of seven Twins to play in all seven games, Scott hit .357/.400/.571 in 14 at-bats – five hits, one home run, two runs driven in. Was on base in game one when Greg Gagne hit his three run homer in the 5th inning – Twins ended up winning 5-2. In the bottom of the 8th of game two, he launched a solo homer off Tom Glavine to break a 2-2 tie. Twins would end up winning 3-2.
Steve Lombardozzi – Twins 2B 1985-1988. September 28th, 1987 – for context, I was a day old, and the Twins magic number sat at one. If they win against Texas, they’ve clinched the AL West. Tied in the top of the 8th, Steve started a rally with a single to right, scoring Kent Hrbek. Next up Don Baylor gets a balk from Mitch Williams, scoring Tom Brunansky. 5-3, Twins clinch the division for the first time since repeating in 1969-1970. On top of this, his and Kent Hrbek’s fielding ended the game in the 9th with Jeff Reardon in for the save. One of our hottest hitters in the 1987 World Series batting .412/.474/.647! Seven hits, one double, one homer, 4 RBIs. In game one, he was on base during Dan Gladden’s 4th inning grand slam, then followed the next inning with a homer of his own. Also cut by the 10 year arbitrary cutoff – his son Steve, who’s currently signed with the Marlins.
Steve Lubratich – made his MLB debut in 1981 on my birthday – September 27th.
Steve Lyons – 9 MLB seasons, many controversial more in the announcing booth.
Sam Lanford – Played in two games with the Senators in August of 1907 making his debut August 19th – the same month Walter Johnson made his MLB debut – August 2nd.
Edward “Slim” Love – Played in six seasons, his best came in 1918 with the New York Yankees going 13-12 in 228.2 innings pitched. His MLB debut came with the Washington Senators however. All-time dirty name contender.
The 7 Distinguished S.L.’s
Sam Leslie – 822 games to his name across 10 seasons spread between rivals the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. First baseman by trade, his .989 fielding percentage probably kept him tied to the first sack rather than his 36 career home runs = a career high 9 in 1934! Averaged 23 doubles a season though, along with a career .304/.366/.421 – different times. Inducted into Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.
Steve Lake – A long time part-timer if that makes sense playing in the majors from 1983 through 1993 when he retired at 36. Averaged 43 games across 11 seasons with the Cubs, Phillies, and Cardinals. A defense first catcher, with a career 5.5 dWAR vs. his offensive -1.4 oWAR*. Appeared against my Twins as a starter in game seven with three at-bats, one hit, and one run batted in. His single gave the Cardinals a 2-0 lead, scoring Willie McGee in the second off Frank Viola. Held onto a LF assist from Vince Coleman in the 5th inning despite a Gary Gaetti charge to end the offensive chance. The Twins would rally and score four runs to win the franchise’s first World Series title since 1924. Sorry Steve.
Scott Linebrink – Long time reliever made his MLB debut in 2000 with the Giants and made stops through the Astros, Padres, White Sox, Braves, and Brewers organizations before calling it quits in 2011 after 607 games! Did well enough to warrant 24+ million over 12 seasons.
Sixto Lezcano – Long time Milwaukee Brewers right fielder, Sixto started in 1974 as a 20 year old September call-up. A career .271/.360/.440 hitter, he started his career with a bang, even ranked up as a comparable to Dave Winfield by 26! Sixto would finish with a respectable 1122 hits, 184 doubles, 34 triples, 148 home runs, 591 runs batted in, and a 1979 Gold Glove. Only committed 28 errors in 2558 chances – a .980 fielding %. In 1978, led the league with assists as a RF, assists as OF – he’d repeat both in 1982, adding in double plays turned as RF. Would later play in the NPB with the Taiyo Whales, in the Puerto Rican Winter League, and a two game stint in the Senior Professional Baseball Association. Seen here hitting a grand slam walk-off on the Brewers home opener in 1980.
Sam “The Goshen Schoolmaster” Leever – So called for also being a teacher at Goshen High School(Goshen, Ohio – on the outskirts of Cincinatti), Sam started his pre-MLB/MLB career in the National League in 1898, finishing in 1910 all with the Pittsburgh Pirates. A 20 game winner four times, Sam finished his career with a 194-100 W/L record sporting a 2.47 ERA and 41.8 WAR – not bad for a dead ball era pitcher. Participated in the first World Series losing both games he started facing off both times against Bill Dinneen. Although not making an appearance, his 1909 Pirates won the World Series improving his record to 1-1 in World Series play. Not featured in “The Monster” T206, though, he does have T205 Gold Border, D332 Tip Top Bread and E90 American Caramels issues amongst a few others.
Side note: Tiger/Cubs/Giants pitcher(1962-1966;1970) Bill Faul graduated from Goshen High. As SABR points out, he sought a hypnotherapist to control his pitches, and on a bet ate a live frog in the clubhouse.
Stan Lopata – Began his career in 1948 with the Phillies where he would play for all but the last two seasons(Milwaukee Braves) of his 13 year MLB career. Used primarily as a catcher(695 games), though he did see some time at first base(66 games). Two times he represented the Phillies at the mid summer classic – 1955, 1956 in the midst of his best years slugging 42 doubles, 10 triples, and 54 home runs as a catcher(!) – he’d finish with 116 tied with Buster Posey as of 2016 for 61st. A career .254/.351/.452 hitter, Stan only saw two post-season games with the 1950 Whiz Kids losing to the Yankees. Served with the U.S. Army during World War II.
Skip Lockwood – One of the few Seattle Pilots, Skip made his debut that season(1969), with stops through the Brewers, Angels, Mets and would hang them up 12 years later with the Red Sox in 1980. Began his career as a starter, but made the full time switch in 1974 as a relief pitcher. Racked up 68 career saves, mostly between 1976 and 1978. Finished having played in 420 games, starting 106, pitching in 1236 innings with a 3.55 ERA.
Sherm Lollar – The longest career of any S.L., 18 seasons starting in 1946 with the Indians, making pit stops through the Yankees and Browns, before spending 12 years with the White Sox. Led the AL in fielding % as a catcher in 1951, 1953, 1956, 1960, 1961 – and major league record holder .992 career fielding % as a catcher. Gold Glove winner in 1957, 1958, and 1959 before Senators/Twins catcher Earl Battey took over the Gold Glove reins in 1960 through 1962. Finished his career with 1415 hits, 244 doubles, 13 triples, 155 home runs, 808 runs batted in, a .264/.357/.402 batting line and finished with 30.4 bWAR. Nine times he represented the AL in the All-Star Game, twice appearing in the World Series – winning once as a player(1947), and once as a bullpen coach(1966 with the Orioles). Sherm is eligible to be listed by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as part of the Golden Era ballot in November 2017 for voting in December. Despite the obvious assumptions, he’s not related to Tim Lollar. Easily the best career hitter here, maybe even the best of the bunch – though the last entry deserves consideration. Seen here batting – #10.
Sparky Lyle – 899 games over 16 MLB(1967-1982) seasons mostly in the AL East – spending time with the Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Rangers, and White Sox. 1973, 1976, 1977 All-Star, 1977 World Series champion all with the Yankees. Appeared in a league high 72 games in 1977 with 26 saves and a 2.17 ERA. Finished with 238 saves, currently 37th all time, retired as the second all-time career saves leader. Rollie Fingers started his career at nearly the same time(1968), but would end the 1982 season with more career saves – currently 13th with 341 saves. Sparky’s easily the best pitcher of the bunch – Twins bias aside. :).