Inside Pitch: A’s enjoy style, success in Players Weekend unis
While at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, his teammates would regularly call the 5-foot-9 hurler snack-sized. Thus, the nickname Dullsnacks was born of Oakland reliever Ryan Dull.
For Dull, selecting a nickname for the back of his MLB Players Weekend uniform was that simple.
Around the league, players chose nicknames to be worn on the back of their unique florescent-sleeved Players Weekend uniforms, but few teams wore those uniforms as well as the Athletics (56-72). Not necessarily judging by the aesthetics of their Kelly Green and highlighter-yellow uniform, but by the outcome celebrated within them.
Outscoring the postseason hopeful Texas Rangers (64-64) 19-7, the A’s converted a three-game sweep, their first since mid-July.
Always superstitious, even by the high standards of the professional athlete, Oakland manager Bob “BoMel” Melvin told SFBay that he has not yet devised a plan to lobby the league into letting his club to wear the alternate jerseys going forward:
“I don’t think I have control over that, unfortunately. There were a couple years back, we brought our gold jerseys on the road — I think in ’12. But I think that one is out of my hands, unfortunately.”
His players had fun during their one weekend, though.
Jharel “Squeaky” Cotton, whose nickname is derived from the noise his childhood bike made as he rode around his home in St. Thomas, British Virgin Islands, told SFBay that is was fun to see the fashion of his fraternal MLB brothers:
“It was pretty cool. The guys have got some pretty cool styles, from other teams as well, and pretty cool nicknames. It was a fun experience, I liked it.”
Cotton (7-10, 5.40 ERA) got the start and the win in Sunday’s 8-3 victory.
Khris “Khrush” Davis, whose nickname comes from his powerful production with a bat in his hands, was concerned with being able to live up to that name, which he did Khrushing a pair of home runs leading his team to a 3-1 triumph Friday. That production came in support of starter Kendall “Digger” Graveman (4-4, 4.24 ERA).
Graveman’s nickname, like Dull’s, comes from his time as a college pitcher, and is a play on the word “gravedigger.”
Digger was less concerned with what was on the back of his jersey than what was on the side — the sleeve, to be exact. A “thank you” patch in place of the team patch, giving players the chance to show their appreciation to the many people responsible for putting them in that position:
“I thought they were amazing. For me, I think it’s awesome for us to be able to show some character. But I think the biggest thing is the patches that (the jerseys) have on the side that have ‘thank you’ and you can write whatever you want. … None of us are out here by ourselves, somebody has helped us get here.”
Most of the A’s thank you patches contained similar constants — mom, dad, family, friends, coaches. But some, like the Aussie Liam “Slydah” Hendriks, whose nickname was born from a playful jab at his pronunciation of the word “slider,” the thanks yous were written small to feature many.
A product of Australia’s capital city, Hendriks thanked both Perth and Australia, along with a trio of Australian pro teams — Perth Heat, Wanneroo Giants and Carine Cats — as well as “Team AUS” and all of the ABF, or Australian Baseball Federation.
Indiana-born teammate Sean “Da Kid” Manaea, who got his nickname from former-Royals teammate Kevin McCarthy, went a similar route, adding Wanatah, Hammond and Terre Haute — all cities in Indiana — to his list of thank yous.
A self-proclaimed half-Samoan half-Hoosier, Manaea (9-8, 4.55 ERA), who also goes by the nicknames “Throwin’ Samoan” and “Baby Giraffe,” earned his first “W” in a month-and-a-half in Saturday’s 8-3 win.
Offensively, defensively, pitching-wise, the A’s enjoyed one of their most wholly successful weekends in several seasons. All while sporting jerseys designed to pay tribute to Little League Baseball and the Little League World Series, colorful socks from Stance and specially designed New Era hats.
Matt “Chappy” Chapman, whose nickname is a derivative of his last name, told SFBay:
“It was cool. A lot of guys taking advantage of using all the flashy stuff that you get. I think it’s cool that there’s a weekend dedicated to the players.”