(Kendrys Morales, right, jokes with Angels coach Dino Ebel earlier this spring. Photo by Associated Press).
(UPDATE 2 P.M.: A few people have mentioned John Paveskovich — better known now as Johnny Pesky. The Portland native had his name officially changed in 1947, early in his Red Sox career).
When the Mariners face an Angels split-squad today in Peoria, Kendrys Morales will not be on hand. Instead, he’ll be with the Angels’ squad that hosts the Royals in Tempe.
Yes, it’s Kendrys Morales now. He revealed yesterday that his name has been spelled wrong all these years since he defected from Cuba in 2004. Somehow, the final ‘S’ was left off, and he’s been known as Kendry ever since he signed with the Angels — until now. Morales finally spoke up and said he’d like his name spelled correctly.
According to the Orange County Register, the mistake came to light when Morales received a new first baseman’s glove for the 2011 season from Rawlings with “Kendrys” stenciled on the outside. An Angels equipment man noticed what he thought was a mistake, and asked Morales if he wanted him to send it back for a correction. That’s when Morales said that Kendrys was actually the correct spelling. The Angels corrected the spelling in their media guide and elsewhere.
That got me to thinking about other players who have executed mid-career name changes. Of course, there was David Ortiz, who went by David Arias when he came up through the Mariner organization, but decided to go by Ortiz after the Mariners traded Big Papi to Minnesota for Dave Hollins in 1996.
In 1985, the Giants acquired shortstop Jose Gonzalez along with David Green, Dave LaPoint and Gary Rajsich in a blockbuster trade with the Cardinals for Jack Clark. Gonzalez soon announced he wanted to be known as Jose Uribe, Uribe being his mother’s maiden name. The joke at the time was that Uribe was the ultimate player to be named later. Uribe, who died in 2006 in a car crash, told reporters he made the change because “there are too many Gonzalezes in baseball.”
Joey Belle of the Indians decided to go by his given name, Albert Belle, in 1990 after undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse, proclaiming he was a new man and wanted a new name.
Similar to Morales, Dodgers pitcher Ismael Valdes revealed in 2004 his name had been misspelled throughout his career and was henceforth Ismael Valdez. Also, pitcher Jeremi Gonzalez, after his trade to the Brewers in 2006, informed them that the correct spelling of his name was Geremi, as he was known for the rest of his career. Gonzalez died in 2008 after being struck by lightning.
In doing a quick bit of internet research, I discovered a pitcher named Pete Appleton, who was with several teams in a 14-year career from 1927-45. He changed his name to Appleton from his given Pete Jablonowski in 1933, the explanation being that “Jablon” is Polish for apple.
Then there was Cardinals pitcher Harry Rasmussen, who in the 1970s had his name legally changed to Eric Rasmussen. And Junior Ortiz, a journeyman catcher from 1982 to 1994, supposedly changed his first name to Joe in the midst of a long slump in 1991. According to BaseballLibrary.com, the slump continued, so he reverted to Junior.