Baseball Toaster Catfish Stew
STOP CASTING POROSITY! An Oakland Athletics blog.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Catfish Stew

02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  01 

12  09  08  01 

12  11  10  09  08 
Email Us

Ken: catfish AT zombia d.o.t. com
Ryan: rarmbrust AT gmail d.o.t. com
Philip: kingchimp AT alamedanet d.o.t net

Ken's Greatest Hits
28 Aug 2003
12 Jan 2004
31 May 2005
11 May 2005
29 Jun 2005
8 Jun 2005
19 Jul 2005
11 Aug 2005
7 Sep 2005
20 Sep 2005
22 Sep 2005
26 Sep 2005
28 Sep 2005
29 Sep 2005
18 Oct 2005
9 Nov 2005
15 Nov 2005
20 Nov 2005

13 Dec 2005
19 Jan 2006
28 Jan 2006
21 Feb 2006
10 Apr 2006
16 Apr 2006
22 Apr 2006
7 May 2006
25 May 2006
31 May 2006
18 Jun 2006
22 Jun 2006
6 Jul 2006
17 Jul 2006
13 Aug 2006
15 Aug 2006
16 Aug 2006
20 Aug 2006
11 Oct 2006
31 Oct 2006
29 Dec 2006
4 Jan 2006
12 Jan 2006
27 Jan 2007
17 Feb 2007
30 Apr 2007
27 Aug 2007
5 Sep 2007
19 Oct 2007
23 Nov 2007
5 Jan 2008
16 Jan 2008
4 Feb 2008
7 May 2008
20 Jun 2008
4 Feb 2008
Barton and the Crab-Man
2007-09-14 01:34
by Ken Arneson

If you look at the Athletics franchise career leaders in OPS and OPS+, you'll find a bunch of Hall-of-Famers (Jimmie Foxx, Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Reggie Jackson, Rickey Henderson), a few Hall-of-Juicers (Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi), a couple of classic baseball names (Matt Stairs, Gene Tenace), and...Bob Johnson.

Bob Johnson is largely forgotten in Athletics lore.  His name appears in the top ten of nearly every batting category in franchise history, so being forgotten hardly seems a fair fate.  He played 10 years with the A's, averaging 25 homers and 104 RBI.  His career rate stats were .296/.393/.506.  So why is he forgotten?

Part of it is that he started late; he was 27 years old in his rookie season, and he never accumulated the kind of career totals that would make him a Hall-of-Fame candidate.

But I think a lot of the reason is because his name was "Bob Johnson".  Johnson had a nickname, "Indian Bob", from his 1/4 Native American lineage.  But that's not the kind of nickname we repeat in these days of political correctness.  So he remains "Bob Johnson", a name that could not be better chosen to blend into the background and fade from attention.

* * *

Daric Barton made his major league debut this week, and has impressed mightily.  So far, he's hitting .353/.450/.471.  Those numbers are positively Bob Johnsonesque!  Barton's debut is probably the second-most exciting thing to happen to the team all year.  The kid can hit.  Dan Johnson's days as Oakland's first baseman are numbered.

And yet, Dan Johnson is the source of the most exciting thing I've heard all year:  he got a nickname.  Dan Johnson has one of the few names that could possibly surpass Bob Johnson in forgettability.  In ten, fifteen years, will anyone remember Dan Johnson and his brief tenure in Oakland?  Certainly not, especially if we keep calling him "Dan Johnson".

But now there's this:  apparently, Marco Scutaro was recently making fun of Johnson for the way he was chasing down a popup in Oakland's large foul territory, saying he ran after it like a crab.  A nickname was born:  Dan "Crab-Man" Johnson.

I hereby declare a new law:  Dan Johnson shall be henceforth be called "Crab-Man Johnson" in all forms of conversation.  Anyone who fails to use the nickname shall receive a $100 fine.   All in favor, say aye!

Dan Johnson was just passing through, a forgettable face in the crowd, in a forgettable year for the franchise.  But Crab-Man Johnson is a classic baseball name that will likely live forever.  It leaves a smile on my face.  This season shall not have been in vain.

2007-09-14 07:20:35
1.   doppelganger
I think a lot of the reason is that Johnson got there just after Foxx, Cochrane, Grove, Simmons et al left, and the A's starting losing 90 games every year until Eddie Joost (another forgotten Athletic) showed up.
2007-09-14 07:22:51
2.   doppelganger
I think a lot of the reason is that Johnson got there just after Foxx, Cochrane, Grove, Simmons et al left, and the A's starting losing 90 games every year until Eddie Joost (another forgotten Athletic) showed up.
2007-09-14 07:42:23
3.   Josh Wilker
I hope comments 1 and 2 above are not technical glitches but the never-varying double-posting policy of the aptly named doppelganger.

How could I not have a firm idea of who Bob Johnson is? I guess I must have read a profile of Bob Johnson somewhere in Bill James' historical abstract. I wonder if there are more guys like him from the hitting-rich '30s who have been more or less lost to time. To the baseball encyclopedia!

Also, "Crab Man" is an oft-uttered nickname on a current popular TV comedy. Any chance of getting the nickname to evolve to the still colorful (and more seedily ambiguous) "Crabs"?

2007-09-14 07:55:13
4.   Ken Arneson
3 I don't watch any current popular TV comedies, so I was not aware of it being oft-uttered. 'Tis a shame, because we don't want his nickname to be oft-uttered in other contexts.

On the telecast last night, they offered the alternative "Crabber Johnson". That would work for me, too. "Crabs Johnson" doesn't roll off the tongue quite as easily, with that heavy consonant cluster in the middle.

2007-09-14 08:17:13
5.   RZG
My first thought was of the Bob Johnson who played mostly for the Orioles and Senators in the 60's. I kind of remembered him playing a little for the A's and I was trying to remember if he was that good of a player to be one of the best in the franchise history. I knew he wasn't that good.

I remember reading a little of the "real" Bob Johnson but I didn't remember him being an Athletic.

2007-09-14 08:20:19
6.   doppelganger
My first comment wasn't showing up, so I assumed it was a glitch and posted again, and then they both showed up.
2007-09-14 09:12:32
7.   Josh Wilker
6 : Ah. Yeah, that's happened to me, too.
2007-09-14 09:21:56
8.   Ken Arneson
6 Ah, my first post bug. I've never been able to track that one down, because it only happens sometimes. If it happened every time, I'd be able to trace it more easily. The cache is supposed to clear after every new comment so the page will refresh, but after the first post it doesn't always happen for some reason.

So if a first comment doesn't show up, you can just wait, the post is there, and it will show up later, when cache eventually clears.

2007-09-14 10:08:08
9.   Philip Michaels
Bob Johnson is, of course, one of my favorite Above Average Players That Are Relatively Obscure thanks to their bland name/the fact that they played on a middling team/playing in the long-ago time (or a combination of all three). The others:

* Cy Williams of the 1920s Phillies: His numbers were probably inflated by the Baker Bowl, but still was among the league leaders in home runs for most of the 20s.

* Ken Williams: No, not the mercurial White Sox GM, but the St. Louis Brown who managed to become even more obscure by playing on the same team as George Sisler. Special tip to anyone who plays Sports Illustrated dice baseball -- while others might flock to the Yankees, Dodgers, Giants or other glamour franchises, you can rack up some serious win totals with the Browns-Orioles all-time team by making sure to give regular starts to Ken Williams and Baby Doll Jacobsen in your outfield.

* Buddy Lewis -- Good hitter on some fairly forgetable Washington teams.

2007-09-15 11:24:15
10.   Bob Timmermann
Cy Williams was also regarded as one of the worst fielders of his era.
2007-09-17 11:21:35
11.   MrIncognito
Dan Johnson, the .236-hitting 1B is dead to me.

Since being christened, Crab-Man is now 4-for-9 with 2 HR and a 2B.

2007-09-17 17:09:34
12.   CMcFood
Dan Johnson already has a nickname give to him by Scott Hatteberg. When Johnson came up, he hounded Hatteberg with questions about the game so incessently that Scott gave him the name "Band Camp", after the character in the movie "American Pie" who wouldn't stop telling stories about her time at camp, and began each story with "One time, at Band Camp, ..."

He also enjoys some notoriety for being blamed for the A's moving to Fremont in the youtube video "Ghostriding a Volvo". check it out if you haven't:

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.