Baseball Name Anthology: The Say Brothers

This post is the first in a series on the oddball names of professional baseball players and teams, many of whom would remain anonymous if not for their comical monikers. 

Louis I. Say's mustachioed mug

Louis I. Say’s piliferous photo

Baseball history is filled with lineage and family ties. Long before Scott and Jerry Hairston, Cal and Billy Ripken, and even before the five Delahanty brothers, came Lou and Jimmy Say.

Louis I. Say and James I. Say were baseballing brothers in the tumultuous times known as the late 19th century. The brothers were born eight years apart in Baltimore, and were each bestowed with the middle initial “I”, sealing their infamous fate.

Louis I. Say was a shortstop at the highest professional level for seven seasons. Over this time, he hit .232, with little power or on-base ability. He is a rare breed in more ways than his name. Lou played for four major leagues: the National Association, the American Association, the Union Association, and the famed National League. As far as this writer’s research can see, this record is neither eclipsed nor matched.

James I. Say followed in his brother’s footsteps, in occupation, team and position. Jimmy’s first team was the 1882 Philadelphia Athletics, where he was the backup shortstop to his brother. For his career, Jimmy outhit Lou, posting a .263 mark. By one objective measure, James I. Say is a more accomplished hitter than fellow fun name holder Mookie Betts, as Say has two more career hits than him (for now).

Until the expert scribes at SABR and Baseball Reference patch together the century-old tea leaves lost along the shores of Maryland, we won’t know how close Louis and James I. Say were, or what kinds of lives they led. One could hope to imagine the camaraderie the two enjoyed playing baseball together, even if it was for a short span of time.

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