Once upon a time, in a verdant, bygone America, the nation crackled with Randys. Randy worked with your dad at the shop (“Randy’s a fuck-up, but he means well,” your dad would say). Randy courted your twice-divorced aunt Meryl and took her for long rides in his Camaro. Randy graduated with your son and was going to UW-Stout because he heard they partied in Menomonie.
And by god, Major League Baseball teemed with Randys.
From Randy Wolf to Randy Hundley, from Randy Choate to the superlative Randy Bush, Randys were there. You could put on the ballgame, read the boxscore, or buy a pack of baseball cards, and you could bet your goddamn life on there being a Randy in there, doing the work, pitching middle relief or going 1-for-4 with a walk. Randys were constant.
And then there’s Randy Johnson. Inarguably the most celebrated Randy in Major League Baseball, the only Randy in Cooperstown and mortal enemy of winged creatures perhaps hid an underlying problem in our national pastime. Much as Barack Obama’s success masked a failure of the Democratic Party in local and national elections, Randy Johnson’s Hall of Fame career obscured a Randy scarcity that is now all but impossible to ignore.
As of this writing, there is only one Randy in Major League Baseball: Minnesota reliever Randy Rosario. His north-of-30 ERA may soon reduce that number to zero. (Reds prospect Stuart Turner was born Randy Stuart Turner, but goes by his middle name for reasons that were not known at the time of publication.) This Randy drought shows no signs of abating anytime soon.
In 2017, Randy is the 743rd most popular baby boy name in America. That is a drop from an already precarious #318 in 2007. In a decade of American birthing, Randy has essentially evaporated as a name for your male child, while names like Remington, Maverick and Ryker have surged.
You are very likely asking yourself two things:
- Can foreign-born players save us?
I can’t help with the first, and unfortunately, the data is less robust on babies born outside the United States. Randy Rosario is Dominican, so there is the hope that, instead of Rosario being a beautiful anomaly, a Rand-aissance might be in the offing from Latin-born players.
But hope, as it’s said, is not a plan. Prepare for the worst, clutch your Randy Velarde rookie cards, and yearn for a day when you can put on the game and see Randys cluttering the diamond like the beautiful, stirruped unicorns they are.