Wednesday, January 22, 2014
NAMES OF THE GAME: RAZOR SHINES
With the right name comes fame.
Willie, Mickey and the Duke.
Pumpsie, Heinie and the Boof?
Names of the Game rarely will be about those with Hall of Fame ability. It will be about those with unforgettable names, the Dirk Digglers of the diamond, so to speak.
So what better player to begin with than Razor Shines, recognized in 2009 by Maxim magazine as having "The Most Bad-Ass Name of All-Time''? Please let that be etched on his tombstone.
A name as cutting edge as his certainly enabled this 1986 Topps card to jump out of the packs and off pages back then. It also got me thinking about creating a names of the game collection. Never did, but this feature will be the next best thing.
Shines was the second Razor to play in the majors after the Tigers' Ralph Overton "Razor'' Ledbetter, who pitched one inning of one game in 1915. Interestingly, Shines, initially a catcher, also pitched one inning of one game in 1985.
While he might have been out of place throwing pitches, he most definitely has a name suited for throwing punches, right up there with Clubber Lang, but there's nothing Hollywood about the Razor name's origin.
Anthony Razor Shines is a third-generation Razor. In a New York Times story from '09, he said he doesn't know the story behind his middle name but nonetheless passed it down to his son, Devon Razor Shines, who was drafted by the White Sox in '07.
Unfortunately for Anthony, he never made a name for himself in the majors. He was basically a career minor-leaguer, playing with the Expos briefly from '83-'85 and in '87. With perennial All-Star Gary Carter blocking his path, he was moved to third base, but that door shut with eventual All-Star Tim Wallach's arrival in '82. A switch to first was in order, but around that time Andres Galarraga began building his All-Star resume.
In only 88 major-league plate appearance, primarily as a pinch-hitter, Razor batted .185 and drove in five runs. He also played a little outfield. Imagine if he would've gotten the chance to perform at an All-Star level: MLB sponsor Gillette would've had the perfect pitchman.
"Take it from me, the Gillette Trac II is twin-blade smooth and will give you the closest thing to a perfect shave or my name's not Razor Shines!''
What might have been. What did happen is Razor went on to become a minor-league manager and major-league coach. He was recently named manager for Chattanooga, the Dodgers' Double-A affiliate, for the upcoming season.
This was his only Topps issue. Credit Donruss for his rookie card in '85, which turns out to be an uncorrected error card. The Baseball Encyclopedia listed an "Anthony Raymond Shines,'' nickname "Razor,'' and Donruss ran with it on the back.
These would be his only two major-league cards. A shame, really. I could've gotten use to opening packs and reading his name a lot more often.