Biggest Cliffs

At the end of this post is a table of the major league players who have been known as “Cliff”, listed in descending order of career WAR (total WAR for position players, pitching WAR for pitchers).

I’ve only included players who are listed at baseball-reference as having been known as “Cliff”.  So I have not included guys such as Gavvy Cravath, whose actual name was Clifford but was not known as Cliff, while I have included guys such as Cliff Floyd, whose actual first name was Cornelius (which suggests that perhaps the real reason Floyd was oft-injured during his career was he was being repeatedly beaten up by former fourth grade classmates).

Perhaps the most poignant “Cliff” career listed here was that of Cliff Dapper, a catcher who played in nine games, with 19 plate appearances, for the Dodgers early in the 1942 season, putting up a startling slash line of .471 BA/.526 OBP/.706 SLG/1.232 OPS. He never played in the majors again. In 1942 he was sent down to the minors after his brief stay with the big club, then spent three years in the Navy, and never got another chance in the major leagues.

By the way, if you don’t know why a post about Cliffs in history is appropriate today, you are a fortunate person.

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32 Comments on "Biggest Cliffs"

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no statistician but
Guest

I don’t see the famous Cincinnati Cliff here, AKA The Big Red Dog.

Actually, what’s surprising is the number of Cliffs who made it to the Bigs. It’s not, where I come from, a popular name or nickname at all. There’s material for a post, actually, for someone who knows his stuff—prevalence of names, first and last. What happened to Davis, for instance—it seemed like practically every team had a Davis in the Eighties.

Bryan O'Connor
Editor

I remember expecting multiple Davises in packs of cards in the late ’80s, nsb. Off the top of my head, there were Eric, Mark, Storm, Glenn… I want to say there were seven in one set. Today, it’s Ike and a bunch of memories. Seems the name went the way of mustaches and glasses, replaced by Molinas, Izturises, Matsuis, shaved heads, and football physiques.

bstar
Guest

This fun website approximates there are just over 6,000 Cliffs alive in the US today. 1 in less than 12,500 people are named Cliff. The popularity of Cliff seems to have been at its height in the 1880s and has completely bottomed out since around 1985.

http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=cliff

Hartvig
Guest

Great site bstar-

Amazingly enough it appears that my given name Hal (Hartvig is my nom du internet) was actually more popular that Cliff, peaking right around the time of my birth at 0.0003, Cliff never exceeded 0.0002. But like Cliff, Hal flatlined about 1975 with nary a blip on the radar since that time.

bstar
Guest

Yep, it is fun indeed. Like you, my actual name Brian peaked right around the time of my birth-the late 60s. Same thing with my siblings Eric and Angie.

Richard Chester
Guest

Hartvig: Have you counted the computer Hal from the movie “2001”?

Hartvig
Guest

I’m sorry Dave… I mean Richard… I afraid can’t do that…

deal
Guest
I recently came up this Fiscal Cliff All Star Team. There may be a better Cliff team out there if somebody knows more old timers. I had to move around some of the IFs to secondary position to fill out a decent team – Happy to get an HoF on there and would think Cliff Lee is the anchor of the team. Also glad to see Heathcliff Slocumb make an appearance C Cliff Blankenship 1B Cliff Floyd 2B Cliff Pennington SS Clifford Nolen Richardson 3B Cliff Pastornicky LF Fred Clifford Clarke (Pirates HoF) CF Xavier Clifford Nady RF Clifford Carlton… Read more »
birtelcom
Guest

The Social Security Administration reports that “Clifford” was only the 922nd most popular name for boy babies in 2005. But it was in the top 100 for most of the first half of the 20th century and in the top 200 as late as 1975.

MikeD
Guest

Not that it matters, but your post got me to thinking about people named Cliff I’ve known in my life. After giving it long and serious thought (well, not too serious), I’ve never met anyone named Cliff.

Bells
Guest

I have one friend named Cliff, and his last name is Lee. He’s a baseball fan, and it was quite a stir when his namesake came through the ranks to become a star.

Richard Chester
Guest

It looks like Chambers is the only Cliff to pitch a no-hitter (5-6-51) and Johnson is the only one to hit 3 HR in a game (6-30-77).

And of course Cliff Mapes was the last Yankee to wear uniform #3 and the last to wear #7 until Mickey Mantle.

John Autin
Editor
I hope you won’t mind my plunge off the Cliff…. I’d forgotten that the current SS Pennington was named Cliff — somehow he was “Chad” in my mind. (Must be the NYJ QB maelstrom has me addled.) Anyway, there was another Pennington in the majors for a moment almost a century ago. Check it out: Kewpie Pennington! http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/p/pennike01.shtml Pitched one inning for the 1917 Browns: http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SLA/SLA191704140.shtml … closing out a game they lost, 11-0, as Chicago’s Eddie Cicotte fashioned a no-hitter on the year’s first Saturday. Kewpie — real name George, presumably dubbed for his 5′ 8″ stature — allowed… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
5’8″ was hardly short enough in 1917 to warrant a nickname ___________ The average height of more than 1 million United States soldiers in 1917 1918 was 67.5 inches. This low overall average probably was due to the larger number of “new” Americans immigrants or first-generation Americans. The shortest men came from the New England and Middle Atlantic States, where many of the newest immigrants had settled. Average heights of the men in those States were 66.4 to 67.3 inches. Men from the mountain sections of North Carolina averaged 68.7 inches and from the Ozark region, 68.6 inches. Nearly all… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

More likely he got the nickname because he had a cherubic look about him.
(The grainy b-r photo vaguely suggests that)

The Kewpie doll was first seen as a Rose O’Neill comic strip in 1909.
It was very popular through the teens.

Here’s a pic:

http://www.coveringquilthistory.com/kewpies-and-rosie-oneill.php

John Autin
Editor

It’s too bad this guy never made the big leagues:
http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=fiscel001mar

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

That is perfect. Particularly as a Marlin, since they throw themselves off a couple times a decade.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Though, it would be nice if our politicians would just be frank

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=fiscal001fra

MikeD
Guest

Didn’t see this until after I posted below. Even better!

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I’d bet that the guy named after his former Marine father, who grew to be 6’5″, 220, never got beat up in 4th grade.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Cliff Melton won 20 games at AA in 1936, and………. 20 games as a rookie in 1937 (with 7 saves).

For some reason he was done in the Bigs after 1944.
No record of him in 1945.
But then he took his big arm and Mickey ears to the PCL.

From 1946-1948 he won 50 games for the Lefty O’Doul manageD Seals.

Hartvig
Guest
While my familiarity with the ten Cliff’s in question vary from “not at all” (Curtis,Carroll) to “very” (Lee,Floyd) they do all share one thing in common that another Cliff would appreciate and that is: “Who are ten people who have never been in my kitchen.” It does appear that the aforementioned Cliff Curtis must rank as one of the more unlucky players of all time- in spite of a career ERA+ of 100 and at least moderately respectable peripherals for his era he only managed a record of 28 and 61 which is significantly worse than most of the teams… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Other Cliffords known by other names. With career WAR.

Fred Clarke (64.2), Gavvy Cravath (31), Earl Torgeson (29.9), Connie Johnson (8.1), Bill Bevens (5.6), Johnny Watwood (2.9), Pat Crawford (1.1), Ray Phelps (0.9), Jo-Jo White (0.4), Nolen Richardson (-0.5)

Hartvig
Guest

Got my Jo-Jo’s temporarily confused when I read your post Doug because I was certain that the Jo-Jo I was thinking of had to have Moore of a WAR than 0.4 and it turned out that I was White.. I mean right about that of which I was wrong about.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I wonder whether some of us began the evening’s celebration early – the leap from the cliff to the kewpie (itself an auld acquaintance I’d long forgot) is a pretty staggering one, but I’ve learned never to expect the ordinary from JA or Voomo. No matter – it seems we’re all going over the cliff together, regardless. Happy New Year on the way down . . . !

MikeD
Guest

Anxiously awaiting a post on ballplayers named or known as Fiscal.

I suppose there’s always this. I’d take it if his first name was Cliff.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=fiscal001fra

John Autin
Editor

If not for that cornfield, Fisk might have DUI’d his car off a cliff.

Mike L
Guest

Birtelcom, the link between baseball and politics cannot be denied.

http://syncopatedpolitics.blogspot.com/2012/12/on-new-years-eve-mitchie-at-bat.html

bstar
Guest

HAPPY NEW YEAR to all in the extended HHS community, including all the lurkers out there who read but rarely comment.

Steven
Guest

Norm Lurker? The Dodger from the late fifties/early sixties?

PP
Guest

I’d be happy to pay 39.6% taxes on Fiscal Cliff Lee’s contract.

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