There’s an old joke that asks why so many Polish names end in ski. And the answer is because they’re too dumb to know how to spell toboggan.
If you followed baseball in the 70s (or earlier) there were no shortages of players with last names ending with ski. There was Carl Yastrzemski and Greg Luzinski and Bill Mazeroski. And Ron Perranoski and Ted Kluszewski and Ray Narleski. To say nothing of Stan Coveleski or Dick Tracewski or Rip Repulski.
But according to Baseball-Reference.com there have been 1,034 players to appear in the majors so far this season and only three of those have surnames ending in ski. Chances are you know that A.J. Pierzynski is one of them. But any guesses on the other two?
While you’re pondering that one, let me bring this to the Mets. I utilized the wonderful Ultimate Mets Database and scanned all of the names and only found one player in team history with the ski ending. He played 21 games for the club over parts of two seasons and anyone under 40 is forgiven for not knowing who this is. And the greybeards can be forgiven for forgetting this guy.
This whole thing started due to Mets minor league pitcher Darin Gorski, who ran his record to 10-0 Monday night with a win over Clearwater. It was not a particularly impressive win for Gorski, who allowed 3 ER in 5 IP. But no matter what league you’re in, a 10-0 record with a 2.03 ERA is an impressive achievement.
Of course readers here were introduced to Gorski back in early June. The Kutztown University product started the year in the bullpen but worked his way into the rotation where his fastball-slider-change repertoire could get more of a workout. And the results speak for themselves. In 81.2 IP as a starter, Gorski has a 1.87 ERA with 21 BB and 85 Ks.
All enthusiasm should be tempered by the fact that Gorski is 23-years old and pitching in the Florida State League. But a promotion to Double-A should be in his near future. And we should recall that Gorski was not even considered to be one of the Mets’ best prospects according to prospect maven John Sickels before the year started. Sickels wrote up bios on 39 players in his prospect book and Gorski was not one of them.
If Gorski eventually joins the Mets, he’ll join the immortal Phil Mankowski as the only players in team history with the ski ending. As for the other two players in the majors in 2011 with that suffix, they are Mike Zagurski, who has pitched in four games with the Phillies, and Marc Rzepczynski, who has been in the bullpen all year for the Blue Jays.
Interestingly, both Zagurski and Rzepczynski are lefthanded pitchers with big minor league strikeout numbers, like Gorski. Ever since Moneyball came out, teams have been looking for the next market inefficiency. Perhaps teams should start looking for lefty pitchers whose surnames have the ski ending.