Thursday, August 26, 2004

What’s in a name
U.S. teams in Williamsport have kids with cool and unusual first names

By Mark Rogoff

We’ve got a Keiran, a Dykota and a Kelby. A Bryson, a Lars, a Dalton, an Eli and a Hunter.

Not enough?

How ‘bout a Brady, a Brody, a Wil, a J.T., a Davonta, a Hayden, a Cole and a Lane?

Still not enough? Fine.

Do I even have a Chance at this with you?

Wipe away the sand in your eyes and put the contacts in if you must, but these are the names of some Little League youngsters who we find ourselves growing attached to at the 58th Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

These are the names you at home are finding yourselves latching on to while viewing the Series through the magnificent and magical lens that is ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC.

Aren’t these kids just so adorable?

Let’s begin the name-game discussion with Hayden Cronenbold of the West champs from Thousand Oaks, California.

His parents Laurie and Jose stayed away from the traditional baby naming book. They instead used a phone book. Yes, a phone book. Go ahead again, wipe away the sand in your eyes and put the contacts in if you must.

Laurie says the phone book is the reason why Hayden and his brothers Tanner (14) and Brison (9) all have last names as their first names. Laurie also says the boys took exception to their names when they were really young, but have since grown to love them.

And no, Hayden wasn’t named after Coach Hayden Fox from the old sitcom “Coach.”

Let’s move on to Keiran Beaton of the Northwest champs from Redland, Washington.

Keiran is a Celtic name that fits his family’s Scotch-Irish background. His parents Laura and Mitch named him after Mitch’s co-worker Keiran Maloney.

“When he was born, we wanted to make sure of the spelling, so I sent my brother Colin to get (Maloney’s) business card because we had heard that that was the way to spell it for a girl,” Laura said. “We checked the business card, and it was right, so we assumed it was right.”


Laura and Mitch later found out from Keiran Maloney that his parents messed up when they named him, giving him the girl’s spelling of Keiran (as opposed to Kieran for a boy).

The secret is out.

Now it’s time to check in on Chance Murski from the Southwest champs of Richmond, Texas.

His father Bobby, who is a coach on the all-star club, sure wanted to get a sneak peek of him during an ultrasound at the hospital.

“He flew across me (on the bed to see the screen) and almost squished him,” said Chance’s mother Tara, who was carrying Chance in her belly. “He shouted, ‘Let me see my boy!’”

Tara originally was going to name him Luke, but Bobby liked Chance more and more as the pregnancy went on, and Tara agreed to it.

“It fits him perfectly because he’s a wild card,” Tara said.

At this point in the story, you must be asking yourself, “Was Chance named after John Wayne’s character Chance Buckman in the 1968 thriller Hellfighters?”

Why, yes, he was. You’re exactly right, according to Tara.

Some useless information: the character of Chance Buckman is based on real-life oil well firefighter Red Adair.

Let’s now head back to Redmond to talk a little bit about Kelby McCorkle.

Kelby’s mother Katy is a school teacher, you see. She’s definitely seen all the names in the book, presumably the baby naming book.

Katy says she just wanted something different when picking out a name for her son.

“First it was Kilby, but that was overkill,” she said. “Kelby just sounds cool. I wanted a name that I could never associate with another kid.”

She did make it tough, however, on Kelby’s little brother, who has a tough time pronouncing Kelby. So, he calls him Belby.

Movin’ on to Owensboro, Kentucky’s 11-year-old All-Star Bryson Morrow.

His mother Jeanine said she changed the name upwards of 50 times during her pregnancy before settling on Bryson. He most certainly could have been Jeremiah Morrow or Nathaniel Morrow, or even Jordan Morrow if he had been a girl.

“I think my family wouldn’t let me do one of the names,” Jeanine said. “I think it was Xavier.”

Davonta DeShields of the Mid-Atlantic champs from Preston, Maryland got his name from the music industry.

And for the record, his father is not former major league infielder Delino DeShields.

Davonta’s father is Dontra, and he named his son after a singer from the R&B group Jodeci, which no longer exists. Dontra says Davonta was pretty close to being named Jordan…after none other than Michael Jordan, of course. Dontra is a huge fan of His Airness, sporting a tattoo of a leaping Jordan on his right forearm.

Let’s close out it out with Franklin Bennett from the same Preston, Maryland squad.

Yes, that’s Franklin Bennett.

Are you fooled? If so, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be mean.

It’s Hunter Bennett. Franklin Hunter Bennett to be exact.

In fact, don’t even think about calling him Franklin, or Frankie or Frank. He is not a fan to say the least.

Hunter’s story really is simple, so you can walk away from this ballad not feeling so short of breath.

His parents Amy and Ray named him after his grandfather Frank because he was born the same day gramps turned 90.

How cool is that?

© 2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated