When Felix Escalona stroked a single to give the Yankees a 5--4 win over the Blue Jays last week, many fans were asking themselves, "Who is that guy?" Good question. Escalona is so anonymous that when he was called up by the Yankees earlier in the month, the team spelled his name ESCOLONA on the nameplate over his locker. It was hardly the first time a team was alphabetically challenged.
Feb. 14, 2004 Despite a spectacular reverse jam, Denver's Chris Andersen (left) failed to advance past the first round of the slam dunk contest while wearing a jersey reading ANDERSON. "A bad day all around," he said.
Sept. 16, 2003 Houston's Richard Hidalgo found his name spelled HILDAGO above his locker at Coors Field. He hit three homers. The Rockies didn't learn: When the Astros arrived for their first series in 2004, Hidalgo was misspelled again. He went 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
Aug. 16, 2003 Adam Riggs (below) suited up for the ANGEES. Said manager Mike Scioscia, "We've had some kindergartners chip in and do some sewing for us."
April 12, 2003 The official lineup card the Columbus Crew submitted for its home opener misspelled both of veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch's names (JOHN BUSH). "You'd think after three years they'd get it right," said Busch, who shut out the MetroStars.
Sept. 22, 2002 The Angels misspelled the name of Frankie Rodriguez (as RODRIGUES) on his nameplate. He didn't allow the team to change it and went on to win five games in the postseason.
June 4, 2002 Costa Rica's Mauricio Wright scored a goal against China at the World Cup in Japan wearing a jersey emblazoned with WRIGTH. "Maybe they spell it differently here," he said.
Nov. 18, 2001 Western Illinois played its home hoops opener in jerseys reading WESTERN ILLINIOS. Not even the English department noticed--the Leathernecks played five more games with the typo.
May 26, 2000 "I wasn't myself tonight," proclaimed Portland Fire guard Vanessa Nygaard. Who was she? According to her jersey, NYGARD. Feeling out of character, the heady player had four fouls in nine minutes.
Dec. 26, 1999 The Bulls tied an NBA record for fewest assists in a game, with three. One possible reason? They didn't recognize one of their teammates, Dickey Simpkins, whose jersey read SMIPKINS. "I thought I was from overseas, a foreign player," he says.
Oct. 30, 1997 The NHL's alltime leading scorer, Wayne Gretzky (top), skated for the Rangers in a jersey with GRETKZY on the back. The Rangers lost 5-3, and the Grate One, er, Great One, had one assist.
Oct. 2, 1997 "How can you misspell Smith?" wondered the Heat's Charles Smith after the team did just that, giving him a jersey reading SMIHT for picture day. It didn't augur well for the rookie; he scored just 10 points in 11 games all year.