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If You Skip the Pirates-Nationals Game Tonight, It’s Your Ross

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Tonight, one of those strange historical footnotes occurs at Nationals Stadium. To call it a footnote, however, kind of embarrasses other footnotes. After placing Scott Olsen on the DL for a case of shoulder tendinitis (which makes the punching fist weak), the Nats have recalled Missouri State Bear Ross Detwiler to the majors* to make his debut start. He pitched one inning in 2007.

His counterpart in the cutoff jersey (do the Bucs still wear those? I hope so.) is the impressive Ross Ohlendorf. According to Baseball Reference, this is the first time two men named Ross have pitched against each other in a major league game*.

I know Ross may not be that popular of a name, but in the more than 100 years of the game, you'd think at least two Rosses could meet. According to this data provided by the Social Security office, Ross had a steady popularity through the twentieth century until the late 1970s when it inexplicably shot up and crashed by the '90s, thanks presumably to the show Friends.

While the meeting of the Rosses has yet to happen, the event nearly occurred in 1980.  All-Star Ross Grimsley and Ross Baumgarten were orbiting each other in pre-Interleague play baseball. The pair's careers overlapped from 1978-1982. Grimsley, who once threw a pitch into the stands at a heckling fan,  pitched well in 1978 for the Montreal Expos (currently the Nationals!!) and was seventh in Cy Young voting. Baumgarten pitched seven games in 1978 and was forth in AL Rookie of the Year in 1979 for the White Sox.  His career ended in 1982 with the Pirates, oddly enough.

In 1980, Grimsley was traded from Montreal to the Cleveland Indians in a mid-season deal. After the deal, the teams met for two series. While the two Rosses never pitched in the same game, they nearly did. On Aug. 30, 1980, Baumgarten pitched 6.1 innings and allowed four runs in a loss against the Tribe. On Aug. 31, 1980, Grimsley pitched 7 innings and allowed six runs in a loss against the Sox. Following this near Clash of the Corossus, both careers neared their end. Grimsley apparently didn't play any major league games in 1981 and later played a bit for the Orioles before walking into the cornfield. Baumgarten had one more year with the White Sox and was later traded to the Pirates in a deal that included Professional Wrestler Ernie Camacho.

So tonight, rather than forgetting that baseball exists in Washington D.C., keep an eye on the pitching match up. You never know when the stars this huge will align again.

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About Brian Kist