File this under you learn something new every day. Until 2004 there was never a major league baseball player with the first name Ian. Ian Snell debuted for the Pirates that season and Ian Kinsler, the Texas second baseman, became the first position Ian last year.
That's pretty surprising. Ian has been one of the 100 most popular names in the United States every year since 1982 in the top 200 since 1972. For the sake of comparison, there have been 20 Vernons in the show and that name hasn't cracked the top 100 since 1937. Six Rex's draw pensions and that name's never ranked in the top 100 and only in the top 200 for two strange stretches, 1933-35 and 1950-56. If you're looking for a depository of useless information the Social Security Administration baby name website is full of it. Wilbur was actually a fairly popular name once but peaked in the teens of the last century. Still there have been six of them as well. Hell, two guys named Ryne preceeded Snell and Kinsler and that name only started appearing on the list when Sandberg won the 1984 MVP Award.
So why hasn't Ian prospered as a big league name? It's hard to say. It could be that kids with the name have to spend a lot of time telling people if it's pronounced Eye-an or E-an and that doesn't leave them sufficient hours for the baseball diamond. It could be worse though. There's never been a major league player named Dylan, Mason or Aidan and all those names are more popular right now than Ian. Perhaps the recent surge in popularity of the name will make Ian the 2010's answer to Irv in the 1910's. That would make Snell and Kinsler true trailblazers. Other leaders:
Tyler Green was the first Tyler in 1993 but has been followed by six others.
Ryan Kurosaki pitched seven games for the Cardinals in 1975 and since then 26 others with that name have had their bags carried to a hotel room. Two Ryan Brauns just this season, even.
Gavin Floyd is the only Gavin to ever make it to the Show and his former teammate Cole Hamels is the only man with that name in the Baseball Encyclopedia.
Evan Longoria, a prospect for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, is the odds-on favorite to inaugurate that name although Tracy Stallard, who served up Roger Maris' 61st homer, was an Evan who went by his middle name.
Snell and Kinsler have each shown signs of being good ballplayers and they do their name proud. It will be quite an effort for them to usurp the clubhouse leader of men named Ian, though. If they keep doing the name proud it's certain that Mr. Ziering will give them all the appropriate acclaim.