Sonny Gray could help A’s to a sunnier future soon

In for Joe Stiglich tonight …

I’ve been spending the last few hours trying to think of some famous Sonnys. Tough. Sonny Bono. Sonny Barger. Sonny Boy Williamson. A lot of great saxophonists, for some reason: Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Sonny Criss. One of the Godfather’s bullet-riddled offspring, of course, Sonny Corleone.

In sport, we’ve had a heavyweight champ named Sonny, Sonny Liston. A Hall of Fame quarterback, too, Sonny Jurgensen, and here’s one A’s PR man Bob Rose pulled out of his deep recesses — former Washington QB Sonny Sixkiller, one of the great names in the history of sports. Longtime Warriors fans will also remember swift swingman Sonny Parker.

But it’s a rare name in baseball. In fact, the last two major leaguers of note who went by Sonny are from the 1960s: former Atlanta shortstop Sonny Jackson and one-time Cleveland pitcher Sonny Siebert. Siebert retired in 1975, and at least in my Baseball Reference search, nobody since.

Enter Sonny Gray, the A’s top draft pick, who could end the drought sooner than later. The 18th overall selection, the right-handed pitcher not only signed Monday, Oakland immediately put him on  the fast track. He’ll head to the Rookie League in Arizona Tuesday, but he’ll only be there for a week or two to get his arm ready. Then he’ll make a big leap to Double-A Midland.

Gray, 21, was 12-3 with a 2.12 ERA and .200 opponents batting average in 18 games, all starts, for Vanderbilt University this year, including two appearances in the 2011 College World Series.  In 119.0 innings, the junior struck out 124 and walked 46 while allowing just four home runs.

Gray said there was never any doubt he was going to sign with Oakland.

“One of the reasons I signed so soon is I’m going to go to Midland probably around Aug. 5-6 and stay there for the rest of the season,” he said. “I thought it was a great opportunity. (The A’s) came up with the proposal to go to Midland and we jumped on it. Going to Double-A is exciting. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s something I’m looking forward to.
Gray arrived in the East Bay Sunday, took a physical Monday morning and signed Monday afternoon. He suited up at O.co Coliseum before Monday night’s game against Tampa Bay and worked out on the field with the major-league team. He’s had to deal with ribbing throughout his baseball career about his name — he’s aware it’s an oxymoron — but he’s used to it.
In college, going around from town to town, I kind of got yelled at a lot for that,” he said. :Some of the Oakland guys were even asking me, `What’s your real name?’

Carl Steward

  • Stan

    Sonny Sixkiller-a great native American QB. I always thought Rams QB Roman Gabriel was too.he was in movies,but in reality he was Filipino. A Pinoy.
    Hey,did you know Ted Williams mother was Mexican? his grandmother couldnt speak English. Ted from San Diego said he coulld never talk about “the Mexicans” as he would say with affection because of the attitudes and racism then. The Red Sox GM,also encouraged him to never mention his family.
    btw,that Wiki trys to blur his Mexican roots by claiming his mother had “diverse roots” and as they intimate and not a real Mexican is B.S. I can trace mine through Mexico to Scotland..and nobody thinks I’m Scotish I can tell you that!

  • Stan

    Nice win for the A’s..sort of the pattern of the last couple years ..and lets see if Beane like last year does nothing to add hitting as the A’s make a move.