By Carl Steward
Monday, July 25th, 2011 at 7:08 pm in 2011 regular season.
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.