Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Duff by any other name

Having a unique, mono-syllabic name like "Duff" is quite the interesting experience, to say the least. Growing up, I've certainly heard all the jokes and plays on words of my name that can ever possibly exist.
According to the dictionary, duff, as a noun, is "A flour pudding boiled or steamed in a cloth bag," and "decaying leaves and branches covering a forest floor." As an adjective, duff is "of poor quality," or "incorrect or false." As a verb, it means "beat someone up," or "a mishit, as in a shot." And then there's the phrase, "duffer" which is often used to describe certain golfers and/or old people.

And, believe me, I'm not about to go into some of the other definitions that duff entails (pun intended).
In junior high school, I remember coming across a book in our school library, entitled "Duff, the Story of a Bear," published in 1950 by William Marshall Rush. There recently was a movie out at the cinemas, entitled "Duff," and of course, there's always Duff Beer, Homer Simpson's favorite beverage of choice.
While there's a few folk with Duff as their last name - American writer James Duff, actor Howard Duff, actresses Hilary Duff and Haylie Duff, while Canadian hockey player Dick Duff also comes to mind - you don't come across too many with the first name of Duff.
There's Duff McKagan of Guns 'N Roses fame, and the Food network's Duff Goldman, but Duff is actually just their nicknames.
And then there was once a baseball player named Duff Brumley.
When I first came across Mr. Brumley, he was a pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system. I remember the surprise of finding someone else with the first name of Duff, and them being a baseball player, to boot. Heck, I actually wrote him a letter about having been blessed with such a unique name. Of course, I never heard back from him.
Duff was drafted by St. Louis in 1990 (24th round) and spent his entire Cardinal career within the Redbirds minor league system. On July 30, 1993, he was traded to the Texas Rangers (as the infamous player to be named later) for P Todd Burns. The Cards would release Burns that September.
At the age of 23, Duff appeared in his first of only two MLB games for the Rangers, debuting June 1 against the Brewers, while pitching his last game June 6 against the Yankees. After facing 22 batters in 3.1 innings, he compiled a 16.20 ERA, with six hits, six earned runs, one HR, five BBs, and four Ks. He finished out his baseball career over the next two years, playing in Texas', Cincinnati's, Seattle's, and Philadelphia's minor league systems.
After retiring from baseball, he served as a police officer with the City of Cleveland, Tenn., from 1997 until 2010, at which point he was fired. He then lost an appeal against the City of Cleveland, Tenn., "seeking review of the City Manager's ruling affirming the City's decision to terminate his employment."
He is now a Freight Coordinator at Riverside Transport in Charleston, Tenn.
And now for the rest of my Duff story...For those curious minds who remain interested in how I got my name.
Shortly after I was born, my grandfather looked in on me in my crib as I wailed, screamed and flailed away.
"My, he's quite the duffer, isn't he," was his comment upon laying eyes upon his first grandchild.
So they shortened it to Duff and gave me his middle name (Ellis). Actually, I think there's an island out there on the east coast named after us. 

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