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Giger: From Gift to Stolmy, Curve roster includes several unique names

Commentary

April 12, 2013
By Cory Giger (cgiger@altoonamirror.com) , The Altoona Mirror

Minor league baseball players are always trying to make a name for themselves, and fans quickly will come to recognize several members of this year's Curve team who have some of the most unique names you will find.

Gift.

Stolmy.

Adalberto.

Jarek.

Luis Sanz. OK, that one isn't too different, but considering the fact his brother has the exact same name, that makes it highly unusual.

Coming up with an all-name team in Curve history just got a lot easier with this year's club. All of these guys make the cut.

Gift Ngoepe

The South Africa native's first name is Mpho, which in English translates to Gift. Fascinatingly enough, his middle name is actually Gift.

"If you translate it to English, it would be Gift Gift," said Ngoepe, who's already well on his way to becoming the best defensive shortstop the Curve have ever had.

All the interestingly named players on the team have a back story about their name, but Ngoepe's is the most intriguing.

"My mom was pregnant with me in the '90s, and she went to a big church program that we have every September," he said. "She was just walking trying to get to a spot, and some lady, like a prophet lady, came up to her and said, 'Hey, I want you to name this unborn child Mpho.' So that's how I got my name."

To this day, that lady remains a stranger to the Ngoepe family. But she wanted the pregnant mother to know her child was a gift from God.

"My mom still doesn't know who this lady is," Gift said. "I even asked her who she is, and she has no idea where this woman came from or who she is or what her name is, nothing like that."

No South African player has ever made to the major leagues, so Ngoepe someday hopes to give himself, his family and his country that gift.

For now, he's thankful just for making it this far in pro ball.

"I've had a lot of blessings and gifts in my life," he said.

Stolmy Pimentel

Google the word "Stolmy" and the only reference that shows up in any form is the 23-year-old pitcher, sort of like the word doesn't even exist unless it's referring to him.

So where did the name come from for the Dominican Republic native?

"My father told me that it comes from the [politics], like the president, from a long time ago," Pimentel said. "My father said he liked the attitude he had, so he gave me that name. I know it's a weird name."

Whether it's weird is up for debate, but it's definitely unique. He might be the only person in the world with that name.

"Sometimes I say my name, people are like, 'What?'" Pimentel said with a laugh. "They get so confused. But I like it."

Having the first name Stolmy does lead to a good nickname. When he was in the Red Sox organization, people called him "Storm."

Adalberto Santos

It's a common name in Puerto Rico, the 25-year-old third baseman said, and he's proud to have it because it's also his father's name.

"I'm a junior, so it comes from my dad. I'm the only boy [in the family], so I inherited his name."

His first name isn't as unique in baseball circles as Stolmy or Gift or Jarek, but it's still uncommon.

"Some people in baseball you see it," Santos said. "You usually see it with 'A-l' instead of 'A-d-a,' so when you do see it you kind of appreciate it also, you think about where [the player] is from."

Adalberto doesn't roll off the tongue easily, which Santos acknowledged.

"Just one of those names that's catchy, hard to say for some people," he said.

Most people call him Santos, to the point, he noted, where many even think that's his first name. But he loves his real first name.

"It's a good name to have," Santos said. "I bear my father's name, and I'm proud of that."

Jarek Cunningham

It's a Polish name, Cunningham said, and it's actually pronounced "yar-ik."

"My dad's half-Polish and half-Irish, and my mom's 100 percent Irish," the 23-year-old second baseman said.

There are some other people named Jarek who can be found on the Internet, just none in pro baseball. That makes Cunningham unique.

It does, however, make things tough going to a restaurant and having to give his name to wait for a table.

"You kind of just go with Derrick or Jared or whatever they give you," Cunningham said.

His name might have been very different on some teams, but not this year's Curve club.

"In baseball you come across some different things because everyone's from different parts of the world, so it's interesting getting in the clubhouse and seeing what people's names are," Cunningham said.

Luis Sanz

Make that Luis Angel Sanz, not to be confused with his brother, minor league player Luis Alberto Sanz.

Oh, and their father also is named Luis Sanz.

That must have been one confusing household.

Not so, the 25-year-old Curve pitcher from Venezuela said, because he and his brother were always referred to by their middle names.

The two Sanz brothers have even played together on the same teams in the minor leagues in the Tigers organization. Furthermore, Luis Angel Sanz was a pitcher and his battery mate behind the plate was his brother.

"It's fun because my brother, when we play together, every time we go out to a game, he says, 'Hey, trust me, let's work hard.' So it's fun," Sanz said.

The Curve pitcher is 6-foot-1, while his brother the catcher is 5-10.

Surely they get confused for one another because of having the same name?

"No, never, never," Sanz said with a smile.

Parents nowadays are always looking for unique and interesting names to give their kids. As a result, there don't see to be as many children named Jason or Jennifer or Mark or Melissa.

But if parents want a truly interesting name that will distinguish their kids, all they have to do is look at the Curve roster.

 
 
 

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