04/10/09 5:04 PM ET
Dusty Napoleon wins Moniker Madness
A's first-base prospect captures 80 percent of vote
By Benjamin Hill / Special to MLB.com
In the final round of the just-concluded Minors Moniker Madness contest, Napoleon, a 22-year-old A's prospect, defeated Padres farmhand Beamer Weams by a wide margin. As the proud recipient of the 2009 Wonderful Terrific Monds III Award, Napoleon is able to officially claim that he has the best name in all of Minor League Baseball.
The victory marked a vindication of sorts for Napoleon, who was defeated in last year's finals by San Diego pitching prospect Will Startup (who, in turn, had been defeated by Houston Summers in the inaugural Minors Moniker Madness competition).
This time around, Napoleon's considerable fan base made sure that their man emerged triumphant. The native of Park Ridge, Ill. coasted to victory by capturing 80 percent of the vote in his battle against Weems. Sixty-three percent of the votes in the final round were cast by individuals whose zip code started with a six -- Illinois residents, in other words. Of these Illinois-based votes, a staggering 98% went to Dusty.
"People were really getting into [the contest], especially after I lost last year," said Napoleon during a congratulatory phone call. "I know my brother was sending out a lot of e-mails. And I went to a big high school, so a lot of people there jumped on board and were passing it along."
Still, all this support wouldn't have mattered if Dusty hadn't been blessed with such a great name to begin with.
"When I introduce myself, people seem to think it's very unique. I have to give credit to my parents for that," he said. "My real name is Michael Dustin, but my Dad is a baseball coach and he thought I'd play baseball, so he started calling me 'Dusty.' I guess he thought it had a nice ring to it."
Of, course, the first name is only half the equation. "Napoleon" immediately brings to mind a diminutive French conqueror, but he and Dusty are not part of the same family tree.
"I'm Italian, and the name used to be 'Napoleone' with an e on the end of it," said Napoleon. "But when my great grand-parents moved here it just became 'Napoleon.'"
And while Dusty has heard his share of references to Napoleon Bonaparte, he says that a far more common reference these days is the 2004 comedy 'Napoleon Dynamite.'
"When I was on the road, especially in college, and came up to bat people would be in the stands quoting lines from the movie," he recalled. "It was pretty funny."
Napoleon is currently a member of the Midwest League's Kane County Cougars, who have more than their share of interestingly-named players. Fellow Minors Moniker Madness contestant Dante Love was promoted to Stockton just before Opening Day and replaced on the roster by the equally-amusing Petey Paramore.
"I'm friends with both of those guys," remarked Napoleon. "Petey was upset that he wasn't in the contest. He thinks that he could have taken me down."
Napoleon isn't even the only "Dusty" on the Cougars, thanks to the presence of shortstop Dusty Coleman.
"It's funny, his name is 'Dustin Michael' and I'm Michael Dustin'. He always says that he's the real Dusty, but we usually end up going by 'Dusty One' and 'Dusty Two.'"
As for which Dusty gets which name ... well, that varies.
"It pretty much depends on who's playing well at the time," said Napoleon.
Benjamin Hill is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.