What's In A Name? You Would Be Amazed!
So many Jim Henrys
I was curious, a few minutes ago, to see what would come up if I typed my name into google.com. I half-expected to see some of my own work showing up in the search results, since I have posted material far and wide online.
Instead, what I found was much more interesting. I've always known that the name Jim Henry was hardly unique. I was named after my father's cousin, James Francis Miner, but years after making that choice, my father commented that he had a recollection that there was also a James Francis Henry in his group of relatives. I thought that was cool enough that for a while I played around with the notion of making myself James F. Henry II, but it just didn't fit, so I abandoned the thought.
When I was in graduate school, at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, from 1990 to 1992, there were a few Jim Henrys floating around the University and in the city of Carbondale. Just by looking in the campus phone directory, I found there was an undergraduate student named James Henry, myself in the graduate program, and a Professor named James Henry, I also met a guy at a gas station near the University who changed my oil one time, and his name, too, was James Henry.
Then there was a guy in Western Massachusetts named Jim Henry. He was a musician, and it is his name that comes up most frequently on google when I type in my name. I had to do an interview with Jim Henry the musician because so many people confused us. I have little to no musical ability, but I did write a music collumn for The Recorder newspaper in Greenfield, Mass. for a while, and had run a publication named NIGHTLIFE Arts & Entertainment Guide out of my basement for a year. So when people heard Jim Henry's music on WRSI in Greenfield, they just assumed that he and I must be the same person.
So one day I took the bold step to introduce myself to the more talented Jim Henry, and proposed an interview. He liked the idea, and we met at a small restaurant in downtown Amherst. He was a genuinely nice guy, and if I had to be confused with someone, I'm glad it was him.
Then there was the time when I started work for the Athol Daily News in Athol, Massachusetts. When I interviewed for a reporter's job there, I had only met the editor and the publisher. Apparently the editor announced to the staff one day that Jim Henry was coming to work for the paper. So I showed up for work on my first day, and the editor - Barney Cummings - introduced me to the whole newsroom. Every man and woman in the room (except Barney and me) replied, "That's not Jim Henry!"
Apparently there was a Jim Henry who lived in Orange, the next town over, and apparently he was pretty well known among the staffers at the Athol Daily News.
There was a time when being named James F. Henry was not a good thing. I had just started working for an online university when I received an email from human resources, informing me that I was being fired. The reason given was that I had lied on my employment application, when asked if I had ever been convicted of a crime. It seems that after I had started teaching, the University had a private firm do a background check on me, and they found that someone who lived in Carbondale, Ill. at the same time as me had been found guilty of assault and battery. He had a birthday that was close to mine, but was not the right date, and he was actually three years older than me. I was even able to find out his social security number, and it was close to mine!
It took me a week of working the phones, but I finally got someone in the Jackson County Government to write a letter certifying that the James Henry who had been arrested and convicted was not me, and ultimately I was allowed to continue to teach for this University. The whole experience left me with such a sour taste in my mouth that I decided to look elsewhere for work, after having to fight to prove my own innocense.
Other Jim Henrys
There were some really interesting Jim Henrys who came up on google as well. One of them is a Baptist Minister in Orlando, Fla. I'm not a Baptist, but I would love to live in or around Orlando some day, since I firmly believe it's never too late to have a happy childhood. This, of course, means that I must hate this Minister Henry. Oh and it also helps that I'm not a Baptist.
The most incredible Jim Henry I found was a baseball player, and they had his career stats online. It seems that this man's name was also James Francis Henry, as is mine, but amazingly, he started his major league career with my beloved Boston Red Sox.
He began his major league career with the Sox in 1936, and had his best season that year. He was pitcher, and had a 5-1 record, with an ERA of 4.60, and appeared in 21 games, eight as a starter. He finished two of those games.
The following year he only got into three games for the Sox. He started two of them, and one of them was a complete game, his only victory of the year (against no losses though).
In 1938, he was out of baseball, but he made a comeback of sorts with Philadelphia in the NL in 1939. He got into nine games, starting one, and ended his major league career with an 0-1 record that year. He ended his major league career with a record of 6-2 and an ERA of 4.79 (stats taken from http://www.baseball-reference.com/h/henryji01.shtml ). Hardly numbers that would persuade the veterans' committee to put him in Cooperstown, but still respectable enough.
There are doubtless many thousands of other Jim Henrys out there, and if you happen to stumble upon this hub and would like to share your story, drop me a line by email or you can post a note below. I'd love to hear from you!