2006-07-05 / Sports

What's in a name?

MATT KRUEGER Sports Reporter

as soon as you find someone from that club, the jokes fly.

Let me introduce you to Mike Weber. No, I'm not talking about the left-handed defenseman the Buffalo Sabres drafted two weeks ago. I mean the electrical engineer from Great Valley. Weber, a former Orchard Park and Cheektowaga resident, is one of those special people who shares a name with a professional athlete. I realize that doesn't exactly make him unique. We all know someone like Mike. Heck, in this country, there's no shortage of people who sport a famous moniker. It could be an athlete, actor or politician. But Let me introduce you to Mike Weber. No, I'm not talking about the left-handed defenseman the Buffalo Sabres drafted two weeks ago. I mean the electrical engineer from Great Valley. Weber, a former Orchard Park and Cheektowaga resident, is one of those special people who shares a name with a professional athlete. I realize that doesn't exactly make him unique. We all know someone like Mike. Heck, in this country, there's no shortage of people who sport a famous moniker. It could be an athlete, actor or politician. But My brother and I used to dole out reports to our father about how he was doing in the major leagues. You see, Bill Krueger was a pitcher with the Oakland A's at the time. "Hey Dad, you gave up six runs last night and got pulled in the third inning. Way to go! Next time, try throwing a change-up."

It may be a while before Mike Weber joins the Sabres - he'll spend some time in Rochester before getting called up - but you can bet his namesake will be waiting for it.

"I think it's great," the non-hockey playing Mike Weber said. "I get to root for my favorite NHL hockey team and myself. It would also be cool to hear Rick Jeanneret yell 'Mike Weber shoots, HE SCORES!'"

But it gets even better in the Weber family. Mike's father is also Mike Weber. Imagine the two of them sitting down to watch a game and hearing their own name called out every time the Pittsburgh native touches the puck for the Sabres. "Mike Weber, I see that Mike Weber has the puck, so why don't you pass the popcorn over to this Mike Weber."

It's not hard to find someone like Mike Weber, or his father, Mike Weber. Take a gander at the phone book and you can find people from all over Western New York sharing a name with a Buffalo Sabre or Buffalo Bill.

There's a Tim Connolly in Buffalo, a Brian Campbell in Cheektowaga and Ryan Miller just graduated from Williamsville South High School. There's even a Jiri Novotny listed in Williamsville. Do you think any of them don't have a jersey?

With the Bills, it gets even better. There are two Josh Reeds, three Joe Burnses, five Jim Leonards and 15 Rob Lees. There are also five Jonathan Smiths and 30 John Smiths. How many of them have adopted the nickname "Fast Freddy" thanks to the speedy receiver? Maybe the eight Fred Smiths in Western New York also use the "Speedy" nickname.

Oh, and don't forget about the Tim Anderson in East Amherst and the Kevin Everett in Williamsville. Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. may not have a double out there, but Tonawanda's Ralph H. Wilson comes close.

Naturally, finding a namesake for the Sabres is a little trickier. Not too many parents name their kids Maxim Afinigenov in this country. In fact, there is no listing of any Afinigenov in Western New York. There are also no Birons, Brieres, Gaustads, Jillsons, Kalinins, Kotaliks, Lydmans, Numminens, Paetsches, Pominvilles, Pyatts, Tallinders or Vaneks.

See if you can find one.

e-mail: mkrueger@beenews.com

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