Bobson Dugnutt was a fictional baseball player in the 1994 console game Fighting Baseball, the Japanese version of MLBPA baseball published by EA. He was a bench player for the Milwaukee franchise, a backup outfielder and pinch hitter.
Lack of a license to use the real names of baseball players led to the game designers using some creativity to come up with believable-sounding names, with uneven results. Bobson Dugnutt was the most absurd name in the meme inspired by the game.
The Bobson Dugnutt meme
Unintentionally humorous Japanese attempts at English in retro games are no stranger to memes. “All your base are belong to us” from the 1992 game Zero Wing was a popular early meme of the late 1990s. Bobson Dugnutt took longer to surface, finally breaking through on the meme scene around 2007. Its biggest viral days are probably behind it, but it still makes the rounds a couple of times a year.
You can find Bobson Dugnutt graphics floating around, and you can get a Bobson Dugnutt t-shirt too.
The game is real, and it plays very much like any other 90s console baseball game. The Super Famicom version works perfectly in modern SNES emulators.
Sports games tend to have a short shelf life, because there’s usually not a ton of difference between them. But whoever fired this one up in 2007 found something unexpected.
The origin of the name
The list of players in Fighting Baseball was largely based on US baseball players, but for whatever reason the designer also borrowed heavily from the NHL. I guess in a game called Fighting Baseball, having some hockey players on hand is a good idea. But from a practical standpoint, I think they did it to reduce the number of Hispanic names they had to deal with. The method they came up with worked best with people with Anglican first names.
The game consisted of 28 teams with rosters of 26 players each. Lacking a license to use real names like RBI Baseball, the designer had the unenviable task of coming up with 728 fictional names. That job would have been a lot easier if they could have gotten their hands on a US phone book. To make an alias for John Kruk, just flip to K, look for a name that sounds reasonable that may or may not have a first name starting with J, then move on to the next player.
They came up with a formula, but it gave uneven results.
Bobson Dugnutt’s name came from Ron Tugnutt, a goalie for the Boston Bruins. To make most of the player names, the designer changed the first name completely, then changed one or two letters of the last name. John Kruk became Mike Truk. “Truk” isn’t a name but every six-year-old boy sure wishes it was. Dugnutt came from changing the first letter of Tugnutt. It looks suspiciously like the English word Doughnut. It also sounds like it could be something we make ointment for. As for Bobson… It seems to be a Japanese brand name and I guess it does sound like it could be a sophisticated take on the name Bob. But of course, we only use the -son suffix for last names, a la Robertson.
And that shows what a near-miss Bobson Dugnutt was. Doughnut Robertson sounds like a good name for a backup outfielder to me.
Although our man Bobson gets the glory, most teams had at least one similarly hilarious name. Montreal had Ronnis Pawgood. Toronto had Jonasan Fidd and Secil Tisio. One of the Chicago teams had a pitcher named Wally Balk. Don’t let him pitch late innings with runners on base. And check out the name of Bobson’s teammate. Ladies and Gentlemen! Batting eighth, the first baseman, Randy Chaw!
That has to be the most unintentionally great baseball name ever.
And some names worked out just fine. Kelly Jack. Grant Falk. Cliff Revis.
You won’t find any of them among the list of 90s baseball legends. But if you’re in the mood for some 16-bit baseball, and want a little extra entertainment value in the form of unintentional humor, grab the Fighting Baseball ROM and fire it up in an emulator. Finding a copy on Ebay won’t be easy but you can at least say you tried.