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Druley: Name game not over yet for Kane County Cougars' Shoulders

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013 5:32 a.m. CDT

Traditionally tame National Public Radio recently let its hair down – relatively speaking – during a segment with Cougars first baseman/designated hitter Rock Shoulders.

Appearing on NPR’s “How To Do Everything” podcast, Shoulders spoke for about four minutes about the novelty of his name, which we chronicled shortly after the season opened in April.

Born Roderick Shoulders on Sept. 26, 1991, Shoulders has gone by his nickname since age 4, when a friend’s mom struggled with pronouncing “Roderick.”

Listeners submitted questions to hosts Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag, who asked them on their behalf. The most poignant of the bunch dealt with whether Shoulders ever was bullied for his name.

“Not really picked on, but I will say some people tried to give me their own nicknames. Calling me ‘Pebble’ and stuff like that, and ‘Boulder’ and all kinds of stuff,” Shoulders said on the podcast. “But I didn’t take it as picked on. I just took it as jealousy. That everybody wanted my name and they just were tying to make fun of me because they wanted to have my name instead of their own name.”

Shoulders, a 25th round pick of the parent Cubs in 2011, won Minor League Baseball’s online “Moniker Madness” fan voting tournament last season. He thrust himself onto the baseball landscape even further early this season, when he was named the Cubs’ organizational player of the month for April after batting .370 with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 22 games.

Cue fans’ quips and imaginations, which produced a series of listener questions about Shoulders’ fortunes in “Rock, Paper, Scissors.”

Would he feel inferior in the face of an opponent named “Paper” given the pecking order?

“Oh, not at all,” Shoulders said. “Because if you throw a rock hard enough at a piece of paper, it rips all the time.”

Furs – and birds – of a feather: Geneva product Pat Schiller and Martel Moore share more than just Northern Illinois ties as they vie for spots on the Atlanta Falcons’ 53-man roster.

Both former Huskies also are undrafted free agents. Schiller, a linebacker, signed in 2012 and eventually landed on the practice squad. Moore, NIU’s leading receiver during its Orange Bowl run last season, joined the Falcons in April, paving the way to a reunion with Schiller.

“I was able to be around Martel for a long time, so I know him pretty well, and am trying to take him under my wing as much as possible here, you know,” Schiller said. “Any way I can to try to help him out and show him the ropes, I guess you could say.”

Schiller has recorded seven tackles during the preseason. The Falcons host Jacksonville in their exhibition finale Thursday night.

In other Schiller news, he recently switched jersey numbers from 50 to 90 when teammate Osi Umenyiora – a former Super Bowl champion defensive end with the New York Giants – requested 50.

Reports from Atlanta indicate Schiller was compensated with dinner. He initially joked the meal was at Golden Corral, but Umenyiora assured the restaurant was more upscale.

Rich reward: Beginning this season, the Northern Illinois women’s golf program will honor one player who best exemplifies the character of the matriarch of its home course.

The Betty Ann Rich Award is named for the late wife of Jerry Rich, the owner and architect of Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove, the home of NIU men’s and women’s golf. The winner will be named at the end of each season.

The Riches both attended NIU and met at the Neptune Hall dormitory.

Rich Harvest Farms will host one of six NCAA Division I men’s regionals in May.

• Kevin Druley is a sportswriter for the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5347 or kdruley@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kevindruley.

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