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And if it's a girl, Benjamina Roethlisberger

November 28, 2007 |  4:24 pm

What’s in a name? Rich material for feature writers. On a Thanksgiving visit to my home town, I enjoyed an article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that put a local spin on that perennial trend story: fads in baby names.

Not surprisingly, in a town in which pro football is the official religion, the most cringe-making name in the story derived from our storied NFL team:  a boy named Steeler Gerard Petrocky. The grandson of a season ticket holder, little Steeler was born Nov. 19, 2006, “nine months after the Steelers won a fifth Super Bowl.” Maybe he’ll get to share a tailgate party (or an analyst) with Tré Rivers Kemerer, whose name is a Romance language play on the Steelers’ former home field, Three Rivers Stadium. And we laughed when George on Seinfeld wanted to name his hypothetical baby “Seven”!

Steelers monikers aside, Pittsburghers seem to be in the thrall of the same trends evident in baby names across the nation, including the fashion for place-names (Dakota, Montana, etc.)

When I attended my nephew’s graduation from my old high school last year, I noted that the roll call included all the trendy names that were unknown to my generation but ubiquitous on Facebook. You know: Ethan, Jared, Kyle, Joshua, Ryan. The kids I grew up with were named John and James and Robert and William. I did know some kids named Ryan — but that was their last name.

Some things do remain constant, though. Michael, a familiar name in the 1950s,  is still popular, finishing second (behind Jacob but ahead of Joshua) in the Social Security administration’s 2006 hit parade of baby names. I just hope some of those Michaels aren’t spelled “Mykal.” I wouldn’t want to win that way.

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