Why did Torii debut as a boy name in 2003?

Baseball player Torii Hunter
Torii Hunter

According to the U.S. baby name data, the rare name Torii was used primarily as a girl name during the late 20th century. In 2003, however, it popped up as a boy name:

Girls named ToriiBoys named Torii


Likely because of Major League center fielder Torii Hunter, who was playing for the Minnesota Twins at the time.

He’d started his professional baseball career in the ’90s, but didn’t win his first Gold Glove Award until 2001, and wasn’t selected for his first All-Star game until 2002. (He went on to win eight more Gold Gloves and play in four more All-Star games over the course of his career.)

He was born Torii (pronounced TOR-ee) Kedar Hunter in Arkansas in 1975. The spelling of his first name was apparently unintentional; Hunter has been quoted as saying that he thinks his mom “accidentally put two I’s” while filling out paperwork after he was born.

(Coincidentally, his name is spelled the same as the Japanese word torii, pronounced toh-REE, which refers to the traditional gate found at Shinto shrines.)

What are your thoughts on the name Torii? Do you like this spelling, or do you prefer more common spellings (like Tori and Tory)?

Sources: Torii Hunter – Wikipedia, Torii Kedar Hunter – Encyclopedia of Arkansas, SSA

Image: Adapted from Torii Hunter by Keith Allison under CC BY-SA 2.0.

One thought on “Why did Torii debut as a boy name in 2003?

  1. I knew Torii Hunter was the inspiration for the debut, but I had always wondered about the spelling. I had assumed there was a meaningful reason for the second “i”, I think it’s rather amusing that it was a spelling error that has now been copied by others

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