Baseball Nicknames

Baseball is the best sport for nicknames, and I wonder what you favorite baseball nickname is?

But, here’s an author who thinks nicknames are disappearing:

Imaginative and colorful nicknames for ballplayers, once a baseball staple, are disappearing, going the way of the spitball, the stirrup sock and Sunday doubleheaders.

Boston’s Big Papi and Seattle’s King Felix plus a few others are probably all right, and the Giants do have Kung Fu Panda and The Freak. But overall, today’s nicknames are inferior to the likes of The Meal Ticket, Big Train, The Yankee Clipper, Big Unit, The Flying Dutchman, Iron Horse, The Big Cat, The Grey Eagle and Baby Bull.

Now we are generally reduced to simply cutting off syllables. Usually only one name is shortened: Kruk, Kuip and Boch. Or there is double reduction, such as MadBum, A-Rod and CarGo…

It wasn’t always like this, and the Giants certainly have had their share of memorable nicknames. Charles Davis wasn’t Charlie or Chuck, but Chili. Jeff Leonard was HacMan, a title combining his uninhibited batting style and an early electronic game. Rick Reuschel’s physique and personality earned him the tag Big Daddy, John Montefusco was The Count (sorry, Alexandre Dumas) and Doug Gwosdz (who was in the Giants’ organization in 1985 but did not play for San Francisco) was Eyechart for obvious reasons.

Darrell Evans was called Doody because he resembled Howdy Doody (ask your grandfather). Kirk Rueter became Woody for looking like the character from “Toy Story.” And the greatest Giant of them all is still known as the Say Hey Kid.

Charlie Finley’s A’s of the 1970s had some doozies with Blue Moon, Scrap Iron, Mudcat, Easy Rider and Catfish. Mr. October was there, too, but he didn’t really have that title until he had moved to New York. Later, Shooty and Storm came through Oakland.

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Rob S

    Blue Moon Odom, and I can’t even remember what his real first name was. And Spaceman Lee. Mark “the Bird” Fidrych (sp?) wasn’t a very original name, but it fit him so perfectly that I still love that name.

  • Ahud

    Nicknames overall are disappearing. Seemed like most of my dads buddies growing up in the 50′s had one. But since many are given b/c of something about that person (short, tall, loud, goofy) that’s often considered picking on somebody today. Our hyper sensitivity to stuff is partly to blame.

  • Kenton

    Do you count Chris Berman nicknames? If so, then it’s easily Oddibe “Young Again” McDowell.

  • MWK

    According to my husband “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is one of the best known baseball nicknames ever. I guess he didn’t wear shoes?

  • Stephen

    KC Royals fan here. We’ve got some good one’s for current players: Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler is my hands down favorite…but we also have Hoz, Sal, Gordo, Esky, Mike “Moose” Moustakas, Joakim Soria “The Mexicutioner” (he asked to no longer be called by this nickname actually), and Jeff “Frenchy” Francouer. All on the current roster (or DL…). I guess royals fans just tend to be bored.

  • Sherrod Lee

    One of the younger giants , Brandon Belt, is “Baby Giraffe,” for his long, lanky build.

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    “The Big Red Machine!”

  • http://communityofjesus.wordpress.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    I should have added (and now will) “Charlie Hustle” to that.

  • http://bobcornwall.com Bob Cornwall

    And you can’t forget “The Beard” — Brian Wilson.

    As a Giants fan, I celebrate our many great players and their names. So, don’t forget Willie “Stretch” McCovey. Thanks Sherrod for remembering Brandon “Baby Giraffe” Belt.

  • Eric

    “Pronk”, Travis Hafner of the Indians.

    From Wikipedia:
    His nickname, “Pronk”, was given to him by former teammate Bill Selby during spring training of 2001 when people sometimes referred to him as “The Project” and other times “Donkey” for the way he looked when running the bases.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travis_Hafner

  • http://bobcornwall.com Bob Cornwall

    I checked to make sure — it was John “Blue Moon” Odom, who was a teammate of Vida Blue (no nickname, real name). Vida, was, of course a much better pitcher that Odom.

  • Kenton

    Best infield nickname-wise: Rangers 1983

    David “Buddy” Bell
    Russell Earl “Bucky” Dent
    Wayne “Tolly” Tolleson
    Peter “Pete” O’Brien

  • Stephen Carnahan

    In Baltimore we had Mark Belanger “The Blade”, Brooks “Hoover” Robinson, Dick “Turkey” Hall, and of course John Wesley Powell was “Boog.” Gene Brabender didn’t need a nickname, obviously.

  • Rob Henderson

    Rollie Fingers with his wax-handled mustache has got to be my favorite name for a player. His real name is Roland Glen Fingers. He grew the mustache after the owner, Charles Finley, offered an award for the best kept facial hair on the Oakland A’s team.

    For the record, I did not like Rollie when I was a kid because I’m a Tigers fan. But I still love the name.

  • Johnny Melton

    Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean and his brother Paul “Daffy” Dean. Harold Peter Henry “Pee Wee” Reese and Stanley Frank “Stan The Man” Musial.

  • Tom

    Al Hrabosky – The Mad Hungarian
    Rich Gossage – Goose

  • Anderson

    Paul Waner, “Big Poison,” and Lloyd Waner, “Little Poison,” the only brothers in the Hall of Fame (though Lloyd’s inclusion is suspect).

    They played for the Pirates in the 1930s.

  • Ryan

    Scott,

    This is AWESOME! I coach my son’s 1st and 2nd grade baseball team and each year that i have coached them, I give them all nicknames. The kids love it when I give them nicknames. Some of my favorites are: Beast, Bullfrog, T-Bone, Iceman, Muscles, The Jet, T-Rex, and Tank. My favorite MLB nickname: The Say Hey Kid – Willie Mays

  • Gerrie

    Hands down, Bill “Spaceman” Lee.

  • http://www.jonathankruk.com Jonathan Kruk

    Nicknames of not too long ago, stand up to the ones of old, like Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd, “The Big Hurt” Frank Thomas, and the twist on Musial’s for the primal screaming Don Stanhouse begot “Stan the Man Unusual.”


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