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