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Where Have All the Nicknames Gone? 

Pictured – Fellow Trojan – Bill “Spaceman” Lee

 

There was a time when the major leagues were full of players with colorful nicknames. Not so much anymore. The Dodgers had more than their share of these, especially in the 50’s. Some were derived because of some physical attribute or lack thereof.

Pee Wee was not because of a lack of size for Harold Reese. Pee Wee got his nickname from his marble playing days in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. It was because of his use in that small marble while playing the game. Later on in Brooklyn, he was simply, The Captain. He was also known to some as The Little Colonel.

Nicknames go way back in baseball history. All types of players have them. The superstars of the game, and the cup of coffee guys. Some were for physical attributes, and others simply because of an event that occurred that was memorable.

One of my favorites comes from an infielder, Bob Ferguson, who started his baseball career with the New York semi-pro teams in the 1870’s. Ferguson, who played SS,2B and 3B, and also caught now and then earned the moniker, Death to All Flying Things, because of his fielding prowess. He would seemingly catch every ball hit in the air close to him. Ferguson played for 14 years. I still consider it one of the more creative nicknames ever.

Bob Ferguson – Death To All Flying Things

Most of us know how Babe Ruth got his nickname. It was because the first time most of his Baltimore teammates saw him, they referred to him as Dunnie’s babe, after the owner of the team, Jack Dunn. Later he would be tagged with other nicknames such as “The Sultan of Swat” and “The Bambino”. But most just called him Babe.

Some were coined because of some physical condition, hence, Three-Finger Brown, and more recently, The Big Unit. Of course referring to his height, Randy Johnson. Not sure how Bill Skowron got the nickname, Moose. Actually the reason was because of a haircut he was given when he was seven. The haircut looked like the one Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini had. His friends jokingly called him Mussolini, but his family shortened it to just Moose.

The Dodgers have had many players with nicknames, Duke Snider was called Duke because of his swagger when he was a child. His father gave him the nickname because he carried himself like loyalty. John Wayne was called Duke because the large dog he was seen with all the time was named Duke. Snider later would be called, “The Duke of Flatbush” and “The Silver Fox.”  A nickname later given to Chase Utley.

Carl Furillo was labeled “The Reading Rifle” as a young player from Reading, Pennsylvania. This was because of his throwing prowess from right field. Later, with the Dodgers, his teammates called him Ol Skoonj. A reference to Carl’s fondness for the Italian dish, scungilli.

Carl Furillo – The Reading Rifle

George Shuba’s nickname was “Shotgun”. The shotgun moniker was earned because he shot line drives all over the field. Carl Erskine was called Oisk. This came about because the denizens of the borough of Brooklyn tended to have their own language. Ersk became Oisk.

Some of the more famous nicknames. Hank Aaron: Hammerin Hank, The Hammer. Grover Alexander: Ol Pete. Walter Alston: Smokey, and The Quiet Man. George Anderson: Sparky, and my favorite, Captain Hook. Luke Appling, Old Aches and Pains.

Actually some of these I never heard used, but were still mentioned. Richie Ashburn, Putt Putt. Frank Baker, Home Run. Dave Bancroft, Beauty. Ernie Banks was Mr. Cub.

The negro leagues had several memorable nicknames, Leroy “Satchel” Page. James” Cool Papa” Bell. Bullet Rogan.

Ted Williams actually had four nicknames during his career. “The Kid” , ” The Splendid Splinter” “Teddy Ballgame” and “Thumper”. Joe DiMaggio was “The Yankee Clipper” and ” Joltin Joe”. I can just imagine why Leo Durocher was called ” The Lip”.

Nicknames started to fade out it seemed around the 70’s although a few have come since. Dennis Boyd, aka Oil Can Boyd, got his moniker from his beer drinking days as a youth. Beer in his town was called Oil. Pete Alonso is known as ” The Polar Bear”. Vin Scully nicknamed Yasiel Puig, “The Wild Horse”, due to the way he played the game when he first arrived, like a wild stallion with no limits.

 

 

Yasiel Puig – The Wild Horse

Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lou Gehrig was “The Iron Horse” due to his seemingly indestructible body since he played 2130 consecutive games, many of them with injuries that would have sidelined other players.

Yastrzemski will always be known as Yaz. Roberto Clemente’s nickname was Bob, and he hated being called that. Orlando Cepeda was “The Baby Bull.’  Willie Mays, the “Say Hey Kid”, Juan the “Dominican Dandy” Marichal, Willie McCovey was simply “Stretch”.

Lawrence Berra got his nickname “Yogi” from a friend of his who felt he resembled an Indian Yogi whenever he sat with his arms and legs crossed waiting to bat.

Wade Boggs was the “Chicken Man” because of his constant pre-game meal. Steve Carlton was “Lefty”, Gary Carter, “The Kid”. Jerome Dean was “Dizzy”, and his brother, Paul was “Daffy”.

Walter Beck earned his nickname, “Boom Boom”, in 1934 while pitching in the old Baker Bowl in Philadelphia. His pitches would be hit for the first boom, and then hitting the outfield wall, there would be another boom.  When Casey Stengel came out to remove him from the game, he was so mad and frustrated he threw the ball against the outfield fence. Hack Wilson, who had not been paying attention, thought the ball had been hit against the wall. He retrieved it and fired the ball back to the infield.

Few players today have nicknames. The Dodgers have CT-3, Chris Taylor’s initials and his number. Justin Turner is RedTurn2. Baseball has had hundreds of them. I wish they would come back.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bluto

Dick Mountain.FTW

Dave

Bulldog (Hershiser)

porpoiseboy

Mookie?

Oldbear48

Yes, that is a nickname, his real name is Marcus Lynn Betts. The Mookie moniker came from his parents who started calling him that after watching Mookie Blaylock, a guard in the NBA, play basketball. Mookie has never met Blaylock.

tedraymond

Frank Howard – Hondo

Bill Buckner – Billy Bucs

Ron Cey – The Penguin

Jim Wynn – The Toy Cannon

I’m sure there are dozens of others, but it’s early in the day.

Oldbear48

There are a lot more than one would think. You can actually find a list of the more famous ones on Wikipedia. Koufax, “The Left Arm of God” and Dandy Sandy. Tony “Poosh em Up Lazzeri. Mark would like this one, Chuck Klein, “The Hoosier Hammer”. Of course, one of my all-time favorites comes from basketball. Jerry West, “Zeke From Cabin Creek.”

SandyAmoros

Bear
great read thank you. The wife and i saw Shotgun speak at Cooperstown quite the charecter if i remember clearly.

Oldbear48

One of my favorite chapters of the book, Boys of Summer, was the chapter where Kahn interviewed Shuba. Very interesting guy. One has to wonder how good he could have been had he played every day.

Badger

Some of the worst nicknames. Too many to ID individually:

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/902097-50-worst-nicknames-in-baseball-history

Some of the trash talk about Dave Roberts might have a few names that would qualify. Non will stick of course. He’s Doc.

Oldbear48

Gwosdz nickname of “Eyechart” is epic, not awful. For those who do not know, it is pronounced Goosh.

Badger

I think it’s pronounced Juh-whas-dez

Ok, maybe not.

I surely didn’t get Goosh out of it.

Oldbear48

Right there on the page you shared it said it was pronounced Goosh.

Jeff Dominique

A couple of sites I came across.

https://www.yardbarker.com/mlb/articles/the_greatest_mlb_nicknames_of_all_time/s1__39028920#slide_14

https://www.mlb.com/news/best-nicknames-in-baseball

I could not resist. I had to add my Bill Spaceman Lee picture

Other Trojans:

Of course Tom Seaver – Tom Terrific

Gold Dust Twins – Fred Lynn (USC) and Jim Rice

Randy Johnson – The Big Unit

Mark McGwire – Big Mac

Steve Busby – Buzz

Dave Kingman – Kong

Wikipedia list of Nicknames

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_baseball_nicknames

Hodges54

Besides the nicknames you listed for Ted Williams, I remember him being called “The Bean Town Bomber.” Oops, this should have been a reply to Jeff.

Last edited 24 days ago by Hodges54
Oldbear48

I never heard of that one for Williams. It was a reply to Jeff, it should have been to me. LOL.  😃  😁 

Oldbear48

Kingman looked like King Kong, big and ugly! What do I think of Kingman’s performance???? T. Lasorda

Oldbear48

If I listed all of the names I found, this post would be three times as long. Garvey was Popeye to his teammates because of his formidable forearms. Johnny Bench was known to his teammates as “The Little General”. Here are some more, “Sunny Jim” Bottomley, Lou Brock was “The Franchise”, Ty Cobb,” The Georgia Peach”, “Wahoo” Sam Crawford, Drysdale, ” Big D”, Bob Feller has two, “Rapid Robert” and “The Heater from Van Meter”. Jimmy Foxx was “Double X”. Frankie Frisch, who went to the same college as Vin Scully, “The Fordham Flash”. Vin is simply, ” The Voice”. Burleigh Grimes was “Ol Stubblebeard”. Hornsby was “Rajah” and Carl Hubbel was “The Meal Ticket”.

Wally Moonshot

Don’t forget Pete Rose aka “Charley Hustle”. Or was his nickname also banned from baseball? 😉

Oldbear48

No, everyone knows about Rose. But I couldn’t list them all, I would have been writing for a week.

OhioDodger

Tris Speaker, the Gray Eagle.

Phil Jones

Thanks Bear. Fun topic and lots of responses.

My current favorite is Mariner’s catcher, Cal Raleigh aka Big Dumper

Dodgerrick

Most nicknames in the old days were created by sportswriters.

I hate the current practice of using player initials with numbers (eg. CT3) or shortening names (MiggyRo). Really stupid.

My favorites over the years: almost too many to count. For the Dodgers, consider Duke (Snider), Pee Wee (Reese), Preacher (Roe), Dazzy (Vance), Uncle Robby (Robinson), Skoonj (Furillo), Frenchy (Bordagaray), Boily (Grimes), The People’s Cherce (Walker), Oyster (Burns) come to mind

Oldbear48

Not exactly true. Some were, many came from teammates or family.

Bumsrap

Game Over
The Bird

Bumsrap

Stupid lineup today

Oldbear48

Why would you say that? About normal facing a left hander. They have owned Corbin over the last several years, and at least Taylor isn’t in there and no one in this lineup is hitting under .200. So, who would you suggest they play instead of these 9 players? Barnes, Outman, Taylor and Lux are all on the bench and all except Barnes are under .200.

Bumsrap

Outman and Lux.

Bumsrap

Oh, and leave Betts at short and stop making him adjust back and forth between short and second.

Oldbear48

Not Dave’s way, you know that. Neither Outman nor Lux have done that well so far in their careers against lefties. You play Outman, you sit Pages. And Rojas got two hits last night.

Bluto

News From Internet:

Hot Sheet @ Baseball America ($$$$)
https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/ranking-the-20-hottest-mlb-prospects-hot-sheet-4-23-24/

6. Jeral Perez, 2B, Dodgers

Team: Low-A Rancho Cucamonga (California)
Age: 19

Why He’s Here: .360/.467/.800 (9-for-25), 6 R, 2 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 BB, 4 SO, 1-for-2 SB

The Scoop: …The power should come as no surprise, given that his 11 home runs in the Arizona Complex League in 2023 were tied with Rangers prospect Echedry Vargas for the most on the circuit. (JN)

Baseball America’s Podcast looks at Andy Pages and has a tidbit on Michael Busch:
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/baseball-america/id201539011?i=1000652668643

Mostly about Pages’ great spring and power. A little caution over his Ks.

Nabil Crismatt:
5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 5 Ks, 0 BB
49 strikes in 69 pitches ERA is 0.79!

Don’t look now, but oft-lamented prospect Kody Hoese is hitting .364, OPS .917 & has hits in all but 1 game this year. He’s probably not going to be what the team thought he would be, but kudos to him for persevering and lets hope for extended health, success, then MAYBE opportunity.

Davy Andrews @FanGraphs on the Dodgers OF:

The Dodgers Outfield Has Been Very, Very Bad to Start the Season

The title, The Dodgers Outfield Has Been Very, Very Bad to Start the Season, says it all, but here’s a nice bit on Outman:
However, it’s way too early to assume that Outman can’t replicate his 2024 performance or find ways to get better in his sophomore campaign. So far this season, he’s hitting the ball a bit harder and his contact rate has improved from infinitesimally small to merely microscopic. Outman isn’t going to run a .242 BABIP all year, and it’s too early to panic about him. 

Geoff Pontes chat at Baseball America ($$$$)
https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/hot-sheet-mlb-prospects-chat-4-16-24/

Q: When is Payton Martin expected to start pitching this year and is he a better prospect then any of the pitchers listed in this chat?

A: I believe we’ll see him in the next month but I know he was held back. I’ve heard he’s healthy.

Q: No love for Justin Wrobleski yet? Does his lack of extension lower the grade of his fastball?

A: He was in consideration but he gave up a couple of runs. Hes got really good stuff and he’s lefthanded so maybe his lack of extension is less of an issue? I do think it’s a big league arm of some type whether that is a reliever or a starter remains to be seen. I think he’s more of a 4-6 out reliever.

Q: Two intriguing lower minors guys off to nice starts are Lonnie White and Zyhir Hope. Thoughts on them?

A: I covered White above, I like Hope more. The feedback has been good and the underlying skills look good right now. He’s not swinging and missing much, he’s hitting for power and there’s athleticism. Hope is a name to circle and follow this spring.

Q: How has statcast data changed the scouting industry?

A: I think it’s shrunk scouting departments and made it easy for teams to scout via video. At the end of the day scouting is still the art of identifying traits you feel your player development can nurture. In someways it’s also made scouts more accountable. Theres some good and bad.

Jay Jaffe Chat:

Jay Jaffe FanGraphs Chat – 4/16/24

Jason: Are the Dodgers actually giving to give Pages a legitimate chance or is he going to get the last season Michael Busch treatment?

Jay Jaffe: it’s not clear yet. This is mainly as a fill-in for Heyward’s roster spot, which effectively puts him in the short half of a platoon with Outman, though it’s more crowded than that, with the two Hernandezes and Chris Taylor also out there. If he hits, he’ll stick around but I suspect this is a short-term thing for now

War2D2: Trout is mashing like Trout of yore. What injury do you think will waylay him this time? My bet is on losing a toe to a freak glazing accident.

Jay Jaffe: let’s just say that I want him to stay away from all bungee-related activity

kingmitch: What are mookie betts weaknesses? if any?

Jay Jaffe: It sometimes takes him two bounds to leap over tall buildings, and I’m told he has a tendency to underseason his pasta sauces just a bit.

John: If Mookie Betts retires right now, is he a Hall of Famer? I say yes, and consequently submit that McCutchen should be, too, even if his peak isn’t quite as high

Jay Jaffe: Huh? Betts is 31, has been playing at an all-Star Level since he was 22 and has 66.6 bWAR, some of which comes from being 156 runs above average in the field. Cutch is 37, hasn’t played like an All-Star since he was 28, and has 48.6 bWAR, in part because he’s 77 runs below average in the field. They’re not close.

Matt VW: With his season ending injury, Trevor Story will post 3.5 bWAR in the first three years of his Red Sox contract. Xander Bogaerts posted 10.3 bWAR over the first two years of the same span, with nearly a full season to add on.
I know no one tries to get hurt, but this casts the Red Sox’s determination to part with Bogaerts in a pretty bad light. How much of this was foreseeable and how much just bad luck?

Jay Jaffe: The Red Sox have made some pretty dubious choices when it comes to seeing some of their homegrown stars off in recent years— Lester, Mookie, Bogaerts — but hey, John Henry’s gotta be happy with that payroll flexibility, right?

Zach: How long do the Dodgers give Lux to figure it out? He looked fine in spring but he doesn’t look close offensively at the moment. I guess his surprisingly elite defense at second might buy him more time. At some point, they have to see if Trey Sweeney, or maybe a Vargas move back to second, would be better for the team, right?

Jay Jaffe: as I just found out about the move at the start o this chat I haven’t read anything about the rationale but it may be that the Pages move puts a squeeze on Lux by bumping Taylor and/or Kiké to more infield work while Lux sits. But I think he’s still got some runway to figure it out.

Farhandrew Zaidman: Re: Pages – CT3 has looked dreadful and Kiké hasn’t looked much better. Obligatory “it’s april” but maybe the beginning of the end for LA’s two super-Util guys?

Jay Jaffe: Certainly not out of the question. Taylor has been dancing along the edge of a cliff since 2022

Ben Clemens Chat 

Ben Clemens FanGraphs Chat – 4/15/24

Jeff Passan on the Ohtani skeptics:
“Is it possible that Ohtani, Mizuhara, the Dodgers, the Angels, the IRS, the Department of Homeland Security, Ohtani’s agent, Ohtani’s accountant, Ohtani’s investment advisors, and Ohtani’s bank all got together and got on the same page with a story to protect Ohtani and to put his interpreter in Federal Prison, in all likelihood, in a neat tidy package in mere record time? Is that a possibility?”

Jay Jaffe on Michael Busch:

So Far, Michael Busch Has Been a Big Hit for the Cubs

Bobby

Thanks for that info!

Badger

Yeah, a lot there. Thanks.

Anthony H

Thanks, Bluto,

I always dig your, ‘News From the Internet” posts. There’s plenty of interesting takes and I’ve become a fan of Jay Jaffe reading your posts. Your sense of humor and quick wit with some of our fellow Dodgers fans on Jeff’s site are welcome as well.

Dionysus

A win is a win. Good job by bullpen. Kind of.

Oldbear48

They did well. No runs, Phillips got out of a bases loaded jam and they won, so it was a great job.

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