101 fun nicknames in baseball history

Yankees shortstop Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto (March, 1950)

Yankees shortstop Phil "The Scooter" Rizzuto (March, 1950) (Credit: AP)

Travel deals

There was a time, as the baseball balladeer Cashman sings, that if you didn’t have a nickname, you didn’t have a name at all.

These days, with agents and nightly highlights around to mightily promote players, monikers have gone the way of the complete game or hidden ball trick (perfected by Gene “Stick” Michael, to be a nickname dropper).

So “Baseball 101’’ offers this nostalgic toast, in no particular order, to classic nicknames:
 

1. "BABE" . . . "THE SULTAN OF SWAT" . . . "THE BAMBINO," George Herman Ruth

Team owner/guardian Jack Dunn's "babe" was prolific in sobriquets as well as home runs.

2. Lawrence Peter "YOGI" Berra

Teenage friend thought he looked like a movie's Hindu yogi character.

3. "MR. OCTOBER," Reggie Jackson

Inspired several famous spinoffs: the derisive "Mr. May" for Dave Winfield and the deferential "Mr. November" for Derek Jeter.

4. "JOLTIN' JOE" DiMaggio

"Our kids will tell their kids his name, Joltin' Joe DiMaggio" - from 1941 hit by the Les Brown Orchestra ("The Yankee Clipper" brought no snappy song).

5. Stan "THE MAN" Musial

When they gave him the honorific, Brooklyn Dodgers fans never envisioned that someday he'd be selling merchandise at stan-the-man.com.

6. "THE COMMERCE COMET,'' Mickey Mantle

People back home in Commerce, Okla., never did get around to calling him "The Mick.''

7. James Thomas "COOL PAPA" Bell

Cool for his composure as a young pitcher, Papa for his maturity as an all-time outfielder.

8. "SHOELESS JOE" Jackson

Spikes gave him blisters one day, so he played the next game in stocking feet.

9."THE SPLENDID SPLINTER," Ted Williams

Was a tall, gangly Red Sox rookie with an explosive bat, historian James T. Skipper Jr. says of the man later known as "Teddy Ballgame."

10. "SCOOTER," Phil Rizzuto

Minor-league teammate Billy Hitchcock told him, "You're not running, you're scootin.' "

11. "THE IRON HORSE," Lou Gehrig

Cal Ripken broke his consecutive-games streak but couldn't touch him nickname-wise.

12. Dennis "OIL CAN" Boyd

In Mississippi, where he's from, "oil" is slang for beer.

13. "CHARLIE HUSTLE,'' Pete Rose

Whitey Ford meant it sarcastically when the rookie seemed too rambunctious in an exhibition game.

14. Harry "SUITCASE'' Simpson

layed for 17 teams in 11 years, including the Yankees.

15. Edward "WHITEY" Ford, "THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD," and "SLICK"

Elston Howard coined "The Chairman" title, of which Ford once said, "He must think I'm Frank Sinatra."

16. Bill "SPACEMAN" Lee

Teammate John Kennedy pinned it and Lee loved it, reasoning, "Everybody thinks they're earthlings, but in actuality, we're here only for a brief moment."

17. Harold Joseph "PIE" Traynor

As a boy, chased balls for his church team and was paid in baked goods.

18. Honus Wagner, "THE FLYING DUTCHMAN"

His heritage was German, so it started out as "Deutschman."

19. Jim "MUDCAT" Grant

His idol and Indians roommate Larry Doby kiddingly deemed him "as ugly as a Mississippi mudcat."

20. Jim "CATFISH" Hunter

Nickname (along with a story about going fishing as a kid) created by A's owner Charlie Finley to generate interest.

21. Johnny Lee "BLUE MOON" Odom

Childhood friend Joe Morris thought he had a lunar-shaped face.

22. "THE SAY HEY KID," Willie Mays

He had a few lines in the 1954 song "Say Hey" by the Treniers. Recording session was supervised by a young Quincy Jones.

23. Johnny "HIPPITY" Hopp

Bounced around with six teams, made five World Series.

24. Mark "THE BIRD" Fidrych

A minor-league manager thought he galloped like Sesame Street's "Big Bird," with whom Fidrych appeared on Sports Illustrated's cover.

25. Denton True "CY" Young

Called "Cyclone" in his early years for his fastball, the nickname grew shorter as his repertoire grew larger.

26. Albert Walter "SPARKY" Lyle

Graig "Puff'' Nettles said Sparky "went from Cy Young to Sayonara" when the Yankees brought in Rich "Goose'' Gossage.

27. George "SPARKY" Anderson

A radio announcer noticed his feisty play as a minor-leaguer. As a manager, he was "Captain Hook.''

28. Walter "BIG TRAIN" Johnson

His size and fastball reminded sportswriter Grantland Rice of an express.

29. Ted "DOUBLE DUTY" Radcliffe

During a Negro Leagues doubleheader at Yankee Stadium, he caught the first game, with a homer and four RBIs, and pitched a shutout in the second.

30. "THE MEAL TICKET," Carl Hubbell

Main course of the Giants pitching staff, had consecutive strikeouts of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin in 1934 All-Star game.

31. "THE GEORGIA PEACH," Ty Cobb

Cobb County, Ga. was named for his ancestor, Thomas, a U.S. Senator.

32. Lewis "HACK" Wilson

Some said he resembled 1930s wrestler George Hackenschmidt.

33. Clarence Arthur "DAZZY" Vance

Liked the Midwest expression "Ain't that a daisy?" but it came out "dazzy."

34. & 35.-43."THE GASHOUSE GANG"

The collective nickname applied to the St. Louis Cardinals, who won the 1934 World Series with a lineup of all-star nicknames: Leo "The Lip'' Durocher, brothers "Dizzy'' and "Daffy'' Dean, Pepper Martin ("The Wild Horse of the Osage"), "Spud'' Davis, "Ducky'' Medwick, "Ripper'' Collins, "Wild Bill'' Hallahan and playing manager Frankie Frisch ("the Fordham Flash'').

44."HAMMERIN' HANK," Henry Aaron

Considered by some the natural all-time home run king, his autobiography is "I Had a Hammer."

45. "SKOONJ," Carl Furillo

The Dodgers rightfielder, also "The Reading Rifle," loved scungilli.

46. "PISTOL PETE" Reiser

More than 20 years before Pete Maravich, fearless concussion-prone outfielder was carried off fields 11 times.

47. "BULLET BOB" Turley

Yanks 1958 Cy Young winner could fire using no-windup delivery.

48. George "SHOTGUN" Shuba

Sprayed line drives, better known for being photographed shaking Jackie Robinson's hand after a homer.

49. "THE SPRINGFIELD RIFLE," Vic Raschi

Pitcher from West Springfield, Mass.

50. "THE TOY CANNON," Jimmy Wynn

Compact frame produced 37 homers in 1967.

51. "THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT"

Old Yankee Stadium. Best ballpark nickname.

52. "BIG POISON" and "LITTLE POISON," Brothers Paul and Lloyd Waner

No venom in the nicknames. Biographer Clifton Blue Parker wrote that "poison" was Brooklynese for "person."

53. Elwin Charles "PREACHER" Roe

Nicknamed himself at 3, his mother said, because he liked the local reverend.

54. Charlie "KING KONG" Keller

190 pounds of muscle in the pre-steroids era.

55. "EYE CHART," Doug Gwosdz

Top line is G - W - O - S

56. Leroy "SATCHEL" Paige

One version of the origin: As a childhood porter at the Mobile train station, devised a contraption that could carry three or four bags at once.

57. Arlie Latham, "THE FRESHEST MAN ON EARTH"

Identified with popular tune in the 1880s ("fresh" as in "sharp-tongued").

58. "POOSH 'EM UP" Tony Lazzeri

In the minors, a friend and restaurateur spoke better Italian than English and exhorted him to drive in runners, yelling, "Poosh 'Em Up Tone!"

59. George "SNUFFY" Stirnweiss

Named either for hay fever sniffling, or treating it with snuff.

60. Charles Leo "GABBY" Hartnett

Didn't say a word during his first trip as a Cubs rookie.

61. Frank "HOME RUN" Baker

Led AL with 11 homers for 1911 Athletics, homered to win World Series Game 2 and tie Game 3 in the ninth.

62. Bill "MOOSE" Skowron

Always could assume fans weren't booing, just going "Moooooose."

63. "DONNIE BASEBALL," Don Mattingly

Friend Kirby Puckett came up with it at a banquet, eventually calling him just "Baseball."

64. Jack "LUCKY" Lohrke

Calling from a coffee shop during a 1936 minor-league bus trip, learned he had been promoted to Triple-A. Team left him behind, then suffered a crash that killed nine.

65. Harry "THE HAT" Walker

Kept taking his cap on and off in batter's box.

66. Mordecai "THREE FINGER" Brown

Lost parts of two fingers in childhood farm accident.

67. Johnny "UGLY" Dickshot

1930s outfielder proclaimed himself "the ugliest man in baseball."

68. "THE BABY BULL,'' Orlando Cepeda

Also known as "Cha-Cha.'' Son of Puerto Rican baseball legend Pedro Perucho "The Bull" Cepeda.

69. "EL DUQUE,'' Orlando Hernandez

Arnaldo Hernandez Montero, his father, was original El Duque and Arnaldo, his brother, was the second.

70. Edwin "DUKE" Snider

Long before he had the heady company of Willie and Mickey, his parents thought he walked around like royalty.

71. Buck "LEAKY" Fausett

Made a name for himself in only two games during World War II.

72. Moses "THE RABBI OF SWAT" Solomon

Giants hyped him to counter Babe Ruth publicity, dumped him after two games.

73. Harold Henry "PEE WEE" Reese

Marbles champion did his best shooting with a pee wee.

74. Sal "THE BARBER" Maglie

Reputation for pitching high and tight.

75. Ed "THE GLIDER" Charles

As Bob Murphy would say, "Never throw a slider to The Glider."

76. Archibald "MOONLIGHT" Graham

His part in "Field of Dreams" was longer than his one-inning major-league career.

77. Harry Lee "PEANUTS" Lowery

A little guy, yet grown up from when he appeared in "Our Gang" movies.

78. "THE BOSS,'' George Steinbrenner

Perfect for back pages.

79. "LOUISIANA LIGHTNING," Ron Guidry

To his teammates, he was "Gator."

80. Russell Earl "BUCKY" Dent

In Boston, they add a couple extra syllables.

81. "THE HUMAN RAIN DELAY," Mike Hargrove

You could read a novel by the time he adjusted his batting gloves.

82. Walt "NO NECK" Williams

Had a good head (directly) on his shoulders.

83. Harry Arthur "COOKIE" Lavagetto, Octavio Victor "COOKIE" Rojas

Forerunners of Candido "Candy" Maldonado.

84. Clarence "CHOO CHOO" Coleman

Asked once how he got his nickname, Mets catcher reportedly said, "I don't know."

85. Ron "TOPPER" Davis

Former Yankee pitcher and dad of Mets prospect Ike would always try to one-up you.

86. "DIRT,'' Dick Tidrow

Counterpoint to Steve Garvey, "Mr. Clean."

87. "SAD SAM" Jones

Counterpoint to Oscar "Happy" Felsch.

88. William Hayward "MOOKIE" Wilson

It's said that as a toddler, he tried to say "milk" and it sounded like "mookie."

89."LE GRANDE ORANGE," Rusty Staub

In Montreal, they loved him as if he were Georges Vezina (hockey's "Chicoutimi Cucumber").

90. "THE ASTORIA EAGLE," Hugh McQuillan

Native New Yorker helped Giants beat Yanks in 1922 World Series.

91. "THE ARKANSAS HUMMINGBIRD," Lon Warneke

The only one to both play and umpire in All-Star Games.

92. "ROCKET,'' Roger Clemens

In happier times at Yankee Stadium, they played Elton John's "Rocket Man" for him.

93. "OLD ACHES AND PAINS" Luke Appling

Skeptical White Sox teammates kept hearing of his minor ailments.

94. "OLD RELIABLE," Tommy Henrich

Mel Allen used the phrase when a game-winning hit allowed the Yankees to catch a train.

95. James Francis "PUD" Galvin

Compliment for pitchers such as Galvin in 1800s was, "He made the batter look like pudding."

96. Al "THE CURVELESS WONDER" Orth

Won 204 games without a breaking ball (he did throw the spitter).

97. "THE MAD HUNGARIAN" Al Hrabosky

Remember the way he would get worked up before a pitch?

98. George "TWINKLETOES" Selkirk

Babe Ruth's successor as Yankees rightfielder ran on the balls of his feet.

99. Dick "DR. STRANGEGLOVE" Stuart

Played first base for Mets the way Todd "Hot Rod" Hundley played leftfield.

100. "THE HONDO HURRICANE," Clint Hartung

Phenom from Hondo, Texas is immortalized in a photo, leading off third base as Bobby Thomson (below) hits his magical homer.

101. "THE STATEN ISLAND SCOT," Bobby Thomson

Native of Glasgow, his "Shot Heard 'Round the World'' in 1951 is arguably the most famous home run in baseball history. Afterwards, Thomson (below, right) embraced manager Leo "The Lip'' Durocher.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Baseball videos

advertisement | advertise on newsday