101 fun nicknames in baseball history
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.