Monday, August 13, 2012

What's in a Name?

In the early part of the 20th century, numerous ballplayers had elaborate handles attached to their names. As time marched on, the practice of pinning monikers on major leaguers began to dwindle. More often than not, the nicknames were born out of respect, as was the case with Babe Ruth ("The Sultan of Swat") and Lou Gehrig ("The Iron Horse"). For other less fortunate individuals, some negative personal characteristic was transformed into a label that stuck. 

Charlie "King Kong" Keller disliked his nickname and would sometimes come to blows with those who uttered it in his presence. Keller was quite stocky and had extremely bushy eyebrows, inspiring a teammate to muse that he looked like he had been "trapped" rather than scouted. Catcher Ernie Lombardi, although popular among teammates, could not have been happy with the tag of "Schnozz" that was handed to him--a reference to his bulbous nose (which reportedly protruded beyond the wires of his catcher's mask and occasionally absorbed the impact of foul tips). The following list represents a few of my favorite nicknames:

Pearce "What's the Use?" Chiles
Charley "Piano Legs" Hickman
Hughie "Ee-Yah" Jennings
Bill "Wagon Tongue" Keister
Bristol Lord: "The Human Eyeball"
Hub Perdue: "The Gallatin Squash"
Gabby Hartnett: "Old Tomato Face"
Charlie Grimm: "Jolly Cholly"
Lon Warneke "The Arkansas Hummingbird"
Guy Bush "The Mississippi Mudcat"
Tony "Poosh Em Up" Lazzerri
Red Lucas: "The Nashville Narcissus"


"Dirty Jack" Doyle
Pryor "Humpy" McElveen
Frank "Creepy" Crespi
Joe "Goobers" Bratcher
Ed "Boob" McNair
Dick "Twitches" Porter



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