Baseball Players Have The Best Nicknames
With the month of July upon us, the return of sports is happening slowly but surely. Three of the four major sports plan to begin play, NFL players begin OTAs, the MLS is set to start up, and the PLL (Premier Lacrosse League for the uninitiated) is holding a massive, can't-miss round robin tournament in place of a full season (more on that at a later date). There's something about this month that's special regardless of the year, whether it be fireworks for the 4th, spending some time at the lake, enjoying an ice cold beer after a day in the sun, or, of course, watching Tommy Lasorda try to murder the Philly Phanatic with a hastily assembled voodoo doll. Er, I meant watching baseball.
As America's pastime, baseball has always been there during July and throughout the summer. Despite some (ignorant) people believing baseball to be a boring, old person's game, the sport has showcased some of the most unique and exciting characters in all of sports. I can't quantify this, but I'm pretty sure baseball has the most players throughout its history that go by nicknames instead of their actual first names.
Starting with someone most of you should know (if you don't, get out from under your rock and look him up), George Herman "Babe" Ruth is probably the greatest, most iconic player in baseball history. The fact that many fans don't even know his real name speaks to how much of a legendary figure he is. Hell, even having his name replaced by a nickname wasn't enough for the guy. Those of you (should be everyone) who've watched The Sandlot know The Babe by many other names, such as "The Sultan of Swat", "The King of Crash", "The Colossus of Clout", and, as Ham Porter so eloquently said, "The Great Bambino." Even some of his other lesser known names, like "The Khan of So Long", "The Modern Beowulf", and "The Wizard of Whack" (Ed. Note: I though that was JJ's nickname?) are all awesome in their own right.
But The Babe is far from the only player who is known exclusively by a nickname. Arguably the greatest pitcher ever Satchel (Leroy) Paige still has people thinking that's his real name. No one ever refers to Joe Jackson without Shoeless. Very few know Ruth's Teammate Yogi Berra's real name is Lawrence. Add to the list Catfish Hunter, Lefty Grove, and Rollie Fingers (and his epic mustache) just to name a few.
Unfortunately, with all the great nicknames in the sport, some of the older ones are sure to fall through the cracks and not get the attention they deserve. I'm here to right that wrong (thank me later). You have Negro League star "Double Duty" Ted Radcliffe who caught an entire 9 innings and then threw a shutout in a double-header in the 1932 Negro Leagues World Series. "Oil Can" Dennis Boyd earned his name by drinking a rather considerable amount of beer (beer was referred to as "oil" in parts of Mississippi at the time). "The Human Rain Delay" Mike Hargrove was one of the pioneers for batters taking forever to get in the damn box. One of the best names of all time, Negro League star "Cool Papa" (James) Bell, whose name was described by Negro League manager Buck O'Neil as, "If you have to ask what it means, then you will never know what it means."
The modern day MLB is no exception to the league's history of great nicknames. "Country Breakfast" Billy Butler has been a fan favorite for years. Red Sox legend "Big Papi" David Ortiz is one of the most beloved players of this century. Rockies OF "Chuck Nasty" Charlie Blackmon, the greatest closer of all time in "The Sandman" Mariano Rivera, former Giants 3B "Kung Fu Panda" Pablo Sandoval, Hall of Fame pitcher "The Big Unit" Randy Johnson, Mets starter Noah "Thor" Syndergaard, and Twins 3B "The Bringer of Rain" Josh Donaldson, just to name a few, all have great names that would be absolutely viral in any of the other major sports.
I'll leave you with some of the more unique and absurd nicknames the sport of baseball has given us, and I highly recommend you google some of these guys after reading this to fully understand the craziness. We have "Tobacco Chewin'" Johnny Lanning, "Rawmeat" Bill Rogers (who actually ate raw meat for "more power at the plate"), "Mr. Murder" Monte Irvin, and "The Chairman of the Board" Whitey Ford just to get you started. Then we have probably the greatest name in sports history, "Ugly" Johnny Dickshot. That's right, his given name Johnny Dickshot wasn't enough. The man just had to proclaim himself "The Ugliest Man in Baseball" to top it all off.
Now I know I may have left your favorite player's name out of this article, as well as passed over some of the best talents of all-time like "The Say-Hey Kid", "The Splendid Splinter", "The Georgia Peach", "Mr. Cub", "Mr. October", and "The Big Hurt" (If you're unsure about who any of these guys are, start watching MLB Network ASAP). If I did, it's only because I don't like you or your favorite teams and players. There are just so many great nicknames in baseball. No other sport even comes close outside of maybe boxing and MMA.
If you have any others that need to be celebrated as the season approaches, tweet us @Coleman10kTakes or @10000TakesMN.