Say Hey, Haven't I Heard That Before?

As I was watching some games on TV during this busy weekend of sports I couldn't help but think that great nicknames are a lost art form. The commentators during the Yankees game were referring to Derek Jeter as "Mr. October". In the Astros game they called Roger Clemons "The Rocket". It reminded me of last years playoffs when Ivan Rodriguez was constantly referred to as "Pudge". Wait a minute...weren't those nicknames already taken by Reggie Jackson, Maurice Richard, and Carlton Fisk? Even kids have more originality than that. We were always nicknaming people in school. There was Studwardo, Gablos, Shaggy, The Weasel, Tennis Ball Head, Leo Man, The Whatswrongwitchu Guy...I could go on for hours, and we never used the same name twice. It really isn't very difficult.

In the past there were players who basically had their first name removed in place of a nickname. Many people who are not die hard sports fans might not even know what the person's real first name is. Names such as Oil Can Boyd, Catfish Hunter, Magic Johnson, Nightrain Lane, Pinball Clemons, and Rocket Richard.

Some of the other great nicknames from the world of sports are Julius Erving "Dr. J", Walter Payton "Sweetness", Ted Williams "The Splendid Splinter", Babe Ruth "The Sultan of Swat", Ozzie Smith "The Wizard", and Pete Rose "Charlie Hustle".

Then there are the nicknames which just plain suck. Randy Johnson "The Big Unit". What the hell does that mean? Big unit of what? Larry Robinson was nicknamed "Big Bird". Huh? I also hate that Henri Richard is refered to as "The Pocket Rocket". I can see trying to use rocket in there somewhere since he's The Rocket's brother, but the pocket part makes no sense. Did they use that because he's small enough to fit in your pocket? Regardless, it's just stupid.

I enjoy nicknames that have great stories from which they originated. Shoeless Joe Jackson once had blisters on his feet so bad that it hurt to put on his cleats, so he played a game in his socks. When Willie Mays first came to the big leagues he hadn't learned any of his teammates names so he would just say "Hey you" whenever he wanted to get somebody's attention...which led to him becoming known as "The Say Hey Kid".

Among my personal favorite sports nicknames are former Oakland Raider Lester "The Molester" Hayes, former Pirates catcher Mike LaVallier "Spanky", and Blue Jay alumni Llyod Moseby "The Shaker". I have no idea what that means, but it's an awesome name. An honorable mention goes to Bill Mlkvy who played for the Philadelphia Warriors in the 1950's, and was known as "The Owl Without A Vowel". I remember I came up with my own nickanme for former Blue Jay Rance Mulliniks...I called him "The Rodent" becuase I thought he kind of looked like one.

ESPN's Chris Berman has done a good job of nicknaming athletes in recent years, and a lot of the ones he's come up with have stuck such as Fred McGriff "Crime Dog", and Andre "Bad Moon" Rison. Now all we need is "Boomer" (hasn't that name been used several times too?) to come up with some originals for the rest of the sports announcers who are so uncreative that they are using nicknames already taken.

Please feel free to comment on some of your own favorites.



@ 12:54 PM, naedoo kicked the following game:

Ahh, you've got some great ones here. I will only mention a couple. I can't overlook Barkley, my favorite player of all time. Round Mound of Rebound is a classic. I also love 'Iceman' as it applies to both George Gervin and the fat kid who played on the ice by himself at Fairview Junior High.

 

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