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Carl Anthony Furillo was with the Brooklyn, then Los Angeles Dodgers from 1946 to 1960. He was born in Stony Creek Mills, Pennsylvania, just outside of Reading, the city which formed part of his nickname. The "Rifle" represents Furillo's strong throwing arm. He also was called "Skoonj" for his love of scungilli, an Italian dish made with snails.

Furillo was an amazingly consistent hitter through his 15 seasons in the major league (his final summer amounted to only eight games). His lifetime batting average was .299, and he hit better than .300 five times, and seven times batted between .289 and .299. His one bad season was 1952 when he hit just .247, but he bounced back a year later and won the National League batting title with a .344 average.

His older brother, Nick, played 11 games for the Cambridge, Maryland, Canners of the Eastern Shore League in 1940. Carl Furillo turned pro the same summer, playing for the Pocomoke City Chicks in the same league, before advancing to the Reading Brooks of the Interstate League. Because of his strong arm, Carl Furillo was called upon to do some pitching during his first year in the minors, winning two games, losing three, but after that his only pitching appearance was two innings of relief for Reading in 1941.

Carl Furillo probably would have been in the majors earlier than he was, but he lost three seasons to the Army.

I have seen this in a few places online, so I assume it's legit, and there is an obvious reason for it, but I don't recall Richard Anthony Allen, aka Dick or Richie, ever being called "The Wampum Walloper," though it's the kind of tag some baseball fans would come up with for a home run hitter born in Wampum, Pennsylvania.

Dick Allen pretty much divided his playing time between first base, third base and the outfield, and after 15 seasons (1963-1977) he had a .292 batting average, 351 home runs — and a reputation as a very controversial player. He played for five different teams, including two stops in Philadelphia. Bill James, in his revised "Historical Baseball Abstract," decided to place Allen among the first basemen,, rating his the 15th best of all-time, but saying Allen "lost half of his career or more to immaturity and emotional instability." (For more about Allen, click on the link to a SABR article by Rich D'Ambrosio.)

Allen's brothers, Hank and Ron, also played major league baseball, Hank for seven season, Ron for seven games.


Samuel Earl Crawford, who was born in Wahoo, Nebraska, is recalled as one of the greatest baseball players in the early days of the American League. After establishing himself with the Cincinnati Reds of the National League (1899-1902), Crawford jumped to the recently-formed American League in 1903 and spent 15 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, playing in the outfield with Ty Cobb. Crawford's claim to fame is being number one in triples — he had 309 three-base hits in his career, leading the National League once and the American League five times.

For his career, the Hall of Famer had 2,961 hits, 1,523 runs batted in, and he scored 1,391 runs. After he left the American League in 1917, at the age of 37, Crawford played four seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League and batted .330 in 674 games. Counting his minor league seasons, Crawford's overall hit total was 3,824.

After he retired, Crawford coached the baseball team at the University of Southern California from 1924 to 1929/

Pitcher Henry Clyde Day was so-nicknamed because he grew up in Pea Ridge, Arkansas. He was a professional baseball player for 11 years, spending most of his time in minor leagues where he won 128 games. His best season was 1924 when he was a 28-game winner for the Muskogee (OK) Athletics of the Association.

Day made four brief visits to the National League — two with the St. Louis Cardinas, one each with Cincinnati and Brooklyn — and won five games, losing seven.

When things went right during a game — striking out a batter, for instance — Day would often celebrate with a loud scream. Some sportswriters referred to him as the “Hog Calling Pitcher.”

However, in 1934, things began to go very wrong for Day. With his baseball future in doubt, he slashed his throat at the home of a friend and former teammate, Max Thomas. Dead at age 34, Day was survived by his wife and three-week-old son.

Just testing. Actually, William Bingham Douglas probably never got within 500 miles of the Klondike. He was born near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Wellsville, Missouri. He had the misfortune of starting his major league career with the St. Louis Browns in 1896. They were an 11th place team, and got worse the next year, finishing 12th, as Douglass led the team in batting with a .328 average.

So what's with his nickname? According to "Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900, Volume 1," by David Nemec, Douglass didn't want to return to the Browns, saying he intended to look for gold in the Klondike. Then he got word he'd been traded to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Sporting News (December 11, 1897) said Douglas felt playing for Philadelphia was as good as a gold mine. The article gave the catcher-outfielder-first baseman a new nickname, "Klondie," though more often he was called"Bill" or "Big Bill" — he was six-feet tall, weighing 200 pounds.

He remained with Philadelphia until he desserted the team early in the 1904 season, returning to Missouri. In 1905, he played for minor league teams in St. Joseph and Kansas City. The Phils wanted him back, but after a legal battle over his status, Douglass headed for Little Rock to play in the Southern Association. He retired as a player in 1912, and later headed for the Northwest, but didn't go as far as the Klondike, settling instead in Bend Oregon, where he died in 1953 as the agxe of 81.

This is another obvious, slightly forced nickname that missed my attention while I was growing up. To me, Robert William Andrew "Bob" Feller was nicknamed "Rapid Robert" or "Bullet Bob." He was the Nolan Ryan of his time, though Feller was a better pitcher at an earlier age.

Feller scared hitters, even as a 17-year-old rookie out of Van Meter, Iowa. Not only did he throw harder than anyone else, he was often wild. He went from his junior year in high school to the Cleveland Indians in 1936, pitched 62 innings, struck out 76 batters, and walked 47 as he won five games, lost three. Then he went back home and finished high school.

He was still a teenager when he won 17 games for the Indians in 1938. After that, he went on a tear — 24 wins in 1939, 27 wins in 1940, 25 wins in 1941. Then came Pearl Harbor, and Feller was the first major leaguer to enlist — joining the Army two days after Japan attacked us in Hawaii.

Unlike many baseball players, Feller saw action during the way, and didn't return to the Indians until August, 1945. Feller went on to win 266 games in his career, but that number could have been closer to 350.

Perhaps Feller's biggest disappointment was not winning a World Series game. He came close in 1948, but was on the losing end of a 1-0 contest in Game One. Photos show that Feller was hurt by a bad call during the game. He'd clearly picked off base runner Phil Masi, but the umpire called Masi safe. Moments later, Masi scored the only run of the game.

The Indians won the series, four games to two, with Feller taking both losses. Six years later, the Indians reached the World Series again after winning 110 games during the regular season. They entered the Series heavily favored, but lost the first two games. Indians manager Al Lopez had planned to start Feller in game three, but with his team behind by two games, Lopez kept Feller on the bench, starting Mike Garcia instead.

Feller, who was an old 35 at the time, had started only 19 games that season, and was considered the fifth man on the pitching staff (behind Early Wynn, Bob Lemon, Garcia, and Art Houtteman, all of who had won more games than Feller). However, Feller had a fine 13-3 record that season, and was the sentimental choice to start a World Series game. Garcia lost, and Lopez decided to use Lemon in game four, in which the Indians also were defeated.

Feller never had another chance in post season. He retired two years later.

Clinton "Clint" Hartung, a native of Hondo, Texas, may be the most famous flop in baseball history, though he wasn't to blame for all the hoopla. Hartung just happened to be an oversized (six-foot-five) kid who'd led his high school baseball team to the Texas state championship. He was an overpowering pitcher who happened to be a good hitter, and since he signed with a New York team (the Giants), well, the outrageous predictions were inevitable. He was designated as the next Babe Ruth. Heady stuff for a 19-year-old boy.

The Giants assigned him to the Eau Claire (Wisconsin) Bears of the Northern League, and he responded by hitting .358 with 12 home runs in 66 games. He did some pitching, winning three games (out of four decisions), but since Babe Ruth had proven more valuable as a full-time player than a pitcher, Hartung's future seemed to be the outfield.

But this was 1942, and the United States was at war. Hartung was drafted and spent the next four years in the Army Air Corps. Interestingly, he could have been discharged in 1945, but opted to re-enlist for one year, choosing the Army over a season in the minor leagues. Part of the reason is that Hartung had become a baseball star in the Army, and he felt that when 1947 rolled around, the Giants would decide he was ready for the major leagues.

He was correct, and while Hartung played a few games in the outfield, Giant manager Mel Ott decided to use him as a pitcher, and the young man, who turned 25 that summer, responded with what would be his best season in the major leagues. His pitching record was 9-7, and he batted .309, with four home runs.

It was downhill from there. He remained primarily a pitcher for the next three seasons, then an outfielder, starting in 1951. But 1952 he was back in the minor leagues, with Minneapolis of the American Association, and in 1955, at age 33, Hartung retired after spending the season with three teams — Oakland, then of the Pacific Coast League, Havana of the International League, and Nashville of the Southern Association.

I noticed another nickname listed for him — "Floppy." That's not surprising, but it is unfair. True, Hartung didn't make anyone forget Babe Ruth, but like so many players of his era, his career was affected by a long layoff due to military service. In his case, he lost an extra year, and while his Army baseball teams undoubtedly competed against some good teams, featuring some players with major league experience, things may have come too easily for the big guy from Hondo, and he when he finally got his chance with the Giants, he wasn't ready. It didn't help that the Giants weren't sure where to play him.

There's no mystery about this one. Samuel "Sam" Leever was a teacher at Goshen, Ohio, High School before he became at professional baseball player in 1897, at the relatively advanced age of 25.

After one year in the minors, with the Richmond Giants of the Atlantic League, he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates. (Interesting statistical note: With Richmond, Leever won 21 games, lost 18, with an earned run average of 1.05, indicating he should have won 30 games, maybe more. The problem: While he allowed only 37 earned runs, his teammates made so many errors that opponents scored 130 unearned runs during his games.)

With Pittsburgh, Leever had four 20-win seasons, and when he left the major leagues after 1910, he had 194 wins to show for his 13 seasons, against only 100 losses. Had he started his career earlier, he might have won more than 250 games.

One other note: In 1924, when Leever was 53 years old, he awoke one day to read his obituary in the local newspaper. Leever was amused, even pleased, because of the many nice things the newspaper had to say about him. It would be another 29 years before Leever actually passed away.

Charles "Red" Lucas is recalled as one of baseball's best-hitting pitchers, and a man who finished what he started. Three times he led the National League in complete games during a career that saw him win 157 games against 135 losses. His lifetime batting average of .281 is higher than most of today's position players; he was used as a pinch hitter no less than 505 times. There were six seasons when he batted over .300.

Lucas played briefly for the New York Giants (1923) and the Boston Braves (1924) before he caught on with Cincinnati in 1926, and remained with the Reds until 1934, when he moved to Pittsburgh for the first of five seasons with the Pirates. His best years with the Reds were 1927 and 1928 when he went 18-11 and 19-12. His last outstanding season was 1936 when he was 15-4 with Pittsburgh.

Mickey Charles Mantle was born in Spavinaw, Oklahoma, but grew up about 25 miles north in Commerce, which accounts for the nickname. He was named by his father, Elvin "Mutt" Mantle, an avid baseball fan, who believed he was honoring one of his idols, catcher Mickey Cochrane. The elder Mantle didn't realize the Hall of Fame catcher's real name was Gordon Stanley Cochrane, and he became known as "Mickey" because people mistakenly thought Cochrane was Irish, when he actually was of Scottish heritage. But he was regarded as "just another mick," which became "Mickey," much to the displeasure of Cochrane's family.

But this is about Mickey Mantle, the New York Yankee center fielder whose enormous potential was tempered by a series of injuries the ballplayer sometimes neglected. Still, what can you say about a man who hit 536 home runs, twice more than 50 in a season, and twice batted .353 or better. When Mantle was at his best, there were few who coulc match him.

Wilmer Mizell was born in Leakesville, Mississippi, but grew up in Vinegar Bend, Alabama.

He was a pitcher who broke into the majors in 1952 with the St. Louis Cardinals, showing a lot of promise. However, he never won more than 14 games in any of his nine big league seasons. He also pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets before retiring in 1962.

He went on to become a United States Congressman from North Carolina for six years (1968-74), by which time he was better known by his real first name, Wilmer.


George Joseph Mullin was born in Toledo, Ohio, but spent most of his life in Wabash, Indiana, which accounts for his nickname. The right-handed pitcher spent 11 full seasons with the Detroit Tigers (1902-1912) before landing with the Washington Senaors midway through the summer of 1913 after he had lost six of seven decisions with the Tigers. He finished the season with 4-11 record, the first time he had ever won less than 12 games.

Mullin went on two pitch two seasons in the Feceral League (1914-15), and ended his career with 228 wins, 209 of them with Detroit. He had five 20-win seasons, his best year b eing 1909 when he won 29 games. He pitched in three World Series (1907-09), but the Tigers lost all three, twice to the Chicago Cubs, once to Pittsburgh. Mullin broke even, winning three games, losing three. He beat the Pirates twice in the 1909 Series.

Despite breaking the 200-win mark which is important to Hall of Fame voters, Mullin has never generated much supporrt. The only time he lost fewer than 10 games was in 1909. In two of his 20-win seasons, he lost the same number of games. He led the league four times in bases on balls.

After his playing days were over, he was a police officer in Wabash, where he died in 1944, at the age of 63.

Few players, it seems, have been more associated with their hometowns than Hall of Fame pitcher Eddie Plank was with Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The left-hander reportedly never played baseball until he was 17, and a few years later he was spotted in Gettysburg by Connie Mack, scouting players for his Philadelphia Athletics who would be part of the new American League in 1901.

Edward Stewart Plank started his professional career at the top, at the age of 25. In some ways, he reminds me of Warren Spahn, another left-handed pitcher who didn't win a major league game until he was 25, then went on to win more than 300 more. Like Spahn, who was overshadowed early in his career by teammate Johnny Sain, Plank went through most of his 17 seasons almost taken for granted. Walter Johnson understandably would be regarded as the league's best pitcher, but even on his own team, Plank came off as second best, even though he was a 20-game winner eight times.

In his first season, Plank won 17 games, but the Athletics ace was Chick Fraser, who won 22. A year later Plank won 20 games, but another lefty, Rube Waddell grabbed the spotlight by winning 24 for the A's. Plank had more victories the next two seasons, but simply wasn't as colorful as the flame-throwing Waddell. Plank, meanwhile, was the thinking man's pitcher, who often drove batters to distraction by taking forever to throw the next pitch.

Waddell faded, and by 1910 was with the St. Louis Browns, his major league days about over. The A's, however, were stronger than ever, winning the American League pennant. However Plank had an off year, with 16 wins, taking a back seat to Chief Bender (who had 23 wins) and Jack Coombs (who had 31).

Another pennant followed in 1911, and Plank bounced back to win 23 games, but Coombs had 28. Plank was the A's star in 1912, with 26 wins (to 21 for Coombs), but the team slipped to third place. They were back on top in 1913, but Plank (18-10) took a backseat to Chief Bender (21-10). Philadelphia made it four pennants in five years in 1914, with no less than seven pitchers winning 10 games or more. Both Bender and "Bullet Joe" Bush won 17 games; Plank 15.

Despite his success, owner-manager Connie Mack was strapped for cash, and began selling off his best players after the 1914 World Series. Plank didn't wait to be sold, he jumped to the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League, and won 21 games in 1915. St. Louis finished second, though Plank was only one of three 20-game winners on the pitching staff. "Doc' Crandall matched Plank's victory total, and Dave Davenport had 22.

Interestingly, over the course of his career Plank won more games (326) than any of the teammates who outshone him during his career, though two of them (Bender and Waddell), like Planek, also made the Hall of Fame. Chief Bender had 212 career wins; Waddell, surprisingly, had "only" 193. Jack Coombs won 158 games, "Bullet Joe" Bush 196, "Doc" Crandall 102, and Dave Davenport 73. On the 1914 Philadelphia team, Plank's pitching mates also included Bob Shawker (who had 195 career wins) and Herb Pennock (who would go one to win 241).

The knock on Plank was his World Series record — two wins, five losses, but he gave up only eight earned runs in those seven games. In his five defeats, Philadelphia was shut out four times.

After he retired from playing, Plank returned to Gettysburg and owned a garage. Unfortunately, he had a stroke in 1926, and died at the age of 50.

Hall of Fame first baseman William Harold "Bill" Terry was the last National Leaguer to bat over .400 in a season. Terry, playing for the New York Giants, accomplished it in 1930, just barely, when he hit .401. It was a hitter's year — Babe Herman of Brooklyn batted .393, and two members of the last-place Philadelphia Phillies, posted gaudy averages, Chuck Klein at .386, Lefty O'Doul .383.

Terry spent all 14 major league seasons with the Giants, retiring with a .341 lifetime average. You never knew about how many home runs Terry would hit — he had 23 in 1930, nine the season after that, then a career high 28 in 1932, followed by six in 1933.

Like several great hitters — Babe Ruth, for example, and George Sister and O'Doul — Terry began as a pitcher, and has a 47-33 record in the minors. He was a player-manager for the Giants from 1932-36, and manager for five seasons after that.

Terry was born in Atlantia and died in Jacksonville, but spent some of the most important years of his life in Memphis, where he was married and picked up his nickname.

As long as there's baseball, Robert Brown "Bobby" Thomson will be remembered for what may be the most famous home run in the history of the game. (Boston Red Sox fans may quibble, claiming Ted Williams' home run in his final at bat was almost as dramatic, and certainly the home run by Bucky "Fucking" Dent of the New York Yankees in the 1978 American League playoffs should be considered, though Pittsburgh Pirate fans may say, "Hey, what about Bill Mazeroski's home run that won the 1960 World Series?")

But like many things in life, if you do it in New York City . . . well, people make a bigger deal out of it. Thomson's home run in 1951 won the National League pennant for the New York Giants, who came from nowhere to catch the Brooklyn Dodgers in September. What was anti-climactic about this famous home run is the Giants went on to lose in the World Series.

As for Thomson, he was born in Glasgow, Scotland, which accounts for that part of his nickname. His father went ahead to America, and settled in Staten Island, and that's where the future major leaguer grew up. Thomas was also called "The Flying Scot," though I can't fully account for the "flying" part.

Thomson was primarily an outfielder, playing a lot of center field, but also was used some at third base. He had power — eight seasons of 20 or more home runs (this was back when 20 home runs were more significant than they are now). He died in 2010, and people recalled what a classy fellow he was, a soft-spoken gentleman who seemed to get along well with everyone, even Ralph Branca, the unfortunate Brooklyn pitcher who threw what a second later became "the shot heard 'round the world."

He was born Francis Joseph O'Shea in Naugatuck, Connecticut, but by 1947 he was known as "Spec" Shea, a 26-year-old New York Yankee rookie who had a fine 14-5 record, was the winning pitcher in the All-Star game, and chalked up two more wins in the World Series when the Yanks defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers.

He was called "Spec" because of his freckles, and "The Naugatuck Nugget" because of his hometown. The six-feet, 190-pound right-hander went downhill from there, and by 1949 he was pitching for the Newark Bears, the Yankee farm team in the International League. In 1950, he was in the American Association, playing for another Yankee farm team, the Kansas City Blues.

But in 1952 Shea returned to the major leagues, this time with the Washington Senators, and posted an 11-7 record. The next year he was 12-7, and for the second season in a row, the Senators were respectable, thanks to another former Yankee pitcher, Bob Porterfield, who won 22 games.

Shea retired from playing after the 1955 season. His lifetime record in the major leagues was 56-46. Like many players of his era, Shea's career was interrupted by World War Two; he spent three years (1943-45) in with the Army Air Corps.

Victor Raschi was born in West Springfield, Massachusetts, which accounts for his nickname. Why rifle? Because he had a blazing fast ball, and because rifles were manufactured at the Springfield Armory.

Like Spec Shea, Vic Raschi missed three years of baseball while serving in the Army Air Corps, delaying his arrival in the major leagues until he was 27 years old. He made up for lost time by being a 20-game winner three seasons in a row (1949-51). His lifetime record was 132-66, giving him one of the highest winning percentages (.667) among pitchers with more than 100 victories.

When Raschi "slumped" to a 13-6 in 1953, he balked when the Yankees wanted him to take a pay cut the next season. He held out, then learned he'd been sold to the St. Louis Cardinals. He had a losing record (8-9), and a year later the Cardinals dealt him to the Kansas City Athletics, for whom he won only four games against six losses. That's when Raschi retired. He was 36 years old.

Statistically speaking, James "Tip" O'Neill had perhaps the greatest season in major league baseball history. Trouble was, he did it in 1887 with the St. Louis Browns of the American Association. That was considered a major league, but it doesn't get a whole lot of respect among baseball historians.

What O'Neill did, however, was truly remarkable. He led the league in batting with a .435 average, and was number one in runs scored, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs batted in, and a few other categories that are important only to people who love numbers. This made him baseball's first triple crown winner (a player who leads his league in batting average, home runs, and runs batted in).

To this day, O'Neill is the only player to lead his league in doubles, triples and home runs. He also is the only player to suffer a 100-point drop in his average the next season — and still win the batting title, which he did in the American Association in 1888.

The Woodstock in his nickname is located in Ontario Canada. That's where his family lived for awhile, and he first attracted attention as a pitcher for the Woodstock Actives, described as the Canadian champions in 1878. He has been called Canada's Babe Ruth, because he, too, began as a pitcher, though he became a full-time outfielder after winning 11 games (against four losses) for St. Louis in 1884.

He played major league baseball in the United States for ten seasons, closing out his career with Cincinnati of the National League in 1892. His lifetime batting average was .326. He was called "Tip" because he deliberately fouled off pitches until he got one he really liked — or perhaps he enjoyed driving pitchers crazy.

Edward "Ed" Heusser grew up in Salt Lake County, near the southern end of the Wasatch Mountains. Why the right-handed pitcher was referred to as "The Wild Elk," I do not know, but as you can tell from other nicknames or labels applied to baseball players, they often don't make a whole lot of sense.

Heusser was a journeyman pitcher who spent nine seasons in the major leagues, spread over 14 years, and even then was a bit old for a rookie, when, in 1935, he joined the St. Louis Cardinals, primarily as a relief pitcher. He was 26 at the time. He split 10 decisions, and in 1936 was 7-3, but had a miserable earned run average (5.43), which earned him a ticket back to the minors.

The most memorable thing about his stay with the Cardinals was a dugout incident involving teammate Joe Medwick, an often surly guy who was one of the best hitters in the National League. Heusser made the mistake of criticizing Medwick for failing to chase a fly ball; Medwick responded by punching Heusser and knocking him out. It wasn't the first time Medwick had done this to a teammate.

Heusser returned briefly to the majors in 1938, making one relief appearance for the Philadelphia Phillies. Two seasons later he was with the Philadelphia Athletics, going 6-13. After two more seasons in the minors, Heusser joined the Cincinnati Reds. It was World War Two, and because of his age (34), Heusser had not been grabbed by the Army, and with a player shortage, he was one of the better pitchers available. He had his best season in 1944, going 13-11 with Cincinnati, and posting the best earned run average (2.38) in the National League.

But in 1947, the 38-year-old "Wild Elk" was in the minor leagues again, pitching for the Montreal Royals of the International League. This was a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team, but Heusser was a free agent. With young Roy Campanella as his battery mate, Heusser had a remarkable season, winning 19 games, losing only three. This earned him a trip back to the majors in 1948, when he closed out his playing career with the Philadelphia Phillies.

His lifetime record in the majors was 56-67, but he won 162 games in the minor leagues. In addition to his fine year in Montreal, Heusser was 19-7 with the Memphis Chickasaws of the Southern Association in 1939, and 20-8 with the Atlanta Crackers of the same league in 1941.

He was born John Leonard Roosevelt Martin, but his teammate and (later manager) Frankie Frisch was one of the few people to call him by his first name; everyone else called him Pepper, a nickname given him by Blake Harper, a minor league general manager who liked Martin's pep-filled attitude and excitement.

In the fall, he played semi-professional football for the Hominy Indians in Oklahoma's Osage County. His running style earned him another nickname: The Wild Hoss of the Osage.

Martin spent his entire playing career with the St. Louis Cardinal organization. He was a lightly regarded minor leaguer until he became a Cardinal outfielder in 1931, hitting .300. But it was the '31 World Series that made Pepper Martin a household name. He had 12 hits, stole five bases, drove in five runs and led the Cards to victory in seven games over the Philadelphia Athletics.

Martin was one of the most consistent hitters from year to year, finishing with a .298 lifetime batting average. After he retired from playing, he managed in the minor leagues for several years.

For awhile the Wild Horse and the Wild Elk were teammates.

No doubt, the player so nicknamed was not thrilled about it, but probably didn't have to contend with it too often. Guy Morton, a native of Vernon, Alabama, was a pitcher with the Cleveland Indians for 11 seasons, winning 98 games (against 86 losses). That he personally finished 12 games above .500 was impressive, considering his record as a rookie was 1-13.

Morton peaked in his second year, leading the Indians with 16 wins, and tossing six shutouts. After that he had only three seasons in which his wins reached double figures — he went 12-6 in 1916, 14-8 in 1918, and 14-9 in 1922. He was a member of the World Champion Cleveland team in 1920, but did not appear in the World Series.

Like many players of his era, he returned to the minor leagues after he pitched his final major league game in 1924, at the age of 32. He spent three years with Memphis, one with Mobile, and, after a season off, played two years with High Point of the Piedmont League.

This could be considered one of the most sarcastic baseball nicknames. Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb was born in a tiny Georgia farming community called The Narrows, but no one in baseball would call Cobb a "peach." That implies a nice person. Ty Cobb was not nice. He was perhaps the fiercest competitor any sport has ever seen.

He also was one of the greatest baseball players who ever lived. His lifetime batting average — .366 — is number one. He was the American League batting champion 11 times, and three times batted over .400. He had 4,189 hits, a total since surpassed by Pete Rose (though Rose had 2,619 more at bats, and his lifetime batting average was a modest .303).

Like Ted Williams, Cobb was frustrated by his failure to play on a World Championship team. While Williams had only one opportunity (in 1946), Cobb's Detroit team won three straight American League pennants (1907-09), only to lose in the World Series, twice to the Chicago Cubs, once to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Cobb batted a disappointing .262 in those three series.

Tommy Lee Jones portrayed the aging ex-ballplayer in the 1994 movie, "Cobb," based on writer Al Stump's account of his interviews with the man who had not mellowed one bit over the years.

On paper, Earle Combs would seem to be one of the best center fielders to play the game, but his statistics are a bit misleading. He had a lifetime batting average of .325, and four time batted .342 or higher, but never finished among the top five hitters in any season. It was an era of gaudy averages. Combs' reputation also suffered because he had a weak throwing arm,

However, he was consistent, and an important cog in the New York Yankee machine in the late '20s and early '30s. And, in any era, a lifetime .325 batting average is impressive. As for his last name, it rhymes with "tombs," not "combs."

Combs was born in tiny Pebworth, Kentucky in 1899, and died 77 years later in Richmond, Kentucky. Hall of Fame shortstop Pee Wee Reese, a native of Ekron, Kentucky, was nicknamed "The Little Colonel," and began his professional career with the minor league Louisville Colonels.

Ronald "Ron" Guidry, like a lot of athletes born after World War Two, went to college before turning pro. In Guidry's case, it was the University of Southwestern Louisiana. One result of finishing college, at least, in baseball, is that it usually delays your rise to the major leagues.

While Guidry, also nicknamed "Gator," pitched a few innings for the New York Yankees in 1975 and '76, he spent most of those summers with Syracuse of the International League, where he was used as a relief pitcher.

It was in 1977, his first full season as a Yankee, that the 26-year-old Guidry established himself as a starting pitcher, winning 16 games. The next season he posted an incredible 25-3 record. At the end of 1985, his ninth full season, Guidry had 154 wins. He would win only 16 more games over the next three years, and then retire. Because he had "only" 170 lifetime wins, Guidry has not aroused much support for election to the Hall of Fame, but in his prime, he was one of baseball's very best pitchers.

Guy Bush owed his nickname to the whim of a sportswriter. Bush was born in Aberdeen, Mississippi, and apparently some folks associate mudcats (a kind of catfish) with the state. Sportswriters love alliteration, and so, in Bush's case, the M&M combination was "Mississippi Mudcat." Bush isn't the only pitcher so nicknamed, but the other one who comes to mind, Jim Grant, actually was from Florida.

Bush arrived in the major leagues in 1923, pitching for the Chicago Cubs until 1934. After that, he pitched for Pittsburgh, the Boston Braves, and St. Louis Cardinals until he retired in 1938. At the age of 45, he appeared in four games for Cincinnati, but that was in 1945 when all major league teams were strapped for players because of World War Two.

His lifetime record was 176-136. He had one 20-win season, and three others in which he won 18 or 19 games. Later he did some managing in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

Trivia note: It was on May 25, 1935, that Babe Ruth hit his last three home runs. It was quite a way for the 40-year-old slugger to go out — hitting three home runs in one game. His last two were hit off Guy Bush.

Amos Rusie was born in 1871 in Mooresville, Indiana, which accounts for half of his nickname. His blazing fastball was the "Thunderbolt." Rusie, at six-feet-one, 200 pounds, was a big man in his era. He was one pitcher whose wildness may have helped him. Batters were truly afraid to step in against him. He won 30 or more games four seasons in a row (1891-1894), and in two of those seasons he walked more batters than he struck out — and he averaged 261 strike out per season during the streak, three times leading the league.

In his eight seasons with the New York Giants, Rusie won 234 games. He pitched his first year with Indianapolis, and made a few appearance with Cincinnati three years after he left the Giants. His lifetime record was 246-174, and his batting average was .248, very high for a pitcher. Some baseball people who saw all three pitchers in action, say Rusie was faster than Walter Johnson and Bob Feller.

I'm not sure what it is, exactly, but the photo and the nickname don't seem to go together, but that's Lon Warneke, and that was his nickname. I guess in my mind I had a picture of Lon McCallister.

Lonnie "Lon" Warneke was born in Mount Ida, Arkansas, and the "Hummingbird" part of his nickname refers to his fast ball. He pitched some for the Chicago Cubs in 1930 and 1931, but it was 1932 when he became part of the regular rotation, and responded with 22 wins (against six losses). He remained with the Cubs through 1936, and had two more 20-win seasons before he landed on the St. Louis Cardinals in 1937. In 1942, he went back with the Cubs. He missed 1944 because of Army service, returned briefly in 1945 before retiring at the age of 36.

Overall, Warneke won 192 games, and lost only 121. He also won two games in the 1935 World Series, though the Cubs would come out on the short end of the best-of-seven series with the Detroit Tigers. Later Warneke was an umpire in the Pacific Coast and National Leagues, which prepared him for a judgeship in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Frank Hoffman is a man of mystery, and so is his nickname. (Obviously, photos of him are rare.) Some believed Hoffman must have been a native Texan; why else be called "The Texas Wonder"? But the Society for American Baseball Research has traced his birth to Mississippi.

The man pitched only part of one season in what was classified a major league. In 1888, he won three games, but lost nine for the Kansas City Cowboys of the American Association. The key to his nickname seems to be where he had pitched earlier in the season — San Antonio of the Texas Southern League. He won seven games, lost just one for the Missionaries, which may have inspired a Kansas City sports writer to introduce his home team's new pitcher, Hoffman, as "The Texas Wonder."

According to "Major League Baseball Profiles — 1871-1900," Volume 2, edited by David Nemec, the San Antonio manager, John McCloskey, tolerated Hoffman's wacky behavior, such as the time, with a three-run lead against the Dallas Hams, he deliberately loaded the bases by walking batters so he could face first baseman Charlie Levis. Hoffman taunted Levis by announcing exactly where the next pitch would be, and the batter hit a grand slam, which accounted for Hoffman's only loss during his half-season stay in San Antonio. (That makes for a good story, but according to statistics for the 1888 Dallas Hams, Levis didn't hit any home runs that year.)

However, Hoffman's 7-1 record earned him a trip to Kansas City, but the next year he was back in the minors, playing in Denver. In 1890, he and McCloskey were re-united, this time with Houston of the Texas League. Hoffman won just five games, lost 12. His last season in professional baseball was a marathon. Pitching for the San Francisco Metropolitans of the California League, Hoffman won 39 games, and lost 37. His teammate, Jack Fanning, was just as busy, winning 35, losing 41. (Seasons were unusually long in California-based leagues; teams often played 190 games, or more.)

What happened to Hoffman after that season is unknown. After that season in San Francisco, he deserved a long, long rest.

Juan Marichal, was one of the dominant pitchers of the 1960s, having six 20-win seasons for the San Francisco Giants, including a 25-8 record in 1963 and a 26-9 mark in 1968. In his 14 seasons with the Giants (1960-73), Marichal won 238 games. He picked up five more victories in 1974 with the Boston Red Sox, but was winless in his short stint with the arch rival Los Angeles Dodgers in 1975.

Marichal's nickname stems from his birthplace, Laguna Verde, in the Dominican Republic.

One blemish on Marichal's history was an incident in 1965 when he whacked Dodger catcher John Roseboro on the head with a bat. Marichal was suspected for several days and fined, and later apologized to Roseboro and went to great lengths to make amends. Reportedly, he and Roseboro became friends. That incident may be why Marichal's election to the Hall of Fame was delayed until his third year of eligibility.
Usually, a nickname such as our first one, tells you something about the player's ethnic background. This isn't always the case, as you'll see in some of the other nicknames I've spotlighted.

When I think of Harry Agganis, I think of Ernie Davis, another great athlete who died much too soon. Aristotle George Agganis, son of Greek immigrants, was born in 1929 in Lynn, Massachusetts. His family nickname was "Ari," which his friends turned into "Harry." In high school he was a star in football as well as baseball, and at Boston University he attracted more attention on the gridiron where he was the Terriers' scrambling quarterback and one of the country's best defensive backs, as well as the team's punter.

I saw Agganis play in 1949 when Boston University beat Syracuse, 33-21. Neither was a major power, but both teams had exciting quarterback — the left-handed Agganis and, for Syracuse, Bernie Custis, perhaps the only black quarterback for a name school at that time. (He later played in the Canadian League.)

Agganis didn't play in 1950; he had become a Marine, but he was back in 1951, picking up where he left off the year before. He was as big a sports hero in New England, as Doug Flutie would be many years later. When Agganis graduated in 1952, he had a choice — baseball or pro football. He chose to play baseball with the Boston Red Sox, who couldn't be happier.

He made his pro debut in 1953 with Louisville of the American Association, batting .281 with 23 home runs and 108 runs batted in. He joined the Red Sox the following year, hit .251 with 11 home runs, and got off to a good start in 1955, batting .313 in the first 25 games. But on May 16, he was hospitalized, complaining of chest pains, and six weeks later he died of a massive pulmonary embolism. Some speculated that Agganis' condition stemmed from injuries he'd received in a football game in his senior year at Boston University.

Ironically, some of his friends and family claimed that Agganis was having second thoughts about his baseball career, and had planned to return to football that autumn. He would have competed with George Shaw for the starting quarterback position on the Baltimore Colts. (Johnny Unitas was one year away.

And for those who might not know who Ernie Davis was, he won the 1961 Heisman Award, but died of leukemia before he had a chance to play pro football with the Cleveland Browns.

Louis "Lou" Skizas was an outfielder-third baseman, and teammate of Mickey Mantle in 1949 with the Independence, Missouri, Yankees, and the next year with the Joplin Miners. While Mantle got his first shot with the New York Yankees in 1951, Skizas spent the season in Norfolk. Mantle kept playing in 1952, but Skizas was in the service.

A civilian again in 1954, Skizas batted .310 with Birmingham of the Southern Association, and Kansas City (still in the American Association). He had his best all-around season in 1955 in the American Association, but with the Denver Bears, hitting .348, with 21 home runs.

Skizas was called up by the Yankees in 1956, but after six pinch-hit appearances, a 16-game visit to Richmond, and a minor injury, he was traded to the Kansas City Athletics and played very well, batting .314 in 89 games. But he slumped to .245 the next season, and split 1958 between Detroit, Charleston and Birmingham. The Chicago White Sox gave Skizas his last shot at the majors in 1959, but let him go after eight games. He then played for Seattle of the Pacific Coast League and the Havana Cubans of the International League. He continued to bounce around the minors until 1962 before he retired.

What was so nervous about Skizas? It was the way he went through a ritual every time he went up to the plate. He rubbed dirt on his bat, then rubbed it off by sliding the bat between his legs, before kissing it, and he reached into a back pocket not once, not twice, but three times to touch a lucky charm.

After baseball, Skizas earned a couple of college degrees, taught at Illinois State University and at the University of Illinois in Champaign as an associate professor in the Department of Life Sciences. He also coached the university baseball team for 10 years.

When Stanley George Bordagaray reported to spring training in 1935, the California native sported the mustache and goatee he had worn as an extra in the movie, "The Prisoner of Shark Island." This was during baseball's clean-shaven era. The Brooklyn Dodgers ordered him use a razor, but not until several photos were taken. This led to the belief he was called Frenchy because of the image he affected with the facial hair, but apparently his mother had started calling him "Frenchy" when Bordagaray was a child.

Bordagaray was an outfielder, though he occasionally played third base during his 11 major league seasons.

His best season was 1936 when he batted .315 in 125 games from Brooklyn. He played with the World Series-winning New York Yankees in 1941, but during the war years was back with the Dodgers. He was the player-manager of the Trois Rivieres Royals of the Canadian-American League in 1946, leading them to a pennant and batting .363. In 1947 he managed the Greenville Spinners of the South Atlantic League, and batted .342.

Bordagaray died in 2001. He was 91 years old.

Why was Alan "Al" Hrabosky called "The Mad Hungarian"? The story linked to his name provides a better answer than I can. No doubt, his mustache and crazy eyes made Hrabosky look like a scary dude, and he fed that impression with the way he tried to psych himself up on the mound.

He was one of baseball's best relief pitchers, particularly from 1970-77 with the St. Louis Cardinals. Later he played for the Kansas City Royals and the Atlanta Braves. His won-lost record was 64-35, and his best season was 1975 when he had 13 wins (only three losses), and 22 saves.

After he retired, Hrabosky became a Cardinals broadcaster.

Louis "Lou" Novikoff was born in Glendale, Arizona, of parents who had fled Russia to settle in the United States. That fact, plus his playful personality led to his nickname.

He was an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies in the 1940s, but may be better remembered in Los Angeles and other minor league cities where he put up bigger numbers. His batting averages in the four seasons before he joined the Chicago Cubs were .351, .367, .376 and .363. In 1939, Novikoff was the minor league player of the year. In 1940, he had 259 hits for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, including 41 home runs.

With the Cubs, Novikoff had one .300 season, but his lifetime major league average was .282. He had problems in the field, especially in Chicago. Seems he wouldn't chase fly balls past the warning track because he was convinced the vines that grew on Wrigley Field's fence were poison ivy. It is said that at times even Novikoff's wife booed his outfield play.

Shortstop Herman C. Long was the best of the five players listed here. While widely known as "Germany" Long, he also was called "The Flying Dutchman," though that nickname is more closely associated with another shortstop, Hall of Famer Honus Wagner.

Long played 16 seasons of major league baseball, 13 of them with the Boston Beaneaters. He led the National League in home runs in 1900 with 12, probably due more to his speed than power, since inside-the-part homers were much more common in those days. Long stole 537 bases in his career, during which he had a four-year streak (1894-97) in which he batted .315 or higher, with .345 his best mark, in 1896.


Herman Schaefer
was the most colorful of this bunch. Primarily a second baseman, he played at least 15 games at every position except pitcher and catcher, though he did make two pitching appearances, lasting a total of one inning. He played mostly for Detroit and Washington during his long career. His batting average was only .257, but he did have one standout season — 1911 — when he hit .334 for Washington. He played in two World Series (1907-08) with the Tigers, but had only five hits in 37 at bats.

He was born in Chicago of German immigrant parents. He liked to showboat, and legend has it that in 1906, when he was called upon to pinch hit in a Detroit game, he turned to the crowd and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, you are now looking at Herman Schaefer, better known as 'Herman the Great', acknowledged by one and all to be the greatest pinch-hitter in the world. I am now going to hit the ball into the left field bleachers. Thank you."

Seconds later, that's exactly what he did against Chicago White Sox pitcher Doc White. Or so the story goes.

Schaefer is also recalled for such stunts as coming to the plate wearing a raincoat during a steady rain, or wearing a large, fake mustache. Because of his antics, he was often called "The Prince."

Perhaps he is best remembered for stealing first base in a game during the 1911 season. You'd have to understand baseball strategy to make sense of the story, but Schaefer already was on first, and his Washington teammate Clyde Milan was on third. The idea was for Schaefer to break for second, draw a throw from the catcher, allowing the speedy Milan to run home and score. The catcher, Fred Payne, did not fall for the trick, something you see these days mostly in youth leagues.

Schaefer's solution was to go back to first base on the next pitch, then try again on the pitch after that. That provoked Chicago manager Hugh Duffy, who said Schaefer should be called out for his stunt. While Duffy was arguing with the umpire, Schaefer attempted to run back to second. This time Milan tried to score, and was tagged out in a comedy or errors that resulted in a rule change that accomplished what Duffy was saying: No player is allowed to run the bases backward.

And let's not forget this trio
Frederick Schmit, a pitcher whose checkered major league career ran from 1890 to 1901 with four teams, was nicknamed "Germany," but was better — and more appropriately — known as "Crazy." Though his lifetime record was 7-36, Schmit always talked as though he was the best pitcher of them all, say he'd been cursed by playing on a lot of last-place teams.

His career highlight, if you can call it that, came in 1899 when he won two games and lost 17 for the Cleveland Spiders, a last-place team with a record of 20-134. One of Schmit's teammates, Frank Bates, was even worse, going 1-19, while the two pitching "stars" of the Spiders, Jim Hughey and Charlie Knepper, went 4-30 and 4-22. The team used no fewer than 15 different pitchers that season. How bad were the 12th place Spiders? Washington, the team in 11th place, won 54 games.

Joseph Schultz Sr. was a good hitting, weak fielding outfielder and third baseman who bounced around the National League from 1912 to 1925, playing at least a few games with every team but the New York Giants. His lifetime batting average was .285, which indicates he should have found steady work with some team, but his fielding averages show why he didn't. He was, however, a highly regarded baseball baseball man who managed in the minor leagues for several seasons after his playing days ended.

In 1939 he was hired by the Pittsburgh Pirates to direct their farm team operation. Tragically, two years later, while on a scouting trip for the Pirates, Schultz was stricken with ptomaine poisoning, and died. He was survived by a son, Joseph Jr., who also was a major league player, and later a long-time minor league manager, before becoming a major league coach, who briefly managed Seattle and Detroit.

He was known as George Smith during much of his long professional baseball career (1883-1901), but somewhere along the line he was called "Germany" Smith, and that's how he is remembered. He was a shortstop, whose 15-season stay in the major leagues had him playing mostly for Brooklyn and Cincinnati. He was six-feet tall, bigger than most shortstops, and was considered an excellent fielder, which is a reputation common for a guy who had trouble hitting.

Despite his .243 batting average, Smith did have one .300 season, with Cincinnati in 1895, and on another occasion batted .294. George J. Smith was born in Pittsburgh, but there's a question about the year — either 1859 or 1863.

Did your mother come from Ireland? No? How about your father? Well, we're going to call you "Irish," anyway. That's how it went for at least one well-known baseball player.

Irish Meusel — born Emil Frederick Meusel — had German parents, but was given his nickname because someone thought he looked Irish. Meusel played his first major league game in 1914 with the Washington Senators, but didn't return until 1918,with the Philadelphia Phillies. He ended his major league career with the Brooklyn Robins (later Dodgers), but had his best seasons with the New York Giants. In 1921, he posted his highest batting average (.343), and his lifetime average was .310. In 1923, he led the National League in runs batted in with 125, though his career best was 132 the season before.

He was just as likely to be called Emil as he was "Irish," but also was known as Bob Meusel's brother. People often confused the two. Bob Meusel was a long-time outfielder for the New York Yankees, whose lifetime batting average was just one point lower than his brother's.

Here are other players nicknamed "Irish."

Henry Cooke McIlveen was called "Irish" because he was born in Belfast. He made his major league debut as a pitcher in 1906 with Pittsburgh, losing his only decision. He returned as an outfielder with the New York Highlanders (Yankees) in 1908, but was let go during the 1909 season. His batting average was a paltry .215. In the off-season he attended Penn State University. After graduating, he coached the school baseball team for a few years.

Michael "Mike" Ryan spent 11 seasons in the majors, four of them with the Boston Red Sox, six with the Philadelphia Phillies, and one with Pittsburgh. Highly regarded as a defensive catcher, his lifetime batting average was only .193. After he quit playing, he did some coaching in the minors, and later with the Phillies from 1980 through 1995.

New York City native Charles Francis Fox played three games for the New York Giants in 1942, after spending most of the season with Bristol of the Appalachian League. The catcher then joined the Navy. He returned in 1946 and spent the rest of his playing career in the minors, where he also began managing in 1947, at the age of 26. Several years later he managed the San Francisco Giants (197-74), Montreal (1975) and the Chicago Cubs (1983). I remember him as Charlie Fox, though, apparently, in his younger days he was nicknamed "Irish."

Lawrence "Larry" Miggins was a hot prospect as a teenager. The Bronx-born son of Irish immigrants signed with the St. Louis Cardinals, and showed promise in the minors, but managed to bat only .229 in two brief major league trials. He played four years for Houston, then in the Texas League, and that's where he settled after retirement, working as a probation and parole officer.

Right-handed pitcher Earl Harrist was born in Louisiana, and is listed several places as being nicknamed "Irish." I don't recall any nickname for him during his stint in Syracuse, but I was only eight-year-old in 1946 when he went 15-10 for the Chiefs, and threw two no-hitters. He made little impression in the major leagues, pitching for Cincinnati, the Chicago White Sox, Washington, the St. Louis Browns and Detroit. That's five teams in five seasons. His record was 12-28. In the minors, however, he won 148 games, against 135 losses. He was the first pitcher Larry Doby faced when he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1947. Harrist struck him out.

Roy Corhan was a 23-year-old rookie shortstop for the Chicago White Sox in 1911 when he was beaned by New York Highlander star pitcher, Russ Ford. There was some fear for Corhan's life at the time, but he recovered and played until 1920, albeit in the minor leagues, mostly for the San Francisco Seals. Corhan did resurface in the majors, briefly, with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1916. I came across a photo of Corhan with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig during their 1927 post-season barnstorming tour with their teams, the Bustin' Babes and Larrupin' Lous. Corhan apparently umpired their game in San Francisco.

Thomas Edward Higgins, known usually as Eddie, but also as "Doc" and "Irish," pitched briefly for the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1909 and 1910 season, winning three games, losing four.

James Elwood McCloskey appeared in four games with the Boston Braves in 1936, pitching a total of eight innings. giving up 14 hits and 10 runs. He had no wins, no losses. He'd been with Jersey City and Syracuse of the International League, but retired in 1936 after a very short stay with the Baltimore Orioles, also of the International League. During World War Two, he came out of retirement twice — in 1942 to pitch for the Lockport White Sox of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (PONY) League, and, in 1945 for the Trenton Spartans of the Interstate League.

Edward James Conwell also was nicknamed "Irish," but how would anyone remember? The third baseman had one at bat for the St. Louis Cardinals, in 1911, and struck out. He played minor league ball until 1919, six seasons with the Portsmouth Cobblers of the Ohio State League, three with the Waco Navigators of the Texas League. He died in 1926; he was only 36.

Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane was one of the best catchers in baseball history. So what's he's doing on this page? It's his nickname — "Mickey," given him as a young man because the man who signed him to play professional baseball thought he was another "mick," or Irishman. He wasn't, despite his last name. He was born in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to parents of Scottish descent. Needless to say, the family wasn't pleased when Gordon Stanley Cochrane became well known as "Mickey.

Later he picked up a nickname for his nickname — "Black Mike" — given him after he was traded to Detroit after the 1933 season. With the additional responsibility of managing the Tigers, plus some economic losses during the depression, Cochrane's mood was often dark, despite leading Detroit to American League pennants in 1934 and '35, and winning the World Series in his second year as manager. He also batted well over .300 both seasons.

But in 1936 Cochrane had a nervous breakdown and missed several games, and a year later his skull war fractured by a pitch thrown by Bump Hadley of the New York Yankees. Cochrane was unconscious for 10 days, and never played another game, though he did return to manage the Tigers for awhile.

In 1942, at the age of 39, Cochrane joined the U. S. Navy and served as a lieutenant during World War Two. Later he was a coach for the Philadelphia Athletics, and for awhile was the team's general manager. He also did some scouting for the New York Yankees and the Tigers. He died in 1962, at the age of 59.

And now an Irish-American player with an anything-but-Irish nickname:

Richard Farrell was a big man (six-feet-four-inches, 215 pounds), the son of Tom Farrell, also a big man. For reasons known only to his Boston friends, Tom Farrell became known as "Big Turk." So, naturally, his son became known as "Little Turk," until he was so big that "Little" disappeared from his nickname. The Farrells, of course, were Irish-Americans.

Farrell was a promising pitcher in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system, but when he joined the Phillies for his first full season in the majors (1957), he went from being mostly a starting pitcher to being a reliever. And so he remained until 1962 when he joined the Houston Astros. He was a 20-game loser that season, against 10 wins. The next season he had his best record in the majors, 14-13, also with Houston.

Farrell's overall record (106-111) is no indication of how good he really was. He was selected to the National League all-star team four times, and had an overpowering fastball. In 1977, he was killed in an automobile crash in Massachusetts. He was 43.

I thought his first name was the big clue to why Omar Joseph Lown was nicknamed "Turk," but the accepted story is that, as a boy, he was particularly fond of turkey, one of those kids who couldn't get enough of Thanksgiving.

Lown was a six-foot, 180-pound pitcher, used primarily in relief. Born in Brooklyn in 1924, he spent most of his 11-season major league career in Chicago, first with the Cubs, then with the White Sox. Lown seemed to improve with age, finally retiring when he was 38.

He was known for the high kick in his delivery, a right-handed Warren Spahn. Like so many players of his time, Lown lost three years to military service, pitching just one season (1942) before he joined the Army. He showed great promise in that one season, with an 18-8 record and 1.94 earned run average for the Valdosta Trojans of the George-Florida League.

Those three years of Army service helped delay Lown's major league debut until he was 27. Three years later, he was sent back to the minors, playing with the Los Angeles Angels, then of the Pacific Coast League. He was there for two seasons, but his 12-5 record in 59 relief appearances (and two starts) earned him a trip back to the Cubs in 1956.

[Trivia note: With the Angels in 1955, he had 32 at bats. and hit three home runs.]

I believe I'm correct in saying Lown's last name rhymes with town, not loan. Anyway, he went on to enjoy a long, successful career, and his 55-61 won-lost record is no reflection of his ability, particularly during his last four seasons (1959-62), which were spent with the Chicago White Sox. He made 206 appearances during those four seasons, often as the closer.


"Dutch" is one of baseball's most popular nicknames. At least, it was . . . back in the day. Albert Ernest Mele — to me, the name sounds Italian — is my representative "Dutchman" because he's the first player with that nickname that I saw in person, in 1946, at McArthur Stadium in Syracuse where he played for the hometown Chiefs in the International League. (Mele was a Syracuse outfielder for eight seasons.)

Mele's major league experience came in 1937 and included appearances in just six games for the Cincinnati Reds. He batted .143 with two hits in 14 at bats. He spent most of that season with the Class C Muskogee (Oklahoma) Reds, hitting .354 with 30 home runs. The year before, also with Muskogee, Mele batted .353 with 23 home runs.

It was in 1942 that Mele joined the Syracuse Chiefs, at the age of 27. He remained there until midway through the 1950 season, during which he was dealt to the Jersey City Giants. (He did not play in 1948.) He holds the Syracuse record for most games played (1087) and home runs (111). He batted .285 for the Chiefs, though his overall minor league average was .306.

He's included in the Chiefs' Wall of Fame, and in 2009 was elected to the International League Hall of Fame. After he retired, he ran a nightclub — Dutch Mele's Dugout — in Oak Tree, New Jersey.

I don't know the story behind Mele's nickname. He shared it with 71 other men who played major league baseball. Only a few of them hung around very long. The best known:

Hubert Benjamin "Dutch" Leonard, so nicknamed because someone thought he looked Dutch. Leonard was a left-handed pitcher who was in the American League 11 seasons (1913-21, 1924-25) with Boston and Detroit, winning 139 games. His best season was 1914 when, at age 22, he won 19 games, lost only five, and had an unbelievable, league-leading earned run average of 0.96, with seven shutouts.

Emil John "Dutch" Leonard was nicknamed after the first "Dutch" Leonard (above). Neither man was Dutch — Emil's parents were from Belgium — but that never matters where nicknames are concerned. This "Dutch" Leonard hung around the major leagues for 20 seasons (1933-36; 1938-53) on the strength of a knuckleball and rubber arm. He won 191 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Washington Senators, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs. A four-time all-star, Leonard's best season was 1939 with Washington when he won 20 games. Like many knuckleball pitchers, Leonard was active until he was in his 40s.

Walter Henry "Dutch" Reuther was a left-handed pitcher who won 137 games in an 11-season major league career that included stops with the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Brooklyn Robins, Washington Senators, and the New York (1926-27) when his roommate was Babe Ruth. After winning 19 games for the Reds in 1919, he picked up another victory over the Chicago White Sox in the most infamous World Series of all-time. Three seasons later, with Brooklyn, Reuther had his only 20-win season (21, actually). He was a better than average hitter for a pitcher, and made his only appearance — with Washington — in the 1925 World Series as a pinch hitter. (He struck out.) However, in the 1919 Series, he had four hits in six at bats, and four runs batted in. The hits included a double and two triples (both coming in the same game.

Johnny Vander Meer was the left-handed pitcher who threw back-to-back no-hit games for Cincinnati in 1938, earning the nickname, "Double No-Hit." He also was known as "The Dutch Master." Vander Meer had a 13-season career — losing two years to World War Two service — and was a four-time National League all-star. However, his overall record was 119-121. He was never a 20-game winner, but in 1942 had an 18-12 record for the Reds. In 1938, the season of his unique double no-hitter feat, Vander Meer was 15-10. He spent his last two seasons (1950-51) with the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

Because John J. Healy was born in Cairo, Illinois, he picked up the nickname "Egyptian." And because Healy was six-feet-two-inches tall, he sometimes was called "Long John" Healy. However, it's "Egyptian" that makes this pitcher unique.

He broke in with the St. Louis Maroons of the National League in 1885. He was only 18. Healy bounced around the majors until 1892, with stops in Indianapolis, Washington, Chicago, Toledo, Baltimore and Louisville. His best season was 1890 with the Toledo Maumees of the American Association, then classified a major league. He won 22 games, lost 21.

Healy's lifetime record was 78-136. He came out of retirement in 1895 to pitch for the Minneapolis Millers of the Western League, winning 17 games, losing 13. He was still a young man, at 28, but four years later he died.

Robert Lee Caruthers was born in Memphis, grew up (and lived much of his life) in Chicago, played most of his professional baseball in St. Louis and Brooklyn, and died in Peoria, Illinois. So why was the pitcher-outfielder, active from 1884-1892, nicknamed "Parisian Bob"? Because of some brash behavior during the days leading up to the 1886 season, soon after he celebrated his 22nd birthday — in Paris, where he was vacationing with "Doc" Bushong, his catcher. Bushong returned home,, but Caruthers remained in France while he negotiated his baseball contract by transatlantic cables. That's the stunt that earned him his nickname. For more about Caruthers . . .

 
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