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A few websites have declared "Babe" (as in Babe Ruth) is the greatest baseball nickname of them all. I disagree. It's the player we remember. Had Ruth been given an equally obvious (and popular) nickname, such as "Lefty" or "Kid," then they might be at the top of the list.

His real name — George Herman Ruth — suggested nothing clever. And at the time he was dubbed, "Babe," he was not the overweight fellow people picture at the mention of his name. About the only distinguishing feature, aside from his unusual, infant-like face, was the way he ran in tiny, mincing steps. He might have been called "Tippy Toes" Ruth.

As a pitcher for the International League Baltimore Orioles, he was a 19-year-old without a nickname, a rookie on a minor league team that included several much older players who'd been to the majors and back. The Orioles were run by a man named Jack Dunn, who kept the team independent of the major leagues. He signed players, and later was often reluctant to let them go, as he proved with pitcher Lefty Grove in the 1920s. Grove might have been the best pitcher in baseball in 1921 when he won 25 games for Baltimore, but Dunn did not sell him to the Philadelphia Athletics until 1925.

So when Ruth reported for spring training in 1914, his older teammates teased him mercilessly, and tried to come up with a nickname. Finally, one of them referred to Ruth as one of Jack Dunn's babes. And thus a nickname was found. Notice I didn't say it was born, because "Babe" was already one of baseball's most popular nicknames.

Dunn probably would have held on to this "Babe," were it not for circumstances beyond his control. The Orioles had a rival in 1914 — the Baltimore Terrapins of the new Federal League, established that year as the third major league. Dunn needed money, so he sold Ruth, pitcher Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan to the Boston Red Sox for $30,000. Weeks later, the Red Sox sent the teenaged Ruth to nearby Providence, Rhode Island, to pitch for the International League team known as the Greys. (The Federal League folded after two seasons.)

Starting with Ruth, here's a list several baseball players nicknamed, "Babe."

'Babe' Ruth
He was just 19 years old when he pitched his first game for the Boston Red Sox in 1914. He won two games and lost one, after spending most of the season with the Providence Greys and Baltimore Orioles of the International League.

Ruth was a star pitcher immediately, winning 18 games in his first full season with the Red Sox, and hitting .315 in 92 at bats. His four home runs were tops on the team. None of the full-time players hit more than two.

The rest, as they say, is history — a 94-46 lifetime record as a pitcher, and a .342 batting average with 714 home runs. In 1920, when he hit 54 home runs, that was four more than any other team managed to hit that season.

Babe Ruth single-handedly changed baseball, which may not have been a good thing for the game, but certainly helped revise interest in the sport, and did it at a time the game was under a lot of scrutiny and criticism because of the scandal involving the 1919 World Series. News of the fix didn't break until 1920, Ruth's first season with the New York Yankees. Interest in his 54 home runs likely lessened the impact of the story about the Black Sox scandal.

What follows are brief looks at other baseball "Babes."

'Babe' Doty
Elmer Doty was a six-foot pitcher from Lyons, New York, now best known as the birthplace of Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Boeheim. Doty may have been the first "Babe" to play major league baseball, though it's a stretch to call him a major leaguer, since he made only one appearance, and that was with Toledo in 1890, when the American Association was considered big time. He beat Brooklyn, giving up just one run, but despite what would seem to be an impressive performance, Doty was returned to Youngstown of the Tri-State League. He continued to play for minor league baseball for several years.
'Babe' Adams
Charles Benjamin Adams was the first successful and famous baseball "Babe," and while it's unclear exactly when and why the five-feet-11-inch pitcher was tagged with the nickname, it seems certain his looks had something to do with it

The biographical story linked to his name (above) mentions two explanations — that a Denver woman asked him for an autograph and commented that the young man had a face like a baby, and that women in Louisville were taken by his looks, and when they called him "a babe," they had something entirely different on their mind.

Born in Tipton, Iowa, in 1882, Adams left to live on a farm in Mount Moriah, Missouri, when he was 16. Naturally left-handed, he injured his pitching hand as a teenager, and had the determination and patience to become a right-handed pitcher. He played baseball in high school, then pitched for local semi-pro teams until he joined the Parsons (Kansas) Preachers of the Missouri Valley League in 1905. He won 21 games, lost only 9, and was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched one game for them in 1906, and was lifted after four innings, giving up nine hits and eight runs in a losing effort. He then went to the Denver Grizzlies of the Western League, where he also pitched in 1907, winning 24 games, losing 13. He returned to the National League, and lost two games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After one more season in the minor leagues, when he went 22-12 for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association, Adams was ready to go back to the majors, this time for a longer stay. He pitched for the Pirates from 1909-16, winning 113 games (including two 20-win season), and then, after going back to the minor leagues for two season,, he returned to Pittsburgh for nine more seasons, and when he was done, he'd put together a career record of 194 major league victories. At age 45, he pitched one more season in the minors,, where his lifetime record was 116-61, so overall, Babe Adams had 310 wins as a professional pitcher, against 201 losses.

In retirement he briefly managed, farmed, and covered local sports for a Mount Moriah newspaper.. In 1958, when he was 76 years old, he and his wife moved to Silver Spring, Maryland, to live with a daughter. That's where he died 10 years later.

'Babe' Towne
When starting catcher Billy Sullivan was injured in 1906, the Chicago White Sox summoned 26-year-old "Babe" Towne from the Des Moines Underwriters (true) of the Western League, where Towne was one of the team's hottest hitters.

He played well for 14 games, batting .278, drawing seven walks, and might have made the team, except he, too, was injured, and the White Sox found another replacement for Sullivan. The team went on to win the American League pennant and defeat their crosstown rivals, the Cubs, in the World Series.

Injuries apparently kept Towne out of action for whole seasons at a time, but he kept playing, off and on, until 1916, most of the time in the Western League, where he usually batted well over .300.

His photo suggests a baby face may have been the reason Jay King Towne was nicknamed "Babe."

'Babe' Danzig
Harold Paul Danzig, born in Binghamton, New York, was the eldest of six children, and grew to a husky six-feet-two-inches. Why was he nicknamed Babe? The question may never be answered, but he was the first "Babe" to play for the Boston Red Sox, in 1909, when he got into six games, and had two singles in 13 at bats.

Danzig had played the year before with the Portland (Oregon) Beavers of the Pacific Coast League, and had 204 hits and a .298 batting average in 180 games. With the Lowell (Massachusetts) Tigers of the New England League in 1909, he caught the eye of the Red Sox.

A year later he was back in the Pacific Coast League, playing with the horribly nicknamed Sacramento Sacts. He was with Sacramento in 1911, and had his best season — .292 with 222 hits, 36 doubles, 15 triples, and 15 home runs in 199 games. After that, his career fizzled.

'Babe' Borton
Why first baseman William Baker Borton was nicknamed "Babe" is a mystery, but apparently he was known as "Babe" in 1913, which predates Ruth.

Babe Borton is remembered as a minor league version of Hal Chase, regarded as the most dishonest baseball player of them all. What's interesting, in view of what would happen to Borton seven years later, is the Chicago White Sox traded him to the New York Yankees in 1913 in exchange for Chase.

Borton, a native of Marion, Illinois, broke into organized baseball in 1910 with the Ottumwa (Iowa) Packers of the Class D Central Association, hitting .293, then had two excellent seasons with the St. Joseph (Missouri) Drummers of the Western Association, hitting .343 in 1911, and .369 in 1912. He ended that summer in Chicago, batting .371 for the White Sox in 31 games.

After 28 games with Chicago in 1913, Borton was hitting a respectable .275 when he and Chase exchanged teams, but Borton flopped as the Yankees first baseman, and was let go after batting only .130 in 33 games.

After spending 1914 with the Venice (California) Tigers of the Pacific Coast League, Borton joined the St. Louis Terriers of the doomed Federal League batted .286. He drew 92 bases on balls and scored 97 runs, attracting the attention of American League St. Louis Browns, but he batted only .224 in 1916, and was released.

From there, Borton returned to the Pacific Coast League where his career would end in disgrace four years later.

Meanwhile, Hal Chase skated along on thin ice, frequently accused of trying to fix baseball games, but never convicted. By 1919, Chase was playing for the New York Giants, his fifth major league team, but manager John McGraw benched him late in the season after yet another accusation. Chase would never play another game in the majors, and when he returned to California, his home state, he was banned from the Pacific Coast League. He played semi-pro baseball in Arizona, but remained in contact with PCL players, allegedly offering money to fix games.

That was small potatoes compared with a scheme Babe Borton had hatched while a member of the PCL Vernon (California) Tigers. Borton was busy arranging for Vernon to win the league pennant, something revealed in 1920 when another player reported Borton was still attempting to fix games.

Borton's activities were overshadowed by the discovery some Chicago White Sox Sox players had conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. Not surprisingly, Hal Chase played a minor part in the Black Sox scandal, and finally faded into the background, though never officially banned from baseball. However, Babe Borton was. Only 30 years old, Borton never again played a game in organized baseball.

'Babe' Ellison
Herbert Spencer Ellison was born in Rutland, Arkansas, in 1896. His family and neighbors must have been surprised at where a love of baseball would take him in the years ahead.

Ellison was two different players. The major league Ellison was a versatile, light-hitting fellow who filled in whenever and wherever the Detroit Tigers needed him from 1916-20. Playing sometimes at first base, sometimes at second, and sometimes in the outfield, Ellison participated in just 135 games for Detroit, batting .216 with one home run. But he'd arrived in Detroit when he was just 18 years old . . .

So it was a different Ellison who emerged in 1921 when Detroit sold the 24-year-old player to San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. It's doubtful the Seals knew what they were getting. Suddenly Ellison not only raised his batting average nearly 100 points (to .311), he hit with power, leading the team in home runs. (Among his teammates was Lefty O'Doul, still in the pitching phase of his career, winning 25 games for San Francisco in 1921.)

I assume Ellison went from Bert to "Babe" when he began hitting bunches of home runs in San Francisco.

He went on to earn a spot in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame, which identifies him both as "Babe" and "Bert." He batted over .300 for the Seals five more seasons, reaching .381 in 1924 when he slammed 33 home runs among his amazing total of 307 hits. Oh, yes, he also managed the team. (On May 24, 1924, Ellison hit five home runs in a double-header, still the league record.)

San Francisco won the league pennant three of those six years, two while he was the manager.

All good things must come to an end, and so it was that in 1927, Ellison reportedly had a bit of a breakdown, quit as manager and was sold to the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association where he was just one of four guys who played first base that season. In 1928, the 31-year-old Ellison was player manager of the Dallas Steers of the Texas League, but was replaced about halfway through the season.

He retired from baseball, returned to San Francisco, where he remained until his death in 1955. He is listed as "Babe" on baseball-reference.com, but as "Bert" on Wikipedia and elsewhere. I sense Ellison would have preferred the latter.

'Babe' Pinelli
Babe Pinelli's biggest day in baseball came not as a player, but as an umpire in the 1956 World Series when he was behind the plate, and called Brooklyn pinch-hitter Dale Mitchell out on a third strike, thus concluding Don Larson's perfect game for the New York Yankees. It also concluded Pinelli's 22-year career as a National League umpire.

Ralph Arthur Pinelli became the name of Rinaldo Angelo Paolinelli, who was born in San Francisco in 1895, the son of Italian immigrants. Eleven years later, his father was killed by a falling telephone pole during the famous 1906 earthquake.

As a boy, Pinelli loved baseball, but when older kids chased him away, he cried, and was called, "Baby," which gave birth to his nickname. The boy persisted, and became one of the best baseball players in his neighborhood.

Like pitcher Smoky Joe Wood and hundreds of other young men over the years, Pinelli was hired to masquerade as a girl to play with the Boston Bloomer Girls when they came to town for an exhibition against the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League. Pinelli helped the "Girls" defeat the Oaks, 3-2. There were several Bloomer Girl teams in the late 1800s and early 1900s, traveling the country for exhibition games against major and minor league teams. It was understood the girls would have at least one man in the line-up.

Pinelli, a third baseman (and occasional shortstop) turned pro in 1917, and went on to have an eight-season career in the major leagues, mostly with Cincinnati. Twice he batted over .300, though his lifetime average was .276. He spent 10 seasons in the Pacific Coast League, his entire minor league experience. He was a model of consistency for three seasons (1928-30) with the San Francisco Seals, batting .310, .311 and .313.

He retired from playing in 1932, and became a Pacific Coast League umpire a year later. In 1935 he moved up to the National League.

'Babe' Twombly
Clarence Edward Twombly is a man of mystery. The outfielder from Jamaica Plain. Massachusetts, reportedly went to Lehigh University, played baseball, and, a few years later, showed up as a member of the Chicago Cubs. It was 1920, Twombly was 24 years old. He participated in 78 games, often as a pinch hitter, and batted .235. A year later, he appeared in 87 games, batted .377, and led the National League in pinch hits.

Sporting a .304 batting average in 165 games, you'd expect he'd be back with the Cubs in 1922. Instead, Twombly spent the season in the Pacific Coast League with the Los Angeles Angels, batting .300. He remained in Los Angeles three more seasons, batting .332, .312 and .329.

It was not unusual for baseball players to prefer the Pacific Coast League, particularly with teams in or near San Francisco and Los Angeles. (At one time or another, there were seven such teams.)

Twombly returned to the East Coast in 1926 for one season with Jersey City of the International League, But then he returned to the Pacific Coast League, and retired in 1928 after two seasons with the Hollywood Stars, batting .309 and .314.

His older brother, George, nicknamed "Silent George," was an outfielder who appeared in 150 games in five seasons (1914-17, 1919) with Cincinnati, the Boston Braves and Washington, batting .211. The Twombly brothers may have been related to Cy Twombly, another Massachusetts native who went to Lehigh University, before transferring to Springfield College. Cy Twombly was a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox briefly in 1921, but later coached swimming and golf teams at Washington and Lee University for more than 40 years.

'Babe' Herman
Floyd Caves Herman is easily the second best-known of the baseball "Babes," himself a legend, both for his often sensational hitting, but more so because of his outfield errors and mistakes on the base paths. Those errors and mistakes have been so greatly exaggerated over the years that people came to believe Herman was a bit of a clown. It became difficult to separate fact from fiction.

As for his nickname, that could have come from a female fan or a manager's comparison to Babe Ruth. Whatever, the nickname may have been a better fit for Herman than it was for Ruth.

Herman broke in at the age of 18, playing first base for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Western Canada League in 1921. He batted .330, nine points higher than his teammate, Heinie Manush, a future Hall of Famer.

A year later, Herman batted an astounding .416 for the Omaha Buffaloes of the Western League. Manush, still a teammate, batted .376, but while Manush went to the Detroit Tigers in 1923, Herman remained in the minors, batting .339 for Atlanta and Memphis of the Southern Association.

It was the same story in 1924. Herman batted.318 with Little Rock of the Southern Association, and .376 with San Antonio of the Texas League. At 22, he spent 1925 with the Seattle Indians of the Pacific Coast League, batting .316 with 52 doubles.

Herman's problem was his fielding. He wasn't a very good first baseman, but that's where he remained in 1926 when he was a 23-year-old rookie for the Brooklyn Robins, batting .319.

Brooklyn kept him at first base in 1927, but he led the league in errors, so from 1928-on, he played mostly in the outfield, where, legend has it, he was once hit in the head by a fly ball. Herman's personality was such that he took most things in stride, as though there was a part of him that enjoyed newspaper stories that made fun of him.

He remained in the major leagues until 1937, having played for Cincinnati, the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh and Detroit, after leaving Brooklyn. He batted .393 in 1930, one of baseball's hittingest seasons, and punctuated the year with career highs in home runs (35), runs batted in (130), and runs scored (143).

He hit .348 for Toledo after Detroit let him go, and batted .324 for Jersey City of the International League in 1938. Then he began a six-season stint with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, though he was no longer an every-day player. With Hollywood he had 1,494 at bats in six seasons, with 476 hits, for a .318 average. By 1944, Herman was 41 years old, ready to retire, but World War Two had left teams badly in need of players, and the Brooklyn Dodgers convinced him to return to the major leagues in 1945 as a pinch hitter.

That ended Babe Herman's playing career, and he walked away with a lifetime batting average of .324, causing many people to say he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Chances are that will never happen, though some Babe Herman stories will be around forever, such being beaned by a fly ball, or the time he doubled into a double play, because of his foolish baserunning.

'Babe' Ganzel
Foster Pirie Ganzel came from a baseball family. Whether that has anything to do with his nickname, I don't know. His father, Charlie Ganzel, was a catcher who had a 14-season career in the major leagues from 1884-1897, batting .259. His uncle, John Ganzel, was a first baseman who was in and out of the majors for seven seasons from 1898-1908, and also managed for 19 years, twice in the majors (Cincinnati in 1908; Brooklyn of the Federal League in 1915).

Babe Ganzel began playing minor league baseball in 1922, and after two seasons at Evansville of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, and four seasons with Birmingham of the Southern Association, he was called up by the Washington Senators in 1927 and had 21 hits in 48 at bats, a .438 average. A year later, he mustered just two hits in 26 at bats (.077), and was sent to Louisville of the American Association, where he batted .322. He hit for the same average with Louisville at year later.

He remained in the American Association for eight years — four with Louisville, four with Minneapolis — and batted over .300 every season but the last, when his average dipped to .294.

From 1936 to 1942 Ganzel managed in the South Atlantic and Southeastern Leagues, and the American Association, often putting himself in the line-up. He finished with 2,032 minor league hits, and a batting average of .317. which was just six points higher than his mark during his abbreviated major league career.

'Babe' Dahlgren
Ellsworth Tenney Dahlgren may have received his nickname because of Babe Ruth. The person responsible was Nelson Bertelson, who married Dahlgren's mother several years after his father was killed in a workplace accident. Bertelson was a baseball fan, who dubbed his stepson, "Babe," in the early 1920s, when the boy was 10 years old.

It was obvious by the time Babe Dahlgren was a teenager that he was a very skilled baseball player. He was from San Francisco, which, at the time, was a breeding ground for future major leaguers.

He broke in with Tucson of the Arizona-Texas League in 1931, when he was 19, and batted .347 in 98 games, finishing the year with the Mission (California) Reds of the Pacific Coast League. He remained with Mission through 1934 when he batted .302 with 20 home runs.

He spent 1935 as first baseman with the Boston Red Sox, hitting .263, but was with the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League for most of 1936, batting .318, with 16 home runs and a league-leading 21 triples. He finished the summer back with the Red Sox.

Traded to the New York Yankees, Dahlgren was returned to the International League, this time with the Newark Bears. He hit .340 with 18 home runs, and in 1937 moved up to the Yankees, spending most of his time on the bench, because Lou Gehrig was a fixture at first base.

But on May 2, 1939, Gehrig benched himself, ending his his consecutive game streak at 2,130. It was Dahlgren who played that day, and remained in the line-up for the rest of the season, though he batted only .235.

Dahlgren was in the majors until 1946, bouncing from team to team — the Boston Braves, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Browns, Brooklyn, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh. He returned to the International League in 1947, playing for the Baltimore Orioles, and closed out his playing career a year later with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League.

Somewhere along the line, while he was still with the Yankees, apparently, a rumor circulated that Dahlgren smoked marijuana. The rumor followed him for years, and he is considered the first major leaguer to undergo a drug test. There never was evidence that Dahlgren had used marijuana, but in 2007, his grandson, Matt Dahlgren, felt compelled to set the record straight in a book, "Rumor in Town."

'Babe' Phelps
Ernest Gordon Phelps was six-feet-two, weighing 235 pounds, and got his nickname because of his resemblance to Babe Ruth. His stance and swing also reminded folks of Ruth, but as Phelps continued to put on weight, he also became known as “Blimp.”

Like a lot of players, the right-handed Phelps batted back-handed, what most people mistakenly (but understandably) call left-handed. And he was a terrific hitter, but not highly regarded as a catcher. In 1935, when he batted .364, the Brooklyn Dodgers put him behind he plate only 34 times, making Al Lopez the first string catcher, despite Lopez's .251 average. However, Lopez was dealt to the Boston Braves after the season, and Phelps was the Dodgers' primary catcher in 1936, rewarding the team with a .367 batting average.

Phelps played through the 1942 season, ending his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He decided to retire rather than go along with a trade that would have sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for another Babe — Dahlgren.

Phelps' lifetime batting average was an impressive .310. Despite his size, Phelps didn't hit with power. His 13 home runs in 1940 were a career high. But he was a three-time National League all-star. Oddly, his last all-star selection was in 1940 when he batted .295, but failed to impress new manager Leo Durocher, who wanted to trade Phelps.

No trade could be made, but the Dodgers did acquire catcher Mickey Owen, who would be Phelps' competition in 1941. It became no contest when Phelps refused to accompany the Dodgers on a spring training trip from Florida to Cuba. Apparently Phelps was afraid to get on a boat, for fear of drowning, and was afraid to fly, another option given him by the team.

Durocher made Owen his starting catcher, and Phelps got into only 16 games as the Dodgers won the 1941 National League pennant.

'Babe' Barna
I would guess — from his size (six-feet-two, 210 pounds), and the fact he swung from the left-side of the plate, and hit with a lot of power — that Herbert Paul Barna was nicknamed after Babe Ruth.

Barna was a baseball and football star at West Virginia in the 1930s, also playing a couple of seasons of basketball. The Philadelphia Eagles offered him an opportunity to play in the then-struggling National Football League, but Barna opted for baseball. He played outfield with Albany of the New York-Pennsylvania League in 1937, then had 14 hits in 36 at bats, with two home runs, for the Philadelphia Athletics.

Needing more seasoning, he spent most of 1938 with Williamsport of the Eastern League. He batted .302, again got called up to play a few games for the Athletics, but with different results (four hits in 30 at bats, .133).

He was a .300-plus hitter for two years in the Southern Association, and had a big season with Minneapolis in 1941, batting .336 with 24 home runs and 105 runs batted in. He finished the summer with the New York Giants, and in 1942 played in 104 Giant games, batting .257, but hitting only six home runs.

His final year in the major leagues was 1943, and he played 70 games for the Giants and the Boston Red Sox, batting a disappointing .187. He wound up in Louisville of the American Association, and he remained in the minor leagues until he retired in 1952. He spent five of those years with the Minneapolis Millers and performed well each season, though his best year was 1949 with the Nashville Volunteers of the Southern Association (.341, 42 home runs, 132 runs scored, 138 runs batted in).

Barna's minor league batting average was .311, with 290 home runs.

'Babe' Young
At six-feet-two, 185 pounds, Norman Robert Young was built for power, which may account for his nickname. He graduated from Fordham University in 1936, and went directly to the New York Giants — for one at bat. He spent the next three seasons with the Richmond Colts of the Piedmont League, the New Orleans Pelicans and Knoxville Smokies of the Southern Association.

After batting .364, with 223 hits and 21 home runs with Knoxville in 1939, he played 22 games with the Giants, batting .307, with three home runs. He drove in more than 100 runs the next two seasons, hitting a career high 25 home runs in 1941.

Young tailed off in 1942, then spent three years in the U. S. Coast Guard. He played three more seasons in the majors, with the Giants, Cincinnati Reds, and St. Louis Cardinals, retiring in 1948 at the age of 32.

'Babe' Martin
Boris Michael Martinovich was born in Seattle in 1920, youngest of five children, which is why, as a child, he was called, "Baby." This eventually proved embarrassing, though he didn't mind when that nickname morphed into "Babe," which is how he was known most of his life.

His father was Mitar Martinovich, a Yugoslavian immigrant and professional wrestler, who reportedly adjusted his last name for different crowds, wrestling as Mike Martini in a predominately Italian city, or Martin McMartin for an Irish crowd.

The family relocated to St. Louis, where Babe Martin was a high school baseball star, catching and playing the outfield. He was a husky, five-feet-11, 195-pound teenager, who signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns even before he graduated, and in 1940 he spent his first professional season with three teams — the St. Joseph (Michigan) Autos of the Michigan State League, the Palestine Pals and the Tyler Trojans of the East Texas League.

In 1941, he batted .352 for the Paragould Browns of the Northeast Arkansas League, and the next season, with the Springfield Browns of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, he hit .325, putting the 22-year-old Martin in position to move up to the only Browns that mattered — the ones in St. Louis.

But it was 1943, and the world was at war. Martin enlisted in the U. S. Navy, and, like most baseball players in the service, he spent a lot of time playing the game — and was injured severely enough to be discharged in April, 1944. He had to wear a brace on his left thigh for years afterward, but he returned to baseball, and batted .350 for the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association. He got into two games with St. Louis near the end of the season, getting three hits in four at bats. It was the only year the Browns ever won a pennant, but Martin wasn't eligible to play in the World Series against the city rivals, the Cardinals.

Most of Martin's major league experience was gained during the 1945 season when he played 54 games for the Browns, primarily in the outfield, and batted .200. From then until he retired in 1954, he played in just 13 games spread over eight seasons with the Browns and the Boston Red Sox. His best years were in the minor leagues, in 1947 with Toledo when he batted .319 with 15 home runs, and in 1952 with the San Antonio Missions of the Texas League when he batted .329 with 15 home runs.

He retired after the 1954 season, spent with the Dallas Eagles of the Texas League. Eventually, he settled in Edgerton, Wisconsin, working for Highway Trailer Corporation, before becoming a real estate broker. He had a chance to become a baseball umpire, but turned it down, a decision he regretted, he said many years later. When he died in 2013, Martin was living in Tucson, Arizona. He was 93.

'Babe' Birrer
So how did a pitcher born Werner Joseph Birrer of Buffalo, New York, become a baseball "Babe"?

Finally, an easy nickname question. It happened on July 19, 1955, shortly after the 25-year-old Birrer joined the Detroit Tigers. He'd been in the Army the previous two years. The Tigers were home, playing the Baltimore, and held a 5-4 lead when manager Bucky Harris summoned Birrer from the bullpen.

Birrer went on to pitch four shutout innings, but, more importantly, got up to bat twice, and each time hit a three-run home run, first off George Zuverink, later off Art Schallock. And when the game was over, Detroit had a 12-4 victory, and because of his two home runs, Birrer was nicknamed "Babe."

Birrer was used primarily in relief that season, winning four games, losing three. Those were the only decisions he would have in the major leagues. Next year he made four brief appearances with the Orioles, and in 1958 he appeared in 16 games, pitching 34 innings for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The most interesting thing about his Dodger experience was he got up to bat eight times, walked once, and had four hits, including a double. That's a .571 batting average.

Birrer spent 19 seasons in the minor leagues, nine of those with his hometown Buffalo Bisons of the International League. His two home runs that day in 1955 weren't exactly a fluke, though they were the only ones he hit in the major leagues. Likewise, those six runs batted in represented his career total — in the big leagues.

In the minor leagues, however, Birrer hit 20 home runs, including four with San Antonio in 1956, when he drove in 22 runs, a high figure for a pitcher. He also won 13 games that season, a career high. His lifetime record in the minors was 131-127.

Occasional 'Babes'

That concludes a list of players who were called "Babe" so often and so openly that the nickname replaced the first or middle name given them at birth (or a version of such a name). After Ruth, I listed the baseball "Babes" chronologically, to show how common the nickname was before he came along.

Next: Players listed on baseball-reference.com as having "Babe" as a nickname, but one rarely used. Some of these nicknames seem a bit suspicious, making me question the source of the information. I believe the Hall of Fame asks players — or relatives of players from the past — to fill out questionnaires, and one of the items is nicknames. Perhaps some of the answers are nicknames used primarily by family members.

These wanabe Babes are listed alphabetically:

NOTE: Not included is a genuine Babe — third baseman Loren Babe, who came up in the New York Yankee system, and played major league baseball in 1952 and '53. His listed nickname was "Bee Bee," but I'm not sure how often it was used.

Elliot Bigelow
Elliott Allardice Bigelow was usually known as "Gilly," but apparently some folks called him "Babe" while he was in the minor leagues. Bigelow, a left-handed, five-feet-11-inch, 185-pound outfielder, feasted on minor league pitching for nine seasons before being signed by the Boston Red Sox in 1929. He appeared in 100 games, almost half of them as a pinch-hitter.

His batting average wasn't bad — .284 — but he was considered a slow, uncertain outfielder who had a weak arm. So he was back in the minor leagues in 1930. He played three more seasons, but in August, 1933, died of cerebro-spinal meningitis. He was only 35. In his 12 minor league seasons, Bigelow had 1,970 hits and a .349 batting average.

Ed Butka
Edward Luke Butka was called "Babe" by those who watched him play amateur baseball with team in and around his hometown of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He turned pro in 1940 and the relatively advanced age of 24, but certainly was no "Babe" against minor league pitching. He was a six-feet-three-inch, 195-pound first baseman, who tried to enlist in the U. S. Army after Pearl Harbor, but was classified 4-F because of a punctured ear drum.

He had to explain that a lot during World War Two, because he certainly looked healthy enough to be in the service. But he wasn't, which made him available to desperate major league teams, such as the Washington Senators, then of the American League. Butka briefly played for Washington in 1943 and '44, getting into 18 games. He had 50 at bats, 11 hits, and a .220 batting average.

Butka retired after splitting the 1945 season with Buffalo of the International League and Williamsport of the Eastern League. He changed his mind in 1947, and played for New London of the Class B Colonial League, hitting .289, but retired for good in 1948 after playing 17 games in the same league.

'Woody' Davis
Hard to believe that someone named Woodrow Wilson Davis could ever be nicknamed "Babe," not when "Woody" is so obvious, and, frankly, a lot catchier. Davis stood six-feet-one, and weighed 200 pounds, and pitched for seven seasons (1934-40) in the minor leagues, except for two short appearances with the the Detroit Tigers in 1938. He retired from baseball at age 27, and joined the U. S. Navy, serving in World War Two. I suspect the "Babe" nickname, if it ever was used, can be traced to his teenaged years when he may have been a good hitter against high school competition. He had no home runs in 313 at bats as a professional, and had only 44 hits of any kind, giving him a .140 batting average.

Ollie Klee
His full name is listed as Ollie Chester Klee, but I think he was Oliver Chester Klee Jr., born in Piqua, Ohio, in 1900, and later a star football player for Ohio State University, who was an honorable mention All-American halfback in 1924.

As a sophomore, in 1922, he returned a punt 70 yards for the touchdown that defeated Illinois, 6-3. Months later, when Ohio State played Illinois in baseball, Klee stole home to account for the only run of the game. (That's Klee in his Ohio State baseball uniform, right.)

He got a look-see from the Cincinnati Reds in 1925. A newspaper story says Klee was starring for a Springfield, Ohio, team when the Reds signed him, but I can find no record of Springfield having a minor league team that year. In any event, Klee's Ohio State fame would make him a gate attraction for the Red, if only . . .

But Klee played just one inning in the outfield, was used as a pinch runner once, and struck out in his only at bat. Apparently he got into two games with Toledo of the American Association a year later. The only mentions I saw of Klee being nicknamed "Babe" are on websites that tend to borrow information from each other.

He was a coach and teacher at several high schools, including at DeVilbiss High l in Toledo. He died in 1977, at the age of 76.

Ed Klieman
Edward Frederick Klieman was a pitcher best known as Ed, but because he wore glasses, he was sometimes called "Specs." Supposedly, "Babe" was another nickname, but I've seen no explanation.

He arrived in the major leagues late in 1943 after he won 23 games with the Baltimore Orioles of the International League. That was Klieman's seventh season in the minors, and during that time he'd won 94 games. He started one game for Cleveland in '43, gave up only one run ... but lost.

The player shortage created by World War Two played into Klieman's hand. The reason for his glasses was probably the reason he remained a civilian, and in 1944 the Indians put Klieman to work. He started 19 games and was used in relief 28 times. He won 11 games, lost 13.

In 1945, he won five, lost eight, making 38 appearances, 12 as a starter. The next season was spent with Indianapolis of the American Association, where he reversed his 1945 record. He was primarily a starter for Indianapolis, but when he was recalled by the Indians, he became strictly a relief pitcher.

In 1947 he appeared in 58 games, and in 1948, when the Indians won the American League pennant, he was summoned out of the bullpen 44 times. There was no such thing as "saves" in 1947, but you know baseball people, they've gone into the scorebooks and added to the statistics, crediting Klieman with 17 saves in '47, four more the next season.

He was unimpressive in his one appearance in the 1948 World Series against the Boston Braves, facing just three batters, allowing one to get a hit, walking the other two. That may have sealed his fate with the Indians. In 1949, Klieman briefly pitched for the Washington Senators, before he was dealt to the Chicago White Sox, for whom he made 18 appearances, worked 33 innings, got three saves and two wins.

Nonetheless, he was with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1950 for only five games, then back with the Orioles in the International League. He closed out his pitching career a year later with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League, making 32 relief appearances.

Ed Linke
Pitcher Edward Karl Linke was best known by the short version of his first name — Ed. I did find a mention of Linke being called "Babe," but there was no explanation, though it might have been given him when he joined the Washington Senators in 1933, at the age of 21, or two years earlier when he briefly pitched for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, and he was, by far, the youngest member of the team. Or maybe people thought he had a baby face . . .

Linke's best season was in 1932, pitching for the Davenport Blue Sox of the Mississippi Valley League. This was Class D baseball, lowest rung on the minor league ladder, so his 19-9 record, which included a no-hitter, may have given him false hopes.

He was bumped up to the Class A Southern Association a year later, had an 11-11 record for Chattanooga, and ended the season with the Senators, winning his only decision, though he walked 11 batters in 16 innings, and his earned run average was 5.06.

He went back to Chattanooga in 1934, won nine games, lost five, and returned to Washington where he won two games and lost two.

For Linke, 1935 would be his most memorable year, for at least a couple of reasons, one of them very painful. On July 26, in a game against New York, a line drive by Yankee left fielder Jesse Hill hit Linke in the forehead, a precursor of 1957's smash off the bat of Yankee Gil McDougald that hit Cleveland Indians star pitcher Herb Score, who was never the same afterward.

Things worked out differently for Linke. For one thing, the ball ricocheted so far toward home plate that catcher Jack Redmond caught it on the fly, then threw to shortstop Red Kress, who doubled Yankee center fielder Ben Chapman off second base. With the unusual double play completed, players and umpires noticed that Linke was lying on the ground, semi-conscious.

The pitcher was carried off the field on a stretcher, and hospitalized for two days. Oddly, when Linke returned to action, he pitched better than ever, closing out the season with eight wins in his last nine decisions, improving his won-lost record to 11-7. Even his hitting improved, and he raised his batting average to .294.

Alas, Linke's luck ran out in 1936. After losing five of six decisions, and giving up 73 hits and 46 runs in only 52 innings, he was farmed out to Chattanooga, where he won nine games, against eight losses.

Back in Washington in 1937, Linke was primarily a relief pitcher, getting six wins and one loss, despite an unimpressive 5.60 earned run average. He was shipped off to the St. Louis Browns in 1938 and had a won-lost record of 1-7 in relief, with an earned run average of 7.94.

Linke spent 1939 with three minor league teams, then retired after posting a record of 5-10. Perhaps there was a delayed reaction to being hit by a line drive.

Phil Marchildon
Of all the men on the second half of this list, Philip Joseph Marchildon seems least likely to ever have been called "Babe." There are tons of stories about Marchildon online, and several list "Babe" as a nickname, but, significantly, the two most comprehensive stories about him mention no nicknames, unless you count "Phil."

The reason there are tons of stories about this pitcher is that he was a World War Two gunner and officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force from November 1942 to mid-1945. Marchildon's plane was shot down in August, 1944, and he spent nine months in Germany as a prisoner of war. Liberated by British soldiers in May, 1945, he returned to the Philadelphia Athletics and resumed pitching only two months later, though not fully recovered from his war experience.

Marchildon was born in Penetanguishene, Ontario, near Georgian Bay, and didn't begin playing professional baseball until he was 25 years old, but he wasted little time reaching the Athletics, a team in desperate need of good players. After two seasons with the Toronto Maples Leafs of the International League, Marchildon finished 1940 with Philadelphia, losing two games.

But two seasons later he won 17 games for the Athletics, making him the only pitcher with a winning record (17-14) on the eighth place team. However, soon after the season ended, he enlisted in the Canadian Air Force.

The A's were back in last place when Marchildon returned from the war; by 1946, he was nearly back to his old form. He was better than his 13-16 record indicated, and a season later won a career-best 19 games (against only nine losses), helping Philadelphia move up to fifth place.

The team improved to fourth place in 1948, but Marchildon, now 34 years old, slipped to 9-15. He'd started the season well, but became ill, and never fully recovered. He made only eight major league pitching appearances over the next two seasons, one of them with the Boston Red Sox. He also pitched briefly for the Buffalo Bisons of the International League, losing all four decisions.

He retired, went home to Canada, eventually got a job with a manufacturer of medical equipment, was voted into the Canadians sports hall of fame and his country's baseball hall of fame. He died in Toronto in 1997, at the age of 83.

Russ Meers
Russell Harlan Meers of Tilton, Illinois, was a five-feet-10-inch, left-handed pitcher with a wicked fast ball and very little control. He is listed as having "Babe" as his nickname, but without explanation. He broke into professional baseball in 1939 with the Huntington (West Virginia) Boosters of the Mountain State League. He won 14 games, and lost 14. He pitched 227 innings and set a league record for strikeouts — 297. But he walked 191 batters.

His best season was 1941 with the Nashville Volunteers of the Southern Association. His won-lost record was 16-5, and while he led the league in strikeouts (161), he also walked the most batters (167). He started one game for the Chicago Cubs, went eight innings, gave up only five hits and two runs, struck out five and allowed no walks — but lost.

In 1942 he was with the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, but quit halfway through the season to join the U. S. Navy. After he was discharged after World War Two, he returned to baseball, and in 1946-47 made 42 appearances with the Cubs, mostly in relief, winning three games, losing two. He also pitched in the minor leagues both seasons, after which he retired.

He briefly unretired three years later, and, at 32, won two games and lost four for the Franklin Kildees of the Virginia League, still having control problems. Later he worked for the Ford Motor Company, retiring in 1981 as manager of the parts distribution center in Atlanta, Georgia.

'Tex' Nelson
Robert Sidney Nelson, born in Dallas in 1936, was a big kid (six-feet-three, 205 pounds) who was called "The Babe Ruth of Texas," but, unfortunately for him, he came along during the "bonus baby" period that required teams to rush their signees into major league play.

Bob Nelson, better known as "Tex," received a $40,000 bonus from the Baltimore Orioles, and spent his first two summers as a pro athlete in the American League, getting into 64 games, most of them as a pinch hitter. He had 20 hits in 99 at bats, for a .202 average, and struck out 35 times. He had 23 more at bats in 1957, but spent most of the season with San Antonio of the Class AA Texas League. He batted .282 and hit his first five home runs in organized ball.

He never rose above Double AA ball, and had his best two seasons with the Tri-City (Washington) Braves of the Northwest League in 1959 and '60, batting .293 and .283, and hitting a total of 50 home runs.

After batting .225 with three teams in 1961 — one of them in the Class C California League — Nelson retired from baseball. He was only 24.

Mario Picone
Born in Brooklyn, in 1926, Mario Picone spent his 18th birthday as a pitcher for the Bristol (Virginia) Twins of the Appalachian League. He would go on to have a 13-season career in the minor leagues, winning 122 games, against 82 defeats.

His major league record, however, consists of 40 innings pitched in 13 games spread over three seasons, two with the New York Giants (1947 and 1952), and the final one (1954) split between the Giants and Cincinnati. He had no wins and two losses, giving up seven home runs (a very high figure for the number of innings pitched), and he walked more than twice as many men as he struck out.

Like the others, he's listed on baseball-reference.com as being nicknamed "Babe," but it must have been a family thing. It probably had nothing to do with his youth when he started in the minor leagues, because the Bristol team had at least a dozen players who were either 17 or 18 years old.

Phil Roof
Catcher Phillip Anthony Roof was just one of five brothers from Paducah, Kentucky, to play professional baseball. His younger brother, outfielder Gene Roof, also made it to the major leagues, playing 48 games for the St. Louis Cardinals and Montreal (1981-83), batting .267. The other three Roof brothers — Paul, David and Adrian — never made it out of the minor leagues.

Gene Roof has three sons — Shawn, Eric and Jonathan — who played minor league ball. The Roof brothers also had a cousin, Eddie Haas, who briefly made it to the majors, and another cousin, Lou Haas, who never made it out of the minors. Finally, Eddie Haas had two sons, Matt and Danny, who played minor league ball.

Phil and Gene Roof also managed in the minor leagues — Phil did it for 16 years, and Eddie Haas also was a manager. So when it comes to baseball families . . .

But this is about nicknames, specifically "Babe." I've got to believe both of Phil Roof's nicknames were said in jest. Besides "Babe," Roof is known as "The Duke of Paducah." Each of these nicknames is a play on words. "Babe Roof" sounds like "Babe Ruth" being said by someone with a speech impediment. I get the joke, but it gets old fast.

He did have one Babe Ruth-type game with the Minnesota Twins in 1972 when he hit two home runs against the Kansas City Royals. Overall, Phil Roof batted just .205, but hung on in the majors for 15 seasons because he was such a good defensive catcher who handled pitchers well. Late in his career, in 1975, when he was 34-years-old, Roof hit .302 in 63 games and 126 at bats with the Minnesota Twins.

He spent his major league years going from team to team — in addition to the Twins, Roof played for the Kansas City and Oakland Athletics, Milwaukee Braves, Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, California Angels, Toronto Blue Jays, and Chicago White Sox, but was busiest during his four years with the Athletics (1966-69).

Dan Sherman
Pitcher Lester Daniel Sherman, known mostly as Dan Sherman, apparently, was also called "General." As for "Babe," well, that might have been due to his stature — five-feet-six, 145 pounds. He shows up on baseball-reference.com as a major league pitcher, but his credentials are questionable — on June 4, 1914, he faced three batters as the starter for the Chicago Whales of the short-lived Federal League. He got one batter out, walked the other two, and was removed from the game. Both runners scored, Chicago lost, and the defeat was charged to Sherman.

He played some minor league ball afterward, including two seasons (1923-24) with one of my favorite teams, the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers of the Michigan-Ontario League.

Del Wilber
Delbert Quentin Wilber was tagged with the nickname "Babe" by his mother when he was an infant in 1919. And by the time he stopped growing, he stood six-feet-three and weighed 200 pounds, and was a catcher good enough to be playing minor league baseball when he was 19. By then, most people knew him as Del Wilber.

However, there would be two occasions during his baseball career that "Babe" seemed more appropriate. But they came after World War Two.

Before the war, Wilber played a couple of season in the Class D Ohio State League, the Class B Western Association, and Class A South Atlantic (Sally) League, and seemed to be moving steadily toward the major leagues. He even had flashes of power, hitting 16 home runs for the Findlay Oilers in 1939.

But in 1942, he opted for the Army Air Force over another season of baseball, though he would play plenty of baseball during his four years in the service. When he was discharged in February, 1946, Wilbur was a captain. A few weeks later he was catching for the Triple A Columbus (Ohio) Red Birds of the American Association. He batted .263 with seven home runs, and before summer was over, he had his first taste of major league pitching, going hitless in four at bats for the St. Louis Cardinals.

He remained with the Cardinals in 1947 and '48 as a backup catcher to another Del — Rice. In 1949 he played in only two Cardinal games, spending most of the season with Houston of the Texas League. He also managed Houston that season. In 1950, he was with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League, batting .295 with 11 home runs.

He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies, and with them had his best major league season in 1951, batting .278, with eight home runs — three of them coming in one game, all of them off left-hander Ken Raffensberger of Cincinnati. They accounted for all of the runs in a 3-0 Philadelphia victory. It was the night Wilber was celebrating the recent birth of his daughter, Cynthia, who was brought home from the hospital that day.

Wilber would have another Babe Ruth-kind of streak in 1953 while playing for the Boston Red Sox when, in the month of May, he hit home runs in three consecutive pinch-hitting appearances. Later in the season he had another pinch-hit home run.

He retired after the 1954 season, also with Boston. His lifetime batting average was .242, and despite two spurts of home-run hitting, he hit only 19 of them in his major league career.

He managed minor league teams from 1958-60, and from 1971-75. He also managed the Texas Rangers for one game in 1973, and won. He filled in between the departure of Whitey Herzog and the arrival of Billy Martin. Later he was a scout for Oakland and Detroit before he retired for good. He died in 2002 in St. Petersburg, Florida, at the age of 83.

 
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