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What follows is page one of a list that includes nicknames and last names of baseball players whose combinations I found unusually interesting. Obviously, this is all a matter of taste.

The right nickname can do wonders. Harry Simpson would be little remembered if he hadn't become known as Suitcase Simpson. Willie Jones is a fairly forgettable name, but Puddin' Head Jones lives on in our memories.

There have been 41 major league players with the last name of Walker. We remember some more than others, not necessarily because of their skill, but because of their nicknames — Dixie, Harry the Hat, Rube, Tilly, and the mysterious Mysterious.

Most of the baseball names — and nicknames — that caught my attention are on other lists that I've prepared. Most of them call into categories, such as my aviary for players who have names or nicknames of birds, and a zoo full of baseball's animals. There's also a list of baseball royalty, and another that features some of the weirdest nicknames ever given to anyone.

But this page — and two others — includes players who fit no category. I just happen to like their nicknames. Some of them are classics.

Orie Edgar Arntzen was usually called by his first name, but when he finally reached the major leagues in 1943, he was nicknamed "Old Folks" because he was a 33-year-old rookie. During World War Two, many baseball players were in the service, and there were openings on most big league rosters. Arntzen was available; thus he became a member of the Philadelphia Athletics, a team that went on to lose 105 games that season. Arntzen fit right in, with a 4-13 record.

He'd started his career in 1933, and kept plugging away in the low minors, finally reaching the Class A Williamsport Grays of the Eastern League in 1941. After winning 22 games, with only 10 losses, in two seasons with Williamsport, Arntzen finally rose to the major leagues.

But in 1944, he was back in the Eastern League, this time in Albany, where he remained several seasons. It was in 1949, at age 39, that Orie Arntzen had the season of his life. He won his first 15 games for the Albany Senators, and was within two victories of the league record when he ran into Binghamton, a New York Yankee farm team that featured a young left-hander named Whitey Ford. Arntzen suffered his first defeat of the season, but shook it off and won 10 of his next 11 decisions, finishing the season with 25 wins, two losses.

Arntzen was named the 1949 Minor League Player of the Year, noted in a display at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Others similarly honored include Phil Rizzuto, Johnny Bench, Jim Rice and Derek Jeter.

Arntzen kept playing until 1951 when he managed the Duluth Dukes and had a 12-3 record as a pitcher. In all, Arntzen won 198 minor league games.

For a more detailed look at his 1949 season, check out The Sweet Summer of Orie Arntzen.

Luis Enrique Arroyo's nickname was simply a play on his last name. A five-foot-eight-inch left-hander, Luis Arroyo, as he usually was known, arrived in the major leagues in 1955 with the St. Louis Cardinals, then went to Pittsburgh. The Pirates took him out of the starting rotation and made him a relief pitcher.

After a stint in Cincinnati, Arroyo landed in heaven, playing with the 1961 New York Yankees. He posted a 15-5 record, adding a victory in the World Series sweep of the Reds. Infielder Pompeyo Antonio Davalillo Romero was better known as Yo-Yo Davalillo. It was a nickname given him in the United States. Back home in Venezuela, he was known as Pompeyo Davalillo.

He was the older brother of Vic Davalillo, an outfielder who played for six major league teams in his 16-season career. Vic Davalillo was just five-foot-seven, but was a giant compared with his brother, who stood five-foot-three.

Yo-Yo Davalillo broke in with the Charlotte Hornets of the Tri-State League in 1953. He was already 25, but had been a highly regarded player in his home country for several years. Pete Runnels, regular shortstop for the Senators, was out with an injury, and Davalillo was summoned. He'd hit .305 with the Hornets. He filled in capably, batting .293 in 58 at bats, but he spent most of the next eight years in the International League, with the Havana Cubans and Jersey City Giants, before finishing his career in Mexico.

Also nicknamed "Yo-Yo" was catcher Aubrey Epps, a catcher who played just one major league game, for Pittsburgh, in 1935. He had three hits, including a triple,, but also committed two errors.

Epps was a highly regarded prospect at the time, but a few weeks after the 1935 season he had a tonsillectomy, normally a routine operation. However, in Epps' case there were complications that eventually led to pneumonia and a long hospital stay. He spent the next six seasons in the minor leagues, enlisted in the Marines in 1942, playing some baseball in the service, but by the time he returned to civilian life, Epps was 34, and he retired from the game. Still ... how many baseball players can say they had a lifetime major league batting average of .750?

That Heinz Reinhard Becker managed to be a professional baseball player for 14 years, taking off two seasons late in his career, was a tribute to his determination. He was nicknamed "Bunions" because of the condition of his feet, which made it painful for him to run, and were a reason he played mostly at first base.

Still, during his brief stay in the major leagues, with the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians, Becker had his moments, hitting .286 with the Cubs in 1945, and .299 with the Indians the following year.

Returning to the minors in 1947, in the best shape of his career, thanks to an operation on his feet, Becker batted .363. By the time he finally retired in 1953, Becker had played in 1,401 minor league games and batted .325. A line drive hitter, he never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, and he did that with Seattle of the Pacific Coast League in 1949.

Becker was born in Berlin in 1915, but his family left Germany after World War One, eventually settling near Dallas, Texas.

Though later famous as a center fielder, James Thomas Bell was a pitcher when he was a teenager. After striking out the legendary Oscar Charleston, Bell was called "Cool." He added the "Papa" later.

Bell is regarded as one of the fastest men ever to play the game. There are no complete statistics available on his performances in the Negro and Mexican Leagues, which were notoriously unreliable. Bell once talked about a game in which he had five hits and stole five bases, but that game later existed only in the memories of those who played and watched it . . . because no one thought to bring a score book to the ballpark.

Though deprived of the opportunity to play major league baseball, Bell eventually was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Lorenzo Pietro (Lawrence Peter) Berra once told the Saturday Evening Post he got his nickname from future teammate Jack Maguire while growing up in St. Louis. “Some of us went to a movie with a yogi in it and afterwards Jack began calling me Yogi. It stuck.”

Yogi Berra is an obvious choice for my list, and after all these years, there remains only one Yogi. He was a New York Yankee catcher, later manager of the Yankees and the New York Mets, a Hall of Famer and one of the best-hitting catchers ever (.285 lifetime average; 358 home runs). 

In his own way, Berra also is a genius, recalled for his Yogi-isms of wisdom. My favorite is this one about a NYC restaurant: 

"Nobody goes there anymore; it's too crowded."

Emil Bildilli  was born in Diamond, Indiana, a small town near Terre Haute, so his nickname had to be a play on his last name because I've seldom heard a Hoosier referred to as hillbilly ... or Hill Billy, as was the case here.

Bildilli was a left-handed pitcher who was very effective in the minor leagues, which is why the St. Louis Browns kept bringing him up to the majors for brief visits (1937-41). He finally hung around awhile in 1940, starting 11 games, relieving in 17 others, and posting a 2-4 record. Otherwise he pitched in only 13 other games spread over four seasons. 

Tragically, Bildilli was killed in an automobile accident on his 34th birthday.

Paul Blair was a major league center fielder for 17 season, most of them with the Baltimore Orioles. He was more highly regarded for his fielding than his hitting, winning eight golden gloves, being named the best center fielder in eight different seasons.

His .250 lifetime batting average may not do justice to his hitting ability. In 1969, he batted .285, with 26 home runs and 102 runs scored. His nickname was given him in the minor leagues when he was going on and on (and on) about a four-hit game he had the day before.

Francesco Stephano Pezzolo followed the lead of an uncle and changed his name to Frank Stephan Bodie, selecting the last name from the small California mining town where the family had once lived. "Ping" was the sound of a ball meeting Bodie's 52-ounce bat.

Bodie was an outfielder for the Chicago White Sox (1911-14), Philadelphia Athletics (1917) and New York Yankees (1918-21). His lifetime batting average: .275.

Although he never hit more than eight home runs in any of his nine major league seasons, Bodie hit 30 home runs while playing for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League way back in 1910. He also played for San Francisco during the 1915 and 1916 seasons, batting over .300 each year, with 19 and 20 home runs. He ended his professional career in San Francisco in 1927 when he was 39 years old.

Ernest Edward Bonham was anything but "Tiny," a facetious nickname for a pitcher who stood six-feet-two and weighed much more than 200 pounds. After four years in the minor leagues, he spent ten seasons (1940-49) in the majors, the first seven with the New York Yankees. He won 21 games in 1942 (against five losses) and his overall record was 103-72.

He spent his last three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and had announced his decision to retire even before he began complaining about severe abdominal pain. In September, he entered a Pittsburgh hospital where doctors discovered Bonham had intestinal cancer. A week later, he died. Bonham was 36 years old.

Robert Botz was a relief pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels in 1962. He's listed at 170 pounds on a five-foot-11 frame, which doesn't sound Butterball to me. Maybe he was a turkey farmer.

He's generally referred to as Bob Botz, though New York Mets fans fell in love with his nickname when Botz joined their team for spring training in 1963. Alas, he was released before the season started, but during the home opener fans started chanting, "Bring back Butterball Botz!"

Frank Willard Brower, who played first base and the outfield in the early 1920s with Washington and Cleveland, was mostly called Frank. His actual nickname, his family said later, was "Tuckey." Why? They didn't say, but Brower's daughter, Ann, speculated that Northern sportswriters misinterpreted "Tuckie," blaming it on Brower's Virginia accent, and thought he was saying "Turkey." The writers and the player's teammates persisted with the turkey nonsense, and later began calling Brower "Turkeyfoot."

Brower was born in 1893 in Catharpin, Virginia, not far from the District of Columbia, and didn't stop growing until he was six-foot-two. Guys his size usually pitch or play first base. Brower did both with the Indians, but made only four brief pitching appearances.

On August 7, 1923, with Cleveland in a game against his former team, Washington, Brower had six hits. He finished the season batting .285, with 16 home runs, just one behind the team leader (and manager) Tris Speaker. However, Speaker didn't think much of Brower's fielding ability or his mobility, and used him mostly as a pinch hitter in 1924, letting him go at the end of the season. That was the end of his major league career, despite an impressive .285 batting average.

After the 1924 season, Brower joined the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, and in 1925 had a monster year — a .362 batting average with 36 home runs.

However, his wife, Marion, was unhappy in San Francisco, and after one more season in the Pacific Coast League, Brower convinced the Seals to trade him to an Eastern team, and spent his last three seasons as a player in the International League, mostly with the Baltimore Orioles. He and his wife must have enjoyed their Baltimore experience, because when he retired they settled in Queen Anne's County across the Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore.

In 1933, Brower joined a posse looking for an armed criminal, and it was just his luck to stumble upon the man's hiding place. The fugitive fired his gun, killing Brower's dog and wounding the former baseball player in the shoulder and neck. The shooter was captured by members of the Maryland National Guard, and, weeks later, Brower fully recovered.

He died in 1960, at the age of 67.

He was born William James Brown in 1939, and became known as "Gates," the story goes, because that's what his mother called him while he was a toddler. Brown claimed he didn't know why his mother called him, "Gates," but he preferred it to "Billy."

Brown was an outfielder-designated hitter with the Detroit Tigers (1963-75) and one of baseball's best pinch-hitters. In fact, the first time he pinch hit, in 1963, he belted a home run, something he did 15 other times before he retired in 1975.

Thomas P. Burns supposedly sold oysters in off-season. He played outfield, shortstop, third base, and did a little pitching, spending four seasons with Baltimore of the American Association, eight seasons with Brooklyn in both the American Association and National League, finishing his career with the New York Giants in 1895. He had a .300 lifetime batting average, and in 1890 led the National League in home runs (13) and runs batted in (128).

Why Ralph Caballero was nicknamed Putsy is unknown. There are two reasons advanced online, but one of them — given in a 2016 obituary for Caballero — makes little sense. It traces the name to Philadelphia Phillies announcer Gene Kelly, who reportedly called Caballero "Putsch" (violent overthrow).

Another explanation, from Rich Marazzi & Len Fiorito's "Baseball Players of the 1950s: A Biographical Dictionary of All 1,560 Major Leaguers," p. 54, quotes Caballero himself:  "I have a brother named Monroe and they call him 'Money.'  I have a brother named Raymond and they call him 'Rainbow.'  When I was in elementary school Father Dolan, a Jesuit priest, called me 'Putsy' and it just stuck." Which explains the when, but not the why.

In 1944, Caballero joined the Philadelphia Phillies, becoming, at 17, the youngest third baseman in major league history. He bounced back and forth from the Phillies to the minors until 1952.

The New Orleans native lost his home during Hurricane Katrina, but later resettled there, until he died at the age of 89. Some consider his nickname among the worst ever given a ballplayer, but I find it unique and memorable.

Pitcher Elton Chamberlain was a cool guy, cool as ice. So the story goes. Ice Box was a pitcher in the late 1880s, early 1890s. Despite his nickname, he liked to showboat. Naturally right-handed, he sometimes pitched a few innings left-handed.

Chamberlain did most of his pitching in the American Association when it was considered a major league. Overall, he won 159 games, lost 120. His best season was 1889 when he won 32 games for St. Louis.

Clarence Algernon Childs looked like Cupid, and the nickname eventually won out over those Childs would have disliked more — Fats, Fatty and The Dumpling.

Minus his nickname, Clarence Algernon Child would be on my list of best real names.

A highly regarded second baseman in the 1890s, he drew a lot of walks, scored a lot of runs, and had a lifetime batting average of .306.

Cupid wouldn't do such a thing
Cupid Childs took the heat, but What's The Use Chiles (below) was the real culprit in a scandal described by Hall of Fame pitcher Christy Mathewson in his 1912 book, "Pitching in a Pinch." Mathewson misidentified Childs as the player responsible for the signal-stealing scheme of 1900, but it was Chiles who masterminded the plan. Chiles was in his second season with the Phillies and spent most of his time on the bench or the third base coaching box, so he set out to steal signals from the opposing catcher and relay them to his batters.

His partner was a little-used catcher named Morgan Murphy, who would sit behind the center field wall with a spyglass and relay information to Chiles via an electric wire Chiles had laid all the way from the fence to the coaching box.

The signal came in the form of a small electric shock, or short series of shocks, depending on what pitch had been called. Chiles would relay the signal to the batter via one of those hand twitches baseball coaches use. Cincinnati shortstop Tommy Corcoran noticed Chiles was twitching his leg, too, which exposed the signal-stealing scheme.

Meanwhile, Cupid Childs was playing second base for the Chicago Cubs.

Pearce Nuget Chiles was not a nice guy, and his details of his professional baseball career, which included 130 games for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1899-1900, are sketchy.

As for his nickname, he supposedly had a cocky habit of shouting "What's the use?" at batters who hit balls his way, or maybe he was just shouting for his own enjoyment, since he was primarily an outfielder, who occasionally filled in at first and second base. He wasn't above cheating while he did some coaching at third base. (See story above)

Off the field, he conned people, took advantage of underage girls, spent time in jail and even more time on the run, eventually dropping out of sight. For more, click on his full name.

Catcher and occasional first baseman William Jones Clarke said he was called "Boileryard" because of his booming voice. He played his first six major league seasons with the Baltimore Orioles (1893-98), then was with the Boston Beaneaters for two years, before moving to the American League Washington Senators. He finished his career with the New York Giants in 1905.

In his 13 major league seasons, Clarke played 950 games and batted .256.

Clarke was the head coach of the Princeton University baseball team for many years. One of his players was catcher Moe Berg. The Princeton baseball field is named in Clarke's honor.

Catcher Clarence "Choo Choo" Coleman was a New York Met favorite in 1961-62 because of his catchy name, certainly not because of his hitting. His career batting average was .197. What some remember most is his radio interview with Ralph Kiner, former Pittsburgh Pirate great who went on to become a New York Mets broadcaster. Kiner noted the Mets catcher had recently gotten married. "What's your wife's name?" he asked. And Choo Choo replied, "Mrs. Coleman."

Outfielder Henry Nicholas Cullop was a minor league superstar. In 1930, before being brought back to the majors by Cincinnati, he hit 54 home runs for Minneapolis of the American Association. His 420 career home runs puts him in the top five on the all-time minor league list. His 1,857 runs batted in is a minor league record.

He usually was called Nick, but "Tomato Face" separated him from a pitcher who also was named Nick Cullop (below). "Tomato Face" wasn't unique to Cullop, who got stuck with the nickname because he had a round face that reddened when e became angry. At least three other players were sometimes called "Tomato Face," including Hall of Fame catcher Gabby Hartnett.

Despite his minor league heroics, Cullop struck out with five major league teams — the New York Yankees, Washington Senators, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnati Red — from 1926 to 1931.

The other Nick Cullop was no "Tomato Face"
Before the man sometimes known as "Tomato Face" Cullop arrived on the scene, there was another Nick Cullop in the major leagues, real name Norman Andrew Cullop, a native of Chilhowie, Virginia.

This Nick Cullop was a left-handed pitcher who played professional baseball from 1912 to 1930, most of that time in the minor leagues. His biggest major league success was in the short-lived Federal League, when he won 22 games for the Kansas City Packers in 1915. The next season he had a 13-6 record for the New York Yankees.

His overall major league record was 59-54 in six seasons, and he won 144 games in the minor leagues, having two 20-win seasons for Louisville of the American Association in 1925 and 1926.

That Nicholas Dominic Dallessandro was nicknamed Dom is obvious, but Dim Dom? I've seen no explanation.

Standing just five-foot-six, Dallessandro was an outfielder who played 68 games with the Boston Red Sox in 1937 (hitting .237), then resurfaced in 1940 with the Chicago Cubs. He stuck around with the Cubs during World War Two, and in 1944 batted .304. He consistently hit over .300 in the minor leagues.

As a toddler, Ellis Deal was called Cotton Top because of his mop of very light hair; the nickname eventually was shortened to Cot.

Deal pitched for the Boston Red Sox (1947-48) and St. Louis Cardinals (1950, 1954). Later he managed in the minors.

He was such a good-hitting pitcher that the Columbus (Ohio) Red Birds used him in the outfield in 1951, and he hit 18 home runs in 114 games. Later he went back to pitching for the Rochester Red Wings of the International League, and three times won 14 games or more. He was often used as a pinch hitter in Rochester, and in 1956 batted .311.

Lee Delhi received his nickname because of his blazing fast ball and his bright red hair.

A bit of a phenom, Delhi — then nicknamed "Turk", "Red" and "Demon" — pitched his first professional game in 1909, at the age of 16 with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. By 1911, he was one of the best pitchers in the league, winning 27 games (against 23 losses), and he'd become known as "Flame" Delhi. His major league exposure consisted of only three innings of relief for the Chicago White Sox in 1912. He gave up seven hits, three walks and three earned runs runs (six runs overall), struck out two, and was not involved in the decision.

In 1915, he won 21 games with Kansas City of the American Association, then retired from professional baseball. He was only 22 years old.

Catcher William Dillhoefer could hardly avoid his nickname. The Cleveland, Ohio, native played two seasons (1914-15) with the Portstmouth Cobblers of the Ohio State League, then moved up to the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association. In 1917 he joined the Chicago Cubs, followed a year later by a brief stint with the Philadelphia Phillies, before finding a place with the St. Louis Cardinals. Tragedy struck after he seemed have established himself with the Cardinals. On February 23, 1922, a few weeks after getting married, Dillhoefer died from typhoid fever. He was only 27.

Patrick Henry "Harry" Dolan was a pitcher when he briefly joined the National League Washington Senators in 1892. Arm trouble forced him to give up pitching in 1896, so he went back to the minor leagues and became an outfielder.

In 1900 he returned to the National League, this time with Chicago, and he remained in the majors for seven seasons, changing teams several times. During a spring training trip with the Boston Doves (later Braves), Dolan unexpectedly died in Louisville on March 28 of a typhoid-related illness. He was 34.

Regarding the nickname that endured, erasing memory of his real name, I've seen no explanation, so I'm guessing "Cozy" meant something to Irish-Americans at the time. The nickname worked so well, that it also was given to the next Dolan who came along.

Cozy Dolan II had name problems from the get-go. Born James Alberts, he became Albert J. Dolan before he went on to be the better known — and more infamous  — of the two Cozys.

This Dolan was an outfielder-third baseman who, like Cozy I, bounced from team to team, having his best years (1914-15) with the St. Louis Cardinals. Cozy II made his biggest headlines as a New York Giants coach in 1924 when he was banished from baseball for allegedly conspiring to fix a game.

Charles Douglas lost his right eye as the result of a childhood accident, so some attribute the nickname to this unfortunate event. However, Douglas told an interviewer the nickname was pinned on him as a teenager because he was striking out to many batters, as though he had put a whammy (or spell) on the hitters.

The pitcher signed with Pittsburgh, and in 1954 won 27 games for the Brunswick Pirates of the Georgia-Florida League.

Three years later, Douglas moved up to the majors, winning three and losing three for Pittsburgh. Elbow and shoulder injuries shortened his career.

One year in the minor leagues, pitcher Walter Dubiel was issued a uniform that was so small his teammates likened it to an outfit worn by an organ grinder's assistant. So Dubiel's nickname was short for Monkey.

As a rookie pitcher for the New York Yankees in 1944, Dubiel won 13 games. He won 10 more in 1945, but didn't make the team in 1946 when major league rosters returned to normal for the first post-World War Two season. Dubiel had been 4-F during the war because of an eye ailment.

He dropped into the minors, but was back in the majors in 1948 with the Philadelphia Phillies, winning nine games, losing 10. That December, the Phillies traded Dubiel to the Chicago Cubs.

Dubiel remained with the Cubs until 1952, winning 14 games, losing 21 over three seasons. The Cubs then traded him to Boston, but Dubiel's injuries continued, and he never pitched for the Braves. Instead he was sent to the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association. Dubiel never pitched his way back to the majors.

Most of what I know about Dubiel comes from his Sporting News obituary which can be found on an interesting website called thedeadballera.com

Included is an anecdote from 1943 when Dubiel pitched for the Newark Bears, a New York Yankee farm team. The Bears were in Baltimore to play the International League Orioles. Dubiel lost his meal money, but couldn't bring himself to ask the team's traveling secretary for a loan. So he went to a hotel garage and washed cars until he made four dollars, which lasted him through the next day. If only we could say the same about four dollars today.

This would be an obvious nickname if Horace Owen Eller had a last name that began with D, but as things stand, I can only speculate that Eller did some work as a bricklayer, or the nickname implies the pitcher often carried his team.

Eller won 20 games for Cincinnati in 1919, including a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. Then he beat Chicago twice in the infamous fixed World Series. However, Eller's favorite pitch — the shineball (which involved dirt, spit and some hard rubbing) — was outlawed in 1920. A year later Eller was out of the majors. He was only 27.


Oscar Emil Felsch wasn't so happy when he was banished from baseball after the 1920 season; he was one of the eight Chicago White Sox players suspected of throwing the 1919 World Series. Felsch, a lifetime .293 hitter, batted .192 in the Series and made two outfield errors.

Unfortunately for Felsch (and the White Sox), he had his best season in 1920, just before the story of the fixed Series went public. He batted .338, with career highs in home runs (14), runs batted in (113), doubles (40), triples (15) and runs scored (88). Felsch was 28-year-old when he was suspended for life from major league baseball. It's reasonable to assume his best seasons were yet to come, if only . . .

Felsch got his cheerful nickname as a youngster because of his easy-going manner and engaging smile.

There have been several other "Happy" major leaguers, including:

"Happy Jack" Chesbro, a Hall of Fame pitcher active for 11 seasons (1899-1909), most of them with the New York Highlanders (now Yankees). He's remembered mostly for winning 41 games in 1904. He also had an outstanding seasons for Pittsburgh in 1902, posting a 28-6 record.

• "Happy Jack" Stivetts also pitched 11 seasons in the majors (1889-1899), winning 203 games. Six times he won 20 or more games, twice winning more than 30. Stivetts also played the outfield and first base, and retired with a .298 batting average.

• "Happy" Townsend, another pitcher named Jack, had little reason to be cheerful during his six seasons (1901-06). He won only 34 games, while losing 82, including 26 in 1904 for a terrible Washington team in the American League.

• "Happy" was the nickname for Albert Benjamin Chandler, who was the baseball commissioner from 1945 to 1951, which covered the years major league baseball was finally integrated. Chandler was a former governor and United States Senator from Kentucky. After he left the baseball commissioner's office, he again was elected governor of Kentucky.

Pitcher David Ferriss received his nickname from childhood efforts to get his big brother's attention. The word "brother" came out "boo." He became "Little Boo"; his brother, Will, became "Big Boo.

Ferriss won 21 games as a Boston Red Sox rookie in 1945; his 25 wins in '46 led the Sox into the World Series and he shut out St. Louis in Game Three. However, he injured his arm in 1947 and never recovered.

Ferriss was the pitching coach for the Red Sox between 1955 and 1959 before becoming head coach at Delta State University baseball where his teams compiled a 639-387 record before he retired in 1988.

Joseph Chester Fowler of Waco, Texas, preferred being called Chet, but somehow was nicknamed Boob, though some folks called him Gink. I've seen no explanation for either, but as a second baseman and as a shortstop, Fowler was a notoriously poor fielder, who remained in professional baseball until he was 33 because he could hit.

He got into only 78 major league games spread over four seasons. Most of those games were with Cincinnati, a few were with the Boston Red Sox. He had 57 hits in 175 at bats, for a fine .326 batting average, but committed 21 errors, his fielding average barely above .900, or about 50 points lower than acceptable.

Why George Joseph Gaw was called "Chippy" is an unaswered question. One definition of "chippy" is belligerent. Perhaps Gaw had a chip on his shoulder.

Gaw went to Tufts University, and graduated from its dental school, but played baseball in the meantime. In 1920, at age 28, this right-handed pitcher started one game and made five relief appearances for the Chicago Cubs. He played eleven seasons in the minor leagues, winning 97 games, against 88 losses.

Whether he became a full-time dentist, I do not know, but he did spend time as the hockey coach at Princeton University.

As a native of Germany, pitcher Charles H. Getzien bore a predictable nickname, by late 19th century standards. However, it could be "Pretzels" referred not to his ethnic background, but to his curve ball, which reportedly was unusually wicked, often cited as the pitch that convinced scientists the curve was real, not an illusion.

Getzien pitched for five National League teams from 1884-1892, winning 145 games, losing 139. His best seasons were spent with the Detroit Wolverines; he was 30-11 in 1886, 29-13 the next season. Later he pitched for the Indianapolis Hoosiers, Boston Beaneaters, Cleveland Spiders and St. Louis Browns. Another player had a similar nickname. Also, forgive my inconsistency; elsewhere I've spelled his last name Getzein because that's how it almost always appeared in newspapers from his playing days. You'll find it spelled Getzien on baseball-reference.com, but I have no idea which spelling is correct. Perhaps someone will discover the family actually prefers Getzine. Whatever.

As a young boy, Harold Joseph Gilbert played baseball with his older brothers. They called him "Rookie," but Harold pronounced it "Tookie." That's how nicknames are born, but if he had pronounced it the way lots of kids do, then Gilbert would have been the first Wookie.

A first baseman, Gilbert played for the New York Giants in 1950 and '53, batting .203 with seven home runs in 183 games. At six-foot-two, 185 pounds, Gilbert hit for power in the minor leagues. He hit 22 or more home runs five times in seven seasons. In retirement he was sheriff of Orleans Parish in Louisiana, but in 1967 died of an apparent heart attack while driving his car. He was only 38.

I'm going out of alphabetical order, but it seems to me 'Tookie' and 'Mookie' belong together. Outfielder William Hayward Wilson is well remembered for two things — his nickname (which stemmed from the way he said "milk" when he was a child) and the ground ball he hit in the 1986 World Series (the one that rolled between the legs of Boston Red Sox first baseman Bill Buckner).

You might also credit Wilson for consistency. He went through a five-season period when his batting averages were .271, .279, then .276 three years in a row.

Wilson had a career best .299 with the Mets in 1987. He retired after the 1991 season with a lifetime batting average of .274, but if we were giving bonus points for nicknames, Wilson would be in the Hall of Fame.

Other "ookie" nicknames are "Cookie," "Pookie" and "Rookie." Our Cookies — Lavagetto, Rojas and Cuccurullo — are listed elsewhere. There have been three "Pookies" — Bernstine, Jones and Wilson — but they never made it out of the minor leagues. Pitcher William Theron Davis is nicknamed "Rookie," and he was with Cincinnati in 2017, winning one game, losing three, but he has been battling injuries ever since.

There are at least two stories about how pitcher James Timothy Grant became known as "Mudcat," and I tend to believe the one you'll find in the SABR story linked to his name. Seems it happened during a Cleveland Indians tryout camp when one of the coaches thought Grant was from Mississippi, and dubbed him "Mudcat," after a kind of catfish found in that state. The 18-year-old pitcher was confused by the explanation for his new nickname, especially the Mississippi part, because he was actually from from Florida.

The other story claims the nickname originated later when Cleveland Indians teammate Larry Doby supposedly told Grant, "You're as ugly as a Mississippi Mudcat." I think Doby was too nice a guy to have said something like that, though it could have been mentioned in jest if Grant already had the nickname.

Grant broke in with a bang. winning 21 games with Fargo-Moorhead of the Northern League in 1954. He went 19-3 the next year with Keokuk of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, then in 1957 had an 18-7 record with San Diego of the Pacific Coast League.

After that he spent several years with Cleveland, then Minnesota, before making the rounds — Los Angeles Dodgers, Montreal Expos, St. Louis Cardinals, Oakland Athletics, and Pittsburgh Pirates.

Grant enjoyed a 14-year career, winning 145 games, losing 119. His best season was 1965 when he had a 21-7 record with the Twins. Overall, 117 of his victories were with Cleveland (67) and Minnesota (50).

Elijah Jerry Green claims his mother started calling him Pumpsie when he was a toddler, but doesn't know why.

He is best known as the first black player for the Boston Red Sox, the last major league team to integrate. Green joined Boston in 1959 after batting .320 with Minneapolis of the American Association. Primarily a second baseman, he also played shortstop and third base.

He batted ,242 in 1960, the only season he played more than 100 games. He played his final major league game in 1963, with the New York Mets.

Hall of Fame pitcher Burleigh Grimes got his nickname the expected way — he didn't shave on days he was scheduled to pitch. He said it protected his face against the irritating effects of the slippery elm he always chewed while on the mound.

Grimes was the last pitcher to legally throw a spitball. When the pitch was outlawed, several men were allowed to continue its use until they retired. Grimes remained active in the major leagues until 1934, winning 270 games, most of them for Brooklyn.

The image of Grimes is an overweight, sloppy fellow, but his appearance was deceiving. He was an excellent athlete, and one of the best hitting pitchers of all time, twice hitting over .300.

When he was a boy, Frank George Hahn was assigned the chore of carrying lunch to his father's place of work. The lunch invariably was noodle soup. His friends picked up on this and started calling the boy "Noodles."

He soon showed promise as a pitcher, so much promise that he made his major league debut in 1899 with Cincinnati. The left-hander started brilliantly — a 23-8 rookie season. He'd go on to win 20-plus games three times in the next four seasons, but then developed arm trouble, and his career ended in 1906, the one year he pitched for the New York Highlanders (later the Yankees). Hahn's overall record was 130-94.

He was born Granville Wilbur Hamner in Richmond, Virginia. His given first name led to a nickname that could have been listed on my "Call Me Mister" page. Others have had fun with it, and while "Granny" is memorable, in a way it falls into a category that includes Mickey for Michael, Willie for William, Tommy for Thomas, etc.

Hamner was the starting shortstop for the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies Whiz Kids, who were swept by the New York Yankees in the Series. Hamner was the Phillies' bright spot, batting .429 with six hits, including two doubles and a triple.

While never a star — his lifetime batting average was .262 — Hamner was one of those guys who could play any position, which came back to bite him when he wanted to retire from playing. In 1956, when he was 29 years old, he made three pitching appearance for the Phillies, and five years later, while the player-manager of the Portsmouth-Norfolk Tides of the South Atlantic League, he began to make regular relief appearances to avoid overworking his regular staff.

In 1962, a strange thing happened. He was still a player-manager, this time for the Binghamton Triplets of the Eastern League. He increased his pitching appearances, started 14 games, and finished every one of them. His won-lost record was 10-4. The parent team, the Kansas City Athletics, summoned Hamner back to the major leagues — as a pitcher. That experiment ended after three games, and Hamner retired, though years later he managed minor league teams in the Phillies' system.

His older brother (Wesley) Garvin Hamner also played professional baseball. The brothers were teammates on the 1945 Phillies and played a few games together, Granny at shortstop, Garvin at second base. However, for Garvin Hamner there were no more seasons in the majors, not with a .198 batting average.

Granny Hamner died in Philadelphia in 1993 after attending a Phillies game. He was 66 years old.

Charles Hartnett had what was perhaps baseball's most underrated nickname. It completely replaced his given name, Charles, or the nicknames you'd expect — Charlie or Chuck. Ironically, he was dubbed "Gabby" as a rookie because he was so quiet and shy.

Hartnett, a Hall of Famer, was considered the best catcher in National League history until Johnny Bench came along. Hartnett's lifetime batting average (.297) was better than Bench's, and the long-time Chicago standout — he also managed the team for awhile — had seasons in which he batted .339, .344 and .354. He also was among a handful of players who was given the nickname "Old Tomato Face," but "Gabby" was the name that endured.

Why Robert Hasbrouck was called Ziggy is a matter of conjecture. Why Hasbrouck became Hasbrook was an attempt to simplify the spelling of his last name.

He is listed as briefly being a fullback for a Rochester (NY) pro football team in 1921, with the notation he had gone to the University of Iowa. It's possible, I suppose, that "Ziggy" stems from his football running style, either in high school or college.

The native of Grundy Center, Iowa, played just 11 major league games, nine at first base in 1916, two at second base in 1917, all for the Chicago White Sox. He broke in with the Muscatine Wallopers of the Central Association, a Class D league, and remained with that team from 1913-16, going directly to the White Sox from there. He ended his baseball career in 1920 with Des Moines of the Western League and San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League.

After that, apparently, he gave pro football a try at the age of 28.

Berlyn Horne played the game professionally for 21 seasons, mostly pitching, but sometimes in the outfield. During those 21 summers he appeared in just 11 major league games, in 1929, with the Chicago Cubs. By then he was 31 years old. He started one game, relieved in 10 others, getting one win and one loss.

But most of the time Horne was toiling for such teams as the Jacksonville Roses, Battle Creek Custers, Saginaw Aces, Knoxville Smokies, and Yakima Pippins. I found one site that listed his overall minor league pitching record as 229 wins, 211 losses.

Being called "Trader" Horne was obvious. He also was known as "Sonny." He finally retired from the game at the age of 40.

Although his name usually appears as Albert Leonard Jacobson, the fine biography on the SABR website by Bill Nowlin points out the man's original first name was Albin, and I suspect that's what gave birth to his nickname, especially if some folks pronounced Albin as "AL-bean."

Jacobson was a six-foot, left-handed pitcher who had just two seasons and 28 minor league games under his belt when, at age 23, he made his major league debut with one of the worst teams ever — the 1904 Washington Senators.

Jacobson won five games — and lost 23, not surprising, considering the last-place Senators lost 113 games. (Seventh place Detroit lost 90 games.) Jacobson's ironically named teammate, Happy Townsend, had it even worse — five wins, and 26 defeats.

Jacobson had a 7-8 record in 1905, as Washington climbed out of the basement, ahead of the St. Louis Browns. As luck would have it, Jacobson was dealt to the Browns for the 1906 season, winning nine games, losing nine, as St. Louis put together a winning record and finished in fifth place. (Washington finished seventh again.)

Jacobson had one more season in the majors, losing six out of seven decisions before St. Louis let him go. After a brief trial with the Boston Red Sox, Jacobson returned to the minors, pitching his last game in 1915. The highlight of his career was his 1911 season with the Kalamazoo Celery Pickers of the Southern Michigan League, Jacobson won 26 games, with only nine losses.

As the player himself admitted, when you have a first name like Vernal, you have to have a nickname. And the one given to Vernal Leroy Jones certainly was memorable.

In a 1989 interview, Jones explained how he acquired it.

"My father was nicknamed 'Nip.' He liked to take a nip of the bottle now and then. When I'd tag along with him, people used to say, 'There goes Nip and Little Nipper.' "

It wasn't long before "Little Nipper" turned into "Nippy."

That is one of the anecdotes about Jones in the linked SABR article by Dan Fields. Jones was primarily a first baseman, and while he wore a major league uniform during eight seasons, there were just three years that he also didn't spend significant time with a minor league team. Only twice did he play more than 100 games during a major league season — 1948 and 1949 — with the St. Louis Cardinals. In '49 he had his best season, batting .300.

Besides his nickname — and perhaps because of it — Jones is also remembered for an incident in the 1957 World Series when he was used as a pinch hitter by the Milwaukee Braves, for whom he played 30 games after spending most of the season with Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. Jones claimed a pitch hit his feet, won his argument by showing the umpire the shoe polish on the ball.

My memory of Jones goes back to my childhood when he was one of the best hitters in the International League, batting .344 for Rochester in 1946 and .337 a season later. Both years he went up to the parent club, the St. Louis Cardinals, when the minor league season ended.

In all, Jones played 1,580 minor league games, many of them in the 1950s with Sacramento. He had 1,678 hits in the minors and a .292 batting average. His major league average, in 412 game, was .267. Jones played most of his games at first base, but when called upon, he filled in at second and third base.

I found no reason Clarence Jonnard was nicknamed "Bubber." My guess – and it is only a guess — is that Bubber is the sound a very young Jonnard made when he referred to his twin brother.

Jonnard was a catcher whose six-season major league career was stretched over 16 years (1920-35). He played with the Chicago White Sox, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals.

His twin brother, Claude Jonnard, a relief pitcher who had a similar major league experience — six seasons over nine years with three teams — the New York Giants, Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Browns.

The Jonnard brothers played together for parts of the 1920 and '21 seasons in Nashville, attracting attention because, being twins, they formed a unique battery.

In 1944 Bubber Jonnard managed the Minneapolis Millerettes of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.


William Park Kennedy entered the majors known as "Brickyard" because that was his place of employment during the off-season. Among his major league teammates — and opponents and fans  — he became better known as "Roaring Bill" for his booming voice. There was another player at the same time with that nickname. (See "Roaring Bill" Hassamaer.)

Kennedy pitched in the National League for Brooklyn (1892-1901), New York (1902), and Pittsburgh (1903), having four 20-win seasons on his way to a 187-159 lifetime record.

A better-than-average hitter, he hit over .300 four times. However, Kennedy had a tendency to blame teammates for his losses, though much of the time it was his wildness that lost games. He had a good fastball, but walked many more men than he struck out, and was a headache for every manager.

Clifford Latimer was given the nickname in 1898 while catching for Austin of the Texas League. Latimer later told an interviewer "Tacks" was chosen by someone in Austin, perhaps a sportswriter, who apparently believed every ballplayer should have a nickname. Latimer claimed he had no idea why he was called "Tacks."

While his nickname made him sound like a Damon Runyon character, Latimer's life became something out of a James Cagney movie. After the catcher left baseball (which included just 27 major league games in five seasons, 1898-1902), he became a policeman with the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1924, he shot and killed a superior, Lt. Charles Mackroft. Latimer was sent to prison, but proved a model inmate; he was pardoned in 1930.

DeWitt Wiley LeBourveau probably owed his nickname to a play on his last name. To me, Bevo LeBourveau suggests a cartoon rival of Pepe LePew.

Outfielder LeBourveau hit too well to be left in the minor leagues, but didn't field well enough to stay in the majors. The result was he became a member of a dying breed — professional baseball players who kept playing in the minor leagues long after their major league dreams had died. LeBourveau twice led the American Association in batting, and had a .349 lifetime batting average in the minor leagues.

He may be the second most famous athlete to be nicknamed "Bevo." Number one is "Bevo" Francis, a six-foot-nine basketball player at tiny Rio Grande College in Ohio in the 1950s. Twice Francis scored more than 100 points in a game, albeit against poor competition, but he received a lot of publicity nonetheless.

Horace Milton Lisenbee apparently had two nicknames as a youngster —Hod and Lizzy. Given that choice, it's no wonder Hod prevailed. He's the second Hod on my list. The other is pitcher Hod Eller.

Lisenbee also was a pitcher, the son of a Tennessee farmer. He got off to a slow start in life because he was kept busy working at home. He told an interviewer his schooling was delayed so long that he didn't start high school until he was 21. He said that's when he held a baseball in his hand for the first time.

Seven years later he was in the American League, a 28-year-old rookie with Washington in 1927, posting a fine 18-9 record. That would be his only good season. Arm problems sent him back to the minors in 1928, with Minneapolis of the American Association, though he spent some time with Washington.

From 1929-32 he was with the Boston Red Sox, though he spent part of 1929 with the Pittsfield Hillies of the Eastern League. He had a 10-17 record with the Red Sox in 1930, but Boston was a last place team that season.

He was back in the minors in 1933, but resurfaced in the major leagues in 1936 with the Philadelphia Athletics, and again in 1945, with Cincinnati, when he was 46 years old. But this was during World War Two when the majors were desperate.

Lisenbee was player-manager of the Clarksville Colts from 1947-49, and pitched his last game when he was 50 years old. He also was a real-life Forrest Gump. Google him and you'll meet an interesting character.

Harry Lee Lowery received his nickname in infancy after his grandfather chortled, "Why, he's no bigger than a peanut!"

Lowery was a five-foot-eight outfielder, third baseman and excellent pinch hitter in the National League, playing mostly with the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals (1942-55). In 1952 he had seven straight pinch hits.

Guillermo Luna's nickname is unexplained; his story is disturbing, but interesting.

In the 1950s, Luna, of Tacubaya, Mexico, was considered a brilliant pitching prospect, but pitched only one inning in the majors. Luna blames St. Louis Cardinals manager Eddie Stanky, who told the pitcher, “I don’t want @#$&% Mexicans!”

Luna soon returned home to pitch and now is enshrined in Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame; he was similarly honored by the San Diego Padres Minor League Hall of Fame. Luna won 32 games for the Padres in two seasons (1952-53) while San Diego was in the Pacific Coast League.

Pitcher John Walter Mails earned his nickname through his tendency to brush back hitters. He was sometimes called "Duster the Great," though Mails won but 32 games in seven big league seasons. However, in the minor leagues, he really was great, winning 226 games.

It looked as though he'd be great in the majors, too, when he joined the pennant-winning Cleveland Indians in 1920 and won seven games, finishing the season undefeated with an earned run average of 1.85. He posted a 14-8 record with Cleveland in 1921, but soon found himself back in the minors until he resurfaced briefly with the St. Louis Cardinals a few years later.

He remained active until 1936, when he pitched for San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. He was 41 years old.

Frederick Marberry is regarded as the first great relief pitcher, appearing in 45-or-more games in eight different seasons. He played for the Washington Senators (1923-32) and later the Detroit Tigers. He won 147 games (against 89 losses) in his 14-year major league career. Most of those decisions were in games he started. His best season was 1929 when he had a 19-12 record. He started 26 games that season, with 23 relief appearances.

Marberry got his nickname because Senator teammates thought he resembled Argentine heavyweight Luis Firpo who had attracted attention in 1923 when he fought champion Jack Dempsey.

Clarence Westly Marshall would have been in the running for a spot on my "As Is" list of names if it weren't for some jokers who saw a resemblance between Marshall and movie star Tyrone Power.

As a result, in 1946, the 21-year-old rookie pitcher, youngest player on the team, was given the nickname, "Cuddles." Marshall certainly didn't look like a "Cuddles," because he stood six-foot-three and weighed 200 pounds, but his nickname helped single him out.

His looks were impressive, but his pitching wasn't. He posted a 3-4 record with a 5.33 earned run average. The highlight came May 28 when he started the first night game ever played at Yankee Stadium.

He went back to the minors in 1947 and remained there most of the next season. He won all three of his decisions in 1949, but walked 48 batters in 49 innings, an indication of control problems that plagued him throughout his short major league career which ended with the St. Louis Browns in 1950. His lifetime won-lost record was 7-7.

He didn't pitch in the 1949 World Series, but his team membership earned him a championship ring. The ring was later stolen by workers in his home, but 20 years later one of his two daughters had it recast.

Arnold Ray McBride's nickname is short for "Shake and Bake" — a nickname of a nickname — which reflected McBride's personality and playing style.

McBride was an outfielder (1973-82) for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phils and Cleveland Indians. He broke in with five straight .300-plus seasons and finished his 11-year career with a lifetime .299 average. His Afro seemed to explode from his cap, which earned him a place on everyone's all-hair baseball team.

McGraw was one of baseball's top relief pitchers for the New York Mets (1965-74) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1975-84). Long after he retired, it was revealed he'd had an affair and fathered a son who went on to become a country music superstar — Tim McGraw.

The pitcher was born Frank Edwin McGraw, but he received his nickname shortly thereafter. It was coined by his mother who said he tugged when she breast-fed him.

McGraw was a fan favorite in New York and Philadelphia. He is credited with coining the phrase "You gotta believe" to describe the New York Mets on their way to the 1973 National League championship.

Douglas Lawrence McWeeny was born in Chicago in 1896, and had his first major league shot with the White Sox in 1921. McWeeny was a six-foot-two-inch, right-handed pitcher with a blazing fast ball, the sound of which accounted for his nickname.

He did not do well with the White Sox, who gave him a second chance after he won 20 games for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in 1923. After losing three of four decisions with the White Sox in 1924, he was sent to Minneapolis of the American Association. Next season he returned to San Francisco, had a 20-5 record, which led to a four-season stay with the Brooklyn Robins (later Dodgers).

It was with Brooklyn that McWeeny had his best season, going 14-14 in 1928. Cincinnati acquired him in 1930, but let him go after he lost his first two games. McWeeny's major league record was a lackluster 37-57, but he was 77-49 in the minors. I found several comments by baseball folks and newspaper columnists who said McWeeny's problems were threefold: He didn't have a good curve ball to go with his better-than-average fastball; he had control problems, and an indifferent attitude.

Few players could top John Bernard Miller's story about his nickname. As a 22-year-old rookie second baseman with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1909, Miller was called either "Jack" or "Barney" . . . until a reporter asked legendary shortstop Honus Wagner to identify the man who'd be playing next to him in the infield.

Wagner had a heavy German accent, and when he answered, "That's Miller," it sounded like "Dot's Miller." I'm guessing the reporter knew what Wagner was saying, and decided to have fun with Miller's name. From then on, however, the player was known as "Dots."

Miller wound up his 12-year major league career playing more games at first base than second; he also played several games at shortstop and some at third. He was a good fielder and a clutch hitter. While he never hit higher than .290, he led the Pirates in runs batted in, with 90, in 1913. The next two seasons he led the St. Louis Cardinals in RBIs.

He left the major leagues after the 1921 season with the Philadelphia Phillies. He became the player manager of the San Francisco Seals in 1922, but his life was cut short by tuberculosis, and he died in 1923.

Albert Thomas Moran of Rochester, NY, was a six-foot-five-inch, right-handed pitcher, who made seven major league appearances with the Boston Braves in 1938-39. He started twice, the first time on August 28, 1939, and picked up his only big league win, getting a lot of support from his teammates. The final score: Boston 10, St. Louis 5.

Moran started only one more game, and lost, so when he returned to the minors his lifetime big league record was 1-1. He pitched 10 seasons in the minor leagues and, overall, had a losing record, but in 1942 won 17 games for the Little Rock Travelers of the Southern Association, losing only nine times.

Moran was well-covered by Rochester area newspapers during his professional career, but I found no explanation of his nickname. One wire service reporter, writing about unusual baseball nicknames, said Moran was called "Hiker" because that was his favorite form of travel. Perhaps, but that sounds like a guess. Moran died in Saratoga Springs, NY, in 1998. He was 86 years old.

Perhaps the middle syllables of his first name inspired Theophilus Fountain Neal's nickname ... or maybe it was his batting performance in his 13 major league at bats — oh for 13. His given name is one of baseball's best.

Neal was a 29-year-old infielder when he appeared in four games for the New York Giants in 1905. He didn't turn pro until he was 27, and spent most of the 1905 season with Baltimore of the Eastern League. After failing to make the Giants in 1906, he returned to the minor leagues, retiring at the end of the 1907 season.

According to Joe Nekola, a retired New York Police captain, his uncle, pitcher Francis Joseph Nekola, grew up in the Bronx in an Italian neighborhood. Neighbors were baseball fans who thought Nekola was Italian (his family actually was Czech) and "because he was a 'crazy' southpaw, he was called 'Bots,' the Italian word for crazy."

I found no such Italian word. Perhaps it was slang or a heavily accented pronunciation of "bats" (as in "bats in his belfry").

Bots Nekola pitched briefly for the New York Yankees in 1929. He is better known as Boston Red Sox scout. (He signed Carl Yastrzemski.)

Louis Norman Newsom was one of major league baseball's most-traveled players, traded from team to team to team throughout his long career. Here's how things went for Newsom: 

With Brooklyn (1929-30); Chicago Cubs (1931); St. Louis Browns (1934); Washington (1935-36); Boston Red Sox (1937); St. Louis Browns (1938); Detroit (1939-41); Washington and Brooklyn (1942); St. Louis and Washington (1943); Philadelphia Athletics (1944-45); Washington (1946); New York Yankees and a World Series (1947), and New York Giants (1948). 

He was out of the majors for awhile, probably resting, then returned in 1952 for his fifth stay with the Washington Senators, who traded him a few weeks later to the Philadelphia Athletics. He finally left the majors for good in 1953, the year he celebrated his 46th birthday. 

Newsom won 211 major league games, lost 222. He had three straight 20-win seasons, 1938-40, going 21-5 with Tigers in '40 and winning two games in World Series. In summarizing his career, some like to point out that Louis Norman Newsom served more terms in Washington than Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

His family called him "Buck" as a youngster, but he picked up a new nickname as an adult because he had the habit of calling everyone "Bobo" to cover up his inability (or unwillingness) to remember names. Finally, "Bobo" bounced back on him, and, after that, he developed a new habit — of referring to himself in the third person (like "Jimmy" in a well-remembered episode of "Seinfeld").

'Bobo' Holloman
Alva Lee Holloman was another "Bobo," given that name in 1948, his third year in professional baseball. He was 25, his career having been delayed four years by World War Two, which Holloman spent in the Navy.

He joined the Nashville Volunteers halfway through the season, after going 8-3 with the Macon Peaches of the Class A South Atlantic League. Nashville was a Class AA team in the Southern Association, managed by Larry Gilbert, who likened Holloman to Bobo Newsom. At six-feet-two-inches, 205 pounds, Holloman was almost as big as Newsom. He did very well with Nashville for awhile, but his career stalled until 1952 when he joined Syracuse of the International League, and had a 16-7 record.

He spent the winter in Puerto Rico, picking up 15 more victories, and in the spring reported to the St. Louis Browns. After making a couple of relief appearances, he convinced manager Marty Marion to let him start a game, which he did on a wet May evening against the Philadelphia Athletics, becoming the first pitcher in the 20th century to throw a no-hitter in his first start.

Holloman was a colorful guy, who loved to talk, and he milked his 15 minutes of fame for all it was worth ... a good thing, because he didn't last the season in St. Louis, losing seven of 10 decisions before the Browns let him go. He went back to the International League, this time pitching for Toronto.

In 1954 he pitched for five different minor league teams, dropping from Triple A to Double A to Class A, and finally the St. Petersburg Saints of the Class B Florida International League. When the season ended, Holloman retired. He returned to his native Georgia, started an advertising agency, and died in Athens, GA, in 1987. He was 62 years old.

Frederick Nichols was the Bobo Newsom of his time, but Nichols' career was much shorter. He pitched for four different National League teams in four seasons, then went to a fifth city to pitch in the American Association, which at the time had major league status. You could make a case, I suppose, that he had a sixth major league season if you count his stint with New Haven in the National Association, the year before the National League was born. Nichols was 4-28 with New Haven, a team that won only seven games all season. 

The Bridgeport, Connecticut, native spent much of his time in New England; three of his other teams were in Boston, Providence and Worcester. He also pitched in St. Louis and Baltimore, and later went to Saginaw, Michigan.

A website devoted to sports in Saginaw, Michigan had a short piece on a team called the Saginaw Old Golds, champions of the Northwestern League in 1883 and 1884. This piece claims Fred "Tricky" Nichols, apparently a member of the Old Golds, is credited with throwing baseball's first "drop pitch." Research on this piece was done by Richard Curry.

Cut to another item, this one a recap of the 1878 National League season that mentions a game on May 25 when Tricky Nichols of Providence was forced to go the whole nine innings against Boston despite a dislocated finger. He lost the game, 17-10. Could the dislocated finger have anything to do with the "drop pitch"? And is that why he was called Tricky?

Tricky Nichols was a member of the first United States baseball team to visit Cuba. They did it late in 1879 on a junket organized by promoter Frank Bancroft of Cincinnati and financed by Asa Soule of Rochester, New York.

The team was called the Hop Bitters named for a whiskey-laced medicine that Soule was marketing as a cure for almost anything. The baseball team played only two games in Cuba, winning both easily, then retreated to New Orleans to spend the rest of the winter 

I used the word "retreated" because, while they weren't chased out of Cuba, the situation there was tense. Cuba still belonged to Spain — this was several years before the Spanish-American War — and while Cubans apparently liked Americans, the Spanish didn't. And baseball pretty much symbolized America.

This team became the Worcester Ruby Legs for the 1880 National League season.

As for Tricky Nichols, the source of his nickname remains a mystery, though it's obvious he wasn't Tricky enough, since his won-lost record in the so-called major leagues of his era was 28-73.

It was the ego of Edward Sylvester Nolan, one of early baseball's flakiest players, that provided this nickname. Apparently Nolan was a legend in his own mind

In 1878, months shy of his 21st birthday, Nolan was kicked off the Indianapolis team of the National League after management discovered he'd taken a day off to attend a fictitious funeral. He'd spent the day in a bar, so no one was surprised when drinking became the young man's biggest problem. Despite his 23-52 lifetime record, he was considered a talented pitcher who managed to attract a large fan following.

A pitcher for Kansas City and Oakland Athletics (1964-74), Johnny Lee Odom went to Cleveland, then Atlanta, and finished with the Chicago White Sox in 1976 when he pitched the first five innings of a no-hitter against his old team, the A's. Francisco Barrios came in and pitched the last four innings.

The nickname "Blue Moon" reportedly was the creation of A's owner Charlie Finlay, who believed players should have colorful nicknames. 

I have found no explanation for why Charles Reno Pittinger was nicknamed "Togie," or what "Togie" is supposed to mean.

Pittinger, a six-foot-two-inch pitcher, played his first professional game in 1896, when he was 24 years old, but didn't really get started until the next season when he went 14-4 with the Brockton (MA) Shoemakers of the New England League. He won his first six games the next season, and worked his way up. After going 13-5 with the Worcester Farmers of the Eastern League, he joined the Boston Beaneaters of the National League.

In 1902, Pittinger and Beaneaters teammate Vic Willis won 27 games apiece, but a year later Pittinger lost 22 games (though he did win 18). After going 15-21 in 1904, he was traded to the Phillies, bouncing back in 1905 to win 23 games. Shoulder problems limited his appearances the next two seasons and he left the major leagues in the fall of 1907.

He died in 1909 of Bright's disease, a kidney ailment. He was only 37.

Emory Elmo Rigney is another player whose nickname lived on long after its origin was forgotten. The slight — five-foot-nine, 150 pound — shortstop also was called "Trim" and "Midget."

Rigney was a major leaguer for six seasons, playing most of his games for the Detroit Tigers, for whom he performed very well as a rookie in 1922, batting .300. He improved the next year, with a career-best .315 batting average, but things went downhill from there. He played next for the Boston Red Sox, and wound up with the Washington Senators in 1927, playing just 45 games. He ended his playing days in 1928 with Kansas City of the American Association.

Pitcher Arthur Bernard Riviere started at the top, breaking into professional baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1921, picking up his only major league victory in one of the 18 games in which he was used. He started two two of those games, but overall pitched only 38 innings, and had an earned run average of 6.01. which must have been a big disappointment to Cardinals manager Branch Rickey.

Before the season started, Rickey praised the 21-year-old Riviere, declaring he could be the next Walter Johnson. Rickey based this on Riviere's strikeouts and four no-hitters in a Texas semi-pro league the year before.

St. Louis released Riviere, and he pitched the following year for Milwaukee of the American Association, winning 10 games, losing 10. In 1923 he began the season with the Syracuse Stars of the International League, appearing in 15 games and being involved in two decisions — both losses. Arm problems and a broken ankle sidelined him for most of the season. Riviere and the Stars entered a long dispute afterward, the Syracuse team suspending the pitcher for not getting back into condition, while he sued to become a free agent. As a result, he missed the entire 1924 season.

He appeared in three games for the Chicago White Sox in 1925, but worked only four-and-two-thirds innings. From then until he retired in 1931, Riviere pitched for Texas teams in Dallas, San Antonio, Beaumont and Houston.

I've yet to find an explanation of his unusual nickname. His son, Bernard Jay Riviere, played football for Rice during that school's glory days in the Southwestern Conference in the 1950s, and later was a golf pro who became a successful designer of golf courses. He's in the Texas Golf Hall of Fame.

Elwin Charles Roe pitched in one game in 1938 with the St. Louis Cardinals, then departed the majors until 1944 when he won 13 games for second-place Pittsburgh. The Pirates got worse each year for the next three seasons, hitting the basement in 1947 when Roe's record was 4-15.

Then — hallelujah! — he was traded to Brooklyn where a new Preacher Roe emerged. As a Dodger (1948-54), Roe won 93 games, lost only 37. His best season was 1951 when he posted a 22-3 record.

According to 'The Ultimate Baseball Book', Roe said, "I got three pitches. My change, my change off my change, and my change off my change off my change." Later he admitted that when he moved to Brooklyn he picked up a fourth pitch: a spitball.

Brooklyn — and Ebbets Field — provided Roe with an unforgettable moment in 1953 when the pitcher hit his only major league home run. Roe wasn't simply regarded as a poor hitter, he was one of the worst hitters ever to swing a bat in the majors. Not quite as bad as Bob Buhl, but close.

When Roe went deep, it elicited a chuckle from Red Barber, the famous Dodgers announcer, who told the radio audience, "Well, old number 28 has hit a home run and we'll never hear the end of it, folks!" Roe had only two other hits all season in 57 at bats.

Early in his career Roe spent an off-season coaching a girls high school basketball team and got into a heated dispute with an official. Roe came away from the battle with a skull fracture. Former Dodger teammate Ralph Branca says Roe never flew with the team, saying air travel gave him headaches which he attributed to that skull injury. "Preacher always took the train," said Branca.

In 1954, Roe retired to West Plains, Missouri, where he ran a grocery store and coached youth baseball. In 1992, at the age of 77, Roe decided it was finally time he tried a new sport. He started playing golf.

On Nov. 9, 2008, Elwin Charles Roe died. When and why he became known as Preacher is not certain. There are three version in the SABR article linked to his name (above). Teammate Ralph Branca had yet a fourth version. He once told the New York Daily News that Roe "was always talking to you like he was a preacher, and if no one was around, Preacher would talk to the wall.

As a youngster, Herold Dominic Ruel (1) got his face splattered when he caught a ball made of mud or (2) showed up at home so covered in mud that his father dubbed him "Muddy." Those are two of the explanations for the catcher's unusual nickname, but the truth may be something else.

After Moe Berg, Muddy Ruel might have had baseball's brightest mind. Like Berg, Ruel was a catcher; he played with several American League teams (1915-34) and managed St. Louis Browns in 1947.

Ruel was behind the plate for the most tragic pitch in major league history. It happened on August 17, 1920, when he was with the New York Yankees. Ruel was catching when Carl Mays threw the pitch that hit and fatally injured batter Ray Chapman, the Cleveland Indians shortstop, the only major league player ever killed during a game.

Ruel earned a law degree from Washington University of St. Louis, and became an expert in baseball law. Later he was a special assistant to baseball commissioner Albert "Happy" Chandler.

Ireland-born Daniel Ryan performed on stage in the winter and played baseball in the summer. found a measure of fame in this country by having two careers — acting and baseball. His major league career includes appearances in only nine games — eight with the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in 1887 and one with the Boston Beaneaters of the National League in 1891.

He owed his nickname to his fastball, though something must have happened to his arm early on, because when he pitched in the mid-1890s, he was often shelled, suffering embarrassing defeats. More often he played first base or the outfield, and sometimes managed teams.

Because he was a well-known actor who played a wide variety of roles, including "Hamlet," Ryan was an easy target on the baseball field for catcalls from opposing fans.

In looking through articles from various New York newspapers, it seemed clear he was regarded as a star. For example, he made only one pitching appearance for the Boston Beaneaters, working three innings. Yet years later he was described in a few articles as being a star pitcher for Boston.

He did have a following in New England. That's where he grew up, and where he had played in 1887 for a minor league team called the Boston Blues. Later he played for the Providence Clamdiggers of the Eastern Association (1891) and the Brockton Shoemakers of the New England League (1893). But from 1894 through 1900, Ryan was likely to pop up on a team in the New York State League.

Eventually he made acting a full-time career, but he was just 50 years old when he died of pneumonia in 1917.

A better known "Cyclone" was Joe Williams (right), regarded as perhaps the best pitcher in the Negro Leagues, and a member of the Hall of Fame, though he never had a chance to pitch in the major leagues. He did, however, face major league teams in exhibition games, and almost always beat them. "Cyclone Joe" was more widely called "Smokey Joe," and he began pitching a few years before the emergence of "Smoky Joe" Wood of the Boston Red Sox. Why the difference in the spelling of "Smoky," I don't know.

Amzie Beal Snodgrass must have been the winner of a "How Would You Like to Play for the Baltimore Orioles" contest. He came out of nowhere in 1901 to play three games for the Orioles in the fledgling American League, getting a single in ten at bats. He was 31 years old at the time.

The only other record of Snodgrass in professional baseball was his performance with the Baton Rouge Red Sticks of the Cotton States League in 1904 when he had 18 hits in 79 at bats, for a .228 average. Not surprisingly, I found no mention of why he was called "Chappie," though, at the time, "Chap" was a fairly common way to refer to a boy or young man.

"Buck" is one of the most common baseball nicknames, though the reason it was applied to Frank Thrasher is unknown. The last name makes this particular "Buck" sound like a porn star.

"Buck" Thrasher was an outfielder who played 30 games for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916-17. His batting average was .255, though he put up gaudy numbers during his first six seasons in the minor leagues, including a .337 average with Atlanta of the Southern Association in 1916.

As a boy in Somerville, Massachusetts, Harold Joseph Traynor and his friends frequented a store run by a clergyman named Father John Nangle. Every day, so the story goes, Father Nangle would ask the boys what they wanted, and Traynor would say, "Pie." Father Nangle took to calling the boy "Pie Face", later shortened to Pie.

While baseball statistics guru Bill James disagrees, Traynor generally is considered the greatest third baseman of them all. The Hall of Famer was a starter for Pittsburgh for 13 seasons, though his association with the Pirates extended many more years. He had a lifetime batting average of .320, routinely drove in more than 100 runs. James rates 14 third basemen ahead of Traynor, with Mike Schmidt as his pick for the all-time best.

William Veach arrived as a pitcher in 1884, and got his nickname when he was caught looking for signals being relayed to him by his manager via a spectator. Opponents noticed Veach glancing at the grandstand and began yelling "Peek-a-boo! Peek-a-boo!"

Veach won three games, lost ten in 1884 and 1887. He played again in 1890, but usually as an outfielder and first baseman, though he also showed up at second base. He played 100 major league games, batting .215.

How Orville Veal wound up with his nickname is open to debate. Cooter is a kind of turtle ... and a coot is a kind of bird with weird toes, and I've heard of something called a cooter pie. Some credit New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel, who supposedly referred to him as "Cooter," but I suspect Stengel merely added the "er" to an existing nickname.

Veal, a native of Sandersville, Georgia, was a shortstop who saw some action for Detroit, Washington and Pittsburgh (1958-63). He's remembered partly for his last name, which puts him on those all-food baseball names lists people keep coming up with.

For reasons unknown, John Garibaldi Weihe became known as Podge, sometimes Podgie. While not sure how to pronounce his last name, I'd guess the Chris Berman-ism would be, "Podge Eating His Curds and Weihe."

Weihe played in the 1880s for Cincinnati and Indianapolis of the American Association, mostly in the outfield, some at second and first base.

I wish I knew who came up with the nickname for Elwood Wirts. "Kettle" is a classic.

Wirts was a catcher who played all 49 of his major league games with Chicago teams, the Cubs (1921-23) and the White Sox (1924). His only big league home run was a grand slam. Wirts was one of those major leaguers who truly could not hit his weight, which was 170 pounds. His batting average: .163.

He fared much better in the minor leagues where his lifetime average was .279. After retiring as a player, he did some managing in the minors. Later he was director of a baseball school in Sacramento, and a beer distributor.

Like Coot Veal, Taffy Wright usually is listed on one of those all-food line-ups baseball-name fanatics enjoy compiling.

His nickname comes from his given first name — Taft. Wright's middle name was Shedron.

One other thing about Wright — the guy could hit. He arrived in the majors in 1938 as a Washington Senators outfielder and batted .350 in 263 at bats. He hit .309 the next season, was traded to the Chicago White Sox, and just kept on hitting. When World War Two interrupted his career — after he had played 85 games in 1942 — Wright was carrying a lifetime batting average of .328.

He wasn't the same hitter when he returned in 1946, though he did manage one solid season, hitting .324 in 1947. When he finished his major league career in 1949, with the Philadelphia Athletics, his lifetime average had dropped, but was still an impressive .311. Though Wright never drove in more than 97 runs in a season, he holds the major league record for most consecutive games (13) with a run batted in. Kansas City's Mike Sweeney tied that record in 2005.

William Henry Zuber was a religious boy from America's heartland (Iowa), and his last name was Zuber. The nickname was inevitable. However, he was much better known as Bill.

He was a pitcher for four American League teams, winding up with the Boston Red Sox, which is how he got to pitch two innings in the 1946 World Series. In retirement he owned and operated Bill Zuber's Dugout Restaurant in Homestead, Iowa.

 
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