HOME | FAMILY TREES | RECOLLECTIONS | SPOTLIGHT ON SOLVAY | READ ABOUT IT | NAME DROPPING
A good nickname is a terrible thing to waste. That seems to be a motto in baseball, which has seen some nicknames multiply like bunnies, which is appropriate since this page is devoted to players who were called "Rabbit" or "Bunny."


Tiny (5-feet-4 ... 5-feet-5, tops) Walter James Vincent Maranville was one of baseball's most popular players for 23 seasons. The shortstop-second baseman broke in with the Boston Braves in 1912, played for the Miracle Braves that won the 1914 pennant and swept the favored Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series. He later played in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Brooklyn and St. Louis, before returning to Boston. His entire career was in the National League.

He was called Rabbit because he had big ears and he was fast on his feet.
Maranville is credited with originating the basket catch that many years later was a Willie Mays trademark. Maranville reportedly kept his arms at his sides until the last second before letting the ball drop into his glove, about waist high.

Maranville also was known to sit on runners after he tagged them out at second base, sometimes patting them on the rump

He was known for his antics as a player, and continued his colorful ways when given a chance to manage the Chicago Cubs in 1925. One night on a train, he dumped water on players who were asleep, yelling, "No sleeping under Maranville management, especially at night." He was fired soon thereafter.

Needless to say, Maranville was one of baseball's most notorious drinkers.



William Clyde Robinson, born in 1882 in Wellsburg, West Virginia, was the first major leaguer to be be known as "Rabbit," though two others (further down the page) had it as a nickname, according to baseball-reference.com, which differentiates between players generally called by their given names or variations (such as Chuck for Charles, Jim for James) and those whose given names were virtually replaced by their nicknames (Rabbit Maranville is a good example, so is Gabby Hartnett).

As for Robinson, he probably was called "Rabbit" because he was small (five-feet-six) and fast. He was versatile, playing second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield in 1903 with the Washington Senators, and a year later with the Detroit Tigers. However, he was not a particularly good fielder, especially at shortstop, and his batting average was .223. He played minor league baseball until 1914, when he was 32.

George Nill joined the Washington Senators a year after Rabbit Robinson left, and may have picked up the same same nickname because they were very similar in size, versatility — and limitations.

However, Rabbit Nill remained with the Senators until 1907, when he was dealt to Cleveland. His major league days ended a season later. His career batting average was .213. Like Rabbit Robinson, Nill remained active in the minor leagues until 1914, and was also 32 when he retired.

Stanley Benton fit the mold — he was five-feet-seven, and played second and third base, as well as shortstop. He was a professional baseball player for 16 years — 1919-34 — but appeared in only six major league games, in 1922, with the Philadelphia Phillies. He had four hits in 19 at bats, for a .211 average.

Unlike the other "Rabbits," Benton often batted over .300 in the minor leagues. He spent six seasons in the Texas League, and in one three-year stretch (1927-29) with the Wichita Falls Spudders, batted .322, .324 and .327. Coincidentally, he also retired at the age of 32, in 1934.

The man born Harold Burton Warstler was the second best-known baseball "Rabbit." Warstler, was a five-feet-seven-inch shortstop-second baseman who spent nine of his 11 seasons in Boston with either the Red Sox or Braves, also playing with the Philadelphia Athletics and Chicago Cubs from 1930-40. I suspect he was nicknamed after Rabbit Maranville.

Warstler was considered an excellent fielder, but his lifetime batting average was .229. After leaving the major leagues in 1940, he played two years in the minors, with Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League and Fort Worth of the Texas League, retiring when he was 38.

He had no nickname, but Joseph "Joe" Rabbitt qualifies for a spot on this page. In 14 seasons as a professional baseball player, he had only three at bats in the major leagues, in 1922, with Cleveland. By getting one hit, he was able to say he was a career .333 hitter in the bigs.

In the minor leagues, Rabbitt was known for his base-stealing. Four times he lead various leagues in that category. He did have one monster hitting season in the minors, in 1927 with the Omaha Buffaloes of the Western League, when he batted .361 with 20 home runs. And, as if it's a requirement for "Rabbits," this one also retired from baseball when he was 32.

Robert Emmet McHale was better known as Bob. He kept playing until he was 39, long after his 11-game trial with Washington of the National League in 1898 when he was 28 years old. He had six hits in 33 at bats (.182).

Born in Sacramento, California, in 1870, McHale began playing baseball professionally in 1889, and over the next 20 years spent most of his time in the Western and California Leagues, mostly as an outfielder.

James Franklin Slagle, a five-feet-seven-inch outfielder from Worthville, Pennsylvania, enjoyed a successful 10-season career in the National League (1899-1908), mostly with the Chicago Cubs. (Slagle was a member of two Cubs teams that won the World Series.)

Best known as Jimmy, Slagle is listed in several places as being nicknamed "Rabbit" and "Shorty." But if you dig further, the most popular nickname for him was "The Human Mosquito."

Twice — once with the Philadelphia Phillies, once with the Cubs — Slagle scored more than 100 runs. His best batting average was .315, in 1902, his first season with the Cubs. His lifetime average was .268, and fittingly, perhaps, that's what he batted for Baltimore of the Eastern League in 1909, when Slagle returned to the minors. He played one more season with Baltimore before he retired, batting .269. He then settled in Chicago and ran a laundry service.

James McCurdy Miller pre-dated "Rabbit" Robinson by two years, and his nickname also was "Rabbit," but he is listed on baseball-reference.com as Jim Miller.

The Pittsburgh-born Miller was the smallest of this bunch — five-feet-four, 140 pounds — and, no surprise, played second base. He broke into pro ball in 1901 with the Binghamton Bingos of the New York State League — his manager was Count Campau — and, apparently, his .298 batting average attracted the attention of the New York Giants, but Miller batted .138 in his 18 major league games.

Miller played minor league baseball until 1910, always in eastern leagues, with one exception. In 1904, he played second base for the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, batting .211.

Outfielder Raymond Raeth Powell spent most of his life in baseball, joining the Bartlesville Boosters of the Oklahoma-Kansas League in 1908 when he was 18 years old. He played until 1931, when he was 42 years old, then began managing teams in the minor leagues, putting himself into the line-up a few times in 1935 and 1936.

Powell got into two games with Detroit in 1913, then played eight seasons (1917-24) with the Boston Braves, leading the National League in triples (18) in 1921, and twice leading the league in strike outs, which indicates he was a free-swinger. Twice he batted over .300, though his lifetime major league average was .268.

Powell was five-feet-nine,, not particularly short for his era,, and he didn't steal many bases, so the reason he was nicknamed "Rabbit" is unclear. However, he was usually known as Ray Powell.

Second baseman Francis Baranowski, who played under the name Frank Fuller, also was nicknamed "Rabbit." He stood five-feet-seven and weighed 150, and, like most players who bore that nickname, Fuller was a second baseman.

A Detroit native, he played briefly for the Tigers in 1915 and '16, and with the Boston Red Sox in 1923. He batted .175, so it's not surprising he spent most of his career in the minor leagues, including five seasons with the San Antonio Bears of the Texas League, where he batted over .300 twice.

His nickname isn't mentioned in the SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) biography linked to his name (above). Usually SABR writers attempt to track down the origin of nicknames, which indicates he was seldom referred to as "Rabbit."

Otis Carroll Lawry came out of the University of Maine to play for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1916, less than two years after Connie Mack sold most of the players who had won three American League pennants in four seasons.

For Lawry, a five-feet-eight-inch, 133-pound second baseman, the nickname "Rabbit" was inevitable. (He also played the outfield a lot, and third base on occasion.)

In 1917, carrying a .191 batting average after 71 games, Lawry left Philadelphia to play for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League Orioles. He was an immediate sensation, hitting .396 in 29 games.

Jack Dunn, who ran the Orioles, prided himself on having a team as good as most of them in the majors, and held on to players he liked. As a result, Lawry remained in Baltimore for several seasons, winning the International League batting title in 1919 and batting well over .300 six of the next seven seasons. (He missed .300 in 1923 by one point.) He remained in the International League until 1928, and then apparently retired at the age of 34.

Shortstop John Adam Tavener was best known as Jackie, but also was nicknamed "Rabbit." In 1921, at the age of 23, he batted .290 for the Columbia Commers of the South Atlantic (Sally) League, and was brought up to the Detroit Tigers, but only for two games.

He spent the next three seasons in the Texas League with the Fort Worth Panthers before rejoining the Tigers. He was the Detroit shortstop from 1925-28, but traded to Cleveland, where he played his final major league game in 1929. He was a good fielder, but his lifetime batting average was .255.

He returned to Fort Worth in 1930, then played two seasons for Milwaukee of the American Association, before returning to Fort Worth where he ended his playing career in 1934.

Thomas Giatano Glaviano, better known as Tommy, also is listed as having "Rabbit" as his nickname. Primarily a third baseman, Glaviano was five-feet-nine, 175 pounds, larger than your average "Rabbit."

He began playing pro ball in 1941, when he was 17 years old. However, after his second season, World War Two intervened, and Glaviano spent three years with the U. S. Coast Guard. In 1946, with the Fresno Cardinals of the California League, Glaviano batted .338, hit 22 home runs, scored 142 runs, and stole 64 bases. After stops in Houston and Columbus, Ohio, Glaviano was a rookie with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1949.

He remained with the Cardinals through 1952, and finished out his major league career in 1953 with the Philadelphia Phillies. He then played two seasons with his hometown team, the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League, making a token appearance two years after that with San Antonio of the Texas League. After 12 games he retired.

His major league batting average was only .257, but Glaviano drew a lot of bases on balls, and his on base percentage was a healthy .395.

Outfielder Joseph Clifford "Joe" Caffie played briefly in the Negro League before he was signed by the Cleveland Indians. I vaguely remember Caffie, who was five-feet-ten, 180 pounds, but I don't recall him being nicknamed "Rabbit," but several sources say he was, and it must have been because of his speed.

Things looked bright for the 21-year-old Caffie in 1952 when he batted .342 for the Duluth Dukes of the Northern League, winning that hitting title by six points over a guy named Henry Aaron. But while Aaron went on to a Hall of Fame career, Caffie had to settle for two brief trials with the Cleveland Indians in 1956 and '57.

Despite batting .291 in 44 games width the Indians, Caffie spent most of the rest of his career in the International League. Even another batting title, with Buffalo in 1957, did not get him a return trip to Cleveland — or any other major league city.

Robert Paul Saverine's speed got him the nickname "Rabbit" — four times he stole 30 bases or more in the minor leagues — but he was much better known simply as "Bob."

He began his career at age 18, playing shortstop for the Bluefield Orioles of the Appalachian League. Teammates included Dean Chance and Boog Powell. Saverine batted .353, and was summoned to Baltimore, appearing in one game as a pinch runner, and scoring his first major league run

Over the next three years he played for Fox Cities of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, Little Rock of the Southern Association, and Rochester of the International League. After hitting .285 with Rochester, he went up to Baltimore and had five hits in 21 at bats, hitting two doubles and driving in three runs.

He played 115 games for Baltimore in 1963, batting .234. He saw little action with the Orioles in 1964, and a year later was back in Rochester. He returned to the American League in 1965, playing for the Washington Senators, but in 1968 wound up his career with Buffalo of the International League, then retired at the age of 27.

Stanley Andrew Rojek was usually referred to as "Stan," but also known as "The Happy Rabbit." The reason isn't particularly kind. Pittsburgh Pirate teammates came up with the name because they felt Rojek's two front teeth projected a bit, kind of like Bugs Bunny.

The shortstop probably didn't like the nickname, but didn't want to be called "Reject" Rojek, which was the first name some Pirates hung on him after he was dealt to Pittsburgh by the Brooklyn Dodgers, who'd apparently given up on the player.

Rojek began in the Dodger farm system in 1939, and three years later batted .283 with Montreal of the International League, earning a visit to Ebbets Field and a pinch-runner appearance in a Dodger game.

But his next three seasons were spent in the U. S. Army. He estimated he played 200 baseball games while in uniform, which may be why the Dodgers used him soon after he returned to civilian life in 1946.

After playing 77 games with Brooklyn over two seasons, the Dodgers sold Rojek to Pittsburgh. He played every game for the fourth-place Pirates in 1948, batted .290, and stole 24 bases. an impressive number in those days.

He was 29, and must have felt he had several good years ahead of him, but early in the next season, on April 27, 1949, he was twice hit by pitches in the same game. The second pitch hit him on the head.

Year later he claimed he was never the same hitter after that day, and it showed in the statistics. He batted .244 that season. He played only 76 games in 1950, and 59 the year after that, most of them with the St. Louis Cardinals, who let him go at the end of the season. After nine games with the St. Louis Browns in 1952, he returned to the minor leagues, retiring in 1955 after batting .227 with St. Paul of the American Association.

Some "Rabbits" were called "Bunny." Albert LaVerne Fabrique got his nickname early, but was a late bloomer on the baseball field, and, unfortunately, quickly wilted.

A native of Clinton, Michigan, Fabrique was a shortstop who was quick and small, standing only five-feet-four when the nickname was hung on him. A growth spurt added four inches by the time he began playing professionally in the Southern Michigan League with the Jackson Convicts. Four years passed before he escaped that team; that's how long it took him to get his batting average above .218. Finally, at age 23, he boosted his average to .300, earning a promotion to the Fort Wayne Railroaders of the Central League.

From there he went to the Providence Grays of the International League, and remained in Rhode Island for four more seasons, but his slick fielding and .315 batting average in 1916 aroused the interest of Brooklyn, and Fabrique got into two games with the Robins, making no errors, but getting no hits.

Then came 1917, and for several weeks, beginning in spring training, Bunny Fabrique was regarded as a shoo-in for rookie of the year. Yes, he was 29-year-old, but he looked and hustled like a teenager.

The blurb from the Daily Long Island Farmer on April 28 was typical:

"Bunny Fabrique of the Brooklyn team is regarded as one of the season's phenoms. Fabrique is covering short for the National League champions in a manner that has gladdened the hearts of the Brooklyn fans. Fabrique not only is a great infielder, but is handy with the bat."

During the month of May, Fabrique lived up to all the nice things sportswriters were saying about him, when suddenly he stopped hitting. His batting average, above .300 after his first 50 at bats, soon plummeted to .200, and he was sold to Toledo of the American Association, where he batted .299 in 84 games, which was good — but not good enough to get him back to the major leagues.

Anthony John Grzeszkowski's Polish parents inadvertently picked up a new name when Mr. Grzeszkowski suggested to immigration officials that they Americanize their name. "Just change it to something brief," he said.

That's one story. Another version, passed along by Chris Rainey on the SABR website, claims young Grzeszkowski had his name changed by his first minor league manager, who suggested he make it brief. As for "Bunny," that supposedly happened as an understandable mistake by a sportswriter who thought "Bunny" made more sense than "Bundy," which, for reasons unknown, was Brief's previous nickname.

The outfielder-first baseman played parts of four major league seasons between 1912 and 1917, with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates, batting .223 in 184 games.

However, during his long minor league career, there were seven seasons Brief batted over .350, playing for teams in Kansas City, Milwaukee and Salt Lake City. While he hit only five home runs in the major leagues, he hit 342 homers in the minors. He hit 256 of those home runs in the American Association, still the league record.

Catcher Bunny Pearce only played four games for Cincinnati in two seasons (1908-09), had no hits, and, according to baseball-reference.com, had two nicknames. However, I don't believe he ever was called "Ducky."

It's a tricky thing, tracing nicknames from another century, but I found no mention of "Ducky" in connection with Bunny Pearce, so I don't consider him a two-critter guy. He spent 11 years in the minor league, and often had trouble hitting his weight (185).

However, he did have one season (1907) when he batted .297 for Newark (Ohio) in the Ohio-Pennsylvania League, which got him a look-see with Cincinnati. He joined the team when the Reds participated in the Cuban-American Major League Club series, an annual event that had a lily-white major league team playing against three black teams that featured several players who also participated in the American Negro League.

In 1909, Pearce was with the Reds during spring training in Atlanta, which is why he's featured in this oh-so-typical pre-season newspaper story that optimistically reported on the next Big Thing in baseball:

Greenwood (NY) Times, March 22, 1909
The curious pitchers of balldom are not satisfied with that now-ancient spit ball, as was proved by Billy Campbell, now with the Cincinnati Nationals, who has invented a new wrinkle called the “Salome twist.”

Campbell kept his mouth closed about the new curve until he went to Atlanta recently [for spring training]. Not long ago he surprised Bunny Pearce by flinging it over the platter. Bunny got nervous as he saw this new crumple slowly singing through the air. The ball jumped and twisted around until poor Pearce’s knees cracked one another.

“Talk about your wild and woolly twists,” says the backstopper. “This stunt of Campbell’s has ‘em beaten a block.”

The ball appears to be coming easy and just right for a three bagger. When the batter — good, innocent man — whirls his willow through the air to swipe the ball across the lot, the pill suddenly gets beside itself that such a man should hit it, and in self defense it begins its cavortions. First this way, and then that, the ball swirls out of the batter’s reach, and his batting average drops 50 percent.

This new discovery is certainly a wonder. All the baseball critics and sports dopers are puzzled greatly. Their hair stands on end when this ball begins its motions, which so much resemble the Salome dance.


First, I love the expression "whirls his willow." But, alas, left-handed pitcher Billy Campbell was 35 years old, and his "Salome twist" did not put new life in his career. He won only seven games in 1909, lost 11, and struck out only 37 batters in 148 innings.

He spent his last four seasons in the minor leagues, one year with Kansas City of the American Association, three years with Mobile of the Southern Association. However, Campbell went out in style. After posting a 17-10 won-lost record in 1912, he was 16-1 in his final season. You can hardly do better than that. I don't know if the "Salome twist" was responsible.

As for Bunny Pearce, he returned to the minor leagues soon after spring training ended in 1909, and played professional ball until 1915, finishing with the Newark Newsocks of the Class D Buckeye League. A native of Ohio, he remained in his home state for several years, and is mentioned in a 1921 story as a member of an amateur industrial league team in Newcomerstown, Ohio. His manager was 54-year-old Cy Young.

Pearce died in 1933 in Brownstone, Indiana. He was 48.

TRIVIA: Hugh Miller Thompson Pearce was an unlikely college football player known as "Bunny," unlikely because he was five-feet-three inches tall, weighed 125 pounds, and, in 1899, played end for Sewanee, a tiny Tennessee school that gave up only one touchdown in winning 12 games that season. Opponents included Texas, Texas A&M, LSU, Mississippi, Georgia, Tennessee and Auburn. All of their games were on the road, and, at one point, they played five games in six days during a 2,500 mile trip.

Bunny Pearce also was the name of a well-known Australian rugby player.

 

Other baseball "Bunnys"
There are eight more "Bunny" nicknames listed on baseball-reference,com, though the origin of these nicknames is unknown. The first player on this list obviously got his nickname from his middle name, and because he was called "Bunny," a player with the same last name became a "Bunny" a few years later.

The original Bunny Hearn was born Charles Bunn Hearn, He was a left-handed pitcher in and out of the major leagues from 1910 to 1920, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants; Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League, and the Boston Braves. In six seasons — some of which were brief visits — Hearn had 13 wins, 24 losses. About half of those decisions were in the Federal League. He pitched 19 seasons in the minors, winning 238 games, including 113 in eight seasons for a team in Wilson, North Carolina. Hearn also spent four seasons with Toronto, winning 23 games in 1917.

Elmer Lafayette Hearn was another left-handed pitcher, smaller (five-feet-eight) than the previous Hearn, but pitching for the Boston Braves (1926-29), which was the last stop major league stop for the original Bunny. I suspect it was the memory of the first Bunny that led to the second. Elmer Hearn won only seven games, lost 11, during his Boston years. However, he won 132 games in the minor leagues.

Bunny Madden, born Thomas Francis Madden, was 26 years old when he joined the Boston Red Sox in 1909. The team let him go in 1911, and he wound up catching 22 games for the Philadelphia Phillies that season. His batting average in 56 games over three seasons was .287. Not bad. But he made 12 errors in those 22 games with the Phillies. That's awful. He toiled 13 years in the minors.

Bunny Roser is also on the list, not to be confused with catcher Buddy Rosar, who came along several years later. Born John William Joseph Roser, the left-handed outfielder, also known as "Jack," played 32 games for the Boston Braves in 1922, batted .239 and made six outfield errors, a large number for so few games, and perhaps an indication why he didn't have a major league career. He was an excellent hitter in the minor leagues, batting over .300 almost every one of his 15 seasons, and three times he led a league in home runs, his career high being 38 with the Eastern League Worcester Panthers in 1924.

John Henry Godwin reportedly was nicknamed Bunny. During a short stay with the Boston Red Sox (1905-06), he played third base, shortstop and the outfield, made a lot of errors and batted .212. He stuck around for 10 seasons in the minors.

Arthur Andrew Corcoran was known as "Art," but better known as "Bunny." However, his main sport was football, which he played at Georgetown University and then four seasons (1920-23) in the fledgling National Football League. His major league baseball experience was limited to one game at third base for Philadelphia Athletics in 1915. That was just after Connie Mack had gutted his team and was desperate for players. Despite his one day as a professional baseball player — I assume Mack paid him — Corcoran remained eligible for college football, and he was back on campus that fall. He played some more professional baseball in 1920 and '21 in the Virginia State League. He later was an assistant football coach at Holy Cross.

Hugh High is listed as being nicknamed, "Bunny." He was an outfielder from a baseball family, playing in 516 games with Detroit (1913-14) and the New York Yankees (1915-18). He batted .250 in the majors, .306 in the minors. His brother, Andy High, had a long career in the major leagues. Another brother, Charlie, played briefly for the Philadelphia Athletics, but enjoyed a long career in the minor leagues where he was an excellent hitter. During four seasons with Portland of the Pacific Coast League (1922-25), Charlie High batted no lower than .316.

 
HOME CONTACT