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The cateogry is nicknames that sound like titles. Not royal titles, simply phrases that described the way players looked, their demeanor, the way they played, or what they meant to the team. Almost every nickname on this page is unique to the player involved, and if this were a game of "Jeopardy," each phrase would trigger the name of the appropriate player — or vice versa.

Following this is a list of very unusual nicknames in a style popular in the early days of baseball. There is one exception of this list, and it belongs to a player who arrived in the major leagues in the 1930s, played until 1950, and attracted much attention for something he did in an old-timers' game in 1982.

 

Ewell Blackwell spent most of his 10-season major league career with Cincinnati, though he played briefly with the New York Yankees and Kansas City Athletics. He was a right-handed pitcher who stood six-feet-six, weighed just 195 pounds, and threw sidearm, appearing to whip the ball toward home plate, thus his nickname. His body sometimes veered so far to the right that the batter might have thought the pitch was coming from the third baseman.

He had an amazing season in 1947, going 22-8 with a fifth place team. During one stretch, he won 16 consecutive games and was virtually unhittable. On June 18, Blackwell pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Braves, winning 6-0. Four days later, against Brooklyn, he took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, but with one out, Eddie Stanky hit a broken-bat single that went through Blackwell's legs. Jackie Robinson added another single, and Blackwell had to settle for a two-hitter victory. Thus he came within two outs of being the second pitcher in major league history to throw back-to-back no-hitters. And the man who accomplished that — in 1938, also with Cincinnati — was a 1947 teammate, Johnny Vander Meer, who watched Blackwell from the dugout.

"I was on the top step," Vander Meer told an interviewer several years later. "I wanted to be the first one out there to congratulate him."

A kidney disease may have prevented Blackwell from becoming a Hall of Fame pitcher. After pitching 273 innings in '47, he struggled in 1948, working only 139 innings and winning just seven games. He had the diseased kidney removed, but recovery was slow, and a weakened Blackwell pitched only 77 innings in 1949, with five victories. He bounced back in 1950 with a 17-15 record, following that with a 16-win season in 1951. But his sidearm delivery eventually took its toll and he had arm problems the rest of his career. He would win only six more games before retiring in 1955. His lifetime major league record was 82 wins, 78 losses.

Not surprisingly, Blackwell's style didn't agree with batters, either. He was considered the most feared pitcher in the league. No wonder. He led the National League in hit batsmen six times.

"I realized my sidearm delivery was intimidating," he told a reporter, "and I took advantage of it any way I could. I was a mean pitcher."

With Syracuse of the International League in 1942, Blackwell hit Newark outfielder Joe Abreu on the head with a pitch, knocking him unconscious, then accompanied the hitter to a hospital, fearing he would die. Abreu survived, of course, but it was his second brush with death on the baseball field. He'd been beaned by a pitch three years earlier in the Pacific Coast League, and was unconscious for three days.

Ewell Blackwell died in 1996. The cause was listed as cancer. He was survived by his wife, Dorothy; two daughters and four grandchildren.

 

Frank Chance was also called "Husk," short for husky, and because he was big and strong (six-feet, 190 pounds), he comanded respect and obedience, if not affection, when he became the playing manager of the Chicago Cubs in 1905, earning his more enduring nickname, "The Peerless Leader."

Chance retired with a lifetime batting average of .296, having hit .310 or better four consecutive seasons (1903-06). He guided the Cubs to four World Series in five seasons, but is most-remembered for being the first baseman in the Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance double play combination voted into the Hall of Fame in 1946.

However, Chance wasn't alive to attend the ceremonies, having died in 1924, at the age of 47. Chance also managed the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, plus the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

 

Giuseepe Paolo "Joe" DiMaggio is recalled by many people for things that have nothing to do with baseball. He was married to Marilyn Monroe, and he became well-known as "Mr. Coffee" for his television commercials.

Some consider Joltin' Joe DiMaggio the best centerfielder who ever played the game. He was a New York Yankee for 13 seasons, though his career was interrupted in the middle by three years with the Army Air Force in World War Two.

When he returned to the major leagues in 1946, he failed to hit .300 for the first time in his career, though he bounced back and did it four seasons in a row, and in 1948 led the American League with 39 home runs and 155 runs batted in.

DiMaggio's Yankees made it to 10 World Series, winning nine of them. He was league batting champion twice — in 1939, when he hit a career best .381, and the next season when he hit .352. He is better remembered for his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, the year his .357 batting average was third best in the league. (Ted Williams hit .406, and Washington shortstop Cecil Travis batted .359.)

His lifetime batting average was .325. One of the most remarkable things was DiMaggio hit 361 home runs and struck out only 369 times. Eight times in his career, DiMaggio hit more home runs than he struck out. No other slugger could make that claim. (Ted Williams did it only three times.)

DiMaggio was rather aloof, holding himself apart from his teammates. He was arrogant enough to insist in his later years that he always be introduced as "the greatest living baseball player," though some felt that was truer of Williams, or Stan Musial, Willie Mays or Henry Aaron.

 

His size (five-feet-nine), his glasses, and serious nature made Dominic "Dom" DiMaggio a good choice to be called "The Little Professor." The youngest of the three DiMaggio brothers who came out of San Francisco to play major league baseball, Dom was also the smallest. Vince was the oldest, and, at five-feet-eleven, had more power than Dom, hitting as many as 21 home runs during one of his seasons with Pittsburgh. (Vince DiMaggio also played for the Boston Braves, Cincinnati, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants.)

Joe Dimaggio was six-feet-two, and the best hitter of the three brothers. He and Dom also walked much more often than they struck out, which couldn't be said of Vince.

Like brother Joe, "The Little Professor" spent his entire playing career with one team — the Boston Red Sox. He was a rookie in 1940, but after the 1942 season joined the Navy, and was lost to baseball until 1946. He had his best year in 1950, batting .328. Six time he scored 100 or more runs, and was selected for the All-Star Game seven times.

 

Charles Dillon Stengel was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1890, and it was his hometown initials, KC, that provided his first nickname. Stengel was an outfielder who arrived in the major lelagues in 1912 with the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers (who'd be the Superbas in 1913, then the Robins from 1914 to 1931).

Stengel was left-handed, which made him vulnerable for jokes, because, at the time, lefties were considered oddballs, a word that fit Stengel more and more as he aged. Stengel was a better-than-average player, little power as a hitter, but someone who usually batted around .280 or better.

When he returned to the minor leagues in 1925, he did so as a player-manager, and I believe it was when he moved back to the majors as a manager, first with Brooklyn (now known as the Dodgers) in 1934, that people took note of his observations and began calling him "The Professor."

He was no great shakes as a manager for Brooklyn (1934-36), or for the Boston Braves (1938-43), but he began to look like a genius when he returned to the minors and handled the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association and then the Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League.

It was when he was hired to manage the New York Yankees that Stengel became a certified genius, leading his teams to World Series championships his first five seasons. And as Stengel entered his 60s, he became "The Old Perfessor," though his wisdom was questioned after he left the Yankees in 1960, then agreed to managed the brand new New York Mets in 1962.

He left that job in 1965 after he fell and broke his hip. Besides, he was 76 years old. His Mets had lost 403 games (with only 175 wins). However, his years with the Yankees trumped all his other years as a manager and left him with a winning record overall.

Finally retired, Stengel bought a bank. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1966, and died nine years later in Glendale, California. He was 85 years old.

 

This title was perfect for Edward Charles "Whtiey" Ford, the winningest pitcher in New York Yankee history, who pitched in 11 World Series during his 16-season career.

It's difficult to overstate how completely the Yankees dominated baseball during Ford's era. His teammates included Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle; he was the dominant left-handed pitcher of his time, though perhaps his greatness was underestimated because he pitched for the Yankees. Ford won 236 games, lost only 106. His .690 winning percentage is the highest in major league history, and his 2.75 earned run average is remarkable.

Not an overpowering pitcher, Ford was wily, giving up far fewer hits than innings pitched. Sandy Koufax, Steve Carlton and Randy Johnson are left-handed who struck out more batters per nine innings than Ford, but the Yankee is usually mentioned with them in any discussion of the best southpaw pitcher of all time.

He was called "Whitey" because of his light blonde hair. He was called "Chairman of the Board" because that was his status among his teammates.

 

Some folks, including Bill James, the sultan of baseball statistics, will give you an argument, but you'd have a lot of support if you said Charles "Charlie" Gehringer was the best second baseman of all-time. (James, incredibly, lists Gehringer at number eight, behind Ryne Sandberg.)

All Gehringer did was spend 19 years (1924-42) with the Detroit Tigers, get 2,839 hits, with a lifetime batting average of .320 and an on-base percentage of .404. He led the American League in hitting in 1937 with a .371 average.

The colorful New York Yankee pitcher, Lefty Gomez, is credited with giving Gehringer his nickname, saying "You wind Gehringer up in the spring and turn him off in the fall, and in between he hits .340."

 

Frank Oliver Howard was also called "Hondo," though unlike Clint "Hondo" Hartung, Howard had no connection with Hondo, Texas. With Howard, it was all about his size — six-feet-seven-inches, 255 pounds.

Howard had been a basketball star at Ohio State University, but opted for a baseball career, and was immediately designated as a threat to someday break Babe Ruth's single-season home run record (which Roger Maris would do in 1961 while Howard was playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers).

Getting brief trials with the Dodgers in 1958 and '59, Howard gained most of his experience in the minors where he was a home run machine. The Dodgers kept him until 1964, then dealt him to the Washington Senators, the team that had started after the old Senators left D. C, and became the Minnesota Twins.

Howard had one good season in Los Angeles, batting .296 with 31 home runs in 1962, but two seasons later he slumped to .226, with 24 home runs. However, he found his niche in the nation's capital, and earned his nickname there. In one three-year period (1968-70), he hit 136 home runs, leading the American League twice. Oddly, he was not the league leader in 1969 when he hit a career best 48 home runs. He lost out to Harmon Killebrew, who moved to Minnesota with the rest of the old Senators. While not carrying the nickname, Killebrew had been the original "Capital Punisher."

Howard remained in the majors until 1973, finishing his playing career with the Detroit Tigers. He hit 382 big league home runs, and batted .273. Later he did some managing in the majors, with San Diego in 1981 and the New York Mets in 1983.

 

Carl Hubbell could also be placed among the baseball royalty, because his more familiar nickname was "King Carl." Like Whitey Ford, Hubbell spent his 16-season major league career in New York City, but pitching for the Giants, not the Yankees. He also has the credentials to claim the title of best left-handed pitcher of all time, with 253 career wins against 154 losses, an earned run average of 2.98. He had five consecutive seasons in which he won 20 or more games, topped by his 26-6 record in 1936.

However, he may be best remembered for his performance in the 1934 All-Star game when he struck out five consecutive batters — Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin.

 

Walter Johnson is often recalled as the greatest pitcher in baseball history, a man with an overpowering fastball who won 417 games for the Washington Senators, three times winning 20 games or more when the Senators finished in seventh place.

Johnson arrived in Washington in 1907. He was only 19, and had no minor league experience, though he had played with some excellent semi-pro teams, including one in Idaho, where the Senators had discovered him.

His first Washington manager, Joe Cantillon, impressed by Johnson's speed, said "He knows where he is throwing, because if he didn't there would be dead bodies all over Idaho."

The Senators had seasons of respectability from 1912 to 1918, but it wasn't until 1924, when Johnson was 36 years old, that Washington made it to the World Series, and defeated the New York Giants. Johnson had endured four consecutive subpart seasons, but sprung back to life in 1924, posting a 23-7 record, and winning two World Series games. He was a 20-game winner again in 1925, and the Senators repeated as American League pennant winners, but this time they lost in the World Series against Pittsburgh.

After he retired as a player, Johnson managed, and while he is not recalled as a great field general, his teams in Washington and Cleveland had winning records. Johnson was highly regarded as a gentleman, one of the classiest guys who ever played the game. If he had a weakness, it was fast cars, which accounted for his other nickname, "Barney," after Barney Oldfield, the most famous race car driver of his time.

Another Hall of Famer, Lou Gehrig, a man of several nicknames, also had a train-related tag, "The Iron Horse." Gehrig is spotlighted elsewhere for another of his nicknames, which included "Iron Man", "Buster", "Columbia Lou", and one of my favorites, "Biscuit Pants".

 

Few roads to the major leagues were longer, or more twisted, than the one taken by Salvatore "Sal" Maglie. Born of Italian immigrants in Niagara Falls, New York, Maglie's pitching for local amateur and semi-pro teams was impressive enough to land him a spot with the nearby Buffalo Bisons of the International League in 1938, when he was 21 years old.

Three years later, sporting a won-lost record of 3-15, Maglie asked to be demoted from what was then a Class AA league. He got his wish and spent the last half of 1940 with Niagara Falls and Jamestown of the Class D (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York (Pony) League. He won three games, lost four, but performed well enough to advance to the Class A Eastern League in 1941, winning 20 games for Elmira.

In 1942 he was back in the International League, this time with the Jersey City Giants. He was used mostly in relief, but did well, posting a 9-6 record. At that point, Maglie attempted to enlist in the Army, but was classified 4-F. Rather than continue playing baseball, he took a job in a Niagara Falls defense plant.

By 1945, Maglie was 28 years old. He went back to Jersey City, and though he had a losing record (3-7), there was still a manpower shortage in the majors, due to World War Two, so the New York Giants called on Maglie, who won five games (against four losses), throwing three shutouts.

Pitcher Dolph Luque urged Maglie to spend the winter in the Cuban League, where he did well enough to attract the attention of two Mexican brothers who intended to raid the major leagues before the 1946 season. Maglie was one of a few players who agreed to play in the Mexican League, and all of them were suspended by major league commissioner "Happy" Chandler, who lifted the suspension five years later.

So in 1950, the 33-year-old Maglie rejoined the New York Giants, and won 18 games, against only four losses. Along the way, the six-foot-two pitcher earned his nickname, "The Barber," for his tendency to back hitters away from the plate by throwing an inside pitch so close to their chins that the ball was almost as close as a razor blade.

The next season, Maglie won 23 games, and the Giants captured the National League pennant. He followed that with another 18-win season. Before he retired, Maglie would also play for Brooklyn, Cleveland,, the New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals. He had a fine 13-5 record for the pennant winning Dodgers in 1956, but the most memorable game was a losing effort against the Yankees in the World Series when the opposing pitcher, Don Larsen, threw a perfect game.

 

Stan Musial not only was one of the greatest baseball players of all time, he was one of the game's nicest, classiest individuals. He was a seven-time National League batting champ, a lifetime .331 hitter who had 3,630 hits, including 475 home runs. He spent all of his 22-season career with the St. Louis Cardinals, from 1941 to 1963, missing only the 1945 season when he was in the U. S. Navy.

Like some other great hitters (Ted Williams and George Sisler, for example), Musial began as a pitcher and had a 33-13 record as the minor leagues, before moving to the outfield in his third season (1940). After batting .359 with two minor league teams in 1941, he moved up to the Cardinals and hit .426 in 47 at bats. The rest is history.

As for his best known nickname, the origin was traced to Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, though some dispute the story that Dodger fans were the first to yell, "Stan the Man." I think it might well have been one of those things that occurred to baseball fans all over the country ... because it was so obvious.

Because he was Polish-American — he was born Stanislaw Franciszek Musial — he was also called "Stash" (pronounced "Stosh"). And because he was born in Donora, PA, some called him "The Donora Greyhound," which may be one of the worst nicknames ever.

Though generally a quiet fellow, Musial could be quite funny. I recall reading about a celebrity golf tournament when Musial was on the green and turned to the spectators who were politely observing golf etiquette. He told them he was used to hearing a lot of noise when he was about to swing. "So, c''mon, let's hear some chatter," he added, or words to that effect.

 

People said pitcher Al Orth couldn't throw fast and had no curve at all, yet he won 204 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Senators and New York Highlanders over 15 seasons (1895-1909) in both the National and American Leagues.

He seemed to throw effortlessly, and his pitches looked easy to hit. However, once the six-footer joined the New York Highlanders, he learned a new pitch from teammate Jack Chesbro — the spitball. That helped Orth win 27 games in 1906. Not much of a strike out pitcher previously, Orth, under Chesbro's influence, jumped from 70 strike outs in 1904, to 121 the next year, and then 133 in 1906.

Orth was one of the best hitting pitchers, with a lifetime average of .273, five times batting better than .300. Orth also was known as "Smiling Al," and why not? He seems to have had good reason to be cheerful.

 

He was born Harold Henry Reese, but was better known as "Pee Wee," though "The Little Colonel" was his title, because he was born in Kentucky. (Another native of the state, Hall of Fame centerfielder Earle Combs, was nicknamed "The Kentucky Colonel.")

Reese was a Hall of Fame shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers (with one season in Los Angeles). As Dodger captain, his finest hour may have come in 1947 when he welcomed Jackie Robinson to the team and helped put down a rebellion by white players who didn't want to play alongside the first black man in major league baseball since 1884 when the Walker brothers, Fleet and Welday, briefly broke the color line. Reese certainly was no Pee Wee.

That nickname, incidentally, did not reflect upon his size. He is listed at five-foot-nine, or five-foot-10, depending on the source. He hit 128 career home runs, two of them in the World Series. In fact, in 1947 Reese and Robinson tied for home run leadership on the team, with 12 apiece. No, Pee Wee came from Reese's childhood days as a skilled marble shooter. A pee wee was the name given a small marble used in the game.

 

For many years, Tris Speaker was regarded as basebal's best center fielder, a label that these days is often given to Joe DiMaggio or Willie Mays. One thing hasn't changed. It's still conceded that no center fielder ever played so close to the infield as Speaker.

After two brief trials with the Boston Red Sox, Speaker became a regular in 1909, hitting .309. He had speed to burn, and no one was better that racing back to haul in a long fly ball. He was like an eagle, said a Boston sports writer, so for many years, Speaker was known as "Eagle" or "The Eagle."

His hair did go prematurely grey, but not until the 1920s when he was the player-manager of the Cleveland Indians, and for awhile was described as the grey "Eagle." I didn't see the two words combined into "The Grey Eagle" until 1923, but over time that became his nickname, as though he'd had it all his life. However, as far as I can tell, until Speaker was about 35, he was simply "The Eagle." (The above photos, both taken while he was with Cleveland, show Speaker before and after he turned grey.)

One other piece of nonsense: Had Speaker come along many years later, he might have been called "Darth" or "Darth Vader," because of his voice. Baseball writer Alfred H. Spink described Speaker as having "a voice like rumbling thunder, and his softest words sound like the growl of a mastiff.")

He and Ty Cobb were rivals, with Speaker regarded as a better fielder, but Cobb a better hitter, but not by much. Cobb was the perennial league batting champion, but Speaker batted .378 or higher in six different season, and his lifetime batting average was .345. (Cobb's was .366, the highest of any player.)

For years Cobb demanded that he be paid more than Speaker, but neither player was paid what he was worth. That's the way it was in those days. It's also the reason people suspected there was truth to the claim that Cobb and Speaker were among players who were fixing baseball games. Nothing was proven, but the rumor lingered.

It was fitting, in a way, that Cobb and Speaker were teammates during their last season, in 1928, with the Philadelphia Athletics. Speaker, 40, played centerfield in just 48 games, Cobb, 41, played right field. In left field was the 26-year-old star of the team, Al Simmons, who said, "If this keeps up, by the end of the season I'll be an old man myself."

 

He was born Daniel Joseph Staub in New Orleans, in 1944, but because of the color of his hair, he was nicknamed, "Rusty." He was a hot baseball prospect who may have made a mistake when he signed with Houston, and began his career in the pitcher-friendly Astrodome. He also was just 19, with little minor league experience.

But in 1969, Rusty Staub was traded to the expansion Montreal Expos, where he became a fan favorite, hitting .302, with 29 home runs. And his hair came into play again, and his French-Canadian supporters called him "Le Grand Orange," the nickname that endured through the rest of his 23-year career, which also took him to the New York Mets, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers.

He retired after the 1985 season, with career totals of 2,716 hits and 292 home runs, and a batting average of .279.

 

By the time Edward Raymond Stankiewicz grew up, he was known as Eddie Stanky, and while he played major league baseball, the second baseman was called many things, including "Muggsy," "Stinky," "The Brat," and names much worse. He had a strange career. He did things on the field that helped his team, but also did things that alienated teammates and opponents alike.

Just five-feet-eight, Stanky drew a lot of bases on balls, leading the National League in that department three times. He spent eight years in the minor leagues. Finally, in 1942, when he batted .342 for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, he could no longer be ignored.

He joined the Chicago Cubs in 1943, and a year later the Cubs dealt him to Brooklyn, where he remained through the 1947 season. Next stop: the Boston Braves, but in 1950 he was reunited with manager Leo Durocher when he was traded to the New York Giants. In 1952 and '53 he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, a team he would later manage.

He was a lifetime .268 hitter, but in 1950, with the Giants, he hit .300. Two years earlier, for the pennant-winning Braves, he'd hit .320, but injuries limited him to 67 games. His strangest, yet most memorable year, might have been 1951 when the Giants won the pennant on Bobby Thomson's dramatic home run against Brooklyn that clinched the best-of-three playoff between the two teams that finished the regular season tied for first place.

Stanky's average dropped to .247 that season, but he hit a career high 14 home runs, nearly half of the 29 home runs he'd hit in 11 seasons.

But Stanky is most remembered for a play that may have turned the 1951 World Series around, and not in a good way. The Giants and New York Yankees had split the first two games, and the Giants would win game three. But during that game, Stanky, about to be tagged out at second base, kicked the ball out of Phil Rizzuto's glove (right). Stanky's play was worthy of Ty Cobb, but without bloodshed or injury. And while the play was key to the Giants victory, it seemed a wake-up call for the Yankees, who won the next three games, and the series.

In retirement Stanky did a lot of managing and coaching, some of that with the St. Louis Cardinals. I know one avid fan who's convinced Stanky ruined her beloved Cardinals, and there's no doubt several baseball people liked him as much as Democrats like Donald Trump.

 


You'd never know from looking at photographs of the bow-legged fellow in his baggy baseball uniform, but Honus Wagner was incredibly athletic, agile and fast, the latter quality leading to his nickname. The National League superstar stole more than 700 bases and led the league in batting eight times.

Born Johannes Peter Wagner, he was called either "Honus" or "Hans," both derived from his first name. Primarily a shortstop, he played some outfield, first and third base during a 21-year career, the last 18 of which he spent in Pittsburgh, where he remained after retirement. His career batting average was .328, and he had 3,420 hits.

Many baseball experts regard him as the best player in National League history, and some say he was the best baseball player ... period.

"The Flying Dutchman" originated with shortstop Herman "Germany" Long. Many years after later, trying too hard to be clever, someone came up with this nickname for Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven: "The Frying Dutchman."

 

Books could be written about athletes nicknamed "Dixie" and baseball players named Walker. Fred "Dixie" Walker would be prominent in both books, and not always in a good way.

Unfortunately, he is now often remembered as a Southerner outspoken in his opposition to having Jackie Robinson join the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Walker was the star of the team. He'd led the National League in runs batted in with 124 in 1945, and the season before was the league's top hitter with a .357 batting average. At the point, he was so popular in Brooklyn that he was called "The People's Choice," but given the way Brooklynites are expected to sound, that nickname is now recalled as "The People's Cherce."

He remained with the Dodgers in 1947, and reportedly was grateful for Robinson's contribution to a pennant-winning team. However, they lost the World Series to the New York Yankees. Walker was traded to Pittsburgh after the season, a deal that brought pitcher Preacher Roe to the Dodgers. Walker hit .316 for Pittsburgh in 1948, and .282 in 1949, then retired.

He managed in the minors from 1950 to 1959, six of those years in the International League, where his teams were integrated. One of the players he managed was outfielder Sam Jethroe, a former star of the Negro Leagues who spent three seasons with the Boston Braves, before finishing out his Toledo of the American Association and Toronto, then of the International League.

Walker did some scouting and coaching for the Braves and the Dodgers after he gave up managing. He was the third "Dixie" Walker to play major league baseball. His father, Fred "Dixie" Walker was the first, pitching for the Washington Senators (1909-12).

It was probably because of Fred Walker that another pitcher, Roy Walker, brought up by Cleveland in 1912, also was called "Dixie." He pitched sporadically in the majors until 1912, but his real success was in the minors where he won 163 games.

There were two "Dixie" Howells in the major leagues, one a catcher, the other a pitcher. They were briefly teammates in Cincinnati. They may have gotten their nicknames because of an Alabama football star, also called "Dixie" Howell. Among the other players nicknamed "Dixie," the only one who made an impression was pitcher "Dixie" Davis, who had a 10-season career, and in 1920 won 18 games for the St. Louis Browns.

As for players named Walker, the majors have been full of them, including Larry Walker, whose 17-season career, most of which was spent with the Colorado Rockies, ended in 2005, and he retired with a .313 batting average, 2,160 hits, 382 home runs, and three National League batting titles.

Among the early Walkers was a catcher named Fleet, the first African-American major leaguer — and the last, until Jackie Robinson came along 63 years later. His brother, Welday, an outfielder also played on that Toledo team, a member of the American Association, then recognized as a major league. (Fleet Walker wasn't banned from organized baseball; he played the next five seasons in the minors leagues, including one season with the Cleveland team in the Western League, and two with Syracuse of the International League.)

Other Walkers include catcher Rube; Dixie's brother, Harry ("The Hat'); another pair of outfielder brothers, Hub and Gee Walker; pitcher Jerry Walker; Chico Walker, and the mysterious Mysterious Walker.

According to "The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract," Gee Walker (left), a lifetime .294 hitter, was almost as popular in Detroit as Dixie Walker would be in Brooklyn. The irony is that after the 1937, when Gee Walker was an American League all-star, batting .335, with 18 home runs and 113 runs batted in, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Among the three players Detroit received was Dixie Walker. Dixie hit .308 for the Tigers in 1938, but during the next season Detroit put him on waivers, and he was claimed by Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Gee Walker hit .305 for the White Sox in 1938, and in 1939 led the team with 111 runs batted in. He remained in the major leagues through World War Two, playing with Washington, Cleveland and Cincinnati. (The name, Gee, was a spelled-out version of the first letter in his given first name, Gerald.)

 

Theodore "Ted" Williams is considered by many to be the greatest hitter who ever lived. He was a complex, self-centered and moody individual who waged war with sports writers, particularly those in Boston, whose job it was to report on the doings of the Red Sox outfielder for 19 seasons.

Williams had several nicknames, but this is my favorite. He was also called "Thumper," "The Kid," and "Teddy Ballgame."

His career was interrupted for three seasons (1943-45) by World War Two, when he was a Marine flier assigned to instruct other pilots. He was recalled to service during the Korean War, missing about 250 games during the 1952 and '53 seasons. This time he flew combat missions.

When he returned from that war, he went back to the Red Sox almost immediately, and astounded everyone by hitting .407 in 37 games, with 13 home runs in only 110 at bats. He won batting titles when he was 38 and 39 years old, and his home run percentage actually was greater after Korea than before.

He retired at age 41, and, fittingly, hit a home run in his last time at bat. His career batting average was .344, and he hit 521 home runs, though it's likely the total would have been closers to 700 if he hadn't spent so much time serving Uncle Sam.

 

Like many players (Pee Wee Reese being a good example), Jim Wynn's height varies an inch or so, depending on the information source. He was probably five-feet-nine-inches tall, and a bit sensitive when a sportswriter referred to him as "The Toy Cannon." I foolishly assumed this was a reference to his throwing arm, but it was about Wynn's hitting power, and how the ball exploded off his bat as though it was shot from a cannon.

Wynn was a center fielder who spent most of his 15-season career with Houston. He was regarded as a better hitter than his .250 lifetime average indicates. He had power, hitting 291 home runs, with a high of 37 in 1967.

 
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