HOME | FAMILY TREES | RECOLLECTIONS | SPOTLIGHT ON SOLVAY | READ ABOUT IT | NAME DROPPING

There are some names that are just asking for nicknames. I'd say they were begging for them, but that would be a too-easy play on one of the following names, most of which look like warm-up exercises for Chris Berman. These are easy targets for nicknames that are obvious, and not very clever.. I put them in the "Joey Bats" category.


Raymond Douglas Bare pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals (1972, 1974) and the Detroit Tigers (1975-77), appearing in 88 games, 49 as a starter, and throwing three shutouts among his 16 wins. He had 26 losses. They're not exactly nicknames, but two Chris Berman-like expressions come to mind: "Ray Bare Necessities," "Ray Grin and Bare It," and "Ray The Cupboard is Bare."

He retired in 1978 after a 7-13 season with Rochester of the International League. He was 29 years old. Tragically, Bare died just fifteen years later of leukemia.

Joseph Stanley Beggs, nicknamed "Fireman" because he was primarily a relief pitcher, started his major league career with the New York Yankees in 1938 and ended it with the New York Giants in 1948, but spent most of his time with the Cincinnati Reds.

In 1940, he was a valuable part of the pennant-winning Reds, posting a 12-3 record, appearing in 36 games as a reliever. Six years later, the Red made him a starting pitcher, and he responded with a 12-10 record and a 2.32 earned run average. His career record in the majors was 48-35. Twice he was a 20-game winner in the minors. One Bermanism: "Joe Beggs to Differ."

At last count there were 29 major leaguers with the last name Bell. Among them: slugger George "Liberty" Bell, Cincinnati all-star outfielder Gus Bell, and his son, all-star third baseman Buddy Bell. But only two of those many Bells have ever been tagged with the nickname, "Ding Dong." Pitcher Gary Bell was the second, but he's much better remembered than the first, Bill Bell, another pitcher, who visited the big leagues only long enough to lose one game.

Gary Bell,, however, enjoyed a 12-year career in the majors, spending most of that time with the Cleveland Indians. Never a 20-game winner, Bell nonetheless was an all-star three times and won 121 games (with 117 losses). While the "Ding Dong" nickname wasn't widely used — it's not even mentioned in the linked SABR biography — it was so obvious (and trite) that it was always out there, especially since a lot of frustrated Cleveland fans felt Bell was an underachiever. He seemed to have the makings of another Early Wynn, a 300-game winner.

He could have been nicknamed "Far From The" Best, or, more kindly, Karl "Best Out of Seven," but six-foot-four, right-handed pitcher Karl Best had his moments. He spent parts of four seasons (1983-86) with Seattle and 1988 with Minnesota. He made 61 relief appearances, getting credit for five wins, being charged with six losses. Most of his 11-season career (1978-88) was spent in the minor leagues.

A last name like that can get you in trouble with the commissioner. Pitcher Walter Martin Betts had two careers. With the Philadelphia Phils (1920-25) he was 18-27, primarily in relief. He went back to the minors, returned to the National League as a starting pitcher with the Boston Braves and compiled a 43-41 record over four years, highlighted by a 17-10 season in 1934. Supposedly the nickname stemmed from Betts' love of huckleberries.

Other players whose last names spell trouble are Harry Betts and Mookie Betts.

Harry Betts was a pitcher who made two appearances in the major leagues, 10 years apart — in 1903 he pitched a complete game for the St. Louis Cardinals, gave up 10 runs, and lost; in 1913 he worked three-and-a-third innings in relief for Cincinnati, and allowed one run. His minor league figures are incomplete, but for sure he pitched somewhere from 1903 to 1913.

Markus "Mookie" Betts is a three-time American League all-star. The Boston Red Sox outfielder led the league in batting last season (2018) with a .346 average.

Harley "Who's The" Boss was a first baseman who got into 43 games with the Washington Senators over three seasons (1928-30), and 112 games for the Cleveland Indians in 1933, hitting .269. He then spent many years in the minor leagues, including four with the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League, where he batted over .300 three times, but without any power, hitting only 11 home runs in 579 games.
George "Excuse me!" Burpo was a pitcher who impressed scouts with his fast ball. He once struck out 18 batters in a minor league game. He also gave up few hits per game. The problem? He averaged more than one base on balls per inning. As a result, his earned run average was off the charts and he lost far more often than he won. He made only two major league appearances, with Cincinnati in 1946, walking five batters in two-and-a-third innings. He tossed in the towel a couple of years later. He was only 26 years old.

Clarence Nottingham Churn. That's a name I could have included on my "As Is" list, or among my "Anyone for Cricket?" players. I have no idea what the nickname for Clarence is, but Churn was tagged with "Chuck," giving him a name that needs no Bermanism, but fits an old game people used to play: "Chuck milk cow. Chuck like butter. Chuck Churn."

Churn was born in Bridgetown, Virginia, in 1930, and was a professional baseball pitcher for 18 years (1949-67, losing a season in 1950, perhaps because of military service). However, he appeared in only 25 major league games over three seasons (1957-59), doing it with three teams — Pittsburgh, Cleveland and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

His lifetime record was three wins, two losses,, but one of his victories was historic. It came in relief on September 11, 1959 against Pittsburgh, and the loser was another relief pitcher, Roy Face. It was the only loss Face suffered that season, preventing him from having a perfect record. Face won 18 games that season, and his .947 winning percentage is a major league record for a pitcher involved in 15 or more decisions.

(In 1929, left-hander Tom Zachary, whose first claim to fame was giving up Babe Ruth's 60th home run two years earlier, had switched teams, and had the good fortune to be with the New York Yankees. Zachary was perfect that season, 12 wins, no defeats. A year later the Yankees placed him on waivers after he split his first two decisions. No other team in the American League wanted him, and he wound up with the Boston Braves.)

Perhaps appropriately, Clifford Roland Dapper was born in Los Angeles. Photos indicate he was a good-looking guy, almost a Ray Liotta look-alike. He was tall (six-feet-two), athletic, and had a lot going for him. A real Cliff Dapper Dan. A catcher, he turned pro at the age of 18, in 1938, with the Bellingham Chinooks of the Western International League, and for three seasons after the he played for the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League.

The Brooklyn Dodgers signed Dapper, and assigned him to the Montreal Royals of the International League in 1942. At the end of the season, the Dodgers called him up, and used him in eight games. Dapper batted .471 with eight hits in 17 at bats, with one home run and an eye-popping nine runs batted in. He made no errors behind the plate, had no passed balls. His baseball future looked bright.

Unfortunately, there was a war going on, and Dapper was in the service for the next three years. When the war was over, Dapper wasn't quite the player he was in 1942, and from 1946 until he retired in 1957, he was best suited to the minor leagues, especially at the Class C level.

The most notable thing to happen was being traded by the Dodgers for a radio announcer, Ernie Harwell. This happened in 1948 when the Dodgers sent Dapper from Montreal to Atlanta as part of the deal that freed Harwell to broadcast Dodger games. A season later, Dapper became the player-manager of the Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association. Dapper also managed minor league teams from 1951-57.

At six-foot-three, this left-handed pitcher should have been fast, and he was, striking out 152 batters in just 106 innings during his first minor league season (1967). A year later, at the age of 21, he made eight appearances with the Chicago Cubs, losing his only start. However, two years later (1970), after winning just two games in 15 decisions in the Pacific Coast League, Darcy Rae Fast retired from baseball and became a pastor at Centralia (Washington) Community Church.

Switch-hitting outfielder Charles Frisbee had a lifetime major league batting average of .315, which apparently is very misleading, despite the fact he hit .329 in 42 games with the Boston Beaneaters of the National league in 1899. He'd played three years in the minor leagues previously, batting over .300 each season.

Boston didn't want him back in 1900 because ... well, Frisbee appears to have been a terrible outfielder. The New York Giants took a chance on him in 1900, but Frisbee managed only two hits in four games, but, worse, made three errors on the five balls hit his way.

He spent most of the season with Cleveland of the American League, which was classified a minor league that season. He hatted just .232 for Cleveland, and remained in the minor leagues until he retired in 1906, by which time he was playing for a Class D team, the Waterloo Microbes of the Iowa League of Professional Baseball Clubs. (That's right, the Waterloo Microbes.)

John Alexander Gee was considered the tallest baseball player in history during his six-season major league career, and was listed at six-foot-nine, though, according to baseball-reference.com, at least, he admitted afterward that his actual height was a shade under six-foot-seven.

He grew up in Syracuse where he was a high school star in baseball, later playing at the University of Michigan, where he also was on the basketball team. He would remain in the Syracuse area all of his life, and if my memory is correct, he refereed high school basketball games.

The mini-biography on baseball-reference.com says the proper pronunciation of his last name was with a hard G, but that doesn't square with the linked SABR biography. I always heard it pronounced with a soft G, to fit with "Gee Whiz," which made him the only man I know whose nickname followed his last name. (I prefer "Golly" Gee.)

He spent his first three seasons (1937-39) with the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, compiling a 41-15 record, including a 20-win season in 1939. He played three years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, three more with the New York Giants, but had only seven major league victories (against 12 losses). Despite his size, he struck out only 65 batters in 175 innings.

During the 1946-47 season, Gee played for the Syracuse Nationals of the National Basketball League, a pr4edecessor of the National Basketball Association. After he retired from baseball, he became a teacher, later principal of Cortland (NY) High School. He died in Cortland in 1988. He was 72.


"Isn't Quite" could be a nickname for William B. Goodenough who apparently began his career as a pitcher, then concentrated on the outfield. His professional career stretched from 1887 to 1902, but he played just 10 games in the major leagues, with St. Louis of the National League in 1893, batting .161. He'd spent most of that season with — are you ready?  — the Memphis Fever Germs of the Class B Southern Association, batting .349.


Because of his last name and jock strap jokes, Stanley Edward Jok is well remembered for a player whose entire big league career included just 12 games with Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox (1954-55). The third baseman had three hits in 19 at bats.

Jok made much more of an impression during his years in the International League, such as 1953 when he hit 20 home runs and had 91 runs batted in for the Baltimore Orioles.


A catcher, he was born Joseph Erwin Juszczak and played 25 games for Cincinnati (1944-45), hitting .156. He could be called Joe's Just or Just Joe, putting him in a nickname category with "Still Bill" Hill. (Was Hill a moonshiner? A man who kept his movements to a minimum? Or simply consistently disappointing? A modern-day example would be Manny Ramirez, whose nickname was "Manny Being Manny.")

Just was behind the plate in 1944 when Joe Nuxhall made history as the youngest pitcher to appear in a major league game.

When Nuxhall entered the game in the top of the ninth inning, Just reminded him to throw nothing but fast balls. There would be no signals between pitches. Nuxhall gave up two hits, walked five batters, threw one wild pitch and was charged with five runs.

Nuxhall didn't make his second major league appearance until 1952. He went on to win 135 games in his big league career. After he retired he became a longtime Reds broadcaster and one of the most popular and beloved men in Cincinnati.

As for Just, he was back in the minors in early 1945. Later he became manager of the Eau Clair (Wisconsin) team of the Northern League, winning back-to-back pennants in 1955 and '56. One of his players was catcher Bob Uecker, who would become better known as an announcer.

A possible Bermanism: Joe Just a Gigolo.

Howard Victor "Vic" Keen, nicknamed "Parson," pitched one game for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1918 (hoe lost), then returned to the major leagues in 1921, spent five seasons with the Chicago Cubs, then two with the St. Louis Cardinals. He won 12 games for the Cubs in 1923, 15 the season after, and went 10-9 in his first season with the Cards. Later he pitched and managed in the minor leagues.

You have to be an old-timer to get this reference, but one likely Bermanism for this guy is Vic Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons. If you;re curious, just do some Googling.

Chester Peter Laabs was a short slugger (5-foot-8) who for awhile seemed the second coming of Hack Wilson. On his way to the major leagues, in 1936 with Milwaukee of the American Association, he belted 42 home runs. His best year in the big leagues was 1942 when he had 27 home runs and 99 RBI for the St. Louis Browns. At one point in July, Laabs hit eight home runs in eight games. He was second in the league in homers that season to Ted Williams' 36.

Williams went off to World War Two in 1943, but the 31-year-old Laabs remained with the Browns, making the All-Star team. A season later Laabs helped the Browns win their only pennant. He played just 66 games in 1944, and going into the final game had hit only three home runs. But he closed out the season with a bang, hitting two home runs against the Yankees. The win clinched the pennant for the Browns, who finished one game ahead of Detroit.

It was an all-St. Louis World Series, the Cardinals winning in six games. Laabs played in five of those game, batted .200 and struck out six times.

When he retired he moved to Detroit where his major league career had started in 1937. He worked several years for a trophy company, retired, and died in Warren, Michigan, in 1983 at the age of 70. Since he was a powerful, long-ball hitter, let's call him "Abs" Laabs.


John Charles Lush began his professional baseball career at the top. In 1904 he played 106 games for the Philadelphia Phillies, mostly at first base, but also in the outfield, and, as a sign of things to come, appeared in seven games as a pitcher. He batted .276, which was better than most of his teammates, but in 1905 he began concentrating on pitching, although he appeared in only two games. However, he won both of them.

He had his best season in 1906, winning 18 games (against 15 losses). In 1907, the Phillies dealt Lush to St. Louis, and he remained with the Cardinals until 1910, when he posted a 14-13 record for a seventh place team.

Then, after seven seasons in the National League, Lush went to the minors where he remained until 1916, when he retired. His best years (1911-13) were with Toronto of the Eastern and International Leagues. He won 52 games for the Maple Leafs, losing 34.

There were two other players named Lush. Outfielder Billy Lush spent seven seasons in the major leagues between 1895 and 1904, batting .249. His brother, Ernie, also an outfielder, played one game with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1910, and was hitless in four at bats.


Charles Reiff Nice filled in a shortstop for nine games in 1895 for Boston's National League team, then known as the Beaneaters. He changed the spelling of his last name, which meant – sorry, I can't resist – no more was he Mr. Nice guy.

He became a professional baseball player in 1892 with Allentown of the Pennsylvania State League and retired after the 1900 season which he split between New London of the Connecticut State League and Wilkes-Barre of the Atlantic League.


Hometown boy Clarence William "Ty" Pickup batted a perfect 1.000 after his one game for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1918. Otherwise, the outfielder, who occasionally played first or second base, could be found in the minor leagues with such teams as the New London (Connecticut) Planters, Pittsfield (Massachusetts) Hillies, Waterbury (Connecticut) Brasscos, and Rocky Mount (North Carolina) Buccaneers. Possible Bermanism: "Ty Pickup Your Room, Young Man," though had he come along after the 1953 movie, he would have been "Ty Pickup on South Street."


The six-foot-five-inch Eric Plunk was a pitcher drafted by the New York Yankees in 1981, but when he arrived in the major leagues five years later he was with the Oakland Athletics, bearing a perfect name for a guy who had trouble throwing strikes. As a rookie he walked 102 batters in 120 innings, plunking five hitters along the way. He settled down and enjoyed a 14-season major league career, appearing in 714 games, most of them in relief.

With Eric Plunk on my list, then I should include Eddie Plank, a Hall of Fame pitcher who won 326 games, most of them for the Philadelphia Athletics. Included were 69 shutouts. Plank pitched in four World Series, winning only two games against five losses, but in those seven games he gave up only a total of eight earned runs.

There also was a pitcher named Ed Plank, who spent some time with the San Francisco Giants in 1978 and '79, though he had no wins or losses. His best years (1975-77) were with Fresno of the California League and Phoenix, then in the Pacific Coast League. A comment about Ed Plank on baseball-reference.com is classic: "He is not to be confused with Hall of Famer Eddie Plank."


One nickname fits both, as in "Eddie/Hal Be Nimble, Eddie/Hal Be" Quick. The two Quicks were not related.

Edwin S. Quick was born in 1881 and died just 32 years later. In between, in 1903, he started one game for the New York Highlanders (Yankees) and last two innings, giving up five hits and two runs. Then he disappeared back into the minor leagues.

James Harold "Hal" Quick was  in Rome, Georgia. He was a shortstop who played 12 games for the Washington Senators in 1939, batting .244. His real nickname was Blondie.

More importantly, Hal Quick served in the Army Air Force in World War Two, and afterward rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the U. S. Air Force, also serving in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Twice he receive the Bronze Star.


Chris Berman called him "Randy Ready or Not," though the obvious (but perhaps not apt) nicknamed would have been "Ever."

Randy Max Ready divided his time between third base, second base and the outfield during a 13-season career that began in Milwaukee in 1983. His best season was 1987 with the San Diego Padres when he played 124 games and batted .309. His 108 hits that year was a career high. His lifetime major league batting average: .259. Ready has been a minor league manager in recent years.

Royce Roger Ring was a relief pitcher drafted in 2002 by the Chicago White Sox who traded him to the New York Mets a year later. He remained active until 2013, mostly in the minor leagues, though he appeared in 99 games over five seasons with the Mets, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves, and New York Yankees. He had three wins, three losses.

What jumped out at me when I looked at his stats had little to do with Ring. He spent 2009 with Memphis of the Pacific Coast League — a reminder that, in the world of baseball, the Pacific coast now reaches Tennessee. Possible Bermanism: "Royce Ring of Fire."


Without bothering to check, I'd guess the Bermanism for Rodney Grant Scurry was "Rod Scurry With the Fringe on Top." Scurry was a six-foot-two, left-handed pitcher who started just seven games in his eight-season major league career, but made 325 relief appearances, including 76 with Pittsburgh in 1982. He began that season by pitching in the Pirates' first six games. Scurry also pitched for the New York Yankees (1985-86) and Seattle (1988),

Let's call him Gary "Truth" Serum. The native of Fargo, North Dakota, was a pitcher with the Minnesota Twins for three seasons (1977-79), but did most of his work in 1978 when he won nine games and lost nine. (His lifetime record was 10-12.) He spent seven season in the minor leagues and was primarily a relief pitcher. He retired at the age of 25, and later bought a restaurant in Anoka,, Minnesota.


Outfielder Horace Arthur Speed appeared in 113 major league games, most of them with Cleveland (1978-79), the rest with San Francisco (1975). He batted just .207 and in nine attempts to steal a base, he was thrown out five times. That would have earned him a nickname such as "Horace Not Up To Speed."

However, he really lived up to his last name in 1977 with the Phoenix Giants of the Pacific Coast League when he stole 35 bases in 41 attempts. That season he drew 93 walks, giving him an on-base percentage of .390. With Amarillo of the Texas League in 1973, Speed batted .305 with 25 home runs.


Born Charles Anthony Zuck in Chicago in 1858, he played under the name Tony Suck, and while the expression was years from joining our language, this Tony truly sucked as a major league player, no matter what his position — catcher, third base, shortstop or outfielder. His batting average was .151; his fielding percentage .864. He played all but two of his 58 "major league" games in the ridiculous Union Association in 1884, most of them with a Chicago team that moved to Pittsburgh, then went out of business. As a minor leaguer, in 1996 with Augusta of the Southern Association, he was even worse — only eight hits in 88 at bats (.091).


The catcher was in the majors in 1978 with San Diego and 1982-83 with the New York Mets and Seattle, but he's best known for 29 seasons of managing minor league teams, including seven years with Louisville of the International League and the last four with Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League.

The easy nickname — and a possible Bermanism — is Rick "Ain't He" Sweet. Also a reminder of the old baseball lament:

Pete Rose is a Red, Vida is blue,
Rick is still Sweet, I miss Rod Carew


How about Lou Tost and Turned?

Louis Eugene Tost pitched in the minor leagues from 1934 to 1941 when a 13-10 record with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League and the outbreak of World War Two opened the door to the major leagues for the 31-year-old southpaw who won 10 games for the Boston Braves in 1942, also losing 10.

But Uncle Sam came calling, and Tost pitched only seven innings in 1943 before he was inducted in the Army. Returning to civilian life in 1946, Tost won 16 games for the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. The next year he made one brief appearance with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but spent most of the season with Indianapolis of the American Association. He remained in the minors until 1952 when he retired at the age of 41.


James Madison Toy could be called "Boy Toy."

He was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in 1858, and 29 years later played first base for the eighth place Cleveland Blues of the American Association, batting .222. After two seasons of minor league ball in Rochester, Toy became a catcher for the Brooklyn Gladiators of the American Association, which at the time was considered a major league. The Gladiators were even worse than the Cleveland team, finishing in ninth place. He batted .181, which wasn't as bad as teammate Herman "I Am The" Pitz, who hit .138. However, Pitz drew 45 bases on balls in 61 games and had an on-base percentage of .312, while Toy walked only 11 times.


You could make a play on the words "trickle" or "twinkle." Chris Berman would, as in Ken Trinkle Down Economics or "Trinkle-Trinkle, Little Star."

A right-handed sinker ball pitcher, Kenneth Wayne Trinkle played with the New York Giants (1943, 1946-48) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1949). For his major league career he had a 21-29 won-lost record. Trinkle started 13 games in 1946, but was used primarily in relief. His 48 appearances that season led the National League. Thereafter he was strictly a relief pitcher and was very effective in 1947 for the Giants, appearing in 62 games. He won eight games that summer, lost only four.

Like most young men of his generation, he served in the military during World War II. He played baseball on the Army's Fort Riley (Kansas) team alongside Pete Reiser, Harry "The Hat" Walker and Joe Garagiola. But that changed abruptly when he was shipped to France. He saw action in the Battle of the Bulge and was awarded a Bronze Star.

"I was a scout in a reconnaissance outfit," he told The Sporting News in 1947. "We would go out in front of the infantry to report if anything was there. If you didn't come back, they knew something was out there."

Peter Weckbecker was a catcher who made a brief appearance with Indianapolis of the National League in 1889, then played 32 games the next season with Louisville of the American Association. He batted .235.

Had he come along about 70 years later he'd almost certainly have been nicknamed "Woody."


The obvious nickname would be a play on "The early bird gets the worm," which I'll shorten to "Early Bird."

Frank James Wurm, a pitcher, made only one appearance in the major leagues, starting a game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944. He lasted one-third of an inning, retiring one batter on a strike out. Otherwise he gave up one hit and walked five batters, allowing four runs, which gave him a lifetime earned run average of 108.00.

He was nicknamed Socko, and after a promising start in 1942 as an 18-year-old with the Olean Oilers of the Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League, he entered Army, seeing action in combat. This left him with what today might be diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder, which seems to have shown up when he rushed back into baseball after he was discharged in 1944. He pitched in the minor leagues in 1945, then retired at the age of 21, and entered Middlebury College, majoring in physical education.


The pitcher was an easy target for ESPN's Chris Berman who dubbed him Rich Not Ready Yett. Or he simply could have been nicknamed "Not."

Richard Martin Yett's unremarkable six-year major league career sent him from Minnesota to Cleveland then back to Minnesota (1985-90) and from starter to reliever to starter to reliever ... well, you get the idea. He won 22, lost 24 and had one shutout, in 1986. Yett retired in 1990 at the age of 27.


The oh-so-obvious nickname? "I'm Feeling." Omit his first name.

Pitcher Robert George Zick had five seasons of minor league experience before he joined the Chicago Cubs in 1954, but only long enough to make eight relief appearances in which he allowed 15 runs in 16-1/3 innings. A year later he retired after spending the season with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

 
Speaking of Chris Berman, here are my favorites among his many gems:
Scott Supercalifragilisticexpiala Brosius
Jesus Skip To My Alou
Al Cigarette Leiter
Rick See Ya Later Aguilera
Brook Jacoby Wan Kenobi
Roberto Remember the Alomar
C.C. Splish Splash I Was Taking Sabathia
Craig matinée at the Biggio
Esteban Bats in the Beltre
Jim 2 Silhouettes on Deshaies
Click here for a long list of Bermanisms
 
HOME CONTACT