Several baseball players weren't at all pleased with the nicknames given them by sportswriters, teammates, and fans. Here are some of the most obvious examples, though several nicknames on other pages probably weren't popular with the players who bore them.

'Fatty' | Roert Fothergill
Robert Fothergill preferred to be called Bob, and usually was, but at five-feet-10, 230 pounds, Fothergill was a target for a nicknames such as "Fats" or "Fatty." Detroit teammate Charlie Gehringer said Fothergill, "was about as round as he was tall."

An outfielder, Fothergill was one of baseball's best hitters. In one five-year stretch (1925-29) in the American League, Fothergill hit over .350 four times. His lifetime batting average over his 12-year major league career was an impressive .325.

Another baseball "Fatty" was Charles Briody, who carried more than 190 pounds on his five-foot-eight-inch frame, making him an easy target for such a nickname in the 1880s. He was a catcher for seven teams in three different major leagues in his eight-season career. The one season he batted higher than .258 was 1884 when he played 22 games and hit .337 for Cincinnati of the Union Association, more evidence that its major league status was undeserved. (Briody also played 43 games that year for Cleveland of the National League, and batted .169.)

Twice before he actually died in 1903, Briody had the experience of reading his obituary in a newspaper. Even then, death came early for Briody, who was only 44 when his obituary wasn't fake news.


'Boots' | George Grantham
George Grantham was nicknamed "Boots" because of his erratic fielding. As a Chicago Cubs rookie in 1923, Grantham made 55 errors, nearly twice as many as any other second baseman in the league. Despite that, he became an established major league player, one of the best hitters in the National League, and you usually find him listed as George Grantham.

He was a first and second baseman with Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, Cincinnati Reds and New York Giants (1922-34) and a model of consistency, hitting between .305 and .326 for eight consecutive seasons. His lifetime batting average: 302.


'Bubbles' | Eugene Hargrave
Eugene Franklin Hargrave was given his nickname because he had a tendency to stutter on words beginning with the letter B. I was taken to task a few years ago by someone who resented me referring to Hargrave as "Bubbles," though that's how he is identified by baseball-reference.com and in his biography on the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) website. The person who contacted me suggested I refer to the catcher as Gene Hargrave.

Sorry, but Bubbles is far more memorable. Hargrave put up big batting averages during his 12-year major league career. In 1926, he became the first catcher in baseball's modern era to win a batting title, though it was not without controversy because he participated in only 105 games and had only 326 at bats. But his .353 batting average was the best in the league. His lifetime average was a solid .310.

Because of the light red color of his hair, Hargrave's younger brother, also a major league catcher, was nicknamed "Pinky," as were at least nine other major league players. William McKinley Hargrave was born January 31, 1896, almost four years after his more famous brother, in New Haven, Indiana, and named for the man elected president that November. Unlike his brother, Pinky was a so-so hitter in the majors, with a lifetime average of .278.


'Blimp' | Frankie Hayes
There are several references on websites and in baseball publications to "Blimp" as a nickname for catcher Frankie Hayes, but this makes no sense. None of the references is from any year (1933-47) the six-foot, 185-pound Hayes was playing. And "Blimp" does not appear in the biography linked to his name.

So if anyone actually did call him, "Blimp," Hayes certainly would have objected. He was a major league catcher for at least parts of 14 seasons, spending most of that time with the Philadelphia Athletics, but also playing with the St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox, and Cleveland Indians (when he caught a no-hit game thrown by Bob Feller).

Hayes was a five-time American League All-Star. His best season may have been 1940 when he batted .308. (His lifetime average was .259.) He had some power, once hitting 20 home runs (in 1939). It was Hayes' home run that provided the only run in that Feller no-hitter.

He set a record by catching 312 consecutive games, including all of the games his teams played in 1944 and 1945.

Another catcher known as "Blimp" was also nicknamed "Babe." That was Ernest Phelps, who was six-feet-two, and weighed more than 235 pounds, and would have shrugged off any reference to his size. People said he reminded them of Babe Ruth, and Phelps apparently took that as a compliment.

Like Hayes, Phelps came along in the 1930s, retiring after the 1942 season. Unlike Hayes, Phelps spent almost all of his time in the National League, except for three games with Washington in 1931. Most of his career was spent with the Brooklyn Dodgers, for whom he batted over .300 four seasons in a row, finishing with a .310 career batting average.

Also unlike Hayes, Phelps lived a long life, dying in 1992, at the age of 84. Hayes retired in 1947, at the age of 32, and died just eight years later.


'Piano Legs' | Charles Hickman
Charles Hickman had stocky legs that supported his 5-feet-9, 195-pound frame, and he was a slow runner. He was usually referred to as Charlie Hickman, which led to a second nickname, Cheerful Charlie. Naturally, he preferred either to being called, "Piano Legs."

In his 12-season major league career, Hickman played every position but catcher. Mostly he played first base and outfield.

Hickman could hit, but was a terrible fielder. Playing third base for the New York Giants in 1900, he made 86 errors in 120 games. Cleveland moved him to first base in 1902, and he made 40 errors in 98 games.

Returning to Morgantown, West Virginia, he coached the West Virginia University baseball team for four seasons. Later he became mayor of Morgantown, then sheriff of Monongalia County.

This photo is from BlueGoldNews.com, a West Virginia University website, announcing the 2017 class of the school's Sports Hall of Fame.


'Lucky' | Jack Lohrke
Jack Wayne Lohrke was a National League infielder in the late 1940s, early '50s with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Phillies. He hated his nickname because it evoked painful memories (see story below).

After he left the major leagues in 1953, he played in the minors for six more seasons. When he retired, the nickname retired with him. "Now everyone calls me Jack," he said. Lohrke died in April 2009.

His nickname was unavoidable
Jack Lohrke may not have liked the nickname "Lucky," but there was no way he could have avoided it, thanks to the incredible story that goes with it. During World War Two, Lohrke participated in both the landing at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. Four times a soldier next to him in action was killed, while Lohrke wasn't wounded.

After he returned to the United States, Lohrke was to fly from Camp Kilmer (NJ) to California, but a colonel bumped him from the flight. That plane crashed, killing everyone aboard.

Lohrke started the 1946 season with the Spokane Indians of the Western International League. The team was en route by bus from Spokane to Bremerton (Washington), a 300-mile trip. Halfway there, the team made a scheduled dinner stop in Ellensburg, where a message was waiting for Lohrke. He was to get back to Spokane any way he could because he had been called up to the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League.

While Lohrke was hitchhiking to Spokane, the team bus headed for Bremerton, but missed a curve and went off the road. Eight Spokane players were killed, along with the driver. It was the worst such disaster in minor league history.


'Ducky Wucky' | Joe Medwick
And don't call him plain ol' "Ducky," either. Joseph Medwick wasn't called "Ducky Wucky" for the way he walked, but for the way he swam. During an off day in the minors, he and some teammates went to a pool. A woman commented that Medwick swam like a duck, and from then on his teammates called him "Ducky Wucky," later shortened to "Ducky." Medwick much preferred his other, more obvious nickname: "Muscles," though most often he was simply called "Joe."

Outfielder Medwick was known as an intense competitor, easily riled. Because he was not Mr. Congeniality, teammates didn't mourn when Medwick was traded elsewhere. He came up to the majors with the St. Louis Cardinals, but also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Giants, and, briefly, the Boston Braves.

Medwick was a hitting machine who's enshrined in Cooperstown, thanks to his lifetime batting average of .324. In 1937, hehad one of the most amazing seasons ever — he led the National League in batting average (.374), hits (237), doubles (56), home runs (31), runs (111) and RBI (154).


'Heinie' | Henry Meine
Whether the nickname really bothered Henry William Meine, I have no idea, but "Heinie" was so predictable because the pitcher came along near the end of that period when almost all players of German descent who were named Henry (and some who weren't) were called "Heinie." Ten Heinies made it as far as the major leagues. This one stands out because it goes with Meine, making it a classic whether you pronounce the last name "Mine" or "Mine-Ee."
(Pronouncing it as "Mean" is only a slight improvement.

Meine was a pitcher who built his early career around the spitball, which was outlawed soon after he turned pro. He adjusted, and after a brief, unimpressive start in the majors (plus one retirement that didn't take), he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1929 at age 33. Two seasons later, he won 19 games. He finally retired for good in 1934 to run a tavern and liquor store in his hometown, LeMay, Missouri.

The pitcher also has one of those longer nicknames that sound like titles. Being called "The Count of Luxemburg" qualifies Meine for two of my other lists — the geography-related nicknames and baseball royalty. Meine's title doesn't refer to a small European country (spelled Luxembourg), but his hometown, which was settled by immigrants from Luxembourg, Belgium, a province located near the border, close to Luxembourg, the country, and Luxembourg, France. The American settlers apparently dropped the "o" from the name. Luxemburg, a community in St. Louis County, is now considered one of Missouri's forgotten cities.

Henry Emmett Manush (left) was a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns and Washington Senators who also made brief stops in Boston, Pittsburgh and Brooklyn near the end of his career. He had a lifetime batting average of .330; was the American League batting champ in 1926 (.378); in 1928 had 241 base hits (and another .378 average). His older brother, Frank, played 23 games with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1908.

I'm not sure what was lazier or more insensitive — replacing Henry with "Heinie," or using that nickname on players who came from German families. "Heinie" Jantzen played 31 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1912; his given name was Walter. Thirty years later, nothing had changed. Another infielder, William Wade Heltzel played 40 games for the Boston Braves and Philadelphia Phillies in 1943 and '44. He, too, was called "Heinie."

There were two "Heinie" Muellers, neither one named Henry. Outfielder-first baseman Clarence Mueller played for four major league teams — the St. Louis Cardinals and the Browns, the New York Giants and Boston Braves — from 1920 to 1935. Emmett Mueller played second base, third base and the outfield for the Philadelphia Phillies (1938-41), then served in the U. S. Army in World War Two.

Besides Manush, the best "Heinies" were Henry Groth and Henry Zimmerman, who played in the National League between 1907 and 1927. Zimmerman spent 10 years with the Chicago Cubs,, four with the New York Giants, batted .295, and led the league in home runs in 1912. He also was the RBI champ three times. Groh enjoyed a 16-season career, including nine with Cincinnati, seven with the Giants, and batted .292.

The website baseball-reference.com lists 15 other players nicknamed "Heinie," and all but one — Emil Batch — is referred to by his nickname, not his given name. Among them are two with unusual, but similar last names — catcher Heinie Peitz, who hung around the National League for 16 seasons between 1892-1913, and infielder Heinie Reitz, who batted .292 during his seven-year major league career, spent mostly with Brooklyn. Reitz led the National League in triples in 1894, with 31, a total surpassed only once in major league history, by John Owen "Chief" Wilson, who had 36 triples in 1912. (More on Wilson, below.)



'Chief' | Charles Bender
While German-American players were often called "Heinie," many Native American ballplayers — full-blooded or even one-sixty-fourth — were called "Chief." This was done without much thought (or imagination) in an era that also found many Irish-Americans called "Mickey," though, overall, the era produced many of baseball's most colorful and entertaining nicknames

Pitcher Charles Albert Bender — I believe he preferred to be called "Albert" — certainly didn't appreciate being called "Chief," but he tolerated it. Bender's father was German, his mother a member of the Ojibwe tribe (sometimes called Chippewa). I've read that he was one of eleven children, and perhaps that is why he was enrolled in a government-run school for Native Americans, and why he was later educated at Carlisle Indian School, before attending Dickinson College. All of these schools were in Pennsylvania, though Bender was born — and his family remained — in northern Minnesota.

Bender was a quiet, studious young man, who just happened to be a good baseball player. His coach at Carlisle was Glenn "Pop" Warner, better known for his football teams. From what I've read, people greatly overlooked the influence of his German half (which spared him the "Heinie" nickname), and were surprised that he developed so many talents and interests. (Among his hobbies: gardening, painting landscapes, and reading English literature. He also liked to hunt, fish, and play billiards.)

But as a young man, Bender's greatest talent was as a baseball pitcher. He spent most of his long major league career playing for Connie Mack and the Philadelphia Athletics. He won 212 games, losing only 127, and happened to be with the A's during their best years, which is why he pitched in five World Series, winning six games. He pitched particularly well under pressure, though he was not the sturdiest of men, often being sidelined for brief periods because of health problems. That accounts for such seasons as 1911, when he had only 22 decisions, 17 of them wins, and 1914 when his record was 17-3.

In 1919, at the age of 35, he opted to be a player-manager in the minor leagues, and had his first opportunity with the Richmond Colts of the Class C Virginia League, leading them to a second place finish, largely on the strength of his 29-2 pitching record. He could have returned to the major leagues, but remained in the minors except for a one-inning appearance with the Chicago White Sox in 1925, when he was 41 years old.

Bender married Marie Clement in 1904, and they remained together until he died on May 22, 1954, at the age of 70. They had no children. Bender was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1953, but did not live long enough to attend the induction the following year.

Here are some of the other ball players who were nicknamed "Chief" because they were at least part Native Americans, or people believed they were:

• John Owen Meyers was a member of the Cahuilla tribe. He was a National League catcher for nine seasons, seven of them with the New York Giants. One of the better hitting catchers, his lifetime average was .291, with a high of .358 in 1912. He played in four World Series.

• Elon Chester Hogsett pitched in the American League for 11 seasons, mostly for Detroit. He had a lifetime won-lost record of 63-87. He said he was called "Chief" because his mother was 1/32 Cherokee.

Moses J. Yellow Horse (sometimes spelled as one word, Yellowhorse) was a full-blooded Pawnee Indian who pitched for Pittsburgh in 1920-21, winning eight games, losing four. He had two 20-win seasons in a relatively short minor league career.

• Vallie Eaves, a pitcher standing six-feet-three, was quite a presence on the mound, but often had trouble finding the strike zone. Alcoholism limited his major league career to 24 appearances, spread over five seasons, eight years (1935-42), and three teams (the Philadelphia Athletics, Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs). Drinking did not prevent him from winning 207 games in the minor leagues.

• Virgil Earl Cheeves was Cherokee, and pitched for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians and New York Giants in the 1920s. The Cubs had high hopes for Cheeves, who won 23 games over two seasons (1920-21), but injuries shortened his career. Unlike most other Native Americans dubbed "Chief," Cheeves had no objection to the nickname.

• George Howard Johnson. who'd attended both Haskell and Carlisle Indians Schools, pitched for Cincinnati of the National League and Kansas City of the Federal League from 1913-15, and won 40 games, losing 43. During the off-season, he conducted medicine shows, peddling Native American remedies. In 1922, during a dice game in Des Moines, an argument broke out, and Johnson was fatally shot. He was only 36.

• Albert Clyde Youngblood pitched briefly for the Washington Senators in 1922. He was only 19 at the time, but he never made it back to the majors, retiring from baseball seven years later. He was a veteran of both World Wars.

• Louis LeRoy was called "Chief" because his mother was Mohican. His father was French Canadian, and he was born in Wisconsin, but attended Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. He pitched for the New York Highlanders (Yankees) in 1905-06, winning three games, losing one. He made one appearance with the Boston Red Sox in 1910. He played 17 season in the minor leagues, nine of them with St. Paul of the American Association. Overall, including his three wins in the American League, LeRoy had 225 victories in his professional baseball career.

• William Cadreau, like most of the men on this list, was a pitcher. He grew up on the Ojibwe Reservation in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and when he began pitching professionally was called Chief Chouneau. He lost his only major league game, in 1910, for the Chicago White Sox.

Jim Thorpe, the most famous Native American athlete, played major league baseball for six seasons as an outfielder, mostly for the New York Giants. As far as I know, he managed to avoid being stuck with a nickname, except maybe, "The Greatest Athlete in the World."

Also avoiding the "Chief" label was Louis Sockalexis, who was an outfielder for Cleveland of the National League (1897-99). Recognized as the first Native American to play in the majors, Sockalexis is a classic what-might-have-been story, an athlete of great promise. His career was destroyed by drinking, though years later he overcame his addiction, but too late to make his mark in baseball.

Not all baseball "Chiefs" were Native Americans. Charles Louis Zimmer was a major league catcher for 19 seasons, starting in 1884. Known as "Chief" Zimmer, perhaps because of the way he directed his teammates, he was a durable player and a better-than-average hitter, especially for a catcher, batting as high as .340 in 1895, though the figure is a bit misleading because it was a good year for hitters.

John Owen Wilson, an outfielder from Austin, Texas, was nicknamed "Tex" when he showed up in 1908 to play for Pittsburgh, but manager Fred Clarke thought he looked like the chief of the Texas Rangers. Or so the story goes. "Chief" Wilson made his mark in 1912 when he set the major league record for triples in one season — an incredible 36.

Melvin Leroy Harder was usually called Mel during his 20 seasons as a Cleveland Indians pitcher, and a coaching career with the team that continued almost as long. Harder was a four-time all-star who won 223 major league games. He also had two nicknames — "Wimpy," because, like the same-name character in "Popeye," Harder loved hamburgers — and "Chief," because after several years in Cleveland he'd become recognized as the leader of the Indians whenever there were grievances to be aired.

Three other players who — like it or not — found themselves nicknamed "Chief" were Cesar Geronimo, of the Dominican Republic, long-time Cincinnati Reds outfielder; Geronimo Berroa, also of the Dominican Republic, who was an outfielder for several teams from 1989-2000, and Geronimo Gil, from Mexico, who was a Baltimore Orioles catcher from 2001-2005.