Some other letters have a good selection of punchy nicknames, but S leads the way. Among the nicknames:

'Sailor Bob'
Pitcher James Robert Shawkey, better known as "Bob," had his name amended because he served in the Navy during World War I. (He also was called "Bob the Gob.") He entered the service after he'd pitched five years in the major leagues, with the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Yankees. He managed to make three appearances with the Yankees in 1918, winning one game, losing one.

He'd been a 24-game winner in 1916, and won 20 games in 1919, 1920 and again in 1922, on his way to 195 career victories. Later he managed the Yankees for one season (1930), then in the minor leagues. He died in 1980 at the age of 90.

'Sailor Bill'
Pitcher Wilhelm Johann Posedel was born in San Francisco in 1906, and served four years in the U. S. Navy (1925-29) before playing professional baseball. Besides "Sailor," he was called "Barnacle Bill." Posedel served in the Navy again during World War Two.

Between wars he played nine years in the minor leagues, but after two consecutive 20-win seasons for Portland of the Pacific Coast League, Posedel joined the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1938, winning eight games. A year later he was a 15-game winner with the Boston Braves. It was his best major league season.

According to baseball-reference.com, pitcher Ralph Stroud also was nicknamed "Sailor," though of 458 old newspaper articles I found that mentioned him, only three referred to his as "Sailor," and all appeared long after the end of his brief major league career. Obviously, while he was active, he was known as Ralph Stroud.

George Winter was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in the early days of the American League. On April 13, 1905, the Albany (NY) Times-Union (and perhaps several other newspapers) reported in a column of sports shorts: "Some Boston fan has christened pitcher George Winter of the City of Culture gang of the Johnson Combine 'Sassafras.' "

"Johnson Combine" referred to the American League, run by Ban Johnson. Sassafras is a tree or a flavor made from the bark and other parts of that tree, and was the main ingredient in root beer, which may be the reason for the nickname.

According to Larry Tye, who wrote an article for Society for American Baseball Research, Leroy Robert Page earned money as a youngster by carrying satchels for railroad passengers from the station to Mobile hotels. He found he could carry four or five at a time if he strung them on a pole. Soon he was nicknamed "Satchel." Along the way his last name picked up an extra letter.

Paige was a legendary pitcher in the Negro leagues, later for the Cleveland Indians and the St. Louis Browns. He even pitched three scoreless innings for Kansas City in 1965 at the age of 59. He's in the Hall of Fame, which is appropriate for many reasons. No pitcher was more famous

Pitcher Edwin "Ed" Wells beat Paige to this unusual nickname, which, I assume, had to do with the size of his feet (or the shoes he wore). "Satchelfoot" Wells spent 11 seasons in the major leagues, with Detroit, the New York Yankees, and St. Louis Browns. The nickname is not mentioned in the linked SABR article, but I found several newspaper stories that referred to Wells as "Satchelfoot" while he was pitching for the Yankees. However, none of the articles gave a reason for the nickname.

Frank Metha, a five-foot-11 infielder, apparently was quick on his feet, which earned him the nickname, "Scat." He had his only shot at the major leagues in 1940 when he played 26 games for Detroit. The Tigers won the pennant, but Metha didn't play in the World Series. He spent the next two seasons in the minors, then likely found himself in the service during World War Two.

I stumbled upon an online auction site offering the Scat Metha trophy he won as the most popular player on the 1939 Fort Worth Cats team in the Texas League. The information offered on this page said Metha stole 66 bases that season, which supports the story of his nickname.

In 1925, at the age of 15, Lynwood Thomas Rowe had the opportunity to pitch against a team that included some former major league players. He won that game and earned a nickname when one of the embarrassed opponents grumbled, "Beaten by a schoolboy."

Nearly six-foot-five, Rowe was not your ordinary schoolboy. Years later he was a good-hitting, right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and Philadelphia Phillies and made a brief appearance with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1942.

Slick-fielding first baseman George Carey, a Pittsburgh native, scooped up everything in sight. Thus the nickname. He also hit a ton for a couple of minor league teams (the Altoona Mud Turtles and Milwaukee Brewers). His reward was a season with baseball's best team, the Baltimore Orioles, in 1895. Carey batted .261 for the National League pennant winners, the lowest batting average among the starting players, so he returned to the minors.

George "Scoops" Carey had a brief major league career, but was a Pittsburgh native, so when outfielder Max Carey arrived in Pittsburgh in 1910, the future Hall of Famer was given the nickname, "Scoops," for no reason except it belonged to a local kid who never played for the Pirates. "Hawk," or "Eagle" would have been more appropriate for Max Carey, whose speed allowed him to cover the outfield like few players of his time.

When infielder Tom Carey came along in the 1930s, he, too, was nicknamed "Scoops," because of the fame of Max Carey. This "Scoops" playeds for the St. Louis Browns (1935-37). and parts of five seasons with the Boston Red Sox.

Phil Rizzuto became widely known as Scooter, a New York Yankee shortstop (1941-42; 1946-56) who proved small guys (five-foot-six) can come up huge. His lifetime average was .273, but he was an invaluable cog in the Yankee machine and a big reason the team made it to the World Series nine times in Rizzuto's 13 seasons. He hit over .300 twice, his rookie season (1941) and in 1950 when he posted these career bests – average (.324), hits (200), doubles (36) and runs (125). He's a member of baseball's Hall of Fame, and, in retirement, became the voice of Yankee baseball whose excited "Holy cow!!" became his trademark shout.

His last name accounts for the nickname given Marc Rzepczynski, a six-feet-one-inch left-handed relief pitcher also known as "Zep," a valuable hint that the R in Rzepczynski is silent. His ten-season career ended in 2018. He pitched for seven teams — Cleveland, St. Louis, Toronto, Seattle, Oakland, San Diego and Washington — and was a baseball gypsy, partly because he's the product of a strategy that has managers using pitchers for only parts of an inning. Rzepczynski appeared in 506 games, but only for 434-2/3 innings. His won-lost record was 14-27.

John E. Carroll of Buffalo, New York, must have loved baseball. Born in 1860, he played with whatever team he could, at whatever position he was needed, but usually in the outfield. Apparently, the five-foot-seven Carroll was a feisty guy, whose attitude kept him employed.

Because he played mostly in the 1880s, Carroll's "major league" experience was rather unusual, perhaps unique — three seasons, three teams, three different leagues. His nine-year professional career was spent mostly in the minors. After hitting just one home run in his first four seasons, he had 16 with St. Paul of the Western Association in 1888, and 25 more the next season.

While not evident in the old baseball card on the right, John "Scrappy" Carroll may have been the first player to wear sunglasses in the outfield.

Baseball had another "Scrappy." He was infielder William Allen Moore, who got into four games with the St. Louis Browns in 1917, served in the Navy in 1918, then played six seasons in the minors.

Why Joseph "Shags" Horan was so nicknamed, I have no idea. A professional baseball player from 1913-1926, except in 1918 when World War One interrupted, Horan was a lightly regarded hitter until he joined the Des Moines Boosters of the Western League in 1922 and hit .320. The following season, he was like Joe Hardy, the guy had made a deal with the devil in "Damn Yankees." Still in Des Moines, Horan led the league with an incredible .411 batting average, hitting 57 doubles and 23 home runs. This attracted the attention of the New York Yankees, thinking another Babe Ruth had been discovered. Horan went to New York the next year and had nine hits in 31 at bats, a decent .290 average, but he was no Babe Ruth. His hits included no home runs, so he was demoted to Reading of the International League, where he hit .376 with six home runs. But there was no trip back to the big leagues.

John Francis "Shano" Collins was an outfielder, sometimes first baseman who played 16 seasons (1910-1925) with the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox. Collins was one of the White Sox players who survived the gambling scandal involving the 1919 World Series. He was regarded as a good defensive player, though his statistics don't seem impressive. He had a lifetime batting average of .264.

He managed the Boston Red Sox in 1931, lifting the team out of last place for the first time in seven seasons. (They finished sixth.) But Collins was fired in 1932 after Boston lost 44 of its first 55 games."Shano" is a variation on "Sean", the Gaelic version of "John".

It's assumed catcher James Francis Hogan was given his nickname because he was as big as a shack. However, the Somerville, Massachusetts, native may have owed his nickname to his heritage, and that his family was considered shanty Irish.

Hogan was six-foot-one, and about 200 pounds when he became a professional baseball player in 1925. At the time he was an outfielder. He became a catcher in 1926 with the Lynn (Massachusetts) Papooses of the New England League, finishing the season with the Braves, and now several pounds heavier.

As he established himself as a major leaguer with the Braves in 1927, sportswriters began to have fun with Hogan, known as baseball's biggest eater. "I never have any trouble with Hogan," said one of his managers, Bill McKechnie, "until it comes to eating. He likes to top everything off with ice cream and cake."

On September 19, 1936, the New York Post ran a story about how the Yankees would break their home attendance record during a series against the Washingon Senators. "The special attraction," said the newspaper, "is the new Washington Monument, Frank Shanty Hogan ...The thousands of restaurant workers who attended games at the Polo Grounds as a matter of pride when their friend, known to them as 'Death on Steaks', was a Giant, may not recognize Hogan so easily. He weighed some 272 pounds in his last days at the Polo Grounds, and now he is a sylph-like 271."

Despite the fat jokes,, Hogan remained in the majors for several seasons because the man could hit. He batted over .300 four consecutive seasons with the Giants, and his lifetime batting average was .295.

I've seen no explanation how Charles Donahue acquired what may be the strangest, most mysterious nickname of them all. Donahue was born in Oswego, NY, in 1877, aand one Oswego newspaper story referred to Donahue as "a famous old ballplayer," locally speaking, at least, but there was no accounting for the nickname. He was an infielder who played 62 games in the National League in 1904. He batted .219, which was bad, and fielded .858, which was worse. Maybe the "e" in the nickname had something to do with errors because Donahue made 38 of them in those 62 games.

Clarence Clemet Hodge
had large feet. Some joker said they looked like shovels. Lots of people agreed. Hodge was born in Mount Andrew, Alabama, and by the time he stopped growing he was six-foot-four and pitching well enough to turn pro.

He was 27-years-old in 1920 when the Chicago White Sox purchased him. He made four appearances, had one win, one loss, and posted a 2.29 earned run average. He hung around two more seasons, but walked many more batters than he struck out, gave up too many hits, but managed to win almost as many games as he lost. (His lifetime won-lost record was 14-15).

George "Showboat" Fisher
played 92 games for the St. Louis Cardinals, and had a .374 batting average. But this was the zaniest hitters' season of the modern era. Even the last place Philadelphia Phillies had a team batting average of .315, and Bill Terry of the New York Giants led the league with a .401 average. So the Cardinals were not particularly impressed with Fisher, especially his uncertain outfield play, and they sent him back to the International League the next season. His nickname is somehow connected with the musical, "Showboat," which played on a St. Louis stage during Fisher's time with the Cardinals.

Hubert Shelby Pruett was better known as Hub Pruett, but was nicknamed "Shucks" because that was the strongest word he used when he was upset. Pruett's claim to baseball fame is the hex he had on Babe Ruth, who struck out 10 times in the first 11 times he faced the left-handed pitcher.

Ruth's luck improved afterward — he did hit a couple of home runs off Pruett eventually — but the Bambino was happy to see the pitcher disappear from the American League after the 1924 season. Pruett had pitched for the St. Louis Browns, and other batters had no trouble hitting him. His three-year record with the Browns was 14-18. After retiring, he completed his medical studies and became a doctor.

Sebastian Daniel Sisti obviously got his nickname from his given first name. Sisti was at home playing any infield position. Sisti joined the Boston Braves in 1939, just before his 19th birthday. That season he was the youngest player in the big leagues.

He was in the Coast Guard (1943-45) during World War Two. He returned in 1946, played for Indianapolis of the American Association, hit .343, and was named Minor League Player of the Year. In 1947, he returned to the Braves. In all, Sisti spent 13 seasons with the team, retiring in 1954. He was the fourth player inducted into the Boston Braves Hall of Fame – behind Warren Spahn, Johnny Sain and Tommy Holmes.

In 1936, pitcher Sigmund Jakucki was 0-3 with the St. Louis Browns and dropped out of baseball a couple of years later. But World War II created an incredible player shortage, so Jakucki came out of a five-year retirement in 1944 and won 13 games for the Browns, helping them to their only American League pennant. He was the losing pitcher in his only World Series start.  He returned in 1945 and won 12 more games, but then the war ended and so did Sigmund Jakucki's big league career. He had nicknames off both his first and last names. "Sig" was the more popular nickname, but he also was called "Jack."

'Silk Stockings'
"Harry" Schafer
had two nicknames; I've chosen the one that fits this page, his other would be appropriate on my Pop Culture page. David Nemec, who wrote the linked SABR article, probably knows more about more oldtime players than anyone in the world, and he couldn't come up with a reason Schafer was nicknamed "Silk Stockings" or "Dexter," Dexter being the name of a famous 19th century race horse. Nemec says Schafer was neither particularly fast nor rich. Schafer played third base for the Boston Red Stockings in both the National Association (1871-75) and the National League (1876-78).

Oscar Melillo had two "S" nicknames — "Ski" and "Spinach." The first one went back to his youth and a local football hero whose nickname was "Ski." Melillo was such a fan of this player that his friends started calling him "Ski. As for "Spinach," that is strictly for Popeye lovers. Bill Nowlin, who wrote the story linked to Melillo's name, above, says it's possible Melillo's spinach incident may have inspired Popeye, created three years later. Melillo became seriously ill in 1926, the year the 27-year-old second baseman became a major leaguer with the St. Louis Browns. Melillo's doctor ordered him to begin a steady diet of spinach, and, sure enough, a few days later the ballplayer was on the road to recovery.

Pitcher Kyle Graham really was skinny, 172 pounds stretched over a six-foot-two-inch body. He pitched for the Boston Braves (1924-26) and Detroit Tigers (1929), winning 11 games, losing 22.

Also nicknamed "Skinny" was Arthur Graham, an outfielder who was short, but not skinny – five-foot-seven, 181 pounds. He played a few games for Boston Red Sox in 1934-35. He owed his nickname to his father, a semi-pro pitcher in Massachusetts. For awhile, his son was called "Young Skinny."

"Skinny" also was a nickname for an outfielder named Wally Shaner, who wasn't particularly skinny, carrying 195 pounds on his six-foot-two frame. But Shaner's nickname is a whole different story.

Pitcher Hector Harold Brown probably was better known as Hal, though you'd often see him identified as Hal "Skinny" Brown during his 14-season career (1951-64). Brown stood six-foot-two and weighed 180 pounds, and his nickname was a joke from his early childhood when his family thought he was fat. A member of the Army Air Force during World War Two, he was a gunner on a bomber. During one mission, the bomber was hit.. The pilot tried to make it back to England, but the crew wound up parachuting into the English Channel, where they were picked up a few hours later.

Oran O'Neal, who pitched in the 1920s, also was called "Skinny." He had no decisions in 13 major league appearances.

Samuel Smith was a first baseman active in professional baseball from 1884 to 1895, give or take a few years later. He wasn't successful enough to rate a story anywhere that might explain his nickname or how extensively it was used. My guess is he may have been called "Skyrocket" because he was tall (six-feet-two) and skinny, which probably made him look even taller than he was. He played only 58 games in what was considered a major league, the American Association, as a member of the 1888 Louisville Colonels, a seventh place team.

I can only speculate why Thomas Jefferson Sullivan was nicknamed "Sleeper," just as I can only speculate why someone born in Ireland in 1859 was named after an American President. Sullivan also was nicknamed "Old Iron Hands," probably because he made so many errors behind the plate. He played professional baseball from 1877 until 1892, almost all of it in the minor leagues, which were more like semi-pro outfits. He spent parts of four seasons (1881-1884) with major league teams in Buffalo, St. Louis and Louisville, and his batting average (.184) was barely above his weight.

Catcher George Townsend reportedly was nicknamed "Sleepy" because he often took naps on the bench during a game. After he retired from playing in the early 1890s, he finished his medical studies at New York University, and became a doctor, practicing in Branford, Connecticut. In August, 1907, he was in the news for rescuing a young woman from drowning in Long Island Sound. Newspaper accounts referred to him as "the famous Baltimore catcher of a decade ago."

Other major league baseball players were nicknamed "Slick" for various reasons, but only Vernon Henry Parks was known as "Slicker." Parks was a star pitcher for the University of Michigan, touted as the best college pitcher in the country, but his major league experience consisted of 10 appearance for the Detroit Tigers in 1921. Thereafter he spent several seasons in the International League. While in college, he played minor league baseball under a different name (Harold Brooks), but was caught. Perhaps that had something to do with his nickname.

As for those called "Slick", they were either slick dressers or seemed to go through life (or their position on the field) smoothly and with ease. Only two pitchers, Clydell Castleman and George Coffman, were popularly known as "Slick." Several other players were occasionally referred to as "Slick," including Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford, who had other nicknames, my favoritee being "Chairman of the Board."

Pitcher Harry Franklin Sallee, who stood six-foot-three and weighed 180 pounds, is the champion of "S" nicknames, being called "Slats," "Skinny," "Skeleton, "Scissors," "Scatter," but mostly "Slim" during his life. He enjoyed a 14-season major league careeer, winning 174 games.

"Slim," once a mainstay nickname in cowboy movies, was also pinned on several major league players, mostly pitchers.

There was six-foot-seven-inch Edward "Slim" Love, whose 17-season career began in 1913. Only 28 of his 183 wins came in the major leagues. He enjoyed his greatest success with the Dallas Steers of the Texas League.

Walter "Slim" McGrew stood six-feet-seven-1/2 inches, but was well-built, weighing 240 pounds. Some said he threw as hard as Walter Johnson ,a Washington Senators teammate during three brief visits to the major leagues, but McGrew had only one decision — a loss. He was much more impressive in the minors, but retired at the age of 27. Not surprisingly, McGrew had another nickname — "Dangerous Dan."

William Jennings Bryan Harriss also was nicknamed "Slim," standing six-foot-six, weighing 180 pounds. From 1920 to 1928, he pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox, and was twice a 20-game loser. His lifetime record was 95-135. He won 105 games in the minor leagues.

Several other players, better known by their given names or other nicknames, also were sometimes called "Slim."

The nickname was inevitable for anyone with this last name. On the linked site — for baseball-reference.com — you'll find his name spelled Eells, which I'm sure is correct, but while he was active in baseball, newspapers almost always preferred Eels. Harry Eels was a pitcher who, at the age of 26, surfaced with Cleveland in 1906, winning four games, losing five. He seemed to perform well enough to warrant another season, but one story said he was dropped by Cleveland after "an accident." He pitched one more season, in the minors, then retired. I found a few stories that said he struck it rich in iron ore; baseball-reference.com says he went into real estate.

It seems obvious why Craig Lee Smajstrla received his nickname, though it could have been "Scrabble," since his last name looks like something you'd get by picking up nine Scrabble letter squares at random. Apparently, his last name is pronounced Suh-ma-STRUH-luh.

Smajstrla was primarily a second baseman who got into eight games with Houston in 1988, mostly as a pinch runner. He spent 11 seasons in the minors. Despite his nickname, "Smash" had little power. At five-foot-nine, weighing 176 pounds, he never hit more than seven home runs in any season.

A rather ordinary name, I know, though the name he was born with — Forrest Harrill Burgess — is unusual. It's hard to explain personal preferences, so I won't even try. Smoky Burgess, catcher and pinch hitter extraordinare, was a favorite of mine throughout his 18-year major league career. While it was another catcher, Carlton Fisk, who was called Pudge, that nickname better suited Burgess, who looked like the reincarnation of the latter day Babe Ruth.

'Smoky Joe'
Wood's real first name was Howard, so "Joe" was his first nickname, given by his parents after the Wood family went to a fair and were greatly amused by two clowns called Joey and Petey. Howard became Joe, and his brother, Harley, was forever after known as Pete.

"Smoky" was added because of how hard Joe Wood threw. Most sources spell "Smoky" without an "e,' though some — including statistics guru Bill James — seem to insist on "Smokey." There are a bunch of players nicknamed "Smokey," but the only one of any note is Walter Alston, better known as a manager of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers than he was as a player.


'Smoky Joe' Wood went from
Bloomer Girls to Boston Red Sox

When he was 16-years-old, Wood accepted an offer to pose as a young woman to play a few games with a Kansas City-based team called National Bloomer Girls. This was not unusual; there were several "Bloomer Girls" teams that toured for exhibition games against pro and semi-pro teams, and they always hired a few male ringers..

Morris "Morrie" Arnovich was nicknamed "Snooker" because of his pool-playing skill; more specifically, his skill at playing the British version, snooker, which involved pocketing 22 balls in a particular order. An outfielder, Arnovich played professional baseball from 1933 to 1948, but spent four years (1942-45) in the U. S. Army. His career was evenly divided between the major and minor leagues, His major league batting average was .287, with a career high .324 in 1939, wih the Philadelphia Phillies.


Raymond Dowd's nickname comes without explanation, so let's speculate. Fanny Brice, who later achieved national fame with the character on a weekly radio show, created "Baby Snooks" for her vaudeville act in 1912. "Snooks" was an incorrigible youngster, based on a comic strip character called "Snookums". Perhaps this had something to do with Dowd's nickname. From all accounts, Dowd himself was often incorrigible  — he was known to abruptly leave a minor league team when things weren't going his way. Dowd was an infielder, who had two brief visits to the major leagues — in 1919 and 1926. He was the starting second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers on opening day in 1926 — and two days later was released.

You can call him "Wrong Way" Dowd
While his major league baseball career fizzled, Raymond "Snooks" Dowd was considered one of the finest athletes of his time. He also played professional basketball, such as it was during those days, and as a college football player made his mark for Lehigh University in their heated rivalry with Lafayette College

In 1918, after playing his first season as a professional baseball player with Syracuse of the International League — a team he quit because he was tired of losing — Dowd remained eligible for football, and scored a touchdown against Lafayette on perhaps the most unusual play of the season. He ran the wrong way, then circled his own goalposts — which, at the time, were on the goal line — and ran the right way 100 yards to score. How many yards he'd run the wrong way is a matter of debate.

Some newspaper at the time described it as a 200-yard run, which doesn't say much for Dowd's sense of direction. More likely he retreated 10 or 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, then tore out of his own end zone and ran the length of the field.

Snooks Dowd (standing on the right in the above photo) played basketball with the Holly Majors, a touring professional team formed by former major league baseball player Ed Holly, standing to Dowd's right. (Next to Holly on the other side is baseball player-turned-umpire Dolly Stark.)

Also on the basketball team were two former major leaguers who became famous as baseball clowns — Al Schact and Nick Altrock (kneeling in front). Both were one-time pitchers. Schact won just 14 games for the Washington Senators in three seasons (1919-21), before assuming the title, "The Clown Prince of Baseball). Altrock, however, was twice a 20-game winer for the Chicago White Sox (1905 and 1906).

As for Dowd, he jumped from the Springfield (MA) basketball team in the Inter-State League early in the 1922-23 season to join the Holly Majors. That got him suspended from the Inter-State League, but the Holly Majors kept him employed for the next three winters.

[I have not found the answer to an obvious question: Was "Snooks" Dowd related — perhaps a nephew — to a well-known player from an earlier generation, "Buttermilk Tommy" Dowd.]

Harry Seibold
got stuck with the nickname "Socks" while he pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1915 because, years earlier, his manager, Connie Mack, had also managed the next player on this list, the original "Socks." As a result, Seibold's name often was misspelled as "Seybold."

Seibold was primarily a pitcher, but early in his career occasionally played other positions. He pitched for two bad teams, the Athletics and the Boston Red Sox, a big reason his major league won-lost record was 48-85.

Ralph Orlando "Socks" Seybold was an outfielder who, prior to 1901, had played only 22 major league games — in 1899 with the National League Cincinnati Reds, at the age of 28. Two years later he was in the brand new American League, a member of Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletic, and had a 27-game hitting streak on his way to a .333 batting average.

A year later Seybold hit 16 home runs, which would remain the American League record until 1919, when Babe Ruth hit 29. The Philadelphia Inquirer called Seybold "a human freight car." He was big, but surprisingly agile.

There were ten major league players named Campbell before outfielder Clarence Campbell came along in 1940. He was the first one to be called by the now obvious nickname, "Soup." Unfortunately for Campbell, he lost four seasons to World War Two when he served in the Army. In 1946, at the age of 31, he resumed his professional baseball career, and played two seasons for the Baltimore Orioles of the International League before he gave up the dream of returning to the majors, and retired.


These players were mmm mmm good
Since Clarence "Soup" Campbell came along, there have been 13 more Campbells in the major leagues, but only three of them have been tagged with the obvious nickname. Those three more recent "Soup" Campbells are:

Infielder Dave Campbell, who played for four teams — San Diego, Detroit,, Houston, St. Louis — from 1967-74,, and batted .213.

Pitcher Bill Campbell, who, amazingly, won 30 games in 1976 and '77, all in relief. He appeared in 147 games in those two seasons, one with Minnesota, the other with Boston, and finished 128 of them, getting 51 saves to go along with his 30 victories. He played for five more teams — Chicago Cubs, Montreal, Philadelphia, Detroit, St. Louis — before retiring in 1987 after his 15th season. He lifetime won-lost record: 83-68.

Eric Campbell played third base, first base and the outfield in three seasons with the New York Mets (2014-16), batting .221. He played last season (2018) in the Pacific Coast League with the New Orleans Baby Cakes (love the nicknames of minor league teams). Late in the season he was batting over .300, and perhaps hoping to return to the majors. The Boston College alum is only 31.

William "Bill" Lee III
didn't need a funny nickname. From the day he arrived in Boston to pitch for the Red Sox, Lee was regarded as a flake. Lee stood six-foot-three, and weighed 210 pounds in his prime. I remember him more as an off-speed pitcher than someone who got by on his fastball. Being a left-handed pitcher in Fenway Park can be intimidating, but Lee was a 17-game winner three seasons in a row (1973-75). He wound up his career in Montreal. Overall, he won 119 games in 14 years, losing 90. He is recalled for his feud with manager Don Zimmer, whom Lee dubbed "The Gerbil."

I assume Earl John Adams was nicknamed "Sparky" because of his size — five-foot-five, about 150 pounds. Adams was 24 years old when he played his first minor league game in 1919. He made up for the late start, spending 13 seasons in the major leagues (1922-34), playing for the Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds. He played 551 games at second base, 532 at third base, and 297 at shortstop, making him a valuable guy to have around.

George Lee Anderson was in his third year of professional baseball, playing for the Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League when an announcer called him "Sparky" because of his spirited, often combative behavior on the field. The nickname stuck, and soon people forgot his real first name.

Anderson wasn't much of a hitter, which was obvious in 1959 when he made it to the major leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies and batted .218. In 1964, at age 30, Anderson quit playing and began managing. After five years in the minors, he became manager of the Cincinnati Redss. In his 26 years as a major league manager, Anderson led his teams to 2,194 victories..

Albert Lyle claims he doesn't know how, why or when people began calling him "Sparky," though with his reputation as a prankster, the nickname seemed to fit.

The left-handed Lyle broke into the majors with the Boston Red Sox, but in what is an all-too-familiar story to Red Sox fans, Lyle found himself in a New York Yankees uniform in his prime, spending seven seasons with the Yanks, receiving two World Series rings, and winning the American League's Cy Young Award in 1977. Lyle would pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies, Texas Rangers and Chicago White Sox before retiring after the 1982 season.

John Sigmund "Johnny" Podgajny breezed through the minor leagues. At the end of his second season, when he won 18 games for Ottawa-Ogdensburg of the Canadian-American League, he was summoned to Philadelphia to pitch for the Phillies. He remained in the majors until 1943, a few weeks after the Phillies dealt him to the Pirates. Back in the minors, he enjoyed his greatest success with Baltimore of the International League. His lifetime major league record was 20 wins, 37 losses, but against the Chicago Cubs, he had 10 wins and only four losses.

His last name was pronounced "poe-JOHNNY"); he stood six-foot-two, and was often described as being almost painfully thin. That and his glasses made him the butt of many jokes. Ah, yes, his glasses. One of his minor league managers noticed Podgajny dropped his head and looked over the tops of his specs in order to see the catcher's signals. 

"You ought to get yourself a pair of bifocals," advised the manager.

"Buy focals?" replied the pitcher. "I just bought these glasses yesterday."

It turned out he had purchased eyeglasses because they felt and looked good; they didn't help his vision at all, probably made it worse. By the time he reached Philadelphia he was wearing proper Specs.

George Toporcer was one of the first players to wear glasses on the field. Primarily a second baseman, he filled in at shortstop and third base for the St. Louis Cardinals for six seasons (1922-27), also playing briefly for the team in 1921 and 1928. He batted .324 in 116 games in his first full season. He had a .279 lifetime average. When he left the majors, he managed for several years in the minors, including a stretch with Rochester of the International League when he also played. He was inducted into the Rochester Red Wing Hall of Fame.

William Porter Shannon
, who loved both baseball and football, got dubbed "Spike" as a teenager, and it stuck. He went to Grove City (Pennsylvania) College, played both sports, and in 1898 began a pro baseball career that didn't end until 1913. He had his best seasons with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association in 1902 and 1903, and in 1904 joined the St. Louis Cardinals. He also played for the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates before returning to the American Association in 1909, this time with Kansas City.

Here are other baseball "Spikes," as listed on baseball-reference.com. I can offer an explanation only for the last man on this list.

Thomas Borland was a left-handed pitcher, who went 0-4 with Boston (1960-61). "Spike" is mentioned for Borland on baseball-reference.com, but the nickname does not appear in the linked SABR biography.

Michael “Spike” Brady played one game in the outfield for Cincinnati of the National Association in 1875. He had one hit — a triple — in four at bats.

Pitcher John Joseph “Spike” Merena was 1-2 with the Boston Red Sox in 1934, completing two of three starts, and his win was a shutout. He was sent to the International League the next year, but appeared in only eight games, then retired, which suggests he had arm prooblems. He is identified as Spike Merena on his SABR biography, but there's no explanation for the nickname.

Harry “Spike” LaRoss was an outfielder who hit .229 with Cincinnati in 1914 in 22 games. He played 11 so-so years in the minors, and may have been been summoned to Cincinnati because of a player shortage that season, caused by the short-lived Federal League.

Pitcher Clayton Van Alstyne was known as Clay, but also nicknamed "Spike." He pitched briefly for the Washington Senators in 1927 and '28, but had no decisions in six appearances and 24-1/3 innings. Most interesting thing about his time in Washington is that he had eight at bats in 1928, and the last one resulted in a home run. That wasn't surprising. In 1925, when he played for the Albany Senators of the Eastern League, he won 15 games, lost 15 games, and hit seven home runs, which led the team.

Finally, Spike Owen was born with the name. His mother's maiden name was Spikes. He played 13 seasons with Montreal, Seattle, Boston, California and New York Yankees (1983-95), and was an excellent shortstop, but batted only .246.

Steve "Splinter" Gerkin apparently got his nickname from his slim body, spreading 160 pounds over a six-foot-one-inch frame. Perhaps it was because opportunities were greater during World War Two, but Gerkin didn't become a professional baseball player until 1943 when he was 30 years old. He made the most of it, winning 20 games for the Lancaster (PA) Red Roses of the Interstate League. One of his wins was a no-hitter. .

Gerkin spent 1944 with the U. S. Army, and was back with Lancaster when the 1945 season began, but was soon summoned by Connie Mack to pitch for the Philadelphia Athletics, the last-place team in the American League. There Gerkin suffered through a long summer, with no wins and 12 losses.

I'd guess that Lewis William McAllister was nicknamed "Sport" because he was considered a "good sport," willing to do anything for the team. He certainly proved it during his long baseball career that began in 1892 when he was 17 Before he finished his 23-year playing career, most of them in the minors, the versatile, five-foot-11-inch McAllister would play every position on the field. It was this ability that kept him going, because he was a mediocre hitter.

Rees Gephardt Williams
came out of Cascade, Montana, to reach the major leagues in 1914 and lost his only decision that season for the St. Louis Cardinals. He remained with the team in 1915, posting a 6-7 record, but would be more impressive in the minors.The origin of his nickname seems to be his mode of travel to reach his minor league team in Great Falls, Montana, when he rode a steamboat on the Missouri River. If this story is true, it's more proof of the random nature of nicknames.

Other players nicknamed "Steamboat" — Clemens "Clem" Dresiswerd, Clarence Struss, and Gene Tenace. Bill Otey was called "Steamboat Bill."

Outfielder James Paul Flanagan reportedly was a favorite of the ladies. He got his name from the way he ran — he moved like a steam engine, someone said. He was six-foot-one, 185 pounds, and very athletic. Judging from clippings in New York State newspapers — Flanagan played in Rochester and Buffalo along the way — he was a highly regarded ball player. But of the 1,060 games he played in his 13-year professional career, only seven were in the major leagues, for Pittsburgh in 1905.

It was inevitable that someone named Jackson would be given the nickname of the famous Confederate general. That fell to Travis Calvin Jackson, a native of (Where's) Waldo, Arkansas, who went on to enjoy a Hall of Fame career as shortstop for the New York Giants from 1922 to 1936. The excuse for the nickname, of course, was the idea that ground balls just couldn't get through Jackson, who was like a stone wall on the left side of the infield. However, I believe he was always much better known by his first name.

Stonewall Jackson Beach was the real name of an outfielder born in Virginia in 1862. He played eight games for Washington of the American Association in 1884 as Jack Beach.

Oddly, the next man on this list was born Ulysses Simpson Grant McGlynn, which would seem as though his parents meant to honor the Civil War general who later became president. Maybe they did, except the S in Grant's name didn't stand for anything. The president's real name was Hiram Ulysses Grant. The S was added by mistake when Grant was appointed to West Point as a young man. Many years later i became widely believed that his middle name was Simpson.

But this is about pitcher "Stoney" McGlynn, whose nickname is unaccounted for. His profressional career began in 1904 when he was 32 years old. He pitched for the York Penn Parks for the Tri-State League won 30 games. He had 94 wins in just three years with York before he spen three seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1907 he won 14 games, lost 25.

McGlynn returned to the minor leagues and, in 1909, worked overtime for the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association. He won 27 games, lost 21, appeared in 64 games and pitched 446 innings. He also threw 14 shutouts, which remains the single season AA record. 

As you might expect, outfielder Cyril Roy Weatherly — better known by his middle name — was called "Stormy" as a play on his last name. According to "The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia," that wasn't the only reason. Weatherly had a volcanic temper, and was tossed out of so many games that the team owner promised the player a $500 bonus in 1940 if he could complete the season without further incident.

Weatherly's personality and his size (five-foot-seven) gave him an alternate nickname, "Little Thunder."

He was a good hitter, which kept him in the majors for several years. He played 811 games, most of them for Cleveland.

At six-foot-six, first baseman "Howie" Schultz was a natural to be nicknamed "Stretch." He also had another "S" nickname — "Steeple." Schultz was a first baseman who spent time in the major leagues during six of his eight professional seasons (1941-48), before he retired from baseball at age 25 and switched to basketball, playing three seasons in the National Basketball Association, the last two as a reserve on the Minneapolis Lakers team led by George Mikan.

His numbers in both sports were modest. Despite his size, Schultz did not hit for power. His best home run season was 1944 when he hit 11 of them in 138 games for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"Stretch" has been a nickname for at least six major league players, all of them either first basemen or pitchers. Perhaps the first was six-foot-five-inch pitcher Harry Boyles, who surfaced briefly in 1938 and 1939 for the Chicago White Sox.

Other players nicknamed "Stretch," according to baseball-reference.com, are pitchers Al Grunwald, Ron Tomkins, first baseman Jack Phillips, and Hall of Fame first baseman (and occasional outfielder) Willie McCovey.

Richard Clapp
stands five-foot-eight, but apparently would have been called Stubby even if he were six inches taller. Stubby is a nickname handed down from his father and his grandfather. To differentiate the men in the family, the guy who played 23 games with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001 ought to be known as Stubby Clapp III. In any event, people who judge baseball players by their names agree that Stubby Clapp is one of the greats. As for the man who carries it, he returned to the minor leagues after his brief fling in the bigs.

Frank Overmire was called "Stubby" because of his size. He was listed at five-foot-seven, but one player who had Overmire for a manager in the minor leagues claims the former pitcher was barely five-foot-two. Overmire was a pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, St. Louis Browns and New York Yankees (1943-52). His lifetime record was 58-67, with his best season coming in 1947 when he won 11 games, losing just five. He was a manager in the minor leagues for 16 seasons.

The only explanation I've seen for the nickname given John Phalen McInnis — and it seems a bit iffy to me — is people in his hometown of Gloucester, Massachusetts, watched young McInnis and said he had "the stuff." Which makes sense, I guess, since our first astronauts were said to have 'the right stuff."

McInnis played first base in what was dubbed "The $100,000 Infield" (1911-1914) that helped make the Philadelphia Athletics the American League pennant winners three times during that period. The other members were Eddie Collins at second base, Jack Barry at shortstop and Frank "Home Run" Baker at third base.

George Edward Weidman was listed at five-foot-seven, but may have been shorter, especiall when he was given his nickname. He pitched for nine season in the major leagues (1880-88), winning 101 games, losing 156. In 1886, with the Kansas City Cowboys of the National League, he won 12 games, and lost 36, the most by any pitcher in the league. His teammate, "Grasshopper Jim" Whitney nearly matched Weidman's futility. Whitney's record that year: 12-32.

Also nicknamed "Stump" was five-foot-eight-inch Jacob Frank Edington, a left-hander who began his professional career as a pitcher, but whose hitting ability led him to play the outfield and first base more of his career. He played 15 games for Pittsburgh in 1912 and batted .302. Despite his timely hitting — he drove in 14 runs in those 15 games — Edington returned to the minor leagues and stayed there for 16 years. In 1922, while playing for Beaumont of the Texas League, he was called upon to solve a catcher shortage. It was one of the very few times a left-handed catcher was used in a game.

"Suitcase" Simpson is better remembered (and profiled elsewhere), but it was outfielder Robert Ira "Bob" Seeds who really owed his nickname to changing teams so often, in the majors and the minors. (Simpson's nickname stemmed from childhood; he owed it to a comic strip character.)

"Suitcase" Seeds played for five teams during his nine-year major league career, with two stops in Cleveland. However, he is best remembered for an incredible hitting performance with the Newark Bears during the 1938 International League season. Playing only 59 games before he was sold to the New York Giants, Seeds hit 28 home runs, scored 75 runs and drove in 95.

During a two-game outburst in early May, Seeds hit seven home runs in 10 at bats, driving in 17 runs. His first four home runs were hit in four consecutive innings. He did this while using another player's bat, one that was longer and heavier than the bat Seeds preferred. Naturally, Seeds quickly changed his preference. (Those 28 home runs matched the figure Seeds would put up in the major leagues — except it took him 615 games to do it against big league pitching.)

James J. Daly was an outfielder who sandwiched a 13-game stay with the Baltimore Orioles of the National League between several years in the minor leagues. Daly had 12 hits in 48 at bats with the Orioles in 1892 — a .250 average  — but his best seasons came later in the Eastern League with Buffalo and Rochester. From 1893-95, Daly hit .333, .307 and .337.

Daly stood five-feet-eight-1/2 inches, and batted left-handed. In his obituary (May 4, 1933), the Albany Times-Union said:

"While Daly was playing with Buffalo (in 1892) he won the nickname of 'Sun' because he tried wearing sunglasses in the outfield. Daly said he could never get used to them, so he gave up the idea, but the nickname clung to him."

In 1923, the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association signed Carl Yowell, a pitcher for an independent team at Marion, North Carolina. In a recent nine-inning game Yowell had struck out 37 men, which was possible because so many third strikes had gotten past his catcher that ten batters reached first base. Yowell was a six-foot-four left hander, apparently a forerunner to Ewell "The Whip" Blackwell, a right-hander who would come along many years later. Both pitchers had a sidearm, crossfire delivery that was so exaggerated they seemed to throw the ball underhanded.

An injury to Yowell's pitching arm ended his career after the 1925 season. He was only 22 years old. He appeared in 16 games for Cleveland in 1924 and '25, and had three wins and four losses. He was virtually unbeatable in his brief minor league career, winning 24 games, losing only five.

With Cleveland in 1925, Yowell won a game by throwing only one pitch, and did not retire a single batter. He entered the game with two outs in the top of the ninth against the St. Louis Browns, who had rallied from an 8-3 deficit to take a 10-8 lead. A runner on third base tried to steal home on Yowell's first pitch, and was called out. Cleveland rallied in the bottom of the ninth to win, 11-10, and since Yowell was the pitcher of record when the winning run was scored, he was credited with the victory.

Ten days later, Yowell faced two batters in one of the wildest major league games ever played. Cleveland led the Philadelphia Athletics, 15-4, entering the bottom of the eighth inning when the A's exploded for 13 runs to in, 17-15. Yowell gave up a walk and single, before he gave way to George Uhle, the eventual losing pitcher.

I've yet to discover why Yowell was nicknamed "Sundown."

Pitcher Allie Reynolds made his first appearance in the major leagues in 1942, with the Cleveland Indians, but his career went into high gear in 1947 after he was traded to the New York Yankees. In the next eight years, Reynolds won 131 games, lost just 60, and was on the winning end seven times in nine World Series decisions.

Because Reynolds' grandmother was three-fourths Creek Indian, he was, like most players with Native American heritage, dubbed "Chief," but Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen began referring to him as "Super Chief." The nickname caught on, but most people, I suspect, thought "Super Chief" referred to the famous train that was part of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway between Chicago and Los Angeles.

'Sure Shot'
Second baseman Fred Dunlap spent 12 seasons in what were considered the major leagues between 1880-1891. Thanks to playing one game in 1890 with the New York team in the Players League, and eight games with a hapless Washington team in the last season of the American Association, he could say that he had been in four major leagues.

Dunlap was at his best in what, unfortunately, was considered the worst major league of them all — the Union Association, which lasted one season (1884). Playing for the first place (94-19) St. Louis Maroons, the only decent team in the league, Dunlap batted .412, scored 160 runs, had 185 hits, and 13 home runs. All four figures were the best in the league.

He was regarded as a fine defensive second baseman, with a strong, accurate arm that earned him his nickname. Tragically, Dunlap died in 1902 at the age of 43.

'Swamp Baby'
Charles Woodrow Wilson, nicknamed "Swamp Baby" and "Two-Gun,"was an infielder who played in just 57 major league games spread out over a brief visit with the Boston Braves and three with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1931 to 1935. He was a good defensive player, but so-so at the plate. Newspaper stories in Rochester (NY), where he played several years, referred to him as Charley Wilson, the Carolina Swamp Baby. The linkied SABR article and baseball-reference.com refer to him as Charlie Wilson.. Probably a case of to-MAY-toes, to-MAH-toes.

It's assumed pitcher Richard Atley Donald, who usually went by his middle name, was nicknamed "Swampy" because he grew up and went to college in Louisiana. Such is the state's image. Donald, at six-foot-one, had a fast ball clocked at 95 m.p.h., but also had control problems.

In 1939, he won his first 12 games for the New York Yankees, and finished the season 13-3. He had arm problems most of his major league career, and never had more than 13 wins, but also never had a losing season.

James Arthur McCabe, born in 1881, never hit more than eight home runs in a season during the deadball era, so the source of his nickname is a mystery. It took three straight .300-plus seasons in the Connecticut State League for the outfielder to get a nibble from a major league team. After batting .366 with the New Britain Perfectos in 1909, McCabe played three games for the Cincinnati Reds, responding with six hits — a double and five singles — in 11 at bats, for a gaudy .545 average. But he made three outfield errors, giving him an abysmal .625 fielding percentage. His other nickname — "Pinch" — was used more frequently in the newspaper articles I found, though the obituaries I read called him "Swat"McCabe..

Abraham Lincoln Bailey was so named because he was born on Lincoln's birthday, February 12, 1895. So he could have been called Abe or Honest Abe. Instead, one theory says his nickname comes from Bailey's tendency to throw inside pitches, hitting many batters in their stomachs. "Sweetbread" can refer to the pancreas (or stomach). We're asked to believe someone noticed Bailey's pitches often hit batters in their "sweetbread." It's a stretch, but it's as good a reason as any. His enduring fame — such as it is— rests solely on his unusual nickname. His major league career (1919-21) includes 52 appearances as a relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs and Brooklyn Robins, with four wins and seven losses.

Chicago Cubs outfielder Bill Nicholson had the habit of taking wicked practice swings whenever he stepped up to bat. Some jokers began yelling, "Swish! Swish! Swish!" when Nicholson did this. He was much better known as "Big Bill," because he was six-feet tall and weighed over 200 pounds, fairly routine measurements these days, but considered big at the time. Nicholson joined the Cubs in 1939 and played through World War Two, which kept him from perhaps getting all the credit he was due for leading the National League in home runs in 1943 and '44. Again, by today's standards his totals were modest — 29 in 1943; 33 the following season — but compared with the baseballs in use today, the ones Nicholson hit were like sponges.

On July 23, 1944, he hit four home runs in a double-header against the New York Giants, and, in his last at bat that day, became one of a handful of major league players to receive an intentional pass with the bases loaded.