Etymology; The compound word ekename, literally meaning “additional name”, was attested as early as 1303. This word was derived from the Old English phrase eaca “an increase”, related to eacian “to increase”. By the 15th century, the misdivision of the syllables of the phrase “an ekename” led to its rephrasing as “a nekename”. Though the spelling has changed, the pronunciation and meaning of the word have remained relatively stable ever since. (Thank you Wikipedia).
Branding is such a big deal nowadays. Logos. Trade marks. Trade names.
You see an apple with a small bite out of it – yep, Apple.
Nike… you just see that symbol.
The golden arches…
Nicknames of course are not at all uncommon. Our own kids have nicknames – we probably came up with them!
Well, baseball does as good a job as any activity, ever… and may bottom line be the best at it.
Here, then, some baseball nicknames you may know, but some you may not know, and just in case you don’t know, how they came to be (at least as far as I can tell):
Harold Joseph Traynor, you know… Pie Traynor. As a youngster he chased balls for his Church team and was compensated in baked goods. I guess it’s good he didn’t get paid in something like ham sandwiches.
The incomparable Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid. Turns out, he had a few lines in the 1954 song “Say Hey” by a group named the Trehiers. Not to make too much of this, or too little, the recording session was supervised by a young fellow named Quincy Jones. Did he play first bass (pun, groan) for anyone?
Ah, now here’s one that makes perfectly good sense: This gentleman was the “main course” of the Giants pitching staff. One feat he accomplished is striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin, all in a row, in the 1934 All Star game. Yep, Carl “the Meal Ticket” Hubbell. (The voice saying that should sound like an announcer on World Wrestling Entertainment, or similar).
Why, though, would a baseball player want to be known as “Preacher“? Elwin Charles Roe did. Research indicates he nicknamed himself at the ripe old age of 3… His mom said he liked the local Reverend. All right, thank God he didn’t like the Nun as much or something. Sister Roe?
This one I still wonder about, but I can report as follows: Leroy Paige, he of the iconic nickname Satchel, apparently as a child did work as a porter at the train station. Well, seems he came up with a contraption that was able to carry 3 to 4 bags at the same time…
My favorite nickname, but also the most real, bottom line: Three Finger. The full name is Mordecai Peter Centennial Brown, who lost most of his index finger in a childhood farming accident. Ty Cobb said Mordecai threw the toughest curveball in baseball. Hmmm, I’ve heard of split finger, and four seam… but, well, Three Finger is one of a kind to be sure.
Ok, this one isn’t going to win an award for sensitivity: Don Mossi, aka Ears. If you know the book “Ball Four” by Jim Bouton, he wrote that Mr. Mossi “looked like a cab going down the street with its doors open.”
Speaking of not the most politically correct…. Big Unit? The story I am reading is that way back when Randy Johnson was with the Montreal Expos, his teammate Tim Raines collided with him during batting practice, looked up at that very tall and imposing man and declared “You’re a big unit!” Let’s leave it at that.
Goose. There are some nicknames that actually supplant the player. I had no idea the name of this fine reliever is Leon Allen Goslin. It seems Goose waved his arms when chasing flying balls, had a rather long neck, and simply was not entirely graceful. I do not recall ever anyone saying, “And now pitching, Leon Goslin!”
But, wait a second on this one… Oil Can? Really? Dennis Boyd, born in Mississippi. There, beer may be referred to as oil, that’s all all I can come up with.
Now this one is truly sky high, Johnny Lee Odom aka Blue Moon. Way back in early school days a classmate felt Johnny’s face looked like the moon. Well, I guess that’s all it takes… Yes, I am talking about the moon in the sky, not any other kind of moon, or mooning. Sheesh! Tough crowd…
Yes, yes, we all know Lawrence Peter Berra was Yogi, is Yogi, always will be, and that’s that. I did not know, however, that when Lawrence Peter sat with his arms and legs crossed, a pal indicated that he looked a lot like a Hindu yogi. So there you have it! (Sitar please…)
Finally, then, a not so nice nickname but with lots of affection, Ron “the Peguin” Cey. Tommy Lasorda, aka Tommy (is that a nickname?), dubbed this fine third baseman the Penguin as a result of his unique running style.
We got nicknames!
Fresh roasted nicknames!
(Right there, a nickname – “Two peas in a pod”)