What's In A
Yankee Name? Part II
Nick-names galore have attached themselves to
Yankees, past and present. If you liked the first installment of this
sampler, herewith, another and much longer list. Enjoy!
"Home Run Twins" - Mickey Mantle and Roger
Maris, phrase coined in 1961.
"Iron Horse" - Lou Gehrig, for his power and
"Joltin' Joe" - Joe DiMaggio, for the jolting
shots he hit.
"Jumping Joe" - Joe Dugan, for being AWOL from his
first big league club as a youngster.
"Junk Man" - Eddie Lopat, for frustrating hitters
and keeping them off stride with an assortment of slow breaking pitches
thrown with cunning and accuracy.
"Kentucky Colonel" - Earl Combs, for his Kentucky
"The King and the Crown Prince" - Babe Ruth and
Lou Gehrig, self evident.
"King Kong" - Charlie Keller, for his muscular
body type and black, bushy brows.
"Knight of Kennett Square" - Herb Pennock, for his
raising of thoroughbreds and hosting of fox hunts in his home town of
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
"Knucksie" - Phil Niekro, for his knuckleball.
"The Lip" - Leo Durocher, for his mouth.
"Lonesome George" - George Weiss, for his aloof
"Lou'siana Lightnin'" - Ron Guidry, for his
fastball and the state he came from.
"M&M Boys" - Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
"Mail Carrier "- Earle Combs, for his speed and
base stealing skills.
"Major" - Ralph Houk, for rank held in the Armed
Forces and demeanor.
"Man of a Thousand Curves" - Johnny Sain,
hyperbolic reference to his assortment of curve balls.
"Marse Joe" - Joe McCarthy, for his commanding
"Master Builder in Baseball" - Jacob Ruppert, and
that he was.
"The Merry Mortician" -Waite Hoyt, for his cheery
soul and off-season mortician work.
"Man in the Iron Hat" - Captain Tillinghast
L'Hommedieu Hutson, for the same squashed derby hat he wore over and over
"Man nobody knows" - Bill Dickey, for his
"The Mick" - short for Mickey (Mantle).
"Mick the Quick" - Mickey Rivers, for his speed.
"Mickey Mouth" - for Mickey Rivers and his motor
"Mighty Mite" - Miller Huggins, for his size and
"Milkman" - Jim Turner, for an off-season job
"Mr. Automatic" - Mariano Rivera, for his
virtually unflappable behavior and special skills as a Yankee stopper.
"Mr. May" - George Steinbrenner's sarcastic jibe
at Dave Winfield because of his postseason struggles as compared to Reggie
Jackson's successes and Mr. October nick-name.
"Mr. November" - Derek Jeter, for his World Series
home run, the first of November, 2001.
"Mr. October" - In Game Five of the 1977 ALCS
Billy Martin benched Reggie Jackson. In a comeback win against Kansas City
Jackson returned to slap a single. Thurman Munson sarcastically called
Jackson "Mr. October." The nick-name would have taken on a different
meaning but Jackson fitted the nick-name to his persona.
"Moose" - Bill Skowron's, grandfather called him
Mussolini because of a resemblance to Mussolini. As the story goes, the
family shortened the nickname to "Moose."
"Murderer's Row" - Yankee lineup boasting powerful
batters: standard version was the meat of the 1927 lineup of Tony Lazzeri,
Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Earl Combs and Bob Meusel.
Backup version was the 1919 entry of Ping Bodie,
Roger Peckinpaugh, Duffy Lewis and Home Run Baker.
"My writers" - Casey Stengel's phrase for
journalists he was close to.
"Nightrider" - Don Larsen called himself that
because it reminded him of comic books heroes he read about and it fit
with his late-night bar wanderings.
"Oklahoma Kid" - The young Mickey Mantle, for the
state he came from.
"Old Fox" - Clark Griffith of the old Highlanders,
for his cunning ways.
"Old Reliable" - Mel Allen gave Tommy Henrich that
nickname after a train that made its way from Cincinnati through Allen's
home state of Alabama and was always on time and could be depended on.
Henrich was also called "The Great Debater" for his sometimes loquacious
and argumentative ways.
"Ole Perfessor" - Casey Stengel, for the time in
1914 when he had a spring training baseball coaching stint at the
University of Mississippi.
"The One and Only" - Babe Ruth, he was.
"The Peerless Leader" - Frank Chance, for his keen
"Plowboy" - Tom Morgan, for the way he moved
"Poosh 'em up, Tony" - Tony Lazzeri was a magnet
for Italian fans at Yankee Stadium who would scream out this phrase urging
him to hit home runs.
"Porky" - Hal Reniff, for his physical look.
"Pride of Penacook" - Red Rolfe, for the little
town he hailed from in New Hampshire.
"The Pride of the Yankees" - Lou Gehrig, and he
"Prince Hal" - Hal Chase, for the charismatic,
elegant, royal quality he had.
"The Prince of Beer" - Jacob Ruppert, for beer
interests and royal manner.
"The Principal Owner" - George Steinbrenner, no
"Push Button Manager" - Joe McCarthy, for his by
the book ways.
"Ragin' Cajun" - Ron Guidry, for his Louisiana
roots and fire.
"Rags" - Dave Righetti, abbreviation of his name
"Reg-GER-oo" - Reggie Jackson, an endearing
reference name coined by Howard Cosell.
"Root" - Jake Ruppert's corruption of Babe Ruth's
"Ruppert Rifles" - The Yankees, during Jake
"Sad Sam" - Sam Jones, for his downcast look on
the playing field.
"Sailor Bob" - Bob Shawkey, for his time spent
mostly in 1918 in the Navy as a yeoman petty officer aboard the battleship
"Schoolboy" and "Schoolboy Wonder" - Waite Hoyt,
for his major league debut in 1918 when he was a teen ager.
"Scooter"- Nick-name for Phil Rizzuto coined by
Mel Allen. " I guess it was when I was down south," Rizzuto explained.
"You know, southerners have a very quaint unusual way of saying things.
Well, Billy Hitchcock was on the team with me down in spring training. You
know my legs are short (I'm short all over but my legs are very short) and
when he saw me run, he said: "Man, you are not running, you're scootin'."
And from scootin' I got "Scooter."
"Second Place Joe" - Joe McCarthy's three straight
second-place finishes prompted this tag in the three seasons before the
Yanks won four consecutive world championships, 1936-39. The name was also
used when he was manager of the Cubs and had some disappointing second
"Silent Bob" - Bob Meusel, for his aloofness.
""Silent One" - Chris Chambliss, for his taciturn
manner, name given by Howard Cosell.
"Solid citizens"- Name Joe McCarthy gave to
players he relied on.
"Slick" - Whitey Ford used a spitter to strike out
Willie Mays in the 1964 All-Star Game. That was just one of the reasons
for the Yankee star's nick-name.
"Slow" - Joe Doyle, for his time consuming pace.
"Smash" - Gil McDougald, for the verve of his
"Springfield Rifle" - Vic Raschi, after his
birthplace in Springfield, Massachusetts.
"Spud" - Spurgeon Ferdinand Chandler was called
that and it was easier for everyone.
"Squire (or Knight) of Kennett Square" - Herb
Pennock came from historic Kennett Square, PA an area of horsemen and fox
hunters. Pennock himself was an expert rider and a master of hounds.
"Steady Eddie" - Eddie Lopat, for his consistency
year after year as a Yankee pitcher, nick-name originated with Mel Allen.
"Stick" - Gene Michael, for his lean and long
"Superchief" Allie Reynolds, for his one-quarter
Creek Indian ancestry and winning ways on the mound.
"Supersub" - Johnny Blanchard, home run hitter as
a pinch hitter,. extraordinaire
"The Switcher" - Mickey Mantle, for switch-hitting par excellence.
"T.J." - Tommy John.
"Tanglefoot Lou" - For Lou Gehrig, early days and
fielding trials as a player.
"The Tabasco Kid" - Norman Arthur Elberfeld, for
his liking of the stuff and his personality.
"Three Million Dollar Man" - Nick-name placed on
Catfish Hunter when he signed with the Yankees as a free agent for that
sum in 1974.
"Twinkletoes" - George Selkirk, for his running
with his weight on the balls of his feet, hence the nickname given to him
by teammates at Newark in the International League.
"Two Head" - A negative nick-name used by
opponents to describe the size of Babe Ruth's head which seemed gigantic
"The Unholy Trio" - Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle
and Whitey Ford, for their devilish ways.
"The Weatherman" - Mickey Rivers, for his knack
for predicting weather.
"The Warrior" - Paul O'Neill, name pinned on him by George
Steinbrenner for the outfielder's pugnacious ways.
"The White Gorilla" - Goose Gossage, for the way
"Whitey" - Whitey Ford, for the tow head blonde
hair he sported as a 50s hurler.
"Window breakers" - Name given to the 1936 Yankees
for their slugging power.
"Winny" - Dave Winfield, affectionate shortening
of his name.
"The Yankee Clipper" - for Joe DiMaggio for the
way he glided about centerfield at Yankee Stadium.
"The Yankee Clipper" - A slap at George
Steinbrenner who longed to see his players clean-shaven.
"The Yankee Empire Builder" - Ed Barrow was all of
# # #
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Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
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"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
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