Yankees by the Nick-Names (I)
hot stove baseball season in full swing, fans are eagerly awaiting the
next one still many months away. Some have moved over to follow other
sports. Some Yankee fans scour the news for free agent and trade rumors
and moves. Others read Yankee books. Still others soak up what they can
of Yankee history, trivia, oddities. For the “still others,” this
partial list of New York Yankee nick-names is for you.
leads the pack in the number of nick-names attached to him. First
called "Babe" by teammates on the Baltimore Orioles, his first
professional team because of his youth, G.H.Ruth was also called "Jidge"
by Yankee teammates, short for George. Opponents referred to him
negatively as "The Big Monk" and "Monkey." He was also called "Two
Head" negative nick-name used by opponents to describe the size of his
head which seemed very huge to some.
writers glamorizing the big guy came up with these monikers: "The
Bambino", "the Wali of Wallop", "the Rajah of Rap", "the Caliph of
Clout", "the Wazir of Wham", and "the Sultan of Swat", The Colossus of
Clout, Maharajah of Mash, The Behemoth of Bust, "The King of Clout."
Yankee nick-names, expressions, bon mots that caught on through the
Owner Jake Ruppert's mispronunciation of Babe Ruth's name.
Ruth's Legs" - Sammy Byrd, used was employed as pinch runner for Ruth.
- Hensley Meulens could speak about five languages. His name was
challenging to pronounce.
Pants" - A reference to the way Lou Gehrig filled out trousers.
- the aggressive style of play favored by Billy Martin.
Ryne" - Ryne Duren’s vision, uncorrected -20/70 and 20/200.
Gob" - Bob Shawkey in 1918 served in the Navy as a yeoman petty
Schoolboy" - Waite Hoyt had starred at Brooklyn’s Erasmus High School.
- Jim Bouton was dogged.
Steve Balboni, the primary DH of the 1990 Yankees, 17 homers but .192
of the Board" - Elston Howard coined it for Whitey Ford and his
commanding and take charge manner on the mound.
Comet" - Mickey Mantle, out of Commerce, Oklahoma.
Catfish" - Jim Hunter, name given to him by Oakland owner Charles
Finley, shortened to just “Catfish.”
CAT-a-lyst" - Mickey Rivers given this name by Howard Cosell.
Count" - Sparky Lyle, handlebar mustache and lordly ways
Crow" - Frank Crosetti loud voice and chirpy ways.
Longlegs" - Dave Winfield, for his size and long legs.
Valley" - the old deep centerfield in Yankee Stadium.
"Dial-a-Deal - Gabe Paul, for his telephone trading habits.
Baseball" - Don Mattingly was the only player in any sport to have a
nickname with the actual name of his or her sport in it.
- affectionate abbreviation of Elston Howard's first name
of the Emory Ball" - Rookie right-hander Russ Ford posted a 26-6 record
with 8 shutouts, 1910, using that pitch.
Joe Gordon was fast, slick fielding and hit line drives.
manager" - Bucky Harris, who put his time in at the game and was
Johnny" - for the college Johnny Murphy attended.
Ron Guidry came from Louisiana alligator country.
Reliever" - Joe Page for his night owl activity.
or "El Goofo" - earned by Lefty Gomez for his wild antics
Great Agitator" - for Billy Martin, self explanatory.
Nose" - Pat Collins via Babe Ruth, a reference to a facial feature.
Run Twins" (also “M & M Boys”) - Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, phrase
coined in 1961.
Horse" - Lou Gehrig, for his power and steadiness.
Joe" - Joe DiMaggio, for the jolting shots he hit.
Joe" - Joe Dugan, for being AWOL from his first big league club as a
Man" - Eddie Lopat, for frustrating hitters and keeping them off stride
with an assortment of slow breaking pitches thrown with cunning and
Colonel" - Earl Combs, for his Kentucky roots.
and the Crown Prince" - Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, self evident.
Kong" - Charlie Keller, for his muscular body type and black, bushy
of Kennett Square" - Herb Pennock, for his raising of thoroughbreds and
hosting of fox hunts in his home town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.
- Phil Niekro, for his knuckleball.
George" - George Weiss, for his aloof ways.
"Lou'siana Lightnin'" - Ron Guidry, for his fastball and the state he
Carrier "- Earle Combs, for his speed and base stealing skills.
- Ralph Houk, for rank held in the Armed Forces and demeanor.
a Thousand Curves" – for Johnny Sain and his assortment of curve balls.
Joe" - Joe McCarthy, for his commanding style.
Builder in Baseball" - Jacob Ruppert, and that he was.
Merry Mortician" -Waite Hoyt, for his cheery soul and off-season
the Iron Hat" - Captain Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Hutson, for the same
squashed derby hat he wore over and over again.
nobody knows" - Bill Dickey, for his blandness.
Mite" - Miller Huggins, for his size and power.
- Jim Turner, for an off-season job delivering milk.
Automatic" - Mariano Rivera, for his virtually unflappable behavior and
special skills as a Yankee stopper.
- George Steinbrenner's sarcastic jibe at Dave Winfield because of his
postseason struggles as compared to Reggie Jackson's successes and Mr.
November" - Derek Jeter, for his World Series home run, the first of
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."
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.
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
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.
Perfessor" - Casey Stengel, for the time in 1914 when he had a spring
training baseball coaching stint at the University of Mississippi.
Peerless Leader" - Frank Chance, for his keen baseball mind.
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.
Hal" - Hal Chase, for his charismatic, elegant, royal quality. "The
Principal Owner" - George Steinbrenner, no doubt here.
Button Manager" - Joe McCarthy, for his by the book ways.
Cajun" - Ron Guidry, for his Louisiana roots and fire.
Dave Righetti, abbreviation of his name
Rifles" - The Yankees, during Jake Ruppert's tenure.
Bob" - Bob Shawkey, for his time spent mostly in 1918 in the Navy as a
yeoman petty officer aboard the battleship Arkansas.
"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. "When Mel
saw me run, he said: ‘Man, you are not running, you're scootin'. “And
from scootin' I got "Scooter."
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 place
Bob" - Bob Meusel, for his aloofness.
One" - Chris Chambliss, for his taciturn manner, name given by Howard
citizens"- Name Joe McCarthy gave to players he relied on.
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
Joe Doyle, for his time consuming pace.
Gil McDougald, for the verve of his personality.
"Springfield Rifle" - Vic Raschi, after his arm and his birthplace in
Spurgeon Ferdinand Chandler was called that,easier for everyone.
(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.
Eddie" - Eddie Lopat, for his consistency year after year as a Yankee
pitcher, nick-name originated with Mel Allen.
Gene Michael, for his lean and long appearance.
"Superchief" Allie Reynolds, for his one-quarter Creek Indian ancestry
and winning ways on the mound.
- Johnny Blanchard, home run hitter as a pinch hitter,.
Switcher" - Mickey Mantle, for switch-hitting par excellence.
"Tanglefoot Lou" - For Lou Gehrig, early days and fielding trials as a
Tabasco Kid" - Norman Arthur Elberfeld, for his liking of the stuff and
Million Dollar Man" - Nick-name placed on Catfish Hunter when he signed
with the Yankees as a free agent for that sum in 1974.
- George Selkirk, for his running with his weight on the balls of his
Unholy Trio" - Billy Martin, Mickey Mantle and Whitey Ford, for their
Weatherman" - Mickey Rivers, for his knack for predicting weather.
Warrior" - Paul O'Neill, name pinned on him by George Steinbrenner for
the outfielder's pugnacious ways.
White Gorilla" - Goose Gossage, for the way he looked.
- Whitey Ford, for the tow head blonde hair he sported as a 50s hurler.
breakers" - Name given to the 1936 Yankees for their slugging power.
Dave Winfield, affectionate shortening of his name.
Yankee Clipper" - for Joe DiMaggio for the way he glided about
centerfield at Yankee Stadium.
Yankee Clipper" - A slap at George Steinbrenner who longed to see his
Yankee Empire Builder" - Ed Barrow was all of that.
# # #
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Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
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