Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! (O)
The words and phrases are spoken and written day after
day, year after year - generally without any wonderment as to how they
became part of the language. All have a history, a story. For those of
you who liked Part I, Part II, Part III, X, XV and all the others and
wanted more, here is more, just a sampling. As always, reactions and
suggestions always welcome. And bear in mind - - this is by no means a
Oakland Athletics: The former Philadelphia
Athletics franchise from 1901-1954 was the Kansas City Athletics. Then
from 1955-1967 the team was the Oakland A’s, in 1968 then to the
Athletics in 1987.
OCTOPUS, THE: Marty Marion was a fine
fielding shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1940s into the
1950s – he had long arms and legs.
OIL CAN Former colorful hurler Dennis Boyd grew up
and learned to play ball in the deep south. He would get so thirsty
that the beverage drank in his phrase was”just like drankin' ole]."
OLD FPX: Name given to pilot-manager Clark
Grifith of the old Highlanders because of his cunning ways.
OKLAHOMA KID The young Mickey Mantle came from Oklahoma.
OLD ACHES AND PAINS: Luke Appling performed for
two decades with the Chicago White Sox. A .310 lifetime batting average
was just one of the reasons he was admitted to the Hall of Fame in 1964.
His nickname stemmed from the numerous real and imagined illnesses he
picked up playing in 2,422 games, while averaging better than a hit a
game. Appling was born April 2, 1907, and in 1950 was still playing
major league baseball, aches, pains, and all.
Charles Radbourne was known as Charles or Charley until his amazing
1884 season, when he pitched 678 innings and earned the
OLD RELIABLE: Tommy Henrich played for the New
York Yankees from 1937 to 1950. His lifetime batting average was only
.282, but the value of Henrich to the Yankees was in his clutch hitting.
Time after time he would come up in a key situation and deliver. His
nickname had its roots in his ability to function under pressure and to
perform reliably with distinction.
OLE PERFESSOR: Hall of Famer Charles Dillon
Stengel was an original. Born on July 30, 1890, in Kansas City,
Missouri, he played in the majors for 14 years and managed for 25
more—with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Boston Braves, the New York Yankees
(10 pennants), and the New York Mets (four tenth-place finishes). He had
seen it all, and in one of his more coherent statements, he said, "This
here team won't win anything until we spread enough of our players
around the league and make the others [teams] horseshit, too." The
statement underscored the ineptitude of the early Mets. Loquacious,
dynamic, vital, Casey could lecture on baseball and life for hours and
hours, and that was just part of the reason for his nickname. Actually,
in 1914 Stengel held the title of professor at the University of
Mississippi, for he spent that year's spring-training coaching baseball
at that institution. That's how he really came by his nickname.
ON DECK: A term describing a player
stationed in the batter’s on deck circle in front of the dugout,
preparing to be the next batter to come up and hit.
ONE AND ONLY: Babe Ruth, he was.
ONE-ARMED PETE GRAY: Born Peter J. Wyshner (a.k.a.
Pete Gray) on March 6, 1917, Gray was a longtime New York City semipro
star who played in 77 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1945. He
actually had only one arm and played center field with an unpadded
glove. He had an intricate and well developed routine for catching the
ball, removing the ball from his glove, and throwing the ball to the
infield. Gray hit .218 for the Browns, not bad for a hitter with only
$100,000 INFIELD That was the price tag and the nickname
given to Eddie Collins, "Home Run" Baker, Stuffy McInnis, and Hack
Barry, the players who composed the infield for Connie Mack's 1914
ONE-BAGGER (ONE-BASE HIT): A single.
OPPOSITE FIELD: The part of the field opposite the
batter's box a hitter occupies. Thus, right field is the opposite field
for a hitter who bats right, and left field is the opposite field for a
hitter who bats from the left side of the plate.
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About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"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
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
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