Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! (P)
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 complete
(“Steady Edgar”) Edgar Martinez was the Seattle Mariners’ family man
and father figure in the clubhouse.
David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox, sign of
respect for a Hispanic person who leads.
In the 12th inning of the final game of
the 1924 World Series between the New York Giants and the Washington
Senators, a ground ball that bounced over the head of Giant infielder
Freddy Lindstrom led to a score for Washington that gave it the World
Championship. It was claimed that the batted ball hit a pebble. "It was
never written up the way I looked at it," observed former Giant and Hall
of Famer George Kelly. "Now it did hit a pebble, but Fred backed up on
it, inexperience. It was his rookie year. This gave the ball an extra
hop—the ball played Fred, he didn't play it."
PEERLESS LEADER, THE
Frank Leroy Chance, the first baseman in
the famous Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance Chicago Cub infield trio, was aptly
nicknamed. In the years 1906-191 1, he led the Cubs to four pennants and
two second-place finishes. Functioning as both a player and a manager,
Chance recorded 405 career stolen bases—a Cub record—and his clutch
hitting and spirited play served as examples of his leadership.
Harold Henry Reese was also known as the
Little Colonel, for he hailed from colonel country in Kentucky, but most
everyone called him Pee Wee. Various reasons have been advanced for his
nickname—he liked playing marbles as a kid; he was small (5'10", 160
pounds); he came up at the same time as Harold "Pistol Pete" Reiser, and
writers sought to have the two paired with alliterative nicknames.
Whatever the derivation, Reese was anything but small in his influence
on the fortunes of the Dodgers, with whom he played for 15 years in
Brooklyn and a final year in Los Angeles. He could run, hit, bunt,
field, steal, throw, inspire—and most of all win, and influence his
Reese was anything
but "Pee Wee" in his influence on the Dodgers in over 16 seasons. He
could run, hit, bunt, field, steal, throw, inspire and most of all win.
And he was especially instrumental in easing the way for Jackie Robinson
to break the color line in major league baseball.
When the 1947
season started, some opposing National League players gave Jackie
Robinson a hard time. In Boston one day, Reese made a gesture of
acceptance for all the world to see. He went over to Robinson and simply
put his arm around Jackie. This was at a time when even Robinson's own
teammates staged a short-lived protest against having him on the team.
"I get a lot of
credit and I appreciate it," Reese said. "But after a while, I thought
of him as I would Duke Snider or Gil Hodges or anyone else. We never
thought of this as a big deal. We were just playing ball and having
Reese spent his
entire 16-year career with the Dodgers, appearing in seven World Series.
He played 15 years in Brooklyn and followed the team to Los Angeles for
one more season before retiring in 1958. His uniform Number 1 was
retired by Los Angeles on July 1, 1984.
One of the magical
moments in Reese's career took place on June 22, 1955. It was a day
after he had recorded his 2,000th hit. "Pee Wee" was given a birthday
party at Ebbets Field. It was the first and only night dedicated to a
player up to that time when fans were asked not to contribute anything.
All they were asked
to bring was cigars, cigarettes, lighters, candles - - anything they
could light up for Pee Wee who remembered, "When I came to Brooklyn in
1940 I was a scared kid. To tell the truth I was twice as scared on my
birthday night at Ebbets Field."
And then the moment
arrived. Fans at that old Brooklyn ballpark watched the lights dim, lit
up whatever they had brought and sang Happy Birthday to Pee Wee with
varying levels of competency:
There are those of
a certain age who still remember Pee Wee Reese bringing the lineup card
out to home plate, raising the right arm, leading the Dodgers onto the
"Being Captain of
the Dodgers," Reese recalled, "meant representing an organization
committed to winning and trying to keep it going. We could have won
every year if the breaks had gone right."
A Tacoma, Washington, native, Ron Cey of
the Los Angeles Dodgers is one of major league baseball's top third
basemen. His awkward movements when walking and, especially, when
running have resulted in his nickname.
PEOPLE'S CHERCE, THE
Fred "Dixie" Walker compiled a .306 batting average in an 18-year major
league baseball career, with five different teams. From 1940 to 1947 he
starred in the outfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers and won the affection
of the fans at Ebbets Field. The team had bigger stars, more proficient
players, but Walker somehow had a rapport with the fans that made him
their favorite and earned for him his "Brooklynese" nickname.
Short for Joe Pepitone out of Brooklyn,
New York, of brief major league fame with the Yankees and other teams.
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
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,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and
is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
on Twitter: http://twitter.com/south2nd
on Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?locale=en_US
on the Web: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~frommer
Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch.
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .
Other Frommer sports related articles can be
Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz Frommer are the authors of
five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth
College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage
in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.
This Article is Copyright
© 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.
All rights reserved worldwide.