Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! (L)
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 and all the others and wanted more, here is
more, just a sampling. As always, reactions and suggestions always
LE GRANDE ORANGE
Rusty Staub played for the Montreal Expos in the years 1969-71. "He came
here as an unknown, and not only was he our first big star," Expo
President John McHale remembers, "but he had a way of relating to the
people and a sense of being a star. His reddish hair, his physical
stature, his unselfishness made him an easily identifiable figure. He
was a very important factor in those years in the success of the team."
Staub's size, red hair, and personality all merged into the nickname the
Montreal fans coined for him.
Hall of Fame pitcher
was a private man who never talked to the press. He was a southpaw and
a man with some odd habits.
team name printed on the front of a jersey.
LIP, THE When he was an infielder for the St. Louis Cardinals
during the 1930's, Leo Durocher was known as Screechy because of his
high-pitched voice and bench-jockeying ability. As he moved through his
17 year playing span and 24-year managing career with the Brooklyn
Dodgers, New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, and Houston Astros, Durocher
attracted the ire of umpires and the hostility of rivals with what they
termed his motor-mouth. A tough, combative, at times profane individual,
Durocher's nickname was an apt one.
LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL
In 1939 Carl E. Stotz founded the first Little League in Williamsport,
Pennsylvania. Within two decades, kids and parents all over the United
States and other countries were competitively involved. Williamsport has
been the site of the Little League World Series since 1947. And the
enterprise begun by Stotz is a big time sports phenomenon.
John J. McGraw came from the old Baltimore Orioles to take control of
the New York Giants on July 16, 1902. He inherited a last-place team
that had had 13 managers since 1891. The man they called Muggsy
immediately released half the players on the roster of the Giants. "With
my team," he said, "I'm absolute czar." Driving, cajoling, innovating,
McGraw moved the Giants from a last place finish in 1902 to a
second-place finish in 1903. He drove the New York team to a pennant in
1904. In his 30 years as manager, the Giants won ten pennants and
finished second 11 times. McGraw's small physical stature contrasted
sharply with the giant power that his gait, his face, and his name,
projected throughout the world of baseball. He was famous for such
lines as "The only popularity I know is to win," "Do what I tell you,
and I'll take the blame if it goes wrong," and "I do the hiring and the
firing around here." He was little in size but had Napoleonic power, and
these two traits merged into the nickname of the man who was one of the
greatest managers in baseball history.
Joe DiMaggio's younger brother, Dom, played center field for the Boston
Red Sox for 11 years and compiled a lifetime .298 batting average. He
wore glasses, was a keen student of the game, and was but five feet,
nine inches tall and 168 pounds-and these characteristics supplied the
reason for his nickname.
Detroit Hall of Famer
was called this as a tribute to his reliability and a play on his last
Small in size, shortstop
Luis Aparicio made his mark as a member of the Chicago White Sox in the
former pitcher for the Detroit Tigers, for his last name, and how low
his leg drive was in his delivery.
Former legendary Yankee General Manager George Weiss, for his aloof
LOOK THE RUNNER BACK
A situation in which a pitcher attempts to control a base runner by
staring at him, implying a throw; the pitcher's gaze alone will most
times convince a runner to stay close to the base.
A batted ball that drops in flight.
One year he won eight games and lost 18; another year he won ten games
and lost 20; in 1939 he lost 16, and in 1940 he led the National League
in losses with 22. These statistics earned Hugh Noyes Mulcahy his
nickname. In a nine-year career, Mulcahy won 45 games and lost 89.
LOU GEHRIG’S DISEASE
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), named after the famed New York
Yankee who had the disease
The 95-mph speed he can put on a fastball and his Louisiana birthplace
have earned for Ron Guidry of the New York Yankees his colorful and
This bat is named for the Kentucky city that was named for a French
king, Louis XVI, in 1780. The Hillerich and Bradsby bat factory has been
manufacturing Louisville Sluggers since 1884. One white-ash tree is
needed to produce 60 bats. More than 6 million bats are manufactured
annually. Major league ball players use 2 percent of the annual
production, but each of their bats is built according to precise
individual specifications. Babe Ruth's Louisville Slugger model weighed
48 ounces, while the one wielded by Wee Willie Keeler weighed just 30
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.
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