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Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! Part XIV  (G)

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 of the all the "G's out there. As always, reactions and suggestions always welcome

GASHOUSE GANG The St. Louis Cardinals of the mid1930's earned this nickname because of their unique individual personalities and their spirited performances on and off the field. Mingled together to make baseball history were such competitors as "the Dazzling Deans," Dizzy and his brother Paul; Pepper Martin, who as a third baseman used his chest to stop ground balls; Joe "Ducky" Medwick, also known as the Hungarian Rhapsody because of his verve and drive and Hungarian origins; and a young shortstop named Leo Durocher, who some were already calling Screechy because of his nonstop chatter. On the field they played with wild abandon--stealing bases, taking chances, fighting with each other and the opposition, covering their uniforms with dirt so that it "appeared as if they worked in a gashouse and not a ball park," as one  observer declared. And that was how the nickname was born.
In the 1934 World Series, Joe Medwick did more than astonish thousands and thousands of Detroit Tiger fans. The Cardinals were on their way to a seventh game 11-0 romp over Detroit. In the sixth inning of that game, Medwick tripled and allegedly spiked Tiger third baseman Marv Owen. Taking his left-field position the next inning, Medwick was bombarded with rotten fruit, beer bottles, raw eggs, and other missiles. Ducky did not duck, but stuck out his jaw and called for more. Baseball Commissioner Landis called for Medwick and informed him that he was taking him out of the game for the good of baseball--and for the good of Medwick. The Gashousers earned their name for many things, but this was the first time one of them, one wit observed, was removed from a game because he smelled up the playing field.

GATOR   Ron Guidry hailed from Louisiana alligator country.


GAY CABALLERO  Yankee Hall of Famer hurler Lefty Gomez, for his Mexican roots and fun loving ways.

GAY RELIEVER  Name given to former Yankee relief pitcher Joe Page for his night owl activity.

GEHRIGVILLE  Bleachers in right-center at Yankee Stadium, a place where Lou Gehrig hit a few shots.

GEORGIA PEACH  Tyrus Raymond Cobb, baseball immortal? played 22 seasons for the Detroit Tigers and two more for the Philadelphia Athletics. He also managed Detroit in the years 1921-26. Cobb compiled a lifetime batting average of .367, stole 892 bases, and won 12 batting titles in a span of 13 years. By the time he retired, he had set 90 individual records. Cobb was born in Narrows, Georgia, and his nickname was partially derived from his native state, which is called the Peach State. His nickname is also rooted in the glorious but tempestuous talent of the man many claim to be the greatest baseball player of all time. Cobb was not one who fit the stereotype of the typical Southern gentleman. Once he almost demolished a baseball roommate as they jostled to get to the bathroom. "I just had to be first," was Cobb's response--and his way of life.

GERBIL   For looks and behavior, the nickname fit Don Zimmer                                       

GETTYSBURG EDDDIE    Eddie Plank starred for the  Philadelphia Athletics (1901-1914) and got his nickname from his time as a student at Gettysburg College  in Pennsylvania.

GIANTS  One sultry summer's day in 1885, Jim Mutrie, the
saber-mustached manager of the New York Gothams, was enjoying himself watching his team winning an important game. Mutrie screamed out with affection, "My big fellows, my giants." Many of his players were big fellows, and they came to be Giants. For that was how the nickname Giants came to be. And when the New York team left for San Francisco in 1958, Giants, Mutrie's endearing nickname, went along with it.

GO-GO SOX   The 1959 Chicago White Sox won the team's first American League pennant in 40 years, as they excited Windy City fans and others throughout the United States with their distinctive style of baseball. As a team, the Sox batted only .250, but their 113 stolen bases paced the majors and they parlayed speed and daring into a playing pattern good for 94 wins. Where there was an opportunity to take an extra base, the White Sox took it. Where there was a chance to use their speed or their bunting ability, they capitalized on it. Seemingly always on the move and using what ability they had to maximum advantage, the White Sox earned the nickname of Go-Go Sox, whose assets they inflicted on the opposition. Their siege gun was Luis Aparicio ("Little Looie"), a 5'9", 160-pound speedster who led the majors in stolen bases with 56. Aparicio also batted .332, walked 52 times, and scored 98 runs to pace the "go" in the Go-Go Sox.

"GOING, GOING, GONE" Originated by former New York Yankee broadcaster Mel Allen, this phrase has become part of the popular language. Allen used the words to describe the suspense generated by balls hit to  the distant reaches of Yankee Stadium, which traveled and traveled until they went out of the playing field and into home run territory. Sometimes just "Going, going" was uttered--as the ball would be caught before it was " gone. "

GOLDEN GREEK  Harry Agganis, of Greek ancestry, was born on April 20,1930, and died, too young, on June 27, 1955. A powerfully built player, Agganis batted .251 his first year as a member of the Boston Red Sox, and .313 in his second and final year. The unrealized potential of Agganis makes his nickname especially poignant.

GOLDEN OUTFIELD Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, and Duffy Lewis formed the outfield for the Boston Red Sox in the years 1910-15. Speaker and Hooper are both in baseball's Hall of Fame. Lewis played Fenway Park's left field so well that the incline in front of the wall was known as "Duffy's Cliff." The trio, which earned its nickname because of its value to the Red Sox and its exceptional skills, really glittered in the 1915 World Series. Lewis batted .444, Hooper .350, Speaker .294, and collectively they accounted for 20 of Boston's 42 hits. The storied outfield was broken up after the

1915 season, when Tris Speaker was traded to the Cleveland Indians.

GOOD FIELD, NO HIT  Mike Gonzalez played major league baseball for 17 years with a variety of teams. Born in Havana, Cuba, he had a lot of baseball knowledge but a not-too-effective command of English. It was during his time as a scout that a phrase that has become part of the popular language was first uttered by Gonzalez. He was asked to check on a minor league ball player and--as the story goes--to telegraph back his findings to the major league club that had shown interest. Gonzalez watched the young ball player for a few days and noted that he couldn't swing the bat but had defensive skills.  And then Gonzalez, saving time, money, type, and English, sent his scouting report: "Good Field, No Hit."

"Gooneybird"  Hurler Don Larsen's teammates called him that for his late-night behavior.

GOOFY (EL GOOFO) Name earned by legendary pitcher Lefty Gomez for his wild antics.

GOOSE   Pitcher Richard Michael Gossage, for loose and lively style.   

GRAY EAGLE Hall of Famer Tris Speaker played 22 years in the majors and had a lifetime batting average of .344. His nickname came about because of the unique manner in which he played center field. Tris would play very shallow and race back to swoop down on fly balls hit over his head like some mighty eagle going after its prey.

GRIFFITH STADIUM Located in Washington, DC, it opened  July 24, 1911 and closed  September 21, 1961. The stadium was named for Clark Griffith who owned the team from 1920 until his death in 1955.

GREENBERG GARDENS Hank Greenberg closed out his illustrious major league career in 1947 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. A power-hitting right-handed batter, he blasted 25 homers that year--most of them into a section of the outfield that was dubbed Greenberg Gardens.

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

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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Harvey 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.


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