Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! (Part
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. Now with the 2006 baseball season almost with
us -some more language of baseball to savor, to enjoy.
For those of you who liked Part I, Part II and wrote in to offer suggestions
and ask for more - here is more - Part IV. As always, reactions and
BABE George Herman Ruth probably leads the list for most nick-names
acquired. 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. They also called him "Tarzan."
He called most players "Kid," because he couldn't remember names, even of
his closest friends. Opponents called him "The Big "Monk" and
Many of Babe Ruth's nick-names came from over-reaching sports writers who
attempted to pay tribute to his slugging prowess:" 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."
His main nickname was rooted in President Grover Cleveland's Baby Ruth. Perhaps
the greatest slugger of all time and also one of baseball's most colorful
characters, Ruth set some 50 records in his 22 years as a player. His
accomplishments, his personality, his nickname-all combined to rocket major
league baseball firmly into the nation's
"Babe" and "Ruth" In spring training 1927, Babe Ruth bet pitcher Wilcy
Moore $l00 that he would not get more than three hits all season. A notoriously
weak hitter, Moore somehow managed to get six hits in 75 at bats. Ruth
paid off his debt and Moore purchased two mules for his farm. He named them
"Babe" and "Ruth "for Ruth
BENDER Charles Albert Bender won 210 games and compiled a 2.45 lifetime
earned-run average in 16 years of pitching. He was admitted to baseball's
Hall of Fame in 1953. His nickname came from the fact that he was a Chippewa
CLOWN PRINCE OF BASEBALL Al Schacht performed for only three seasons as a
member of the Washington Senators (1919-21), but he still was able to make
a mighty reputation on the baseball field. Schacht was a comic and his routines
centered on the foibles and eccentricities of the National Pastime. It was
said that nobody did it better, and that's why Schacht was dubbed the Clown
DAFFINESS BOYS Also known as Dem Brooklyn Bums, the 1926 Brooklyn Dodgers
wrought havoc on friend and foe alike. The hotshot of the team was freeswinging,
slump-shouldered Babe Herman, dubbed the Incredible Hoiman, who bragged that
among his stupendous feats was stealing second base with the bases loaded.
Once Herman was one of a troika of Dodger base runners who found themselves
all on third base at the same time. A Dodger rookie turned to Brooklyn manager
"Uncle" Wilbert Robinson on the bench. "You call that playing baseball?"
"Uncle" Robbie responded, "Leave them alone. That's the first time they've
been together all year."
"DON'T LOOK BACK. SOMETHING MIGHT BE GAINING ON YOU" This line of homespun
wisdom formed the sixth rule of a recipe attributed to former baseball pitching
great Leroy "Satchel" Paige. The other five rules were (1) avoid fried meats
which angry up the blood; (2) if your stomach disputes you, lie down and
pacify it with cool thoughts; (3) keep your juices flowing by jangling around
gently as you move; (4) go very gently on the vices, such as carrying on
in society-the social ramble ain't restful; (5) avoid running at all times.
It seems that most of us have managed to break all of Mr. Paige's rules more
than once. As for rule 5-don't tell it to your neighborhood jogger.
DOUBLE NO HITTER It's almost a baseball cliché. A no-hitter
is tossed. And the next time that pitcher takes the mound, there is all the
talk and speculation about the possibility of a second straight no-no taking
place. And always what Johnny Vander Meer did 62 years ago today comes
back into the public
On June 11, 1938, the Cincinnati hurler no-hit the Boston Bees, 3-0. Four
nights later, he was tabbed to start against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the
first night game ever in the New York City metropolitan area. To that point
in time, only two pitchers had ever recorded two career no-hitters. No one
had ever posted two no-hitters in a season. No one had probably even contemplated
More than 40,000 (Fire Department rules notwithstanding) jammed into Ebbets
Field to see the first night game in that tiny ball park's history and also
bear witness to Vander Meer questing after his second straight no-hitter.
Utilizing a one-two-three-four pitching rhythm that saw him cock his right
leg in the air before he delivered the ball to the plate, "Vandy" featured
a fast ball that was always moving and a curve ball that broke ever so sharply.
Inning after inning, the Dodgers went down hitless. In the seventh inning,
Vander Meer walked two batters. But the fans of "Dem Bums" cheered the Cincinnati
pitcher on, sensing they were witnessing baseball history. The ninth inning
began with Cincinnati holding a 6-0 lead. Buddy Hasset was retired on a grounder.
Then suddenly, Vander Meer lost control of the situation. He loaded the bases
on walks. Reds manager Bill McKechnie came out to the mound to talk to his
"Take it easy, Johnny," he said, "but get the no-hitter." Vander Meer got
Ernie Koy to hit a grounder to infielder Lou Riggs, who conservatively elected
to go to the plate for the force-out for the second out. The bases were still
loaded, though. Leo "Lippy" Durocher, the Dodger player-manager and a veteran
of many wars, stepped into the batter's
the "Lip" stood between Vander Meer and the double no-hitter. Durocher took
a lunging swing and smashed the ball down the right-field line. But it went
foul into the upper deck. Bedlam and tension intermingled at Ebbets Field
as Vander Meer's left arm came around and delivered the pitch to Durocher,
who swung and popped up the ball into short center field. Harry Craft clutched
the ball. Johnny Vander Meer had made baseball
leaped out onto the playing field, but Vander Meer's Cincinnati teammates
had formed a protective shield around the exhausted hurler as he scurried
into the relative calm of the dugout. His mother and father, who had come
to see their son pitch with about 500 others from their hometown, were not
as lucky. Swarms of well wishers and autograph-hunters milled about Vandy's
parents. It took about half an hour before they could be extricated from
the mob of admirers. The event remains in memory as the miracle of 1938,
consecutive no-hitters spun by John Samuel Vander Meer, the man they called
the "Dutch Master." President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent congratulations.
Newspapers and magazines featured every detail of the event for months. For
Vander Meer, the double no-hitters were especially sweet coming against Boston
and Brooklyn - teams he tried out for and been rejected
Meer performed for 13 big-league seasons, winning 119 games and losing 121.
He perhaps would be remembered as a southpaw pitcher who never totally fulfilled
his promise if it had not been for the epic moments of June 11 and June 15,
HITLESS WONDERS The 1906 Chicago White Sox had a team batting average of
.230, the most anemic of all the clubs in baseball that year. The team's
pitching, however, more than made up for its lack of hitting. The White Sox
staff recorded shutouts in 32 of the team's 93 victories. The "Hitless Wonders"
copped the American League pennant and faced the Chicago Cubs in the World
Series. The Cubs of 1906 are regarded as one of the greatest baseball teams
of all time; they won 116 games that year, setting the all-time major league
mark for victories in a season and for winning percentage. The White Sox
continued their winning ways in the World Series, however, trimming their
cross town rivals in six games.
for the cycle" Hit a single, double, triple and home run in the
same game, not necessarily in that
HORSE COLLAR Describes a situation when a player gets no hits in a
KLU Ted Kluszewski played 15 years in the major leagues. He pounded out 279
homers, recorded a lifetime slugging average of nearly .500 and a career
batting average of nearly . 300. He was a favorite of the Cincinnati fans;
at 6'2" and 225 pounds, his bulging biceps were too huge to be contained
by ordinary shirt-sleeves. Kluszewski cut off the sleeves and started a new
fashion in baseball uniforms-just as fans and sportswriters cut off part
of his name to make for a nickname more easily pronounced and printed.
LONSOME GEORGE Former legendary Yankee General Manager George Weiss,
for his aloof
MAHATMA Branch Rickey (1881-1965) was one of baseball's most
influential personalities. Inventor of the farm system, the force responsible
for Jackie Robinson breaking baseball's color line, the master builder of
the St. Louis Cardinal and Brooklyn Dodger organizations, he was elected
to the Hall of Fame in 1967. Sportswriter Tom Meany coined Rickey's nickname.
Meany got the idea from John Gunther's phrase describing Mohandas K. Gandhi
as a" combination of God, your own father, and Tammany Hall."
NICKEL SERIES Refers to old days when New York City teams played against
each other and the tariff was a five cents subway ride.
NUMBER l/8 On August 19, 1951, Eddie Gaedel, wearing number l/8,
came to bat for the St. Louis Browns against the Detroit Tigers. Gaedel,
who was signed by Browns owner Bill Veeck, walked on four straight pitches
and was then replaced by a pinch runner. The next day the American League
banned Gaedel, despite Veeck's protests. Gaedel was a midget, only three
feet, seven inches