The other day I was thinking about baseball nicknames. I’ve been buying some old cards on eBay, and noticing of course that players back then were called Duke, Pee Wee, Pinky, Babe, Campy, Pepper, Ducky, Preacher, and the Mechanical Man. And Handsome Lou Boudreau, of course. Which started me to thinking, do any of the Twins have a nickname, and if not, why not?
Well, no, the Twins are not much for nicknames. Not that I know of, anyway. In fact, major league baseball seems nickname-short. Not that I’m that knowledgeable about the names of all the players, (which makes this baseball blog perhaps a bit… lacking?) but the only nicknames I could come up with were Big Papi — which is a great nickname, I think — and The Hebrew Hammer (Ryan Braun – and also a pretty great nickname.) ESPN put together a list of “top” nicknames in April of 2012. There’s not much there of interest, really. Their Top Ten is not so great. King Felix? Kung Fu Panda?
Well, then I saw that the Twins completed their trade of Justin “No Known Nickname” Morneau, and got pitcher Mathew Scott Welker — who goes by the name of Duke!
So there’s one.
Looking over the roster, I don’t see many others, which is kind of a shame. Baseball without nicknames is like oatmeal without walnuts. Still pretty good, but why not have the nuts?
Perhaps they do have nicknames, but they are not generally bruited about in the press? In any case, as a public service, I’m going to suggest — and use — a few.
Last season I came up with “Sudden” Sam Deduno, which, while not very original, I grant you, still has a nice ring to it.
Brian Dozier surely ought to be called “Bull” – that’s just common sense, ain’t it? Probably his mother calls him that.
So who else do we have? Mauer ought to have a nickname, but so far I’ve got nothin’ for him. Chris Parmelee could steal an old nickname – seems like there was a pitcher some years back who was called “The Vaunted.” At the moment I can’t remember that guy’s name, but “The Vaunted” Parmelee does have a nice sound. Echoes of Camelot.
The Twins seem to have quite a few outfielders with nickname potential. Darin “Maestro” Mastroianni?
I see that ESPN says that Josh Willingham is known as “The Hammer” –I’ve never heard that before. Willingham is from Alabama, which is also known as “The Yellowhammer state.” (I didn’t know that either.) Yellowhammer doesn’t quite have the right ring to it for a nickname. How about The Willinghammer? Or, better yet, The Alabama Hamma?
Well, I’ll be working on this. (Well, somebody’s got to.) Mauer needs an appellation. And what about Albers? And Tonkin? Worley? Hicks? There’s work to be done there, and I’m just the guy to do it.
On a side note, I saw an article last week that talked about the possibility (the very slight possibility) of the Twins going after free agents Johann and Ervin Santana. I think that would be worth doing. Johann has some good innings left, I think, and Twins fans are the sentimental sort that would love to see him come back home after spending time in the big city. Ervin is a quality starting pitcher, and the Twins could use — and will probably not want to shell out the money for — a quality starting pitcher. And, most of all, the Twins already have a player named Santana, shortstop Danny, and the idea of having Los Tres Santanas on the team is just too good to pass up. If only there was another Presley, to go with Ryan (Pressly) and Alex (Presley).
The title of this post is, of course, a tip o’ the cap to Philip Roth’s The Great American Novel. Oliver Damur is a skinny, fleet, fourteen-year-old second baseman for the Rupert Mundys, who came to the club desperately wanting to be called something other than Oliver. He tried everything – tugging on his cap so that somebody might call him Cappy, walking in an odd manner, so that he might be called Ducky, talking incessantly so that someone might call him Gabby. But no. Instead they called him Nickname, which, of course, he hated. He comes to a bad end, as I recall.