Today is the birthday of both Hooks Warner (1894) and Hooks Cotter (1900). There apparently was a brief span of years where the name Hooks was popular for baby boys. Nowadays, of course, it’s rare to find some young child named Hooks.
Well, of course, Hooks Warner’s real name was Hoke. Hoke Hayden Warner. Hoke is a name that also seems to have fallen out of favor. And Hooks Cotter was the more prosaic Harvey. Warner played third and Cotter first, so there goes my theory about them being called “Hook” because they were moundsmen who were often “given the hook” early in games.
Babe Ganzel was born on this date in 1901. Babe’s real name was Foster Pirie Ganzel. I’ve heard of Babe Ganzel, but I don’t know why. He came up as an outfielder with the Senators in 1927, hit .438 in 13 games. Perhaps that’s when he got the nickname “Babe”. And perhaps it was too much to try to live up to? In 1928 he hit .077 in 10 games, and that was the end of Foster Ganzel. Except this nice little story out of Wikipedia:
While piloting Selma, fans heckled him because his players seldom bunted. At this point, he ordered the first nine batters in a game to bunt and all nine reached base.
Today’s also the birthday of “Dick” Jones, in 1902. At first I thought, Ha, Dick Jones, what a dull boring name. Probably Richard. No. His real name was Decatur Poindexter Jones. Which is a helluva name. I’ll bet he changed it to Dick on his own. He was a member of the famous Jones family of baseball players.
Al “bucketfoot” Simmons birthday today. I thought I’d get him in this list because of the curious nickname, but it turns out his birth name was Aloys Szymanski. Aloys is another name that parents today might consider if they want a name that’s not seen much.
Pinky Woods birthday, 1915. Real name George. I don’t know how you get the nickname Pinky, but there’s been a few Pinkys that have played pro ball. Perhaps an article there for a sabermetrics journal.
Tommy John’s birthday, 1943, the man with two first names.
On the other side of the ledger, Bunny Pearce died today, back in ’33, and Kaiser Wilhelm in ’36. What were his parents thinking of? I suspect the father picked his name, and thought it funny. Nope. Real name: Irvin Key Wilhelm. Bunny’s real name was William Charles, and he was also known as Ducky. There’s gotta be a story there.
Chief Bender (Charles Albert) also passed away on this date in 1954, and Lefty (Robert Moses) Grove in 1975.
Perhaps some day baseball nicknames will catch on as normal names for people, as parents are always looking for something different and unusual.
Just don’t call your kid “Babe,” perhaps.