With last week’s news of Angels first baseman Albert Pujols asking that all of the ‘el hombre’ billboards be taken down in the LA area, it got me thinking about baseball nicknames in general.
Pujols, or ‘Pooey,’ as I like to call him, asked that the advertisements be taken down because ‘el hombre’ or ‘the man’ is a true title only meant for the Cardinals’ great Stan ‘the man’ Musial. Very noble act on the part of Pujols.
It’s arguable that Stan ‘the man’ is one of the most famous nicknames in the history of the sport. But what other nicknames still ring throughout baseball decades later?
Taking into account pervasiveness of the name, creativity, and even nostalgia, here is my list of baseball’s most famous nicknames. 17 to be exact. Why 17? Because that’s how many I felt were appropriate for this list. Hey, at least I’m honest.
17. Dustin Pedroia – “The Laser Show"
No cooler nickname right now in baseball. Sounds like a super-hero.
16. Jay Hanna “Dizzy Dean” – “Dizzy”
Led ‘Gas House Gang to WS title in ’34.
15. Frank Thomas – “The Big Hurt”
One of the most feared DH hitters in the 1990’s.
14. Pablo Sandoval – “Kung Fu Panda”
Even I forget his real name sometimes, referring to him as only Kung Fu Panda. I mean, he looks just like the animated character.
13. David Ortiz – “Big Papi”
This makes Notorious B.I.G. happy. This ‘papi’ is as loveable as any.
12. Honus Wagner – “The Flying Dutchman”
One of the best players in baseball at the turn of the century, this was one fast German.
11. Joe DiMaggio – “The Yankee Clipper”
A 56-game hitting streak helps.
10. Ernie Banks – “Mr. Cub”
Spent entire career with Cubs. From 1953-1971 no other Cubbie led the team with more skill and class.
9. Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra – “Yogi”
You know you have a great nickname when everyone assumes it’s your real name. Considered greatest catcher of all-time. Coined ‘it’s not over ‘till it’s over,’ among many other phrases.
8. Ozzie Smith – “The Wizard”
As a kid he would practice throwing the ball over his house, attempting to run to the other side before it landed so he could catch it. Though he never did catch it, what he did with the glove as an adult with the Cardinals was magical. Greatest shortstop of all-time.
7. Pete Rose – “Charlie Hustle”
No player played the game harder. I slid head-first into third base as a little-leaguer because that’s what Pete Rose did.
6. Joe Jackson – “Sholess Joe”
He’s innocent I tell ya!… Aside from the whole ‘Blacksox scandal,’ he was one of the original greats. His appearance via Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams only cements his history.
5. Stan Musial – “Stan the Man”
Arguably the ‘Babe Ruth’ of the National League during his tenure in the 40’s and 50’s.
4. Willie Mays – “The Say Hey Kid”
Might possibly be the best all-around player in the history of baseball. Again, I tried to emulate Willie as a little-leaguer by wearing my hat loose so it would fly off my head rounding the bases, just as it did when Willie rounded the bases.
3. Hank Aaron – “Hammerin’ Hank”
The true home run king.
2. Reggie Jackson – “Mr. October”
Every year, no other is compared to more when it comes to the World Series in October. The ultimate clutch hitter came through when it mattered most.
1. George Herman Ruth Jr. – “Babe” “The Great Bambino”
Gotta give it to the most famous ballplayer in the history of baseball. Just watch The Sandlot.
Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS