By David Stevens: Editor for Freedom New Mexico
Baseball is by far my favorite sport. One reason is because baseball players have great nicknames.
Mike Hargrove, who grew up in the Texas Panhandle, was known as the “Human Rain Delay” because he spent so much time out of the batter’s box between pitches.
Willie Mays was the “Say Hey Kid.” The origins of Mays’ nickname are debatable, but one version is that he could not remember teammates’ names when he was a rookie, so he would call out, “Say hey, man.”
Balladeer Terry Cashman wrote a song about baseball nicknames, memorializing the undistinguished career of Hondo, Texas-native Clint Hartung: “We’ve got ‘Rifles’ and ‘Bullets’ and a ‘Pistol Pete’ in the game,” he sang. “But my favorite one of all is the ‘Hondo Hurricane.’”
Babe Ruth had a lot of nicknames. My favorite is “The Big Bam.”
• The Astros’ 5-foot-8 inch 170-pound slugger Jimmy Wynn was “The Toy Cannon.”
• Ted Williams was “The Splendid Splinter.”
• Leroy Paige was “Satchel.” The nickname has something to do with his carrying bags from train stations as a boy. Paige gave nicknames to his favorite pitches: “Hesitation Pitch,” “Two-Hump Blooper” and “Bat Dodger” among them.
Dave “The Rave” Stevens learned math by compiling baseball statistics in Little League.