Stealing minor-league nicknames for current players

Joe Robbins

It's easy to lament the death of obligatory nicknames. That is, the time when every single player on a team had to have a nickname. Skeeter would throw it to Red, who would throw it to Mabel for the double play. Every team had a Skeeter, Red, and Mabel. Some of them had multiples, so they had to have nicknames for the nicknames. The 1911 Red Sox had a Bunny, Swede, Rip, Duffy, Judge, and Steve. Steve! There isn't anything like that now.

There are still some great nicknames out there, though. Panda is a good one for a gigantic-yet-nimble player. King Felix is simple, yet evocative. Joey Bats is brilliant, punchy, and perfect. They stand out, too. Not every team has a Joey Bats or a Panda. When every Tom, Dick, and Harry was called Skeeter, Red, and Mabel, it lessened the impact.

But there are some bad nicknames out there, too. No offense to the people who might have coined them … but they just aren't working. So the goal is to find new nicknames for these players, but it would be kind of cheesy for me to pick nicknames out of thin air. Instead, I'm going to cull the history of minor-league baseball and steal nicknames of players who never reached the majors.

I'm doing this because minor-league nicknames are really popular! Check this guy out:

Screen_shot_2013-04-24_at_8

Look at how often that page has been shared on Facebook! Tit Willis is much more popular than your typical, garden-variety, major-league loser with a bunch of different nicknames.

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People just love those minor-league names. Here, then, are a few major-league players who could benefit from some minor-league names.

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Giancarlo Stanton - Bigfoot

What's wrong with the nickname:
If he were from the Pacific Northwest, I can see it. Like, he's from back-forest Washington, and legend has it that he's seen a sasquatch … but that's not the case. Someone said, "THAT GUY'S BIG" and the guy next to him said "WE SHOULD CALL HIM BIGFOOT" and because the two of them represented 66 percent of the Marlins' season-ticket holders, they got their way. For shame.

What we're looking for:
Something that pops, dammit. Something that expresses the sheer enormity of the man, with the mythical quality "Bigfoot" was going for, but just a little more unique.

Runners-up from the minor-league ranks:
Snookums
Headache Band
Bubber
Bear Tracks (or Concrete Caveman)

Winner:
Wooger

What does "Wooger" mean? Don't know. But that's the kind of mystery I feel when I watch Giancarlo Stanton take batting practice. It's vaguely dirty, partly childish. It's the nickname of that guy who lived down the hall from you freshman year, but it's also the nickname of a stuffed kangaroo. But if a guy named Wooger showed up at a party, and he was 6'6", 240, you'd be like, yeah, Wooger. That's a Wooger.

Woogers are good for a 450-foot home run every now and again is all I'm saying.

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Wilin Rosario - Baby Bull

What's wrong with the nickname:
First they came for Pudge Fisk's nickname, and I said nothing. Then they came for Ozzie Smith's nickname, and I said nothing. Then they came for Orlando Cepeda's nickname …

What we're looking for:
Something that's not already the nickname of a Hall of Famer, dammit. Also, something that suggests prodigious power, possibly hinting at a certain defensive roughness at the same time. Like "Wooger", but not taken.

Runners-up from the minor-league ranks:
Moncho
Balazos (Gunshots)
Mountain Drop

Winner:
Jackhouse

First, let's all agree that there needs to be someone with the nickname "Jackhouse," and that it should go to a player with silly power. You can add something like "Ol'," "Professor," or "Cap'n" before the Jackhouse if you want.

The only problem is that Jackhouse isn't the most Dominican-sounding name. El Jackhouse? Casa de Jak? But if you have to choose between Jackhouse being a little counterintuitive, or not using Jackhouse at all, you choose the Jackhouse.

Jackhouse.

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Alfredo Aceves - Ace

What's wrong with the nickname:
Well … I mean … you know … he's terrible.

What we're looking for:
Something that isn't "Ace." Possibly with something that hints at his churlishness.

Runners-up from the minor-league ranks:
Hooker Joe
Nothing Ball
Doodlebug
Pearhead

Winner:
"Little Grumbler"

Aceves isn't a small man, so the "Little" part would be ironic. Possibly annoying, which might be the point. Little Grumbler doesn't like that call! It's been a long night for Little Grumbler, alright. Oh, Nelly, is Little Grumbler in trouble now. They're looking to trade Little Grumbler, but there aren't a lot of bites yet. Once you start saying it, you can't stop.

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Hunter Pence - Captain Underpants

What's wrong with the nickname:
No one has ever called Pence by this nickname. That, and he's one of the most unique, awkward, amazing players active today, so he deserves something that references as much. At least 13 percent of my current job description has to do with me making fun of Pence in some way. Arachnid? Insect? Reptile? All of the above? Whatever fits, whatever fits.

What we're looking for:
Something that at least gives you a clue that Pence is kind of a evolutionary phenomenon.

Runners-up from the minor-league ranks:
Red Ant
Mr. Peepers
Goat Head
Snake Man
Snorty

Winner:
The Gremlin

Tough pick between Mr. Peepers and the Red Ant. But the idea of a gremlin is disarming. It's kind of an endearing name -- it's what happens when you feed a mogwai after midnight. But gremlins can mess you up, too. Keep one eye on them because they're hilarious, and another because they're terrifying.

Star-divide

Matt Harvey - The Real Deal or Harvelous

What's wrong with the nickname(s):
Everything. These are nicknames a social-media intern came up with at 5 o'clock on a Friday. Harvelous is somehow worse, even if it's more of an exclamation than a nickname.

What we're looking for:
Something appropriate for a 97-m.p.h.-throwing, hammer-curve-dropping monster.

Runners-up from the minor-league ranks:
Rabbit
Shadow Ball
Howlin' Harvey
Yakky

Winner:
The Whistler

I love a good movie reference as much as the next guy, but Rabbit Harvey doesn't sing, dang it. Nothing really sings with Harvey, for some reason, which is why putting an article in front of Whistler makes a difference. Yakky Matt Harvey is cutesy, as is Howlin' Matt Harvey. But The Whistler is a Dick Tracy villain, more than a little ominous, and it makes you think of 97-m.p.h. fastballs whistling by hitters.

Alright, so maybe the minor leagues aren't quite as fertile for nicknames as I thought. But there are still nicknames to spare, like for Livan Hernandez, one for Ramon Santiago, and one for Gordon Beckham.

The important thing is that we have to stop Harvelous. That one isn't nearly as fetch as it needs to be. Stop trying to make it happen, Mets.

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