It's Hot Stove League time again. Let's talk baseball nicknames. Below are my nine favorite nicknames, though I could have easily expanded it to my top 100. What are yours?
Of course the King of Nicknames, as he still is of everything Baseball, is George Herman Ruth - The Babe, The Bambino, The Sultan of Swat, The Maharajah of Mash, The Colossus of Clout and a hundred more. Just as Babe personally outhomered every other team in the American League one season, he may have had more nicknames than all of the players on any one team.
With apologies to Ducky-Wucky Medwick, The Yankee Clipper, Hit Em Where They Ain't, The Flying Dutchman, Goose Gossage, Mudcat Grant, Catfish Hunter, Double X, The Mad Hungarian, Spaceman Bill Lee, The Bird, The Big Hurt, The Big Unit, The Say Hey Kid, Oil Can Boyd, The Peerless Leader, Little Eva, The Georgia Peach, The Big Train, The Fordham Flash, The Reading Rifle, The Wild Horse Of The Osage, Poosh 'Em Up, Big Poison, Little Poison, Boom Boom Beck, Dizzy, Daffy, Bobo, Satchel, Stuffy, Gabby, Frenchy, Minnie, Pie, Yaz, Maz, Bucketfoot Al, The Man, The Splendid Splinter, Hondo, Stretch, Daddy Wags, The Toy Cannon, Sudden Sam, Hammerin' Hank, The Wizard of Oz, Pudge, Cool Papa and Pietro Redlight District Distillery Interests (Pete Browning, a star on the 1880s Louisville Colonels team and a certain Hall Of Famer but for his career being considerably shortened by the off-field interests reflected in his nickname), here are my favorites. We'll start with three today and cover the other six in follow up posts.
Hugh "Losing Pitcher" Mulcahy
During the radio-era, announcers would give the final score of the game (Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3) and then say "Winning Pitcher A"; "Losing Pitcher B". Hugh Mulcahy was the ace starting pitcher for four seasons (1937-40) with the hapless Philadelphia Phillies and his record was 8-18, 10-20, 9-16 and 13-22 which is how he got his nickname. The Phillies finished seventh in 1937 (in an 8-team league) and then eighth the next three seasons with records of 45-105, 45-106 and 50-103. That's why Hugh was the ace of the staff. He also had some control problems leading the league in walks in 1937 and in hit batsmen and wild pitches in 1939. Hugh's streak of futile seasons ended when he became the first major leaguer drafted into the military before WWII on March 8, 1941.
In 1939 and 1940, one of Hugh's fellow Phillie pitchers was the above-mentioned Walter "Boom Boom" Beck who reportedly got his nickname from the sound of the line drives hit off of him smacking into outfield walls for doubles.
"El Guapo" - Rich Garces
A Red Sox fan favorite during his stint in Boston (1996-2002), Rich Garces was a portly reliever who got his nickname when one of his teammates thought he resembled the bandit in The Three Amigos (1986) who was called "El Guapo" (the handsome one). You can judge for yourself but I don't see much resemblance:
El Guapo was quite good for several seasons as a setup reliever but his major league career abruptly ended when the Red Sox demanded he lose weight during an off-season. Garces complied but lost so much arm strength he was never effective again.
(El Guapo with El Guapo bobblehead)
"The Human Rain Delay" - Mike Hargrove
For twelve seasons (1974-85), Mike Hargrove exasperated pitchers and fans with his excruciating array of twitches, uniform straightening routines and stepping out of the box plate appearances that went on so long he was named "The Human Rain Delay". I still remember listening to some of his at bats on the radio and they went on forever. On top of that, Hargrove was a very patient hitter, drawing a lot of walks so in a typical at bat he saw a lot of pitches and he performed his routine before every single one. With all that he had a decent career, hitting for average and compiling a high on-base percentage playing primarily for the Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians. Here he is in all his glory: