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Baseball is a game rich in great nicknames

The St. Louis Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates gave a sneak preview in Sunday’s MLB Little League Classic for Major League Baseball’s upcoming planned showcase of nicknames on uniforms this weekend.

I especially like Juan “Super Nova” of the Pirates and “Tsunami” (Carlos Martinez). Seung-Hwan Oh went with something in Korean, leaving everyone trying to translate that one.

Local product J.A Happ will be known as “Happer” when he suits for the Blue Jays.

Some players, like Jon Lester (Cubs) and Jed Gyorko (Cardinals) couldn’t think of anything apparently, just going with their last names as is.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the nicknames this weekend.

To me, baseball’s always been about nicknames.

We had nicknames on my high school baseball team like Tater Fry, Melon, Dipper and Hiero.

There are many classic nicknames from the past in MLB.

Some of the greatest players of all time had many, because they were larger than life.

Babe Ruth was known as The Sultan of Swat, The Bambino and The Colossus of Clout. Just wouldn’t have been the same going by his given name, George Herman Ruth.

Ted Williams was known as the Splendid Splinter, Teddy Ballgame or the Kid.

One of the most famous players of all-time was Stan Musial, simply known as “Stan the Man.”

Mordecai Brown was known as “Three Fingers” for his famous missing digit.

Then there was James “Cool Papa” Bell, the Negro League great, who was so quick they say he could turn the light switch off and get under the covers in his bed before the lights turned off.

Other notables include:

• Oglesby’s own “Sunny” Jim Bottomley, a Hall of Famer.

• Frank “Home Run” Baker.

• Jay “Dizzy” Dean.

• Yogi Berra – does anyone know his real name was Lawrence?

There were some nicknames derived from animals like:

• “Rabbit” Maranville.

• Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig.

• Baby Bull, Orlando Cepeda.

• Jim “Catfish” Hunter.

• Rich “Goose” Gossage.

• The Big Cat, Johnny Mize.

• Jim “Mudcat” Grant.

• Mark “The Bird” Fidrych.

• And one of my all-time favorites, The Penguin (Ron Cey).

There are others from my youth that will be forever etched in my memory like:

• “Sparky” Anderson.

• “Blue Moon” Odom.

• The Say Hey Kid (Willie Mays).

• Bake McBride.

• Steve “Lefty” Carlton.

• Bill “Spaceman” Lee.

• The Ryan Express (Nolan Ryan).

• Hammerin’ Hank Aaron.

• Willie “Stretch” McCovey.

• Carl “Yaz” Yastrzemski.

• “Steady Eddie” Murray.

• The Vacuum Cleaner (Brooks Robinson).

• The Zamboni Machine (Ken Reitz).

• Mr. October (Reggie Jackson).

• Mr. Cub (Ernie Banks).

• The Human Rain Delay (Mike Hargrove).

• Knucksie (Phil Niekro).

• Le Grand Orange (Rusty Staub).

• Charlie Hustle (Pete Rose).

• The Toy Cannon (Jimmy Wynn).

• The Mad Hungarian (Al Hrabosky).

• “Tom Terrific” Seaver.

• Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd.

And more recently, these nicknames have appeared:

• Gary “the Kid” Carter.

• Steve “Bye Bye” Balboni.

• Carlton “Pudge” Fisk.

• The Wizard of Oz (Ozzie Smith).

• The Iron Man (Cal Ripken Jr.)

• The Big Unit (Randy Johnson).

• The Captain (Derek Jeter).

• Ryno (Ryne Sandberg).

• The Big Hurt (Frank Thomas).

• Big Papi (David Ortiz).

Let me know what your favorites were.

Schmeck speaks: I’m looking forward to hearing Andy Schmeck speak in Sunday’s Bureau County Fair’s community church service. The former Princeton Tiger basketball standout always made for a good interview and is using his affable ways at the pulpit. Should be a great message.

Be Like Mike: Great to see another former Tiger standout, Michael Murray, land a job as assistant basketball coach at Rockford University. He was a star for the Regents basketball and baseball teams.

Rose garden: Please to welcome Tommy Rose as a new sports correspondent. He’s going to be a great addition for the BCR.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. He was known as “Hiero” as a member of the Stanford Olympia CornBelt Conference champion baseball team. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com.

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