What’s In A Name?

I got an e-mail from a reader last night chiding me for disrespecting current MLB players and the nicknames they put on their jerseys for Players Weekend this year.  Indeed, there were some clever ones mixed in with an awful lot of ones that elicit a giant yawn.  I like player nicknames where there is a cleverness associated with the creative process that led to the moniker.  Yesterday, I mentioned 4 such nicknames; let me add a few to the pile:

  • King James:  LeBron James was anointed as “The Chosen One” while still in high school.  That plus the association of King James with The Bible makes this name interesting.
  • The ‘Fridge:  One look at William Perry and you knew that he had paid many a visit to his refrigerator.
  • The Microwave:  Vinnie Johnson was described as “instant offense” as a sixth man in the NBA.  Ergo, the nickname…
  • The Minister of Defense:  Reggie White was an ordained minister – – and he played a bit of defense too.

I must admit that there were a few Players Weekend names that were clever and creative too:

  • High Foltage:  Mark Foltynewicz used a clever play on words
  • JDOT ADOT:  Perfect for J. A. Happ…
  • J V:  Justin Verlander used his initials – – but he is certainly not a member of the Junior Varsity.
  • Not Justin:  Perfect nickname for Shane Bieber.

Back in the mid-70s when the idea of putting player names on the backs of their jerseys was still relatively new, Ted Turner tried to use that trend to his advantage.  Turner owned the Braves at the time and he also owned Channel 17 in Atlanta which was one of the early “superstations” meaning it used a satellite link to make itself available to that new-fangled thing called cable TV.  Turner signed pitcher Andy Massersmith – one of the early free agents in MLB – for the Braves and gave Messersmith the number 17.  Then on the back of the jersey, he put the “player name” as “CHANNEL”.  Messersmith was going to be a pitching advertisement for Turner’s superstation.  The Commish put the Kibosh on that idea rather quickly…

I have another addendum to yesterday’s rant.  I began yesterday mentioning the passing of Jack Whitaker over the weekend; there was another passing in the sports world last weekend of a more arcane nature.  Jim Hardy passed at age 96.  Hardy was a quarterback in the NFL for several teams in the 40s and 50s; he holds an NFL record for QBs that no player after him has tried to break:

  • Early in the 1950 season playing for the Chicago Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals via the St. Louis Cardinals), Jim Hardy threw 8 INTs in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles.  As you might expect, the Cardinals lost that game 45-7.

Not to leave you with the wrong impression, Jim Hardy came back the next week and threw 6 TD passes – with zero INTs – to lead the Cards to a big win over the Baltimore Colts.  The man had a short memory…

Rest in peace, Jim Hardy.

T.J. Simers was an acerbic columnist for the LA Times; to say that he was in a cranky mood when he wrote many of his columns is about as polite a description as one might come up with.  I never met the man; so, I have no idea if that is his natural demeanor or if it is merely a persona he assumed when sitting at his keyboard.  I enjoyed reading his columns and was saddened to learn in 2013 that he had been “downsized” from the LA Times[Aside:  The Times has also parted company with another favorite columnist of mine; so, I have little empathy for their decision in either case.]  Simers filed an age and disability discrimination lawsuit against the Times soon after that downsizing event.

The situation is far more complicated than I described above; so, let me provide a link here to a report in the Washington Post about this matter.  This has come to the top of the pile now because Simers won a $15.4M award for damages from a jury in a Federal court.  Simers’ legal team is in a celebratory mood; the LA Times says it is “weighing its legal options”.

Finally, Dwight Perry had this comment in the Seattle Times recently about one of the off-center entries in competition:

“The Roskilde Music Festival in Denmark kicked off with its 21st annual Naked Run, in which competitors wear nothing but sneakers, socks and maybe some strategically placed body paint.

“So, who needs the Running of the Bulls when you can have the Running of the Bares?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………



4 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?”

  1. Strange, I looked for a weblink to T. J. Simers articles in the LA Times–but didn’t find any.

    1. TenaciousP:

      His columns were called “Page 2” – – and you can guess where in the Sports Section they always appeared. He wrote 3 or 4 columns a week in that spot for at least a decade – and probably longer.

  2. If only they had nicknames day in the early days of baseball… probably take 2 layers for Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson….

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