What has happened to sports nicknames? It appears to be a lost art for todays ESPN-influenced writers and broadcasters, unless you are Chris Boomer Berman, who comes up with all sorts of offerings.
Sports and nicknames have always gone together, but seemingly not today. When Milo Hamilton was the voice of the Atlanta Braves from 1966 through 1975, you could count on him to provide you with monikers for most of the players. If you followed the Bravos during those lean years, you have got to remember the Road Runner, The Bulldog, Cha Cha, Knucksie, Sugar Bear, The Hammer, The Hawaiian Punch, and, of course, the Little Kitten.
Baseball has always been fertile ground for nicknames, especially in New York and specifically the Yankees. Do you know these Pinstripe Heroes? The Yankee Clipper, Scooter, The Sultan of Swat, The Iron Horse, Biscuit Pants, Larrupin Lou, Luke, Little Joe and Columbia Lou (the previous six are the same person), The Commerce Comet, Mr. October, The Old Perfessor, Whiskey Slick and Catfish.
Other cities had their favorites, as well. In Boston, there was the Splendid Splinter. In Houston, there was The Toy Cannon. In Cincinnati, there was Charlie Hustle. In Chicago, there was The Big Hurt on the south side and Mr. Cub on the north side. With the Giants, both in New York and in San Francisco, there was The Sey Hey Kid. Detroit had The Bird, and Oakland had Blue Moon.
Teams have also had specific identities: The Gas House Gang, The Bronx Bombers and The Big Red Machine, to name a few.
Football nicknames might be even better than those that come from the diamond. There have been some great team designations: The Hogs, The Four Horsemen, The Steel Curtain, The Purple People Eaters, The Junkyard Dogs, The Fearsome Foursome, The Chinese Bandits, The Black Shirts and the Doomsday Defense.
And what great ones for individuals: The Minister of Defense, The Hefty Lefty, The Assassin, Bambi, Slingin Sammy, Hacksaw, The Rushton Rifle, The Galloping Ghost, Sweetness, Crazy Legs, Night Train, Prime Time, White Shoes, Too Tall, Mean Joe, Snake, The Snake again, Broadway Joe, Refrigerator, Ironhead, Hog, Bullet Bob, Mr. Inside, Mr. Outside, and The Gipper.
UGA has provided its share, as well, with the likes of Meat Clever, The General, The Toe from Cairo, The Italian Stalliion, The Automatic Toe and The Little Round Man. There are more for sure, but those stand out.
Moving on to basketball, we know of The Big E, The Big O, Zeke from Cabin Creek, The Hick from French Lick, Big Country, Dollar Bill, The Wizard of Westwood, Dr. Dunkenstein, Magic, Clyde, Never Nervous Pervis, who became No Service Pervis because of injuries during his professional career, and the most famous fraternity never to win a national title, Phi Slamma Jamma.
In boxing ,we have had The Brown Bomber, The Manassas Mauler, The Raging Bull, Smokin Joe, The Louisville Lip, Hurricane, Marvelous, The Brockton Blockbuster, The Easton Assassin, Real Deal and Boom Boom.
Hockey also produced a Boom Boom.
Golf has even had it share of good ones. How about The King, The Golden Bear, Champagne Tony, The Hawk, Slammin Sammy, The Squire, The Shark, Peacock, Sarge, Lord Byron, The Walrus, The Silver Scot and the links version of Boom Boom.
How many of these do you remember?
Contact Bobby Pope at firstname.lastname@example.org