AJC veteran Thomas Stinson laments the passing of the nickname era in baseball.
Time was, the Braves franchise was a most verdant ground for baseball nicknames.
The Mad Hungarian. The Hammer. Howdy Doody. The Road Runner. Cha Cha.
Classic, handy names, the kind that have helped describe the game since when the Babe was still a babe.
Sugar Bear. Crime Dog. Mad Dog. Big Cat. Knucksie. Murf. Big Tub of Goo.
So what happened? Who are Huddy and Yatesie and Thormie and what did they do with the past? Sounds like roll call for the Mickey Mouse Club.
To be honest, it’s not just the Braves. It has happened all over baseball. Stylized noms de guerre have been replaced by a formula: take the first syllable (first or last name will do) and add a “y” or “ie.” It’s quicker. It’s cuter. It’s kinder.
It’s also nondescript, homogenized and disconnected to a time when Rico Carty was Beeg Boy and proud of it.
Here’s hoping this is just a fad. Happily, some names just won’t fit the formula and stand out, like Brian “Mack” McCann, like a 1960s remembrance.
Below is how some of Bobby Cox’s roster reads, how he refers to them when calling from the dugout steps.
Honor Jeff Francoeur, whose Frenchy provides hope for the future.
CURRENT BRAVES PLAYERS
Player — Cox’s nickname
Yunel Escobar — Yunie
Tim Hudson — Huddy
Andruw Jones — Andy
Chipper Jones — Chip
Edgar Renteria — Rentie
John Smoltz — Smoltzie
Jarrod Saltalamacchia — Salty
Matt Diaz — Matty
Willie Harris — Willie C.
Kelly Johnson — KJ
Scott Thorman — Thormie
Tyler Yates — Yatesie
Brian McCann — Mack
Bob Wickman — Wick
Jeff Francoeur — Frenchy
BEST OF BRAVES OLD-TIMERS
Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky
Hank “The Hammer” Aaron
Darrell “Howdy Doody” Evans
Ralph “Road Runner” Garr
Orlando “Cha Cha” Cepeda
Larvell “Sugar Bear” Blanks
Fred “Crime Dog” McGriff
Greg “Mad Dog” Maddux
Andres “Big Cat” Galarraga
Phil “Knucksie” Niekro
Dale “Murf” Murphy
Terry “The Big Tub of Goo” Forster
Rico “Beeg Boy” Carty
Maybe Chris Berman killed the tradition?
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