DAILY DIRT: From ‘The Left Arm of God’ to ‘Gunboat,’ baseball nicknames have always been a wonderful part of the sport

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Sandy Koufax

Daily Dirt for Tuesday, July 19, 2022

I think I would have liked to have met Bill Keister … Welcome to today’s three thoughts that make up Vol. 341 of The Daily Dirt.

1. Continuing with our recent baseball theme in honor of tonight’s MLB All-Star Game, today we offer our all-time all-nickname all-star team.

There is no other sport can come close to baseball in this regard:

First base: “The Big Hurt,” which was so fitting for former White Sox slugger Frank Thomas.

Second base: Former Indians (now Guardians) second baseman Jason Kipnis was affectionately known as “Dirtbag.”

Shortstop: They called Bill Keister “Wagon Tongue,” which was a take on “Waggin’ Tongue” because, as history reports, Keister had trouble keeping his mouth shut during a game. Keister played from 1896-1903 for several teams, and was not popular on any of them.

Third base: It doesn’t get any better than “The Penguin,” which Ron Cey of the Dodgers was known as in the 1970s.

Catcher: “Old Tomato Face” was what they called Cubs catcher Gabby Hartnett. That was harsh.

Outfield: “Vincent Van Go” for former Cardinals base-steal champ Vince Coleman is one of the best ever.

Outfield: Rickey Henderson’s “Man of Steal” moniker, especially as a member of the Oakland A’s, was also pretty sweet.

Outfield: Giants outfielder Jeffrey Leonard was known as “Penitentiary Face” in the 1970s. That was kind of harsh, too.

Utility Player: Peter Edward “Charlie Hustle” Rose. He played multiple positions, played the game with reckless abandon (Just ask Ray Fosse) and had more MLB hits than any human alive. PUT THIS MAN IN THE HALL OF FAME. (PUBLISHER’S NOTE: I used my Publisher Privilege Card to add the great Pete Rose here. JRG)

Starting pitcher: “The Left Arm of God,” which, of course, is the nickname Sandy Koufax earned during his incomparable career with the Dodgers.

Starting pitcher: J.W. “Gunboat” Thompson, who pitched in the Negro League in the early 1900s.

Relief pitcher: “The Sandman,” as in “enter the Sandman” when Mariano Rivera came into a game to close out another Yankees victory.

Some honorable mentions round out our bench:

Mike “The Human Rain Delay” Hargrove

Phil “Scrap Iron” Garner

Willie Mays “The Say Hey Kid”

Rusty “Le Grand Orange” Staub

Jimmie “The Toy Cannon” Wynn

Lou “Iron Horse” Gehrig

Johnny “Ugly” Dickshot (PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Yes…this was a real player. JRG)

Charles Alston “Pussy” Tebeau (PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Seeing as Mr. Tebeau only had six MLB at bats for the Cleveland Spiders in 1895, one can only assume this was a gratuitous ruse by Steve to get me to publish a picture of Pussy Galore. Yes, I took the bait. JRG)

Pussy Tebeau shouldn’t be confused with Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman in the James Bond classic “Goldfinger”.

Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval

Arlie “The Freshest Man On Earth” Latham

Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky

Reggie “Mr. October” Jackson

George Herman “Babe” Ruth

Jay Hanna “Dizzy” Dean

Paul Dee “Daffy” Dean


2. Cardinals fans may not have noticed — or decided to ignore — what Matt Carpenter is doing with the Yankees.

The man just continues to hit, which most Cardinals fans were convinced was a talent that left Carpenter during his final seasons in St. Louis.

When Carpenter homered twice for the Yankees on Saturday against the Red Sox that meant he had hit 13 bombs in his first 30 games with New York. That’s the fastest any Yankees player has ever — repeat, ever — reached 13 home runs with the club. And, yes, that includes Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, etc. For those interested, the last time Carpenter hit 13 or more homers with the Cardinals was when he kayoed 15 in 2019.

(PUBLISHER’S NOTE: For the last three seasons, Carpenter hit UNDER .200 for the Cardinals and was being paid $18.5 million in 2021. That ain’t a small sample size. He also didn’t pan out during a spring training run with the Rangers. NO ONE SAW THIS COMING. Kudos to the Yankees for unlocking something and another example of why Jeff Albert’s term as the St. Louis hitting coach should be ending. JRG)

3. Here’s the latest concerning the Great Plate Debate of 2022 — the most interesting license plates found across West-Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.

Top 3 for the year to date: For the first time in a month, we have not had a new entry crack the medal stand.

Gold medal: LUV YADI. (This has been No., 1 since Feb. 14.)

Silver Medal: GOL D LOX.

Bronze medal: YADI. 

This week’s Top 5

BUBS 22: The first thing I thought of was William Frawley’s character on the old “My Three Sons” show. He played “Bub.” Other than that, I got nothin’.

HOPE 101: Obviously, an optimist.

SHUS R 3: I’m sure there is some sort of deep meaning here.

QUENBRI: Queen Brianne?

CPYCAT: I wonder if car owner may work for a printer?

Steve Thought O’ The Day — For those who collected baseball cards, especially at the time when they may have come across one of Jeffrey Leonard’s cards, that “Penitentiary Face” nickname does not come as a shock.

Steve Eighinger writes daily for Muddy River News. If Steve knows you, he has a nickname for you. Probably several.

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