Back in 1914, there was a 19-year-old kid named Toots Coyne who struck out twice in his big-league debut and then retired. That’s the kind of insanely obscure information Baseball-Reference has compiled in its far-reaching databases. Today I made it a mission to find the best names in baseball history.
It all began when a friend of mine stumbled upon Honus Wagner’s brother “Butts,” which set us on a path to uncover the hidden nomenclature gems this great website had to offer.
— Adam Flango (@adam_flango) July 28, 2014
DISCLAIMER: We’re not interested in the “a.k.a” nicknames. These dudes actually went by these names, which is why “The Only Nolan” pops up in the search bar instead of boring-ass “Edward.”
We learned that because baseball was, well, really fucking white back in the day, they needed a way to differentiate the 12,000 guys named John and William. Thus, many of them adopted nicknames that stood in place of their ubiquitous first names. So let’s embark on this journey back in time to find the most ridiculous names America’s pastime has to offer.
Baseball-Reference is practically begging you to perform this exercise with their handy dropdown autofill search bar. So my first course of action was to search all the dirty words. Of course, Pussy Tabeau caught my eye, but there was also Dick Groat and the legendary Rusty Kuntz (pronounced KOONTZ, you sicko).
If I were drafting a catcher/shortstop/center fielder in 1884, I definitely would avoid the guy named Tony Suck. What’s crazy, is that he was actually born “Charles Anthony Zuck.” But then he must have said: “All the guys are gonna make fun of me, see. Better change it to Suck, see. Yeah, that’ll do.” For the record, his career .151 batting average proves that, yes, he did indeed actually suck.
Candy Cummings sounds like the newest trending pornstar until you realize that it’s actually the name of a 19th-century big league pitcher. Cummings was a monstrous 5’9, 120 pounds, and went 35-12 with a 1.60 ERA for the Hartford Blue Dukes in 1876. But of course — who could forget?
I like to think Dizzy Nutter actually invented the practice of putting one’s forehead on the handle of the bat and spinning around in circles before going up to the plate to pinch hit for the Boston Braves in 1919, but unlike Dizzy himself, that’s completely made up.
Baseball-Reference knows that you’re searching for dirty words, and they have a sense of humor about it. Here’s what happens when you type in “poop” and press enter.
I find that a bit odd considering the site keeps the records for the several guys with this unfortunate nickname.
The All Animal Name Team
Doggie Miller (he was not allowed within 100 yards of Jack Kibble) , Ducky Hemp, Piggy Ward, Chief Yellow Horse (real name: Moses J. Yellow Horse), Goat Anderson, Chicken Hawks and his trusty sidekick …
50 percent Chiciken, 50 percent wolf, 100 percent REAL.
– There are several former players with the first name “Hi.” I stumbled upon this when I searched “Jasper” because I like that name and came up with a guy whose first name is funnier than “Jasper.”
– Hick Carpenter kinda looks like a hick carpenter.
– Big Jeff Pfeiffer was born “Francis Xavier Pfeiffer.” Huh?
– Shorty Des Jardien was, get this, NOT SHORT. He’s listed as 6-foot-4, which in 1916 made him the tallest man in the universe.
– Lil Stoner’s birth name is, I shit you not, “Ulysses S. Grant Stoner.”
God. Bless. America.
[h/t to Adam Flango]