“Three Finger Brown” Had Four Fingers…and a Great Nickname

A look at players’ nicknames from yesterday and today.


Babe RuthBaseball has a long history of players with colorful nicknames. It’s as much a part of the game as the names of teams are. That’s what makes baseball great. Is it a coincidence that perhaps the most famous baseball player of all time, George Herman Ruth, had no fewer than four well-known nicknames? He had many more, but these are the ones that have lasted through the years:


The Sultan of Swat

The Colossus of Clout

The Great Bambino

The Babe


Even old Yankee Stadium had its own nickname: The House That Ruth Built. Here’s a look at the best nicknames, the most recognized, the old and the new, and a little background here and there. (To make for a quick read, this article leaves off the teams the players were on.)


Great players. Great nicknames.

Mordecai Brown, who played for the Cubs from 1903–16, mutilated his hand in a corn shredder when he was seven years old. He had lost only one finger—however, two fingers on the same hand were also mangled. When he got to the majors, he became known as “Three Finger Brown.” It seems political correctness and sensitivity weren’t an issue back then.


Here are some of the other best-known nicknames in baseball:


The Say Hey Kid---Willie Mays

The Iron Horse---Lou Gehrig

Charlie Hustle---Pete Rose

Hammerin’ Hank---Hank Aaron

The Flying Dutchman---Honus Wagner

The Georgia Peach---Ty Cobb

Mr. Cub---Ernie Banks

The Yankee Clipper,Joltin’ Joe---Joe Dimaggio

The Splendid Splinter, The Kid, Teddy Ballgame---Ted Williams

The Commerce Comet, The Mic---Mickey Mantle


“Lefty” isn’t a real name.

Some player nicknames are so ingrained that we don’t even know what the real name is! No mother would name her kid “Goose,” would she? Then again, “Lefty” Gomez sounds a bit more fun than Vernon Louis Gomez. Here are a few more:


Whitey Ford---Edward

Dizzy Dean---Jay

Daffy Dean---Paul

Yogi Berra---Lawrence

Satchel Paige---Leroy

Pee Wee Reese---Harold

Bucky Dent---Russell

Chipper Jones---Larry

Dusty Baker---Johnnie B.

Sparky Anderson---George

Catfish Hunter---Jim

Goose Gossage---Richard

Mudcat Grant---James


Sparky Anderson was also known as “Captain Hook” (a classic nickname!) because he was known to pull a pitcher without hesitation and bring in another.


A little this, a little that.

A popular way to create a nickname is to combine parts of the player’s first and last names. Probably one of the first well-known “combo” nicknames was “HoJo,” for the Mets Howard Johnson.


K-Rod---Francisco Rodriguez

A-Rod---Alex Rodriguez

Dice-K---Daisuke Matsuzaka

A-Gone---Adrian Gonzalez

Car-Go---Carlos Gonzalez

Car-Mart---Carlos Martinez


The real deal.


The Big Hurt---Frank Thomas

The Big Unit---Randy Johnson

The Human Rain Delay---Steve Trachsel

The Human Vacuum Cleaner---Brooks Robinson 

The Mad Hungarian---Hal Hrabosky

The Scooter---Phil Rizutto

The Toy Cannon---Jimmy Wynn Houston

The Count---John Montefusco

The Melkman---Melky Cabrera


Sometimes the player’s nickname practically becomes part of their full name, like this:


Stan “The Man” Musial

“Sudden” Sam McDowell

Enos “Country” Slaughter

“Cool” Papa Bell

Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson

Walter “Big Train” Johnson

Will “The Thrill” Clark



The latest and greatest.

The old players (and old sportswriters) don’t have anything on today’s bunch. Great nicknames are everywhere!


Big Papi---David Ortiz

Joey Bats---Jose Bautista

The Machine---Albert Pujols

Flash Gordon---Dee Gordon

The Toddfather---Todd Frazier

El Oso Blanco---Evan Gattis

The Cuban Missile---Aroldis Chapman

Boomstick---Nelson Cruz

The Flyin’ Hawaiian---Shane Victorino

Captain America---David Wright

Country Breakfast---Billy Butler

Harangatang---Aaron Harang

Puddin’ Head---Willie Jones

Nat Geo---Geo Gonzalez

The Freak---Tim Lincecum

La Potencia---Yoenis Cespedes

Big Pasta---Alfredo Simon

Thor (Wicked Hammer)---Noah Syndergaard


The best of the rest. 

Over the past several decades, we’ve had some great ballplayers and some great nicknames for them. You’ll probably recognize most of these, and a few might come to mind that aren’t here…


Godzilla---Hideki Matsui

Spaceman---Bill Lee

Louisiana Lightning---Ken Guidry

El Duque---Orlando Hernandez

Cobra---Dave Parker

Big Cat---Andres Galarraga

Pops---Willie Stargel

Penguin---Ron Cey

Tom Terrific---Tom Seaver

Le Grande Orange---Rusty Staub

The Sandman---Mariano Rivera

Crime Dawg---Fred McGriff

Doctor K---Dwight Gooden

The Wizard of Oz---Ozzie Smith

Dr. Strangeglove---Dick Stuart

Wild Thing---Mitch Williams

The Bird---Mark Fiddrich

Rocket---Roger Clemens

Big Mac---Mark McGuire

Yaz---Carl Yazstremski

Stretch---Willie McCovey

Donnie Baseball---Don Mattingly

Mr. November---Derek Jeter

Mr. October---Reggie Jackson

Big Puma---Lance Berkman

Picture Credit URL: http://www.number5typecollection.com/2011/09/1928-babe-ruth-candy-baseball-5.html