Cleveland’s occasionally feared homerun hitter earned his nickname in 2001, during his brief time with the Texas Rangers. Legend has it (as does a 2007 article in Sport’s Illustrated entitled “Pronk of the Prairie”) that Hafner had two nicknames while attending Rangers’ spring training: Project (due of his inexperience) and Donkey (due to his clumsy style of running the bases).
Bill Selby reportedly said, “Hey, Project. What’s up, you big donkey?” Hafner’s response was “You can’t call me both!” So Selby created Pronkey, the fusion of Project and Donkey, which eventually evolted into El Pronko, and finally Pronk.
In 2006, Malley’s Chocolate created the Pronk Bar, and a Pronk Bar wrapper can be found in the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.
Dayn Perry of NotGraphs has created the greatest nickname generator of all-time, in the process shaming the porn star and Jersey Shore generators. As Perry describes it:
“As you are no doubt aware, the Orioles of that vintage were a tough bunch of men. They drank all the liquor in America, they went decades without sleeping, they brawled against Norse gods, and they saw all of their children killed gruesomely by primitive farming equipment. All of these things are facts.”
It is only fair and right for there to be an internet device to help give us nicknames. Mine is “The Promise of Famine,” which I quite like. Maybe I’ll add it to my resume.
Click through for yours.
Sean Casey was regarded as approachable and friendly, and his nickname, “the Mayor,” comes from his reputation for chatting casually with every runner who makes it to first base.
In 1994 when he played in the Cape Cod League, he became known for the guy who talked to everyone. His coach at the time started calling him the mayor, asking if Casey was lobbying for votes or something.
Casey was voted in 2007 as “the friendliest player in baseball” by fellow players in a Sports Illustrated poll.
I think we can attribute a lot of today’s players routines from the original: Mike Hargrove. He would drive pitchers crazy with his routine after each pitch. 1: Adjust helmet 2: Adjust batting glove 3: Pull each sleeve on his uniform up and 4: Wipe each hand on his uniform pants.
Albert Orth had a successful major League career, winning over 200 games, with a 27 win season in 1906. He managed to have all of this success without having a curveball in his repertoire. He was one of the more successful slow ball pitchers of his era. Orth was also a very successful hitter for a pitcher, with a .273 career batting average.
Conine appeared in Florida’s inaugural opening day lineup and went on to earn World Series rings in 1997 and 2003. He is the only person in Marlins history to have played on both championship squads. He appeared with four other teams following his second stint in Florida, but signed a one-day contract in 2008 to retire as a Marlin.
Thomas William Mee worked as a clerk, baliff and surprise, a judge in Chicago. Mee only played a few weeks in the majors for the Browns, but it was enough to earn him a nickname.
With a name like Wirt Virgin Cannell, you’d better get a good nickname fast. Virgin earned his nickname in the minors for being a solid batsman for the Boston Beaneaters.
“Bullet Bob”, “Rapid Robert” and “The Heater from Van Meter”
Bob Feller’s incredible talents on the baseball diamond earned him a lot of nicknames. He is widely regarded as the hardest throwing pitcher in baseball history, though his prime was before clocking pitch speed was an everyday occurrence. In 1946 he threw the second fastest pitch ever officially recorded, at a blazing 107.6 mph. The HEater From Van Meter references Feller’s hometown in Van Meter, Iowa.
Belle preferred the clubhouse be cold, below 60 degrees. According to Buster Olney, once a teammate tried to turn up the heat and Belle responded by smashing the thermostat with a bat.
Antonio Alfonseca was born with an extra digit on his hands and feet, earning him the nickname “El Pulpo” or “The Octopus. It should be noted that Octopi have 8 tentacles, not 6.
Frank Leroy Chance played most of his career with the Chicago Cubs as a catcher, outfielder and first baseman. “Husk” was short for husky, as Chance stood 6′ tall and weighed 190 lbs.
Babe Ruth had a hard time remembering his teammate’s names, so he was frequently doing out nicknames. Myles Thomas was a right handed pitcher and a teammate of Ruth’s from 1926—1929. Ruth thought the shape of Thomas’s eyes resembled a ducks, with a flattened top eyelid and a very rounded bottom.
“The Walking Man”
While Eddie Yost was never a prolific hitter (he had a career batting average of .254 and had little slugging ability) the lead-off man was especially talented at drawing walks. He drew 1,614 free passes during his career, making him 11th on the all time list. Only 4 players have drawn more walks in a season than Yost did in 1956; Babe Ruth, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds and Ted Williams.
Cepeda got his first nickname for being a young right handed slugger. “Cha Cha” was given to him in St. Louis while playing for the Cardinals because of his love of salsa music.
Lou was not the swiftest of foot, despite being an infielder, and earned himself the nickname of “Old Shufflefoot” because of it.
Frank Thomas was given the nickname “The Big Hurt” by Ken Harrelson in 1992.
Wynn was just five feet-seven inches tall and weighed in at 165 pounds. But he had great power. Although he played most of his career in the spacious grounds of the Houston Astrodome, Wynn hit 291 home runs, and had three seasons of more than 30 dingers. A little guy who could hit big homers? He could only be called the Toy Cannon.
“The Folk Hero” & “Raw Dog”
Brooks was given the nickname “The Folk Hero” by the users of the Bravesjournal blog in reference to Conrad’s penchant for hitting pinch hit Grand alms to win ballgames. “Raw Dog” was given to him by his teammates because of his practive of not wearing batting gloves.
George C. “Scoops” Carey
Carey was a fancy fielding first baseman known for his ability to scoop throws out of the dirt.