Baseball Names - and How They Got That Way! (P-2)
The words and
phrases are spoken and written day after day, year after year -
generally without any wonderment as to how they became part of the
language. All have a history, a story. For those of you who liked
Part I, Part II, Part III, X, XV and all the others and wanted more,
here is more, just a sampling. As always, reactions and suggestions
always welcome. And bear in mind - - this is by no means a complete
A Tacoma, Washington, native, Ron Cey of the Los Angeles Dodgers is one
of major league baseball's top third basemen. His awkward movements when
walking and, especially, when running have resulted in his nickname.
A pennant-shaped banner that symbolizes the winning of a league
PEOPLE'S CHERCE, THE
Fred "Dixie" Walker compiled a .306 batting average in an 18-year major
league baseball career, with five different teams. From 1940 to 1947 he
starred in the outfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers and won the affection
of the fans at Ebbets Field. The team had bigger stars, more proficient
players, but Walker somehow had a rapport with the fans that made him
their favorite and earned for him his "Brooklynese" nickname.
Short for Joe Pepitone out of Brooklyn, New York, of
brief major league fame with the Yankees and other teams.
Pregame warm-up action where a player chops the ball on the ground to
teammates who field the ball and flip it back to him.
OR MANAGER One who goes by past form or logical
odds and acts on the basis of these considerations.
A no-hitter in which all 27 opposing batters in a nine-inning game, for
example, do not get on base. The most famous of them all Don Larsen’s
beauty on October 8, 1956.
“I have been asked a
million times about the perfect game.” Don Larsen said. “ I never
dreamed about something like that happening and everybody is entitled to
a good day and mine came at the right time.
"I still find it hard to
believe I really pitched the perfect game," Don Larsen said. "It's
almost like a dream, like something that happened to somebody else."
The image of the Yankee
right-hander casually tossing the ball from a no-stretch windup to Yogi
Berra remains as part of baseball lore. Larsen struck out Junior Gilliam
on a breaking ball to start the game. Then the 3-2 count on Pee Wee
Reese – and the strikeout.
It all blended together -
the autumn shadows and the smoke and the haze at the stadium, the World
Series buntings on railings along the first and third base lines, the
scoreboard and the zeroes for the Dodgers of Brooklyn mounting inning
The 6'4," 240 pound hurler
threw no more than l5 pitches in any one inning against the mighty
Dodgers of Campanella, Reese, Hodges, Gilliam, Robinson, Snider and
A second inning Jackie
Robinson line drive off the glove of Andy Carey at third was picked up
by Gil McDougald. Out at first. Mantle’s great jump on a fifth inning
line drive by Gil Hodges positioned him for a backhand grab of the
ball. Hodges eighth inning hot shot down the third base line was
converted into an out by Andy Carey. Sandy Amoros and Duke Snider of the
Dodgers hit balls into the right field seats - foul but barely so.
Just two seasons before
Don Larsen pitching for Baltimore had one of the worst records ever
(3-21). He became a Yankee in the fall of 1954 in a 17-player trade. “
Nobody lost more games than me in the American League that year,” Larsen
said. “ But two of my wins came against the Yankees. That's probably
why I came to them.
In 1956, "Gooneybird,” his
teammates called him that for his late-night behavior, posted an 11-5
record. In his next-to-last start of ‘56, Larsen unveiled his no-windup
delivery. "The ghouls sent me a message," he joked explaining why.
Larsen started Game 2 in
the World Series against Brooklyn. He was atrocious walking four,
allowing four runs in 1 2/3 innings. There was no one more shocked than
the big right-hander when he learned when he arrived at Yankee Stadium
that he be the starter in Game 5.
Now he was finishing
it. "Everybody suddenly got scared we weren't playing the outfield
right," Stengel said. "I never seen so many managers." The Yankee
infield of first baseman Joe Collins, second baseman Billy Martin,
shortstop Gil McDougald and third baseman Andy Carey were ready for any
kind of play.
The Yankees were clinging
to a 2-0 lead scratched out against veteran Sal Maglie, age 39. Gilliam
hit a hard one-hopper to short to open the seventh inning, and was
thrown out by Gil McDougald. Reese and Duke Snider flied out. In the
eighth, Jackie Robinson grounded back to Larsen. Andy Carey caught
Hodges' low liner at third base. Amoros struck out.
The huge crowd of
64,519.at the stadium cheered each out. The game moved to the bottom of
the ninth inning. "If it was 9-0, Larsen would've been paying little
attention," Berra remembered. "It was close and he had to be extremely
disciplined. He was. At the start of the ninth I didn't say a thing
about how well he was throwing. I went to the mound and reminded him
that if he walked one guy and the next guy hit one out, the game was
"The last three outs were
the toughest," the Indiana native recalled. "I was so weak in the knees
that I thought I was going to faint. I was so nervous I almost fell
down. My legs were rubbery. My fingers didn't feel like they belonged to
me. I said to myself, 'Please help me somebody.'"
The 64,5l9 in the stands
were quiet. Four pitches were fouled off by Furillo and then he hit a
fly ball out to Batter in right field. Campanella grounded out weakly to
Billy Martin at second base. Left-handed batter Dale Mitchell pinch hit
for Sal Maglie. It would be the final major league at bat for the
35-year-old lifetime .3l2 hitter. Announcer Bob Wolff called it this
"Count is one and one.
And this crowd just straining forward on every pitch. Here it
comes....a swing and a miss! Two strikes, ball one to Dale Mitchell.
Listen to this crowd! I'll guarantee that nobody - but nobody - has left
this ball park. And if somebody did manage to leave early man he's
missing the greatest! Two strikes and a ball. . . Mitchell waiting,
stands deep, feet close together. Larsen is ready, gets the sign. Two
strikes, ball one, here comes the pitch. Strike three! A no-hitter! A
perfect game for Don Larsen!"
That final pitch -
Larsen's 97th of the game that took just 2 hours and six minutes - was
the only one that elicited controversy.
"The third strike on
Mitchell was absolutely positively a strike on the outside corner,"
Berra maintains to this day. "No question about it. People say it was a
ball and that I rushed the mound to hug Larsen to make the umpire think
it was a strike. Nonsense. It was a perfect strike."
Casey Stengel was asked
"Was that the best game he had ever seen Larsen pitch?"
"'So far,'" was the Yankee
The rest of Larsen's
14-year career - with eight teams - consisted of unbroken mediocrity
punctuated with flashes of competence. He finished with an 81-91 record
and 3.78 ERA.
Named the MVP of the
Series by Sport magazine for his epic feat, Larsen received a Corvette.
He also earned about $35,000 in endorsements and appearances, including
$6,000 for being on Bob Hope's TV show. He spent $1,000 for plaques
commemorating the game and gave them to his teammates, Yankee
executives, the six umpires, his parents and close friends.
The man who the reached
perfection also received many letters and notes including this one:
“Dear Mr. Larsen:
It is a noteworthy event when anybody achieves perfection in
anything. It has been so long since anyone pitched a perfect big
league game that I have to go back to my generation of
ballplayers to recall such a thing – and that is truly a long
“This note brings
you my very sincere congratulations on a memorable feat, one
that will inspire pitchers for a long time to come. With best
President of the United States
“I pitched for 14 years with 8 different clubs and won
only 81 games,” Larsen said. “ Hey, I gave it my best shot and I tried
and I wish my record had been better but I was very pleased to get into
the World Series and pitch the Perfect Game. And I guess that is what I
will always be remembered for.
“I have been asked a million times about the perfect
game,” Larsen mused. “I never dreamed about something like that
happening. Everybody is entitled to a good day, and mine came at the
Right field foul pole at Fenway Park in Boston is only
302 feet from home plate. Its name allegedly came from former Sox
infielder Johnny Pesky’s proclivity in hitting dingers past the pole.
The facts - Pesky hit only 17 home runs in his entire 10-year career,
and only a half dozen of those were at Fenway Park. The name “pesky
Pole” is supposed to have been coined by Mel Parnell after Pesky hit a
homer there that helped Parnell win a game. But the phrase didn't become
popular until the late 1980s or early 1990s.
The nickname derived from "Philly, an inhabitant of the city. In the
early days, aso spelled Fillies. From 1943-1944, the team was known as
the Blue Jays, and there was a time it was also known as the Quakers.
Pie Traynor may have received his nickname for his
favorite childhood food.
PINE TAR GAME (July
24, August 18, 1983) The 1983 season was an up and down one for the
Yankees. But on July 24, things were on the upside. They were positioned
to take over first place as they prepared to play the Royals of Kansas
City at Yankee Stadium.
The game that was played that day was
fairly ordinary. As it moved to the top of the ninth inning, the Yankees
had a 4-3 lead. The Royals came to bat in the top of the ninth. No one
could have forecast what would come next.
There were two outs. Goose Gossage
was one out away from the wrap up of the Yankee victory. George Brett
had other ideas. Home run, into the stands in right field!
The Royal superstar ran out
the homer that had apparently given his team a 5-4 lead. But just
seconds after crossing the plate and going into his dugout, Brett saw
Yankee manager Billy Martin approach home plate rookie umpire Tim
"I was feeling pretty good about
myself after hitting the homer," Brett said. "I was sitting in the
dugout. Somebody said they were checking the pine tar, and I said, 'If
they call me out for using too much pine tar, I'm going to kill one of
McClelland called to the Royal
dugout and asked to see Brett's bat. Then he conferred with his umpiring
crew. Martin watched from a few feet away. Brett looked out from the
bench. Then McClelland thrust his arm in the air. It was the signal that
indicated George Brett was out - - excessive use of pine tar on his
McClelland had brought forth rule
1.10(b): "a bat may not be covered by such a substance more than 18
inches from the tip of the handle." The umpire ruled that Brett's bat
had "heavy pine tar" 19 to 20 inches from the tip of the handle and
lighter pine tar for another three or four inches.
The home run was disallowed. The game
was over. The Yankees were declared 4-3 winners. Brett, enraged, raced
out of the dugout. Then mayhem and fury took center stage. Brett, not
your calmest player, lost it.
At one point, umpire Joe Brinkman had
Brett in a choke hold. That was the easy part for the Royal superstar.
The next thing that happened to him was that he was ejected from the
game and went berserk. Others did, too.
Royals pitcher Gaylord Perry grabbed
the bat from McClelland who tossed it to Hal McRae who passed it on to
pitcher Steve Renko who was halfway up the tunnel to the team clubhouse.
Then Yankee Stadium security guards grabbed him and grabbed the bat
which was then impounded.
The Royals lodged a protest of the
Yankee victory. The Yankees went off to Texas where they won three games
and took over first place for the first time that season.
The almost comical mess was debated
by baseball fans all over the nation. The media couldn’t get enough of
it. “Why a .356 hitter like George Brett,” Time Magazine
commented would lumber along with a Marv Throneberry Model (lifetime
.237) is the sort of paradox that, scientists say, has trees talking to
Eventually American League president Lee McPhail
over-turned McClelland's decision. Acknowledging that Brett had pine
tar too high on the bat, McPhail explained that it was the league's
belief that "game's should be won and lost on the playing field-not
through technicalities of the rules."
Yankee owner George Steinbrenner was miffed. "I wouldn't
want to be Lee MacPhail living in New York!" he snapped.
The Brett home run was re-instated. The Royals' protest
was upheld. The contest was declared "suspended." Both teams were told
to find a mutually agreeable time, continue playing the game and
The date was August 18th.
Play was resumed for the last four outs of a game that had begun on July
24th. The Yankees, strangely anxious to make a few more bucks,
announced they would charge regular admission for the game’s
continuation. There were fan mumblings of protest. The Yankees quietly
changed the charging admission idea. It was too late and to no avail.
Only 1,200 fans showed up.
The atmosphere was bizarre.
To show their rage and annoyance at the whole turn of events, the
Yankees for the final out of the top of the ninth
played pitcher Ron Guidry in centerfield and
outfielder Don Mattingly (a lefthander) at second base. Guidry
played center field because the Yankees had traded away Jerry Mumphrey,
who had come into the game for defensive purposes. New York’s George
Frazier struck out McRae for the third out. In the bottom of the ninth
Royals' reliever Dan Quisenberry was able to retire the Yankees in
order. The “Pine tar Game(s)” belonged to history.
Pete Reiser played only a decade of major league
baseball, less than 1,000 games, but Harold Reiser exploded like a
pistol on the fans and players of baseball in the early 1940's. In his
second season (1941), he led the National League in batting (.343), and
twice he was the stolen-base leader. Tragic collisions against the
outfield walls in St. Louis and then in Brooklyn damaged him, slowed his
talent, and reduced his skills. There are those who still wonder how
great he might have been if not for the pounding he took against those
unpadded outfield walls.
Avg A Batting Average Against (Hitter's batting average
against that pitcher) H/AB
BB Bases on Balls (Walks)
BF Batters Faced
BF/9 Batters Faced Per Nine Innings
CG Complete Games
ERA Earned Run Average (Earned Runs/Innings Times Nine)
GB Ground Balls
GF Games Finished
GS Games Started
HBP Hit By Pitch
HR Home Runs Allowed
IBB Intentional Bases on Balls
IP Innings Pitched
WP Wild Pitches
Pittsburgh entered the National League in 1887, assuming
the Kansas City, Missouri, franchise. Regaled in garish, striped
baseball uniforms at the start, the team was called the Potato Bugs,
Zulus, Smoked Italians, and Alleghenies. The franchise was called the
Innocents until 1891 when it signed second baseman Lou Bierbatter. His
old club, the Philadelphia Athletics, and its fans weren't at all happy
about the way Bierbatter was "obtained" and dubbed his new club the
Pirates because they "pirated" the star player away from them. Not much
happened after that as far as Bierbatter was concerned—he hit .206 that
year—but he was the "loot" that earned the Pittsburgh franchise the name
The player who is positioned on the pitcher's mound who throws the ball
to the plate (HURLER; MOUNDSMAN; CHUCKER; TWIRLER).
Language and Symbols
Bases on Balls (Walks)
Batters Faced Per Nine
Earned Run Average (Earned
Runs/Innings Times Nine)
Hit By Pitch
Home Runs Allowed
Intentional Bases on Balls
Pitcher’s Toe Attachment
to the front of a pitcher's shoe on the pivot foot, used to protect the
top of the shoe and made of leather or plastic.
PNC Park Ceremonial
groundbreaking for PNC Park took place on April 7, 1999 and opening day
took place just two years later on April 9, 2001 with a sellout crowd of
36,954 at the new home of the Pirates named after PNC Bank, who paid in
excess of $30 million for the naming
During the 1880's, the National League baseball team was
known as the New Yorkers. There was another team in town, the New York
Metropolitans of the fledgling American Association. Both teams played
their season-opening games on a field across from Central Park's
northeastern corner at 110th Street and Fifth Avenue. The land on which
they played was owned by New York Herald Tribune publisher James Gordon
Bennett. Bennett and his society friends had played polo on that field
and that's how the baseball field came to be known as the Polo Grounds.
In 1889 the New York National League team moved its games to a new
location at 157th Street and Eighth Avenue. The site was dubbed the new
Polo Grounds and eventually was simply called the Polo Grounds. Polo was
never played there.
Hall of Fame outfielder Willie Stargell led Pittsburgh
Pirate family for 21 years.
Former slabman Half Reniff, a bit on that side
Eddie Popowski didn't take the field in Major League as a player, but
"Pop" spent 65 years as a member of the Boston Red Sox franchise. He
first joined the Red Sox organization in 1937, spending time as a
Willie Stargell led Pirate family - 21 years as a
PRIDE OF PENACOOK
Yankee third baseman and Dartmouth graduate Robert Abial “Red” Rolfe's
nickname came from the little town he hailed from in New Hampshire.
PRINCE OF THE CITY
Derek Jeter, for his good lucks and almost elegant
PRIDE OF THE YANKEEES
Lou Gehrig, and he was.
Charismatic, elegant, Hal Chase had a royal quality about him.
THE PRINCIPAL OWNER
George Steinbrenner, no doubt here.
PRIDE OF THE YANKEES
Lou Gehrig was that.
was also known as "The Little Steam Engine," and "Gentle
Jeems." "Pud" was short for "pudding."
Hall of fame catcher Carlton Fisk was called by this
nickname for his chunky physique as a youngster and teenager.
as a youth earned the nickname not due to comparisons with catching
great Carlton Fisk, but in reference to his weight.
PUSH BUTTON MANAGER
Joe McCarthy, for his by the book ways.
You can reach
Harvey Frommer at:
About the Author:
Harvey Frommer is in his 38th year of writing books.
A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports
books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and
"Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE
STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL
AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to
acclaim in 2011. The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was
Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath,
The Sporting News, among other publications.
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