Baseball Names - and
How They Got That Way! Part XVII/XVIII (J-K)
PARK The Montreal Expos ended their baseball history in the 2004 season
in the 70,000-seat Olympique Stadium, a futuristic leftover from the
Montreal Olympics. The roots of the team reach back, however, to Jarry
Park, their first home. Months before the Expos played their first
baseball game, in 1969, a site for the team had not been determined.
National League President Warren Giles, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn,
Montreal Mayor Jean Drapeau, and Montreal Expos President John McHale
came to Jarry Park "as the last thing to look at as a possibility,"
according to McHale. He continued, "There was an amateur basebal1 game
going on. There was great enthusiasm. As we walked into the park, the
people recognized Warren Giles, and they stood up. They cried out: 'Le
grand patron. Le grand patron!' Giles said, 'This is the place. This is
the place. This is the only place I've seen where we can play baseball
in Montreal.'" The Expos expanded the amateur ball park from the 2,000
seats that existed behind home plate to a facility that accommodated
28,000. In the ninth year of their existence, the Expos left Jarry Park
and its tonjours un beau coup ("a hit every time") basebal1 for
something new. The old park remains for the people of Montreal une
aJ7aire du cocur ("an affair of the heart").
"Jet" Sam Jethroe, for his tremendous speed on the
bases. He was one of the first Negro League players to break through
baseball's color barrier, the first black athlete to play for the Boston
""Joltin' Joe" Joe DiMaggio, for the jolting shots he hit.
JUG-HANDLE CURVE A wide-breaking curveball.
PITCHER A hurler who throws slow and deceptively breaking pitches, or
Gone” Juan Gonzalez got this nickname for his home run skills.
Joe" Joe Dugan earned his nickname for being AWOL from his first big
league club as a youngster
The Los Angeles Dodgers dedicated the 1978 World Series to James
Gilliam, who died at the age of 49 just before the Series began, a
victim of a cerebral hemorrhage. There have been many athletes over the
years who have been called Junior, but Gilliam seemed to have a lock on
the name as he had a lock on the emotions of all of those associated
with baseball. He was given the name when he performed as the youngest
player on the Baltimore Elite Giants, a black baseball team. There were
attempts to retire the name when Gilliam played for the Brooklyn Dodgers
and the Los Angeles Dodgers and then coached the L.A. team, but the name
endured. In the 1978 World Series, all the Dodgers wore on their uniform
sleeve a round black patch with Gilliam's number 19 on it. In
eulogy for the man who was proud he was a Dodger, it was said, "He went
through al1 of his life without ever once getting his signals crossed."
Gilliam was "Junior," but he was a big man. Also Ken Griffey and
MAN, THE Eddie Lopat was the premier left-handed pitcher for the New
York Yankees in the late 1940's and through most of the 1950's. He
recalls how he obtained his nickname: "Ben Epstein was a writer for the
New York Daily Mirror and a friend of mine from my Little Rock minor
league baseball days. He told me in 1948 that he wanted to give me a
name that would stay with me forever. 'I want to see what you think of
it—the junk man?' In those days the writers had more consideration. They
checked with players before they called them names. I told him I didn't
care what they called me just as long as I could get the batters out and
get paid for it." Epstein then wrote an article called "The Junkman
Cometh," and as Lopat says, "The rest was history." The nickname derived
from Lopat's ability to be a successful pitcher by tantalizing the
hitters with an assortment of offspeed pitches. This writer and
thousands of other baseball fans who saw Lopat pitch bragged more than
once that if given a chance, they could hit the "junk" he threw (see
scorecard symbol for a strikeout. A backwards K is denotes a strikeout
looking while a forwards K indicates a strikeout
CITY ROYALS The name Royals was chosen by the team's fans in 1969 after
the home of the "American Royal", one of the largest livestock shows
and parades in the USA. The name also in honor of the old Negro League
team in Kansas City the Monarchs.
Kauffman Stadium The Kansas City Stadium was originally named Royals
Stadium, but changed to Kauffman Stadium after original owner, Ewing
COMBINATION The second baseman and the shortstop.
OUT OF THE BOX To score runs against a pitcher in such a way that he is
removed from the game.
KNUCKLEBALL An unusual pitch that flutters as it comes to the batter
CURVE A combination knuckleball and curveball.
Harmon Kleberg played for the Washington Senators (1954-1960),
Minnesota Twins 1961-1974). His nickname was a play on his surname and a
tribute to his hitting skills.
MOUNTAIN LANDIS Judge Landis was baseball's first commissioner. He ruled
the sport with supreme authority until 1946. The first part of his name
came from the place where his father had been wounded during the Civil
"Kentucky Colonel" Earl Combs came from Kentucky
and the Crown Prince" Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig
KONG Charlie Keller played major league baseball for 13 years, all but
two of those years with the New York Yankees. Keller was a solid ball
player with a lifetime batting average of .286. He was a muscular 5'10",
185-pounder, and his nickname came from the main character of the movie
of the same name. Keller's given names were Charles Ernest, but there
were many pitchers who believed it was King Kong who was hitting against
Jim Kaat played for quite a few teams 1950s through 1970s. Nickname
was a play on his surname.
KLU Ted Kluszewski played 15 years in the major leagues. He pounded out
279 homers, recorded a lifetime slugging average of nearly .500 and a
career batting average of nearly . 300. He was a favorite of the
Cincinnati fans; at 6'2" and 225 pounds, his bulging biceps were too
huge to be contained by ordinary shirt-sleeves. Kluszewski cut off the
sleeves and started a new fashion in baseball uniforms-just as fans and
sportswriters cut off part of his name to make for a nickname more
easily pronounced and printed.
of Kennett Square" Pitcher Herb Pennock because he raised thoroughbreds
and hosted fox hunts in his home town of Kennett Square,
“Knucksie" Phil Niekro used his knuckleball to last 24-years and win
318 games with 121 of those victories coming after he turned 40.
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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
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"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
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