On a Beach Walk: #69 (Baseball – The Season)

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(Part 2 of 3)

I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Every mid-February while many are in the midst of winter’s firm grip, the time as come for pitchers and catchers to report for Spring Training.

February-March is the time of the year when baseball hearts emerge from the cold ground as those initial shoots of daffodils. A time when interest and hope are in the air as our Boys of Summer prepare for the annual Rite of Spring.

To baseball fans, spring is a time of hope, resurrection, and anticipation – a time for believing this is the year. To some, that hope may be dashed by mid-May, but hearts remain loyal to their team. There’s always next year! Even while languishing in the cellar, hearts still rejoice with each win – and feels low with each loss.

Baseball is a game played by fan favorites – the icons and legends. Lovers of the game can feel the presence of Ruth, Cobb, Gehrig, Hornsby, and Musial while cherishing the Big Train, the Iron Horse, Wee Willie, Double X, and many more. Unfortunately, most if us knew very little about Satch, Josh, and Cool Papa.

Baseball fans know their childhood heroes as Charlies Hustle, Yaz, Doggie, Little Joe, the Say-Hey Kid, Duke, Mr. Cub, and Pops while fearing the Big Swish, King Kong, and Killer.

Baseball fans appreciate generational links as Ken Griffey Senior and Junior – the 3 generations of Boones or Bells.

The successful careers of brothers as the Alous is difficult to comprehend – let alone contemplating that Boog Powell should have been one of them.

Baseball – that national fascination that grew with the Golden Age of Radio. The game causing families to gather around a large box in the living room to cheer their heroes. A game that a future US President would recreate in a studio from a telegraphic ticker.

Every city has revered radio announcers – names that fans elsewhere may not know – but to locals, these are trusted voices who speak for them. Therefore, it is fitting that the hallowed halls of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York has an announcer’s wing – yet each fan prefers the voice of the one from our team.

I grew up in a time when people listened to many more games than watching. The Reds on TV were a rare treat to be savoured and not missed.

There was a time when Opening Day was Cincinnati’s day – a day all of baseball reserved for its first professional team – a day marking the season’s beginning for the entire baseball universe. This was done at a time before baseball sold its soul to cable TV in the name of money – even opening on another continent – but Cincinnatians ignore everyone and keep its traditions by hosting their Opening Day like no other place.

Baseball season is a marathon – not a sprint. The joy of today will be tempered by the sadness of tomorrow – and that tomorrow will provide the hope for another chance at joy.

There was a time when the October classic was fittingly named and didn’t crown a champion on a cold night in late October or early November. The end of the World Series truly meant the arrival of fall instead of the trumpeting of winter. A time when the leaves would swirl in empty stadiums and the ivy on Wrigley’s walls would go dormant – a time when colder temperatures were nearing, but not here yet.

As snows gather on the northern pallacial diamonds – yet we fans wait as flower bulbs below the snow-covered surface for the return of that annual Rite of Spring.

Baseball season is one of the many cycles of life – just like birds flying south for the winter – just like I vacate my northern outpost. After all, walking the beach is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Real Names in Baseball

As we know, baseball has an endless list of nicknames. On the other hand, sometimes the player is best known by either his nickname, middle name, or a modification of some sort.

Below is a list of 20 known players and 20 real names, so this is a matching exercise with each answer used once. A fair share of these are easy, so enjoy and good luck. Answers are below the video (a triple play on a ball hit by Chipper).  Tell us how you did.

Players: Buck Ewing, Casey Stengel, Chipper Jones, Cool Papa Bells, Cy Young, Dizzy Dean, Duke Snider, Gabby Harnett, Goose Goslin, Hack Wilson, Honus Wagner, Lefty Gomez, Lefty Grove, Pee Wee Reese, Pie Traynor, Satchel Paige, Smokey Burgess, Sparky Anderson, Tug McGraw, Willie Stargell

First Names: Charles, Charles, Denton, Edwin, Forrest, Frank, George, Harold, James, Jay, John, Larry,  Lawrence, Leon, Leroy, Lewis, Robert, Vernon, William, Wilver

Buck Ewing – William
Casey Stengel – Charles
Cool Papa Bell – James
Cy Young – Denton
Dizzy Dean – Jay
Duke Snider – Edwin
Gabby Hartnett – Charles
Goose Goslin – Leon
Hack Wilson – Lewis
Honus Wagner – John
Lefty Gomez – Vernon
Lefty Grove – Robert
Pee Wee Reese – Harold
Pie Traynor – Harold
Satchel Paige – Leroy
Smokey Burgess – Forrest
Sparky Anderson – George
Tug McGraw – Frank
Willie Stargell – Wilver
Yogi Berra – Lawrence

On Baseball Nicknames

Earlier this year we lost Mark The Bird Fidrych and The Little Professor, Dom DiMaggio. Although nicknames for baseball players are endless, here’s a quiz about The Bird, Moose, Godzilla, Charlie Hustle, the Georgia Peach, and all the other nicknames in baseball.

Below is a list of 25 players and 25 nicknames, so this is a matching exercise with each answer used once. A fair share of these are easy, so enjoy and good luck. Answers are below the video (a triple play without batter contacting the ball). Let us know how you did.

Players: Adam Dunn, Brooks Robinson, Charlie Spikes, Chris Sabo, Christy Mathewson, Dave Parker, Dick Stuart, Early Wynn, Eddie Stanky, Enos Slaughter, Ernie Lombardi, Frank Viola, Frankie Frisch, Jeffery Leonard, Jim Palmer, Joe Medwick, Lenny Dykstra, Luke Appling, Orlando Cepada, Roy Halladay, Walt Williams, Walter Johnson, Whitey Ford, Willie McCovey, Willie Stargell

Nicknames: Big Donkey, Big Six, Big Train, Bogalusa Bomber, Cakes, Cha Cha, Chairman of the Board, Cobra, Country, Doc, Dr. Strangeglove, Ducky, Fordham Flash, Gus, Hoover, Nails, No Neck, Old Aches and Pains, Old Penitentiary Face, Pops, Schnozz, Spuds, Sweet Music, Stretch, The Brat

Adam Dunn – Big Donkey
Brooks Robinson – Hoover
Charlie Spikes – Bogalusa Bomber
Chris Sabo – Spuds
Christy Mathewson – Big Six
Dave Parker – Cobra
Dick Stuart – Dr. Strangeglove
Early Wynn – Gus
Eddie Stanky – The Brat
Enos Slaughter – Country
Ernie Lombardi – Schnozz
Frank Viola – Sweet Music
Frankie Frisch – Fordham Flash
Jim Palmer – Cakes
Jeffery Leonard – Old Penitentiary Face
Joe Medwick – Ducky
Lenny Dykstra – Nails
Luke Appling – Old Aches and Pains
Orlando Cepada – Cha Cha
Roy Halladay – Doc
Walt Williams – No Neck
Walter Johnson – Big Train
Whitey Ford – Chairman of the Board
Willie McCovey – Stretch
Willie Stargell – Pops

On Bermanisms

Below are a list of 30 nicknames plus a list of 30 players with a line signifying the place for the nickname. See how you do. Answers are found below the player list.

A Bedtime Story, And Bear It, Babbling, Bay City, Be Home, Bomba, Brandy, Bunch, Eat Drink and, Good Housekeeping, Highway, If I had a, Junk, New kids on the, Life of, OK, Room and, Sergeant, Smallmouth, Snap Crackle, Sockeye, South of the, Supreme Court, Swimming, The Flying, Ticket, Win Place or, Winnie the, Wrap, Young Again


Albert Winnie the Pujols
Atlee If I had a Hammaker
Bert Be Home Blyleven
Brady Bunch Anderson
Chuck New Kids on the Knoblauch
Craig Reynolds Wrap
David Supreme Court Justice
Doyle Brandy Alexander
Eddie Eat Drink and Be Murray
Eric Win Place or Show
Franklin Ticket Stubbs
Gary Redus a Bedtime Story
Greg Life of Briley
Hubie Babbling Brooks
Joe Sergeant Carter
Kevin Smallmouth Bass
Mark Bay City Wohlers
Mike Room and Bordick
Oddibe Young Again McDowell
Pat OK Corrales
Pat South of the Borders
Rick Junk Mahler
Rob Bomba Deer
Robb the Flying Nenn
Robin Ventura Highway
Terry Swimming Puhl
Tim Sockeye Salmon
Todd Snap Crackle Van Poppel
Todd Good Housekeeping Ziele
Tony Gwynn and Bear It

So how did you do? Any favorites on the list or not listed?

On Bits of Baseball

Stadium Trivia
Baseball has a reach history in these current MLB cities. Match the stadium with the city. Matches occur only once and all are used. Some easy ones, but I believe most something challenging here because not all were MLB teams. By the way, some of these also had other names during their history. Answers are found at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago 1, Chicago 2, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Texas, Toronto, Washington

Babe Ruth Stadium, Baker Bowl, Blues Stadium, Borchert Field, Colt Stadium, Exposition Park, Exposition Stadium, Griffith Stadium, Hilltop Park, Huntington Avenue Grounds, League Park, Navin Field, Nicollet Park, Palace of the Fans, Ponce de Leon Park, Seals Stadium, Sick’s Stadium, Sportsman’s Park, South Side Park, Turnpike Stadium, West Side Grounds, Westgate Park, Wrigley Field,

Baseball Tidbits
Baseball players have a culture full of nicknames. Here’s a link compiling many of nicknames by teams.

Speaking of nicknames, those of us who remember the early days of ESPN appreciated early Chris Berman more than today’s version. Since I loved the nicknames he used on Sports Center, here’s a list.

Scientific American has a Science of Baseball page with great information.

Jim Bowden operated a sham while GM in Cincinnati, and continued to display his ineffectiveness with the Nationals. Hal McCoy, a Hall-of-Fame writer for the Dayton Daily News, wrote this column about Bowden in early March.

I didn’t know that retired Yankee outfielder Bernie Williams played the guitar. I appreciate his rendition of Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Stadium Trivia Answers
Atlanta – Ponce de Leon Park
Baltimore – Babe Ruth Stadium
Boston – Huntington Avenue Grounds
Chicago A – South Side Park
Chicago B – West Side Grounds
Cincinnati – Palace of the Fans
Cleveland – League Park
Detroit – Navin Field
Houston – Colt Stadium
Kansas City – Blues Stadium
Los Angeles – Wrigley Field
Milwaukee – Borchert Field
Minneapolis – Nicollet Park
New York – Hilltop Park
Philadelphia – Baker Bowl
Pittsburgh – Exposition Park
St. Louis – Sportsman’s Park
San Diego – Westgate Park
San Francisco – Seals Stadium
Seattle – Sick’s Stadium
Texas – Turnpike Stadium
Toronto – Exposition Stadium
Washington – Griffith Stadium

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 16

On NCAA Nicknames
For those loving team nicknames, and in the spirit of the Road to the Final Four that gets in full swing today, here are great trivia questions from Richard Rosenblatt, AP Sports Writer.

On Women’s Basketball Tournament
The only time I really follow the NCAA women’s tournament is when my alma mater is in the mix. Fans may remember Bowling Green’s surprise run to the Sweet 16 in 2007. Interestingly, this year’s Falcons were 28-4, won 28 of their last 30, won 25 in a row, won the MAC (15-1), ranked 39 in the RPI, lost in the conference tournament finals by 4, but had a weak strength of schedule – All translating into an NIT bid.

On an Achievement
Congratulations Martin Broudeur on becoming NHL’s most-winning goaltender of all-time (list). Quite a feat, of course so was passing my alltime favorite: Mr. Goalie, Glenn Hall.

On Alternative Energy
Columnist Thomas Freidman had an excellent column about stepping-up-to-the-plate to think beyond typical alternative energy sources.

On Speaker Pelosi
Speaker Pelosi amazed me by declaring she’s not a partisan leader. I agree because she’s no more partisan than John Boehner; yet we continually wonder why Washington is dominated by the clueless. The link for those who want to read more.

On Washington Dealing with Problems
When Congress met after 9-11, do you think the hallowed halls were filled with partisan BS or constructive dialogue? Sure it was the later because our legislators knew the seriousness of the situation.

Compare that to their actions now. Hmmm … Which of the following does their partisan dogma signal?
A) They don’t think there’s an economic problem
B) They don’t want to solve the problem
C) The economic problem doesn’t exist

Meanwhile, this David Ignatius column is well done.

On Congress & AIG
Sure the public is outraged about the AIG bonuses. Meanwhile, members of Congress continue to grandstand their outrage in front of the press and committee hearings.

Meanwhile, Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) is responsible for the legislation edit/loophole allowing the bonuses. Ever wonder about his main contributors? Here they are. (See these tabs: Industries, PACs, & Donors)

On Other Bonuses
While on vacation 2 weeks ago, I noticed a company paying big executive bonuses the day before reducing 401k contributions to all employees. I only wish I could recall the company’s name.

On Cheese
Staying with the theme of things that smell, if you want to learn more about cheese, check out this site.

All Those Team Nicknames

Think about all the team nicknames in sports. This post examines nicknames and attempts to look at them from a different perspective: taxonomy (classification).

To simplify things, I concentrated on pro and college teams; which are enough because high schools take nicknames to a whole new level. But still, high schools names fit into this scheme as well. Instead of listing all the examples of each category, I’ll include an example or two most of the time.

Nicknames can be grouped into 4 kingdoms: Biology, People, Culture, and (in honor of Jeopardy) Potpourri.

The Biology Kingdom provides Arachnids (Spiders), Aquatic (Seawolves), Birds (Peacocks, Chanticleers), Canines (Salukis), Dog Relatives (Lobos), Den Dwellers (Grizzlies), Equines (Colts, Broncos), Felines (Catamounts), Horned Animals (Stags), Insects (Bollweevils), Reptiles (Terrapins, Rattlers), Ungulates (Longhorns, Bulls, Camels), Trees (Sycamores, Buckeyes, Oaks), Vegetables (Fighting Artichokes, Fighting Okra {an unofficial nickname}), and hordes of other animals as Jackrabbits, Razorbacks, Anteaters, Wombats, and Predators.

The People Kingdom brings us Fighting Groups (Leathernecks, Musketeers), The Daring (Flyers, Racers, Trail Blazers, Claim Jumpers), Government Officials (Presidents, Governors, Statesmen, Senators, Diplomats), Organized Groups (Volunteers, Patriots), Heritage Groups (Ragin’ Cajuns, Nanooks, Flying Dutchmen, Cossacks), Hispanic Themed (Gauchos, Matadors, Toreros), The Influential (Dukes, Barons, Lords), Military (Generals, Colonels, Paladins), Native Americans (a controversy I won’t address), Number-based Groups (49’ners, 76’ers), Occupations (Boilermakers, Brewers, Truckers, Hatters, Poets), Villains (Vandals, Marauders, Privateers), and the Western Frontier (Spurs, Cowboys, Gauchos).

The Culture Kingdom provides many other looks at life as Man-Made Objects (Jets, Hatchets, Wooden Shoes), Music (Blues, Jazz), Mythical (Billikens, Wizards, Titans), Regional Features (Hokies, Hilltoppers, Twins), Religion (Battling Bishops, Quakers, Padres), and Themselves (Phillies and yes, the Smithies from Smithville).

The Potpourri Kingdom gives us a wild assortment of goodies as Colors (Orange, Crimson, Mean Green), Inanimate Objects (Golden Flashes, Pride, Heat, Magic, Zips, Blue Steaks, Chargers), Space (Astros, Stars), Water (Waves, Tides), and Weather (Thunder, Lightning, Tornadoes).

But even with this classification, there still so much more to discover.

  • Knights is not enough: let there be Black Knights, White Knights, Golden Knights, Scarlet Knights
  • Colors aren’t enough either; thus Golden Eagles, Golden Knights, Golden Falcons, Golden Bears, and the Golden Hurricane
  • Hawks aren’t enough; so bring us Blackhawks, Redhawks, Warharks, Skyhawks, Seahawks, and even Hawkeyes
  • Spelling matters: Bearcats and Bearkats
  • Plurality matters: Hurricane or Hurricanes
  • Pronunciation matters: Rough Riders and Roughriders
  • Gender matters: Lumberjacks and Lumberjills

Minor league baseball has opened up another level of creativity and political correctness with Biscuits, Chukars, Rascals, and Defenders to name a few. But these baseball organizations can’t match the assortment of nicknames our nation’s high schools provide.

Whether the Fighting Porcupines, Winged Beavers, Purple Pounders, Lava Bears or the Skeeters, high schools top them all. High schools include my longtime, all-time personal favorite: Poca Dots (high school in Poca, WV).

It would be fun to examine what names don’t exist; but knowing that the Banana Slugs exist, why wouldn’t anything else. For those who want more about team nicknames, see these links.