The Friday Five (Special Monday Edition)
The Cubs have been low on nicknames recently, with names like “Woody,” “Gracey,” “One Dog,” and other poor excuses for nicknames filling the lineup card. However, when Dusty Baker tagged Derrek Lee with the nickname “Rodan,” it gave me hope that this team could have one of the great all-time nicknames. Here are the top five Obscure-But-True MLB Player Nicknames:
5. Abraham “Sweetbreads” Bailey: Born Abraham Lincoln Bailey, he got the nickname “Sweetbreads.” Somehow. No source I’ve been able to find can explain why. He was 6’0 and 184 lbs, so he probably didn’t eat too much, but he only lasted 3 years. One can only hope, with such a short career, that he found a career elsewhere. With a name like Sweetbreads, let’s hope it was in the baking industry.
Update: My wife informed me that sweetbreads are some form of innard consumed as food. Sure enough, I looked it up in the Oxford College Dictionary and it defined “sweetbread” as, “the thymus gland (or, rarely, the pancreas) of an animal, esp. as used for food.” The baking industry would be an inappropriate place for Mr. Bailey, then. Perhaps he had an oversized thymus gland…
4. “Pebbly” Jack Glasscock: This 19th century player was an excellent shortstop.
I don’t know what a guy needs to do in order to earn the name Pebbly, but combined with this guy’s last name, I don’t think I want to know.
3: Mike “Superjew” Epstein: Superjew flew through American League Parks, fighting crime with his bulletproof yamaka and Menora of Lightning. He was a pretty good player in the late sixties and early seventies, and presumably the best Jewish player of his particular era. This name makes me wonder if there will ever be a “Supermuslim” in baseball’s future.
2: Jeffrey “Old Penitentiary Face” Leonard: I can’t find any other reference to this nickname except in the New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, but that’s good enough for me. I remember Leonard, a 1970s/80s player, as a very unpopular player who would do a “chicken wing” maneuver as he was running the bases. I don’t remember anything about his face that would make me think of long-term imprisonment, however.
1: Lou “The Nervous Greek” Skizas: In 1957, the Nervous Greek hit 18 home runs while striking out only 15 times. This would, unfortunately, be his only starting season. He finished his career with 30 homers and 37 strikouts, which almost makes him the Greek Joe Dimaggio. Perhaps it was comparisons like that which made him so jumpy.
We want to hear your favorite nicknames. I have an aversion to names that include “dog,” so no Fred McGriff or Lance Johnson or Mo Vaughn or any of the others.