20 Best Nicknames In MLB History

The 20 best nicknames in the history of MLB

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Nicknames have been a part of baseball since the 19th century. They can sometimes replace the player’s given name, as is the case with a few of our ballplayers that will follow. Some have known origins while others seemingly came out of the blue. Some were earned while others were bestowed upon the player whether they liked it or not. These are the 20 best nicknames in MLB history.

20. Reggie Jackson “Mr. October”
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When you hit 10 home runs and slug .755 across five World Series trips you will earn yourself a nickname worthy of your fall fame. Jackson was cocky, brash, and once fought his manager but he always hurt the opponent when the calendar turned to October.

19. Ozzie Smith “The Wizard”
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Anyone who ever saw Ozzie play the field would have a hard time figuring out how he got to some of the baseballs he did. It had to be magic. He had to be a wizard. Not to mention his backflips on the field which made him seem like he was transforming as if under a spell.

18. Jimmy Wynn “Toy Cannon”
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He was small, only 5’10”, hence the toy part. He also had some decent power, with 291 home runs hit in his career while playing mostly in parks where it was hard to hit home runs, hence the cannon.

17. Mariano Rivera “Sandman”
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His entrance music, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” was a mainstay in Yankee Stadium for almost two decades. He dominated and put opposing teams to bed for the night. It was one of the more fitting nicknames in recent memory though not used as often as “Mo.”

16. Noah Syndergaard “Thor”
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When it comes to dealing lightning few can beat Syndergaard. The Mets and Syndergaard have embraced the sobriquet of arguably their best player. His Thor bobblehead night was a huge draw. It also helps that he has long blonde hair like the comic character.

15. Ted Williams “The Splendid Splinter”
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When he played Williams was not exactly a favorite with the media and his relationship with the fans was up and down. Still, Williams swung a great bat and this just has a great ring to it. He was certainly splendid with the bat.

14. Bob Feller “Rapid Robert”
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Feller had one of the best fastballs in the game. He burst in the Big Leagues as a teenager and, although there is no definitive record of his speed, could throw harder than almost everyone else. He also had the nickname “Heater from Van Meter” which was a nod to Van Meter, Iowa, his hometown.

13. Fred McGriff “Crime Dog”
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McGriff got the nickname from ESPN personality Chris Berman. It was one of the few nicknames he made up that really stuck. The nickname is derived from McGruff the Crime Dog who would tell kids that crime doesn’t pay. Crime might not pay but McGriff made a lot of pitchers pay.

12. Pablo Sandoval “Kung-Fu Panda”
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Sandoval had the same physique as the loveable cartoon character Kung-Fu Panda so it was an appropriate nickname. At the time, Sandoval would deliver in big situations like the World Series, similarly to his cartoon doppelganger.

11. Garry Maddox “The Minister of Defense”
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His is a fitting nickname for one of the best defensive center fielders of the 1970s. Maddox’s glove is where base hits went to die. He could catch just about anything.

10. Mark “Bird” Fidrych
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He was a great personality on the field and would talk to baseballs and groom the mound area while on his hands and knees. His nickname comes from his resemblance to Big Bird from Sesame Street, however. It fits.

9. Mordecai “Three-Finger” Brown
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He lost part of his index finger in a farming accident as a child. He credited that with being able to throw a curveball that Ty Cobb once described as the toughest curve he ever faced. His nickname is more recognizable than his real first name.

8. Bill “Spaceman” Lee
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Lee is one of the most unique personalities to ever play the game. He earned the nickname for his eccentric beliefs off the field and behavior on the field. He is still a lot of fun to this day.

7. James “Mudcat” Grant
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He has said Leeroy Irby gave him the name because Irby thought the Florida-born Grant was from Mississippi. Grant would come to own the nickname and it stuck well enough that many folks thought his first name was Mudcat. His baseball reference page is under Mudcat Grant and lists his nickname as his real name, Jim, the short version of James.

6. Jim “Catfish” Hunter
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His nickname was given to him by Charles Finley who owned the Oakland Athletics at the time. It was more of gimmick than an earned moniker but it stuck and Hunter will forever be known as Catfish.

5. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson
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He was a great ballplayer whose career ended in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. His legacy lives on thanks to an outstanding book and a movie and his name is recognized by almost everyone to this day.

4. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd
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Apparently he got the name because he was born in Mississippi where beer is sometimes referred to as oil. Anyone who collected cards in the late 1980s and early 1990s might remember seeing Oil Can Boyd emblazoned on the front instead of Dennis and probably spent countless hours trying to figure out where the name came from.

3. Ron “The Penguin” Cey
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His awkward running style led Tommy Lasorda to dub him the Penguin. It stuck. Fans of Cey use the term endearingly even if it wasn’t meant that way at first. IT helped that Cey was one heck of a ballplayer.

2. Lawrence “Yogi” Berra
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Few even know his first name. He earned the nickname when someone said he looked like a Yogi while sitting with his arms and legs crossed. It stuck and many great quips and sayings followed. When people hear Yogi they think of the ballplayer and not a master at yoga.

1. George “Babe” Ruth
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George Herman Ruth doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Babe. He earned the nickname for his baby face. It stuck and it became the most recognizable nickname in all of sports, if not history.