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10 Obscure Yankee Nicknames

November 30, 2012

#1 | The “American Idle” (Bleeding Yankee Blue)

Yankee nicknames are as much a part of baseball lore as their 27 world championships and propensity for the long ball.  “The Bronx Bombers,” “The Yankee Clipper,” “Scooter,” “The Mick,” and so many others are easily recognizable by even marginal baseball fans.  Here is a list of monickers that are by no means household, and may not even be recognizable to lifelong Yankee fans.

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#10 | “Swampy” | Atley Donald

Atley Donald came out of the gates in 1939 like no rookie had before, leaving the minor league Newark Bears in his rearview mirror and winning a rookie a record 12 consecutive games for the Yankees.  He would finish that season with 13-3 record, a 3.71 ERA, and the highest winning percentage in the league (.813).  Though he would win only 65 games for the Bombers over an injury-shortened, 8-year career, he would never turn in a losing season after going 0-1 in 2 starts in 1938.  He is best known for a 94.7 mph fastball that he uncorked in 1939, which reset the record books as the fastest ball ever thrown.

His nickname most likely derives from his Mississippi origins and the fact that he attended Louisiana Tech.

#9 | “Jidge” | Babe Ruth

Ruth had more nicknames than he knew what to do with: “The Bambino,” “The Sultan of Swat,” “The Caliph of Clout,” etc.  One of his more obscure nicknames was “Jidge,” given by teammates who used license with how they pronounced “George,” his given name.  A more dubious nickname given to Ruth by opposing players was “Monkey.”

#8 | “Man Nobody Knows” | Bill Dickey

Bill Dickey, legendary catcher and 11-time all-star, was known by teammates and others as the “Man Nobody Knows” because of his aloofness and monochromatic personality.

#7 | “The Knight of Kennett Square” | Herb Pennock

In a Hall of Fame career, Pennock won 241 games, 162 coming in pinstripes.  Pennock hailed from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania where his knightly activities included raising thoroughbreds and hosting fox hunts.

#6 | “Babe Ruth’s Legs”Sam Byrd

Over Byrd’s 6 years in New York he was best known for pinch-running late in games for Babe Ruth, thus giving him the nickname, “Babe Ruth’s Legs.”  Ruth’s 659 home runs and .349 batting average as a Yankee far exceeded his legs’ 27 home runs and .281 average.

#5 | “Squatty Body” | Thurman Munson

In a tragically shortened career, Munson was a 7-time all-star, the 1976 AL MVP, and one of the best catchers in the game.  His “Squatty Body” nickname came from his thick frame.  Lou Piniella once made the notorious comment on a bus en route to a spring training game: “Hey Bussy, let this walrus off at Sea World.”

#4 | “The Mummy” | Jim Coates

Coates played his first 5 Major League seasons in New York where he compiled a record of 37-15.  His nickname was derived from his gloomy demeanor on the field.

#3 | “Puff” | Graig Nettles

“Puff” seems like an oddly soft nickname for someone as tough as Graig Nettles.  However, Nettles was dubbed “Puff” by his teammates not for his gentleness, but for his ability to vanish after a practical joke.

#2 | “Biscuit Pants” | Lou Gehrig

Gehrig’s more well-known and distinguished monicker was “The Iron Horse,” but he was also known as “Biscuit Pants” as a result of his prodigious derriere.

#1 | “American Idle” | Carl Pavano

Over a 3-year career with the Yanks, Pavano pitched in just 26 games, going 9-8, despite making $38 million over that span.  Pavano spent most of his time in New York on the disabled list, including missing all of 2006 after a car accident, in which he broke 2 ribs, that he neglected to tell the Yankees about until August 28th, the week the Yanks expected him to come off of the DL and pitch.  For all of these reasons, he was rightfully dubbed the “American Idle.”

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