If you get to play in the major leagues but only for a small number of games, you've still accomplished more than most men can every dream of. If you can stick around and become a regular, that's even better. However, if you can play a full career and retire with a catchy nickname on your resume, then you have really hit the big time.
Think about it. Throughout baseball history, many of the game's best players have had a nickname by which the fans affectionately call them. Be it Ty "The Georgia Peach" Cobb, Stan "The Man" Musial or Jim "Catfish" Hunter, nicknames are a part of baseball history and without them, the game becomes dull, boring and without personality.
Of course, some nicknames are more fitting than others. To this day, I don't have a clue as to why Orlando Hernandez was ever called "El Duque" or how Harold Traynor came to be known as "Pie."
Still, regardless of origin, some players out there had some awesome nicknames that still stick with today's generation of fans, even though some of the legends who carried these monikers are long gone.
Mays enjoyed a prolific career that saw him hit 660 career homers and post a .302 lifetime batting average, and he was easily one of the most likable players in baseball. His nickname, "The Say Hey Kid" was supposedly born out of his tendency to just say "say hey" often, but origin doesn't matter. The fact remains that he was a great player and his playful moniker suited his charismatic personality.
When it came to playing tough, blue-collar baseball, there was nobody better than Rose. His nose-to-the-grindstone approach to the game earned him this colorful nickname and it stuck with him throughout his 24-season career.
The efforts paid off as he won two Gold Gloves, three batting titles, three World Series rings and played in 17 All-Star Games before retiring as the game's all-time leader in hits with 4,256.
Thus, it's all the more sad that Charlie Hustle is not enshrined in Cooperstown due to his betting on baseball. At this point, one would think that his great work would outshine his shady activities.
Born George Herman Ruth in 1895, baseball's first home run king earned the nickname "Babe" when he first started playing ball for the minor league Baltimore Orioles, as he was 19 years old and still a minor in the eyes of that era's laws. Later in his career, after he had gained some popularity with the New York Yankees, some called him "Bambino," an Italian word for baby.
Given how Ruth had something of a babyface, I'm not at all surprised and actually think it's the best nickname he had throughout his career.
Jackson played in the majors for 21 seasons and it's safe to say that his career was more than just a success. He appeared in 14 All-Star Games, hit .262 for his career and smacked 563 career home runs. He also played in six World Series and was on the winning team five of those times, which is beyond incredible.
In fact, Jackson had a reputation for doing great work in the postseason and was known as "Mr. October." In 77 postseason games, he hit .278 with 18 home runs and 48 RBI. In 1973 and 1977, he was named World Series MVP.
Thus, whenever a player has a great postseason today, it's no wonder that some memories often flash back to this moment.
Throughout baseball history, the word "horse" has often been used to describe incredibly durable players. These are guys who play thorough injuries, aches, pains and will stop at nothing to get on the field day after day. Their greatest strength is their reliability, and coaches love them for it.
Yet, when it comes to horses, Lou Gehrig was the king of them all. He was so reliable that he played in 2,130 consecutive games before retiring due to his infamous disease. That record stood until 1995, when it was broken by Cal Ripken, Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles.
Still, though his record has fallen, fans will never forget The Iron Horse.