St. Louis Cardinals and the Best Player Nicknames Ever
The "Redbirds"—as the St. Louis Cardinals are nicknamed—have a storied history of winning and doing it with flair. The franchise owns some of the most unique characters and nicknames in all of American sports.
I've yet to see a countdown on the nicknames of the Cardinals. This could be the first.
You witnessing history and I'm humbled by your presence.
Please feel free to enjoy.
16. Joseph "Creepy" Crespi (1938-42)
Crepsi was the leadoff hitter for the 1942 World Series champions. Musial batted behind him and he still managed a whopping .243 batting average.
No wonder they called him “Creepy.” I’m kidding of course.
A St. Louis native, he died there in 1990.
15. "Silent" George Hendrick
The cool Oakland, California native was quick. Because of his reluctance to talk to the media, he was caught on tape boasting about his “blazing speed” and received the nicknamed for doing so.
He was talking to a Kansas City Royals player during a disputed play with an umpire at first base in the 1985 World Series.
Standing on first base and listening to the first baseman and opposing coach ferociously argue the call, George said, "It was that blazing speed that did it."
After hearing the audio and knowing George was silent, I was literally holding my stomach laughing.
14. Rogers "The Raja" Hornsby
No relation to Ali Haji-Sheikh—the former NFL placekicker—Hornsby sounds more like a jazz player’s name. The slugger jazzed up the baseball with the bat. He became a 1926 World Champion with the Redbirds.
13. George "Specs" Toporczer
The "blind mellow jelly" of baseball, George spelled his last name Topoycer as a major league player.
His 1941 autobiography, Baseball: From Backlots to Big Leagues is still considered a top manual for budding coaches and players.
Groping his way to the shower without his glasses, one player was allegedly overheard to ask, "Who sent him up?"
12. Enos "Country" Slaughter
A one-man slaughterhouse at bat, Slaughter played with Stan Musial during the 1940s and tore the cover off the ball.
He was also fleet of foot—famously scoring from first base on a bobbled single during a game in the World Series.
Known for orchestrating the Mad Dash in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, he got a statue outside of Busch Stadium to prove that he was the one who did it.
11. Stan "The Man" Musial
He was awarded a Medal of Freedom by president Obama in February 2010.
He also owned a restaurant for many years in St. Louis named Stan Musial and Biggies. Across the highway from Forest Park and down the street from where the Blues played, the spot was almost a landmark.
Having served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, Musial himself is almost a St. Louis landmark.
10. Lou "Base Burglar" Brock
This is a nickname I just invented for the Hall of Fame outfielder and entrepreneur. Or maybe it was broadcaster Mike Shannon. I forget which one.
13 steps in stealing second base was his formula.
Who still has their Brock-a-brella? I lost mine years ago. I could have nicknamed him Lou "Brock-a-Brella" Brock ...
9. Paul "Daffy" Dean
Opposing players were often ducking from Dean's fastball. Speaking of Paul—no relation to Daffy Duck—the younger of the Dean brothers would’ve been the ace on just about any other staff.
His Hall of Fame brother was the only one standing in his way on the Cardinals.
Big brothers—can’t live with them, can’t make the Hall of Fame on the same team with them.
8. Jay "Dizzy" Dean
One of the greatest pitchers in NL history, he was left off the All-Century squad. Bob Gibson was the only Cardinals pitcher on it. Gibbie’s nickname isn’t cool enough to make this list.
In Game 4 of the 1934 World Series, Dean was struck in the head by a throw to first from a pivoting Detroit Tigers shortstop.
Knocked unconscious and rushed to the hospital, a headline declared—allegedly—“X-Rays of Dean’s Head Reveal Nothing.”
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing, singer Billy Preston would say.
7. Johnny Leonard Roosevelt "Pepper" Martin
Salt of the red earth, Martin owned more names and nicknames than a "Li'l Bit." He was also known as the “Wild Horse of the Osage."
The leadoff hitter for the 1934 World Series champions, he set the table for Frankie Frisch and Joe Medwick and crew.
He also set the table for nicknames. A well-known old school warm-up exercise in baseball is allegedly named after him.
6. Arnold "'Bake" McBride
With a baker's dozen worth of speed, Bake was able to thrill Cardinals fans. A 1970s Cardinals center fielder, he was the blueprint for Willie McGee, who came in the 1980s.
Cardinals fans have always been thrilled with base-running, and McBride and McGee were two of the fastest the franchise ever had.
If anyone knows the recipe or the origin of this nickname, please holler back at me.
I have some beefy columns to bake.
5. Joe "Ducky" Medwick
Some players ducked after the ball left his bat. Medwick was the cleanup hitter for the 1934 World Series champions—an era that produced a bunch of colorful nicknames.
I guess players in general had nicknames early on. I wonder what my nickname would have been?
Being a player/writer for the team, I would probably have been called—drum roll please—"The Stroker."
4. James Anthony "Ripper" Collins (1931-36)
Collins also played for the Cubs and Pirates, but we're concerned with his six hard-hitting seasons with the Cardinals.
Collins' bat eased any managerial concerns Frankie Frisch had during the 1930s. "Ripper" broke out in 1934 with 35 home runs to lead the league. He smacked in 128 RBIs and batted .333.
He also hit .367 in the World Series, which the Redbirds won in seven games.
3. Ozzie "The Wizard of Oz" Smith
"Because of the wonderful things he does" the St. Louis restaurateur's image and moniker are all of over the community.
Broadcaster Jack Buck and color commentator Mike Shannon were fond of calling the great Smith by this moniker. If you ever saw some of his amazing defensive plays, you’d understand why.
He also gave the 1980s Redbirds their hearts.
2. Frankie Frisch: The World Famous "Fordham Flash" from the Bronx
He was the third place hitter and the player/manager of the famous 1934 World Series champions. A right-handed switch-hitter, he played second base for eleven seasons with the Redbirds.
With a no-holds-barred approach to playing the game, he was the player/manager from 1933-37 and the anchor of the squad.
He was named one of the first three National League All-Stars (1933-35) and played on the 1931 World Series champion Cardinals.
In his latter days, he became known as the "Old Flash"—not the "Old Peeping Tom."
1. The "Gashouse Gang" (1934)
"Gashouse" is often used to refer to the 1930s Depression era Cardinals in general, but best describes the 1934 team.
A rag-tag bunch, they earned one of the most memorable nicknames in Redbirds' records and are the epitome of the 1930s American past time.
Shortstop Leo Durocher is credited with saying the American League looked down on the lowly Cardinals and didn't want them.
Shabby, dirty and smelly, the Gang, in revenge, peeled the cover off the ball at the plate, and ran the bases like the wind—and broke it.
This breaks up my tour of the Cardinals and their legendary nicknames. Until next time, keep thinking up those classic names for guys like me to write about. God bless and good nicknaming.