MLB Power Rankings: The Say Hey Kid and the Top 60 MLB Nicknames of All-Time
Everyone has had a nickname. Some stick around for years while others last for only a short period of time. They can be simple or they can have a lot of meaning behind them.
Fans know and love the nicknames of baseball players on their favorite teams. Throughout history, players have had creative and fun nicknames. Some nicknames become so popular that they are used instead of the player's actual first name.
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60) Matt "The Bison" Kemp
Kemp's nickname comes from that fact that Atlanta Braves announcer Don Sutton thought that he looked like a buffalo when he ran around the bases. This was then changed from buffalo to bison by fans because it is the more acceptable term.
The nickname stuck. Given Kemp's large frame and his surprising speed, the nickname certainly makes sense.
59) Pud "The Little Steam Engine" Galvin
Galvin actually has two nicknames since he was born as James Francis Galvin. The first nickname, Pud, comes because he was known for making opposing players look like pudding when they were at the plate.
His second nickname, "The Little Steam Engine" is a reference to his durability. Galvin threw over 6000 innings in 15 season, even throwing 656.1 innings in 1883.
Photo Credit: New York Daily News
58) Nellie Fox: "The Mighty Mite"
Fox's nickname plays on his small stature. He was just 5' 9" and only weighed 150 lbs. However, Fox was able to hit fairly well despite his small frame.
His first name is also a nickname as well. Fox's legal name is James Nelson Fox. It is easy to see where the nickname "Nellie" came from.
Photo Credit: Chicago White Sox
57) Kenny Rogers: "The Gambler"
Kenny Rogers, the baseball player, has Kenny Rogers, the country singer, to thank for his nickname. The Gambler was a song that was made famous by the country singer.
Since the two men share the same name, the baseball player was eventually nicknamed "The Gambler". Kenny Rogers, the baseball player, is also famous in his own right as he threw a perfect game against the California Angels in 1994.
56) Ben Zobrist: "Zorilla"
A zorilla is a real animal. It looks a lot like a skunk and is one of the worst smelling animals in the world.
Zobrist's nickname was given to him by manager Joe Maddon after he developed an impressive power stroke. One must hope, at least for his teammates sake, that Maddon did not give Zobrist the "Zorilla" moniker because he smells bad.
55) Gary Carter: "The Kid"
Carter got his nickname while at his first Spring Training with the Montreal Expos. He wanted to be the best at everything. Carter was trying to prove that he belong, so he tried to win every sprint and hit every ball out of the park.
As a result of this, Carter's teammates began to refer to him as "Kid" and the nickname stuck with him.
54) Albert "The Machine" Pujols
This is just one of Pujols many nicknames. He is also referred to as "Prince Albert" or "Phat Albert". However, this nickname makes much more sense given that Pujols is one of the best hitters of this generation.
Pujols earned this nickname because at times he is so good that people jokingly think he could be a machine. ESPN even made a commercial making light of this fact.
53) Derek Jeter: "The Captain"
There have been a lot of iconic players in New York Yankees history so Jeter's nickname speaks volumes about how he is valued by both the franchise and it's fans. Jeter has been the Yankees' captain since 2003 and his eight-year tenure as captain has been by far the longest by any Yankee to hold the position.
52) Mark "Big Mac" McGwire
McGwire is one of the most prolific hitters in MLB history and has 583 career home runs. His nickname comes from his size.
McGwire, who admitted to using performance enhancers was incredibly muscular which makes it kind of ironic that he shares his nickname with a famous fast food burger that is the antithesis of healthy living.
51) Lenny "Nails" Dykstra
Dykstra was known for his hard play and quickly became a fan favorite during his time in New York as well as during his time with the Phillies. His nickname is one that came as a result of his popularity with fans.
Mets fans nicknamed Dykstra "Nails" because of his tough as nails type of play. He served as a big spark plug for the Mets in 1986 when they went on to win the World Series.
50) Tim "The Freak" Lincecum
Even with an unorthodox delivery and a small 5' 11", 160 lbs. frame, Tim Lincecum is able to generate high velocity and significant movement on his pitches. No one expected him to be able to do this. He simply did not have the right build for a pitcher.
Lincecum silenced the critics as they wondered how he could pitch so well despite all of the knocks against him. The easy answer was that he must be a freak.
49) Frank "The Big Hurt" Thomas
Chicago White Sox announcer Ken "Hawk" Harrelson has been known for coming up with terms and nicknames when he calls names. He is the one that created Thomas's nickname.
The name comes from the fact that Thomas would put a "Big Hurt" on opposing pitchers whenever he would step to the plate.
48) Roger "Rocket" Clemens
Clemens has been one of the most controversial players in baseball history ranging from when he threw a broken bat at Mike Piazza during the World Series to his alleged steroid use. He was also one of the best pitchers of all time, ranking ninth all-time in wins and third all-time in strikeouts.
The Rocket nickname was given to Clemens because of his blazing fastball. The pitch baffled hitters for years as Clemens blew it by them.
47) William "Mookie" Wilson
Wilson is one of those players who have gone by their nickname instead of their given name. Mookie is beloved by Mets fans for hitting the ground ball that Bill Buckner fumbled in the 1986 World Series.
There have been stories that Wilson's nickname, Mookie, came from his mother as a result of his struggles trying to pronounce the word milk when he was younger.
46) David "Big Papi" Ortiz
It seems that Oritz is referred to as Big Papi more often than people call him David. Ortiz also has the less used but more humorous nickname of "Cookie Monster".
Call him what you want, but Ortiz was one of the best hitters of the last decade. He was an integral part of the Red Sox's first World Series win in 86 years.
45) Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez
Just like Ortiz, Orlando Hernandez is more often referred to by his nickname. El Duque is Spanish for the duke.
Hernandez was remembered for his high leg kick and his career seems much longer than the nine years that it actually lasted. He managed to be a part of four World Series Champions during his time in the Majors.
44) Tom Seaver: "Tom Terrific"
Seaver impressed everyone as soon as he reached the Majors in 1967. He won the Rookie of the Year award that season and would later go on to win three Cy Young awards. The Mets' all-time wins leader is considered to be one of the best pitchers in baseball history.
It is very easy to see how Seaver got his nickname. He was terrific whenever he went out to the mound. Seaver gave the Mets a chance to win whenever he was on the mound.
Photo Credit: ESPN
43) Randy Johnson: "The Big Unit"
Johnson was one of the tallest players in the MLB history at 6' 10". He was always one of the best pitchers in the Majors.
The story behind Johnson's nickname is a simple one. He ran into Montreal Expos teammate Tim Raines one day during batting practice. Raines insulted Johnson by saying, "You're a big unit!"
42) Mordecai "Three Fingers" Brown
Brown's nickname stems from an unfortunate accident he had in his youth. While working on a farm, he was involved in an incident in which his hand fell into a feed chopper. His right hand became badly mangled and he lost a finger and part of another one.
The missing fingers were not a problem for Brown. They actually helped him on the mound. He had a different grip on his curveball which allowed for it to have significant break.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
41) "Hammerin' Hank" Aaron
Aaron is arguable the greatest home run hitter of all-time. His 755 career home runs rank second in MLB history.
It is easy to see how Aaron acquired the "Hammerin' Hank" nickname. This baseball legend holds the MLB RBI record.
Photo Credit: Hank Aaron Biography
40) Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez
Rodriguez was not even the first player to have the nickname "Pudge". Red Sox legend Carlton Fisk was also referred to as "Pudge". The nicknames were given to the players because of their stock frames.
Both Rodriguez and Fisk were some of the top catchers in baseball history. Each man was a force at the plate, hitting over 300 home runs in each of their respective careers.
39) Vladimir Guerrero: "Vlad the Impaler"
A little history lesson about Guerrero's nickname. Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, was called Vlad the Impaler, or the name that most people known him by, Dracula.
Guerrero used to strike fear into pitchers just as Vlad III struck fear into the hearts of those that opposed his reign.
38) Rich Garces: "El Guapo"
In English, Garces' nickname, "El Guapo", means "The Handsome One". The reason that Garces got his nickname was because teammate Mike Maddux believed that he looked a lot like the villain in the movie The Three Amigos whose name was El Guapo.
37) Garry Maddox: "The Secretary of Defense:
Mets broadcaster, Ralph Kiner, once stated that, "two-thirds of the world are covered by water, the other one-third is covered by Garry Maddox." With his outstanding defensive skills, it is easy to see how Maddox got his nickname.
Photo Credit: Baseball Reference
36) Melvin Emmanuel "B.J." Upton
Normally a nickname like "B.J." wouldn't have enough merit to make a list like this. It's too simple to be included along with other great nicknames. However, Upton's nickname makes the list for two reasons.
For one, his real name does not start with either a B or a J. So you must be wondering where his nickname stands for. The answer to that is "Bossman Junior". Upton's father was known as Bossman and he past the nickname on to his son.
35) Whitey Ford: "The Chairman of the Board"
Ford is another player that has multiple nicknames. He got the nickname Whitey when he was in the minor leagues because of his blond hair.
His other nickname, "The Chairman of the Board" is one that he earned. Ford was given that nickname because of his ability to remain calm and collected when in high pressure situations.
Photo Credit: New York Daily News
34) Edgardo "Fonzie"" Alfonso
Ayyy. No, Alfonso did not get his nickname for Happy Days character Arthur Fonzarelli. It comes from his last name. Alfonso was able to put together a solid 12 year MLB career.
33) Sean "The Mayor" Casey
Casey, a career .302 hitter, was widely regarded as the most popular player in baseball during his playing days. He would chat it up with anyone who reached first base. This is also how Casey got his nickname. Casey is called "The Mayor" because of how friendly he is.
32) Keith "Mex" Hernandez
Hernandez put together a solid major league career and was a key part of the 1986 World Series champion New York Mets. Now, Hernadez is part of one of the best broadcasting booths in baseball. He also appeared a few Seinfeld episodes.
Teammates believed because of his last name and the fact that he grew up in California that Hernandez was Mexican. Thus, they nicknamed him "Mex". Hernandez is actually of Spanish and English-Scottish decent.
31) Rich "Goose" Gossage
Gossage is another player who got his nickname courtesy of his teammates. While he was with the White Sox, Tom Bradley told Gossage that he looked like a goose when he pitched. The nickname stuck with him throughout the rest of his career.
The Hall of Famer was one of the first dominant closers in baseball. He ranks 18th all-time with 310 career saves.
30) Lou Gehrig: "Iron Horse"
Gehrig is one of the best players who has ever put on a New York Yankees uniform. He was known for his durability, hence his "Iron Horse" nickname, but his career was unfortunately cut short when he was stricken with ALS, now know as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
He was baseball's original Iron Man. His record of 2,130 consecutive games played was a MLB record until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in 1995.
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29) Pablo Sandoval: "Kung Fu Panda"
Athletes occasionally get their names from movie characters. This is exactly what happened with Sandoval. He had his nickname given to him by teammate Barry Zito after he hurdled a catcher.
The reason for the "Kung Fu Panda" moniker is that Sandoval is a lot more agile and it is not expected given his body. Some people also say that there is a physical resemblance between Sandoval and the main character, Po, in the movie Kung Fu Panda.
28) Kevin Youkilis: "The Greek God of Walks"
Just like Keith Hernandez and his "Mex" nickname, Youkilis's nickname includes a reference to a country that he is not a descendant of. "The Greek God of Walks" is actually Romanian.
Youkilis got his nickname while he was in the minor leagues due to his ability to draw so many walks. He has only finished in the top ten in the American League in walks twice in his career.
27) Joe DiMaggio: "The Yankee Clipper"
DiMaggio also has the "Joltin' Joe" nickname, but "The Yankee Clipper" nickname seems fit better. The Hall of Famer was selected for the All-Star Game in every season of his 13 year career. He is a New York Yankee legend and his 56 game hitting streak is the MLB record.
Photo Credit: New York Daily News
26) Al Kaline: "Mr. Tiger"
Kaline is just one of 42 players in major league history to reach base at least 4,000 times. The 14-time All-Star won ten Gold Gloves over the course of his career.
He got his nickname, "Mr. Tiger", because of his strong affiliation with the organization. Even after he retired, Kaline became a color commentator for the Tigers and then began to work in the team's front office.
Photo Credit: Mitchell and Ness
25) Mike Hargrove: "The Human Rain Delay"
Hargrove was the original "Human Rain Delay". He would taking his time with an elaborate routine before each at-bat and in between pitches. Hargrove went on to become a manager after his playing career, but he did not get to manage the other player who is known as "The Human Rain Delay".
Steve Trachsel also goes by that moniker. He was known for taking a long time after he got the ball back from the catcher before he threw the next pitch.
24) Norman Elberfeld: "The Tabasco Kid"
Elberfeld has one of the more creative nicknames in baseball history. He went by the the name Kid. Known for having a fiery personality as well as a temper, and that led to the "Tabasco Kid" nickname.
This personality led to one of the most disgraceful brawls in baseball history. Elberfeld got into a fight with umpire Silk O'Loughlin that eventually turned into a huge brawl.
Photo Credit: The Baseball Biography Project
23) Walter "Big Train" Johnson
Johnson is one of the best pitchers to every play baseball. He had 417 wins, 3,508 strikeouts, and a 2.17 ERA in his career.
"The Big Train" was incredibly durable, which also helps explain his nickname. He threw 531 complete games in 666 career starts. In the 1911 season, he made 37 starts, all but one of which were complete games.
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22) Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd
Given the fact that he was trying to make a comeback to the big leagues at age 49, it is easy to think that Boyd's nickname comes from the fact that he could pitch many innings at a time. That however, would not be true.
Boyd got his nickname because he used to drink a lot of beer. In Mississippi, where Boyd is from, beer is referred to as oil, hence the nickname.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
21) Dwight "Doc" Gooden
Gooden's nickname of "Doc" actually comes from one of his other nicknames. He was originally nicknamed Dr. K because of his high strikeout totals. He struck out 276 batters as a 19 year old rookie in 1984. The Dr. K nickname was eventually shortened to "Doc".
He is not the only ace who has been nicknamed "Doc". Roy Halladay, got his "Doc" nickname from late Toronto Blue Jays announcer Tom Cheek. The nickname is a reference to Wild West gunslinger Doc Halladay.
20) Hideki Irabu: "Fat Toad"
When Hideki Irabu came to the major leagues, it led to the creation of the posting process. The Padres entered into an exclusive agreement with the Chiba Lotte Marines, Irbau's team in Japan, but was then traded to the New York Yankees.
The "Fat Toad" nickname came from an incident in which late Yankee's owner George Steinbrenner voiced his opinions about Irabu's weight.
19) Ryan Braun: "The Hebrew Hammer"
Since bursting onto the scene in 2007 and winning the NL Rookie of the Year award, Ryan Braun has been one of the best outfielders in baseball. He is already a three time All-Star and has won three Silver Slugger awards.
Braun's nickname references his Jewish heritage. It has also been the nickname of other Jewish baseball players such as Hank Greenberg and and Al Rosen.
18) Ted Williams: "The Splendid Splinter"
Williams played 19 seasons in the majors and put up outstanding numbers. These numbers would have been even better if Williams did not miss three years from 1943-1946, when he was still in his mid-twenties.
He is last hitter to bat over .400 in a full season. Williams also won two AL Triple Crowns but surprisingly he did not win the MVP award in either year. His hitting prowess earned Williams other nicknames such as "Thumper" and "Teddy Ballgame".
Photo Credit: Boston Red Sox
17) Ty Cobb: "The Georgia Peach"
Hailing from Narrows, Georgia, Cobb was one of the best players that the major leagues have even seen. His career .366 batting average is the major league record. Cobb could hit for power and average, steal bases, and was a great fielder.
Cobb's nickname plays off of the fact that Georgia's state fruit is the peach. His personality was certainly not peachy, as Cobb is known for his temperament and aggressive play.
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16) Ken Griffey Jr.: "Junior"
Had it not been for injuries, Griffey Jr. might have been the MLB's all-time home run leader. He is just one of two players to have every played with their father.
Junior ended his career with 630 home runs. He also retired as a Mariner and now has a job in the in the team's front office.
15) Roland "Rollie" Fingers
Fingers is without a doubt owner of one of the greatest mustaches in baseball history. He also has one of the game's best nicknames.
The Hall of Fame relieve was one of the players who changed the game by helping cement the importance of a closer.
Photo Credit: Remarkable Moustaches
14) James "Catfish" Hunter
FInley decided to call him Catfish, but that wasn't it. He also created a backstory about how Hunter got the name. According to the story created by Finley, Hunter earned the name when he caught a large catfish when he was young.
Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated
13) Lance "Fat Elvis" Berkman
This is without a doubt one of the best nicknames in baseball today. Berkman does have a bit of a resemblance to Elvis but he is also larger than him.
Berkman has gone on the record as saying that he is not a big fan of the "Fat Elvis" nickname, which led to a new nickname for him. The nickname, "Big Puma" came as the result of a conversation that he had on a radio show.
12) Willie Mays: "The Say-Hey Kid"
The origins behind Mays' nickname is not certain. There are two stories that have been going around for years. One is that the nickname came as the result of a conversation with a reporter.
Another possible origin for the nickname is that when Mays was in the minors, he did not know everyone's name. He would go around saying, "Say Hey, Man".
Regardless of the origin, it is still one of the best nicknames of all-time and deservedly so for one of the best players of all-time.
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11) Ozzie Smith: "The Wizard of Oz"
Smith's nickname is an obvious reference to the 1939 movie staring Judy Garland, but it is also a reference to his defensive wizardry during his time in the major leagues.
Another thing that Smith was well known for was doing backflips on the field. His nickname was eventually shorted from "The Wizard of Oz" to "The Wizard", a name which is on his Hall of Fame plaque.
Photo Credit: STL Today
10) Honus Wagner: "The Flying Dutchman"
One of the best offensive players in offensive history, Wagner was know for having both outstanding speed and power for his era. During his career, he led the league in batting average, slugging percentage and stolen bases on multiple occasions.
Wagner's nickname comes from both his speed and his Dutch heritage. "The Flying Dutchman" is considered by many to be the greatest shortstop every. His baseball card, the T206 Honus Wagner, is also the most expensive baseball card in the world.
9) "Shoeless" Joe Jackson
Jackson's nickname is actually as straight forward as it sounds. During a minor league game, Jackson played in just his stockings because his new cleats had given him blisters the day before.
He was one of the best hitters of all-time and his .356 career average is the third best in baseball history. It is a shame that his career was cut short as a result of the Black Sox Scandal.
Photo Credit: Shoeless Joe Jackson
8) Bill "Spaceman" Lee
Lee was certainly out there. He was a noted hippie and marijuana user and Lee was known for making interesting comments to the press.
He received his nickname from former Red Sox John Kennedy. Lee was a bit out there, which is where the "Spaceman" nickname comes from.
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7) Al "The Mad Hungarian" Hrabosky
Hrabosky was known during his playing days for sporting a Fu Manchu mustache and long hair which intimated opposing hitters. It certainly worked as the reliever posted a career 3.10 ERA.
Combined with his looks, his colorful personality helped Hrabosky earn his nickname. After his playing days ended, his great personality and sense of humor helped him land a job as a color commentator for the St. Louis Cardinals.
Photo Credit: Al Hrabosky
6) Lawrence "Yogi" Berra
Berra is not just one of the greatest catchers in baseball history, but he is also one of the greatest quote artists the game as has ever seen. Yogi-ism are still known and loved by baseball fans to this day.
Berra got his nickname from a childhood friend. Bobby Hofman was watching a movie when he saw an Indian snake charmer. He believed that the Yogi looked like Lawrence Berra and the name stuck with him.
5) Ernie Banks: "Mr. Cub"
While Cubs fans have not seen a World Series victory in over 100 years, they have still received other treats, such as having Ernie Banks put on a Cubs jersey for every game in his career. The two-time MVP is one of the best players to every wear the Cubs uniform.
Banks is also a stand-up guy with a great personality. He meant so much to the Cubs and the Cubs meant a lot to him. His nickname, "Mr. Cub" fits Banks perfectly.
Photo Credit: Baseball's Black Heritage
4) Reggie Jackson: "Mr. October"
While it is important to make it to the playoffs, it is even more important to show up once you are there. That is exactly what Reggie Jackson did. Every year, Jackson would seem to get better once October rolled around.
A career .262 hitter, Jackson managed to hit .278 and the playoffs. He also had 18 home runs in 17 series. Jackson's nickname was actually given to him by the late Thurman Munson when he sarcastically called Jackson "Mr. October" during an interview.
Photo Credit: Reggie Jackson
3) Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff
While there are varying levels of acceptance of most of Chris Berman's nicknames, none was received better than the nickname that he gave slugger Fred McGriff.
Berman gave McGriff the nickname, "Crime Dog" because his name was similar to that of McGruff. Who is McGruff? He is a character created for American police to help teach children about crime prevention.
2) Babe Ruth: "The Sultan of Swat"
Babe was just one of the many nicknames that George Herman Ruth had. He was also known as "The Bambino". However, the one nickname that stands out has to be "The Sultan of Swat".
Ruth was one of the earliest true power hitters in baseball. The numbers that he was able to put up given the era that he played in are absolutely incredible. To put things in perspective, Ruth's career OPS+ of 206 is a 13.8 percent better than Barry Bonds' steroid-aided career OPS+ of 181.
Photo Credit: Babe Ruth Facts
1) Franklin "Death to Flying Things" Gutierrez
It should be noted that Gutierrez is not the only player to be crowned with the "Death to Flying Things" moniker. The nickname originally belonged to slick fielding infielder Bob Ferguson who began his career for the New York Mutals in 1871. Jack Chapman, who made his major league debut in 1874 for the Brooklyn Atlantics was also given the same nickname.
Now, over 100 years later, the name has been taken out of the annals of baseball lore and has been given to Franklin Gutierrez. He certainly earned the nickname with his outstanding defensive abilities in the outfield. He won his first Gold Glove in 2010 and there should be many more to come.
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