Sports

July 14, 2012

From Tex to Big Tex, the nicknames fit for the Texas Rangers

You didn't have to watch Mike Hargrove in the batter's box for long to discover how he earned the nickname "The Human Rain Delay." It took just a tip of the cap from Daniel Joseph "Rusty" Staub to show why Montreal Expos fans had called him "Le Grand Orange." You needed only one look at Rico Carty to see why the big Dominican was called "Beeg Boy." And you could even watch Jim Kern's pitching motion and partially understand why he was called "Amazing Emu."

You didn't have to watch Mike Hargrove in the batter's box for long to discover how he earned the nickname "The Human Rain Delay." It took just a tip of the cap from Daniel Joseph "Rusty" Staub to show why Montreal Expos fans had called him "Le Grand Orange." You needed only one look at Rico Carty to see why the big Dominican was called "Beeg Boy." And you could even watch Jim Kern's pitching motion and partially understand why he was called "Amazing Emu."

In a sport known for its creative nicknames, the Texas Rangers have certainly had their share of good ones through the years.

Some nicknames have been downright cartoonish, such as "Sluggo" (Don Slaught), "The Incredible Hulk" (Brian Downing), "Shrek" (Kevin Mench), "Sugar Bear" (Larvell Blanks) and "Wimpy" (Tom Paciorek).

There have been some Rangers we knew only by their nickname: Elliott Taylor "Bump" Wills, David Gus "Buddy" Bell, Russell Earl "Bucky" Dent, Albert Walter "Sparky" Lyle and Thurman Clyde "Rusty" Greer.

With 12 fingers and toes, Antonio Alfonseca was called "Octopus." With his ability to seemingly pitch every day, Eddie Guardado was known as "Everyday Eddie." And who better on today's roster to bring the heat in the Texas summertime than the "Dutch Oven" (Derek Holland)?

There was something comforting about having a leadoff hitter who went by "Mick the Quick" (Mickey Rivers) and a player in the field nicknamed "Scoop" (Al Oliver). But it was more than a little eye-raising to hear pitchers referred to as "Wild Thing" (Mitch Williams) and "Witt and Wild" (Bobby Witt.) But then again, there was much relief in seeing "The Terminator" (Tom Henke) coming in from the bullpen to close out a win.

One nickname has crossed international lines: "The Horse" (Dale Mohorcic) and "El Caballo" (Ruben Sierra and Carlos Lee).

Speaking of animals, the Rangers have had Rich "Goose" Gossage, Bill "Froggy" Hands and Clyde "Skeeter" Wright. Travis Hafner's nickname of "Pronk" was half animal-inspired -- he had been labeled "The Project" and looked to one former teammate like a donkey when he ran the bases.

Some nicknames have been obvious plays off of the players' names, such as "Scooter" (Scott Fletcher), "A-Rod" (Alex Rodriguez), "Campy" (Bert Campaneris), "Salty" (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and "Inky" (Pete Incaviglia). But then every so often, a clever nickname would come along, such as taking the last two letters of "Francisco" and the first two letters of "Cordero" to form "CoCo."

Kenny Rogers became known as "The Gambler" because of that other Kenny Rogers' hit song. Jerry Browne's nickname of "The Governor" came from a well-known politician of the same-sounding name. (Although, if we could have picked one to add an "E" to his last name, it wouldn't have been the one who played in the infield.)

The Rangers have had a "Doc" (George Medich) and a "Doctor of Defense" (Mark McLemore). They also have had a "Tex" (Mark Teixeira) and a "Big Tex" (Nolan Ryan.)

Speedster Willie "3-Dog" Davis had a problem in 1975 when he came to the Rangers and couldn't wear the No. 3 he had worn for 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Fortunately, before his nickname changed to "15-Dog" -- doesn't quite sound the same does it? -- No. 3 was freed up for Davis.

And there even was part of one season -- 2001 -- when the Rangers had both a "Big Cat" (Andres Galarraga) and a "Little Cat" (Frank Catalanotto).

David Thomas is a former humor columnist for the Star-Telegram. He can be reached at david@davidthomasbooks.com.

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