Professional athletes are often referred to by nickname only. Whether it’s due to an accomplishment, a blunder or just a term of endearment, nicknames have been known to replace a player’s full name altogether.
While there have been both good and bad nicknames throughout MLB history, there are some that have landed in the “weird” category. After a little bit of digging, we came up with five of the weirdest nicknames in Major League History.
Although Yankees’ Lou Gerhig is better known for his nickname “The Iron Horse,” there’s another not-so-subtle pseudonym that his teammates opted for instead: “Biscuit Pants.”
Not only did this nickname characterize his baggy pants, but it further described the little bit of extra weight he carried in his backside.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Dennis Boyd’s nickname “Oil Can” has two origin stories: one from his teammates and another straight from the horse’s mouth. “Everybody says it’s because I drank a lot of beer and they called beer ‘oil’ down in Mississippi, but that’s not true,” Boyd clarified. “It was rot-gut whiskey.”
He explained that everybody got rot-gut whiskey from the neighborhood moonshiner, Big Mama. “When I was seven, I started drinking some myself. One day somebody caught us in a tin shed drinking Big Mama’s whiskey out of oil cans, so my friend Pap started calling me ‘Oil Can.'”
This one’s probably not too difficult to figure out. Chicago Cubs pitcher Mordecai Brown experienced a tragic accident when he was five years old which cost him his right index finger.
The following year, he damaged the same hand again, breaking his remaining four fingers. His bones healed, but they were permanently stuck at odd angles.
Despite his handicap, Brown finished his major league career with 239 wins and an ERA of 2.06. MLB Hall of Famer Ty Cobb called his downward curve “the most devastating pitch I ever faced.”
Cubs’ Charles Hartnett spent 19 years behind the dish for Chicago and was elected to the first six All-Star games. Like many baseball players, he was served two nicknames, the first being “Gabby” because of how much he liked to talk to batters at the plate.
The more notable of the two nicknames was “Old Tomato Face,” which poked fun at his rotund figure and red complexion.
Outfielder Al Simmons, who spent over half his career with the Philadelphia Athletics, received his nickname for the way he stepped toward third base as he swung.
In order to turn on the inside pitch, Simmons would take a giant stride that looked like he was picking up his foot and dropping it into a bucket. It must have worked because he ended his career with a .334 batting average.