Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Baseball Names and How They Got That Way! Part XXII (O)

The words and phrases are spoken and written day after day, year after year - generally without any wonderment as to how they became part of the language. All have a history, a story. For those of you who liked Part I, Part II, Part III, X, XV and all the others and wanted more, here is more, just a sampling. As always, reactions and suggestions always welcome. And bear in mind - - this is by no means a complete list.

OAKLAND ATHLETICS The former Philadelphia Athletics franchise from 1901-1954 was the Kansas City Athletics. Then from 1955-1967 the team was the Oakland A’s, in 1968 then to the Athletics in 1987.

OCTOPUS, THE Marty Marion was a fine fielding shortstop for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1940s into the 1950s – he had long arms and legs.

OIL CAN Former colorful hurler Dennis Boyd grew up and learned to play ball in the deep south. He would get so thirsty that the beverage drank in his phrase was”just like drankin' ole]."

OLD FOX Name given to pilot-manager Clark Grifith of the old Highlanders because of his cunning ways. OKLAHOMA KID The young Mickey Mantle came from Oklahoma.

OLD ACHES AND PAINS Luke Appling performed for two decades with the Chicago White Sox. A .310 lifetime batting average was just one of the reasons he was admitted to the Hall of Fame in 1964. His nickname stemmed from the

numerous real and imagined illnesses he picked up playing in 2,422 games, while averaging better than a hit a game. Appling was born April 2, 1907, and in 1950 was still playing major league baseball, aches, pains, and all. OLD HOSS Charles Radbourne was known as Charles or Charley until his amazing 1884 season, when he pitched 678 innings and earned the nickname.

OLD RELIABLE Tommy Henrich played for the New York Yankees from 1937 to 1950. His lifetime batting average was only .282, but the value of Henrich to the Yankees was in his clutch hitting. Time after time he would come up in a key situation and deliver. His nickname had its roots in his ability to function under pressure and to perform reliably with distinction.

OLE PERFESSOR Hall of Famer Charles Dillon Stengel was an original. Born on July 30, 1890, in Kansas City, Missouri, he played in the majors for 14 years and managed for 25 more—with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the Boston Braves, the New York Yankees (10 pennants), and the New York Mets (four tenth-place finishes). He had seen it all, and in one of his more coherent statements, he said, "This here team won't win anything until we spread enough of our players around the league and make the others [teams] horseshit, too." The statement underscored the ineptitude of the early Mets. Loquacious, dynamic, vital, Casey could lecture on baseball and life for hours and hours, and that was just part of the reason for his nickname. Actually, in 1914 Stengel held the title of professor at the University of Mississippi, for he spent that year's spring-training coaching baseball at that institution. That's how he really came by his nickname.

ONE AND ONLY The” Babe Ruth, he was.

ONE-ARMED PETE GRAY Born Peter J. Wyshner (a.k.a. Pete Gray) on March 6, 1917, Gray was a longtime New York City semipro star who played in 77 games for the St. Louis Browns in 1945. He actually had only one arm and played center field with an unpadded glove. He had an intricate and well developed routine for catching the ball, removing the ball from his glove, and throwing the ball to the infield. Gray hit .218 for the Browns, not bad for a hitter with only one arm.

$100,000 INFIELD That was the price tag and the nickname given to Eddie Collins, "Home Run" Baker, Stuffy McInnis, and Hack Barry, the players who composed the infield for Connie Mack's 1914 Philadelphia Athletics.

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