Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …
Do you have a nickname?
When I moved from Ohio to Indiana, I was dubbed “Buck” due to Ohio being the “Buckeye state”.
My Dad called me “Deke” (short for “deacon”) and I was also “Gooner” for “junior” since my Father was also a “John” but since we had different middle names, I wasn’t a true “junior”.
My oldest sister, Charlene, became “Chuckie” while sister Jeanne was “Jeanne Reanie Lala Palooza” or just “Jeanne Reanie” since her real middle name is “Rene”.
Baby sister Jerry picked up “Pretty Baby” I think pretty much on her own.
Momma Hazel was “Sigh” and Uncle Gene was “Chink”.
My wife, Geneva, is “Magi” which was the name of a little plastic something grandson Logan found and later flushed down the toilet.
But she is better known as “Neav”.
Now, it would be impossible to list all nicknames, but I want to tweak your memory and, I’ll bet you’ll keep coming up with all sorts of secondary handles for people.
Here’s now “nickname” came about.
It is derived from the Middle English “ekename” (1300) and the Old English “eaca” which means “an increase”.
So, “ekename” was an additional name.
It became fused with the “n” in “an”, the “a” was dropped and we had “neek name” and it evolved into “nickname”.
Now, the sports world has lots of nicknames.
Credit sportswriter Grantland Rice with some of the classic ones.
He tabbed footballer Red Grange “the Galloping Ghost”, boxer Jack Dempsey “the Manassa Mauler”, plus baseballs’ George Herman Ruth “the Sultan of Swat” and Ty Cobb, “the Georgia Peach”.
But, in my opinion, his best nickname was for the1924 Knute Rockne Notre Dame football backfield.
He dubbed them “The Four Horsemen” in deference to the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” (conquest, war, famine and death).
Much more recently, ESPN sportscaster Chris Berman used to charm us with Andre “Bad Moon” Rison and Bert “Be Home” Blyleven.
Sports, in general, offers up lots of neat nicknames, especially boxing.
There was Joe Louis “The Brown Bomber”, “Iron Mike” Tyson and Charles “Sonny” Liston.
Ray Mancini was “Boom Boom” while Marvin Hagler was “Marvelous” along with Hector “Macho” Camacho.
There was Thomas “Hitman” Hearns” and James “Bonecrusher” Smith.
Boxing had its’ sweeter side with Ray Robinson and Ray Leonard, both nicknamed “Sugar”.
Close behind was Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker.
Muhammed Ali was simply “The Greatest”.
Early pro wrestlers introduced us to George Raymond Wagner (Gorgeous George) and Herman Gustave Rhode, Jr. (Nature Boy).
Can anyone tell me who Andre Rousimoff was?
Betcha remember “Andre the Giant”.
Sometimes players just go by their initials, as in “MJ” for Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
I always liked Larry Bird’s “the Hick from French Lick” and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
Some call quarterback Tom Brady “the GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time”)
Hockey has “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky.
In baseball, the aforementioned “Sultan of Swat” George Herman Ruth was also known as the “Bambino” or simply “The Babe”.
There was Walter “Big Train” Johnson and later, fast-baller Nolan Ryan was dubbed the “Ryan Express” which was a take off of the movie, “Von Ryan’s Express”.
Pete Rose was “Charlie Hustle”.
There was Stan “The Man” Musial and the “Say Hey Kid”, Willie Mays
Remember Johnny Lee “Blue Moon” Odom and Jim “Catfish” Hunter or “Hammerin'” Hank Aaron?
Old Orioles 3rd baseman Brooks Robinson was dubbed “The Human Vacuum Cleaner”.
Former player and manager for Cleveland, Mike Hargrove was known for taking a few “moments” to get ready to bat and he was dubbed “The Human Rain Delay”.
Deion Sanders went by “Prime Time” and “Neon Deion”.
From the entertainment world, there was Frank Sinatra (Old Blue Eyes and The Chairman of the Board).
“The King of Rock ‘n Roll” was always been Elvis Presley and “The Queen of Soul” is Aretha Franklin with Michael Jackson “The King of Pop”.
Some people are known by their nicknames better than their given names.
Mention Robert Leroy Parker and Henry Longabaugh and people say, “Who?”
How about “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?”
Few recall Phoebe Ann Mosey but if you say “Annie Oakley”, eyes light up.
Martha Jane Canary was “Calamity Jane”.
Charlie Chaplin was always “The Little Tramp” while Jenny Lind is “The Swedish Nightingale”.
The acerbic and sarcastic comedian and renowned “Mr. Potato Head”, Don Rickles, was first known as “Mr. Warmth”.
Even the space program gets into the mix.
Astronaut Edwin Eugene Aldrin was nicknamed “Buzz” and was the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story”.
By the way, Buzz was part of the first moon landing, traveling moonward in the command module, dubbed “Columbia” and the lunar module “Eagle”.
Those party-poopers at NASA took over naming the spacecraft after the Apollo 9 crew had “Spider” and “Gumdrop” for their space vehicles while Apollo 10 labeled theirs “Snoopy” and “Charlie Brown”.
Now that I have your memory banks activated, I think I’ll just “Leave It to Beaver” (Theodore Cleaver).