Moor or Less: I prefer Spanky over Moor-on

When I went off to college, I had no real nicknames. I finally had outgrown my “Little Bill” designation around the family, although I never came close to catching my dad, Big Bill, who was 6-foot-3.

I always have believed that the Little Bill nickname during my formative years stunted my growth.

Most of my friends just called me Moor. A few of my coaches over the years called me Billy, which I didn’t like so much but it sure beat Little Bill. 

Bill Moor

But when I went off to Indiana University, I quickly was anointed with a couple of nicknames. In the dorm where I lived the first semester of my freshman year, the guys on my floor started calling me Babyface. I admit I looked (and acted) about 14.

Soon, Babyface was shortened to Face — or The Face. Then when I moved into my fraternity during the second semester, I was given another nickname, Spanky. I don’t know why.

That year I  could take the well-used sidewalk between the Old Stadium (and Little 500 track) and the ancient HPER  building and be called Spanky and Face several times each as brothers and former floor mates passed me by.

One guy, though, kept calling me “Moor-on.” I think that’s how he would have spelled it if asked.

But Spanky was the nickname that stayed with me for many years and many people I knew pretty well probably couldn’t come up with my real name. An example:

“Hi, this is Bill Moor. I wondered if you would like to go to a party with me Friday night?”

“Who are you?”

“Oh, maybe you would know me by Spanky.”

“Yeah, I know you.” Click.

After college, I took great pleasure in giving out nicknames — especially to family members.

My daughter is Jennifer — or Jen. When she was growing up, I called her Hen … Hay (because or her blonde hair) … or just Fer — which probably sounded like Fur — from the last syllable in Jennifer.

She was a two-miler in high school — eight laps around the track — and I probably called her something different every time she went by me (as she gave me a cold stare.)

My wife is Margaret but I have always called her Mag. If I were mean, I could call her Mag the Hag and many other not so complimentary words that rhyme with Mag, but I make up for it by often calling her Mag-nificent.

So you had to read through all that so I could give you a list of 15 of my favorite all-time nicknames.

  — The Galloping Ghost — That was Red Grange, a Chicago Bears star running back in the 1920s. He was a TV color commentator when I was a kid and looked a little like a ghost by that time.

— Cool Hand Luke — Paul Newman played the title role in the movie by the same name. His character ate 50 hard-boiled eggs in an hour and was in prison for cutting parking meters off their poles.

— Hot Lips Houlihan — She was played by Sally Kellerman in the 1970 movie M*A*S*H. Yes, ma’am.

 Night Train Lane — An NFL defensive back for three teams, including the Detroit Lions, he had a career 68 interceptions. HIs nickname may be my very favorite. It came from the name of a song he liked to dance to.

— Big Daddy Lipscomb — He played defensive tackle for the Baltimore Colts when I was a kid. Big Daddy was a monster for that era at 6-foot-6 and more than 300 pounds. Unfortunately, he died of a heroin overdose at age 31.

 Alfalfa — He was the goofiest of the Little Rascals and had a cowlick on the back of his head that looked like an antenna.

— Stonewall Jackson — A brilliant Confederate Army general, he may have helped the South win the Civil War had he not been accidentally killed by his own men.

 Pistol Pete Maravich — Yep, he played like a gunslinger on the basketball court both with his passes and shooting. He averaged 44.2 point a game for LSU during his career without the three-point shot and without the shot clock.

— Dirty Harry — He was played by Clint Eastwood as everybody’s favorite hard-nosed cop in five movies. “But being this is a . 44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world and would blow your head clean off, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”

— The Say Hey Kid  — Willie Mays may have been the greatest all-around baseball player ever.  He often used “Say Hey” to start a conversation as a young major leaguer, maybe giving himself time to come up with a person’s name.

— Ratso Rizzo — That’s Dustin Hoffman’s name in the 1969 movie “Midnight Cowboy.”  If you’ve seen it, you know it fits.

— Swamp Fox — That’s the nickname for Revolutionary War hero Francis Marion who used guerrilla tactics against the British. Disney Studios immortalized him with a TV series and a song (“Swamp Fox, Swamp Fox, tail on his hat ….”). He was played by Leslie Nielsen long before he was the funny man in the “Naked Gun” movies.

 The Splendid Splinter — Ted Williams, war hero and baseball star, was dubbed this nickname because of his lean and lanky physique. But people who grew up in Kokomo or followed I.U. basketball also remember Jimmy Rayl as The Splendid Splinter.

— Scout — She is Atticus Finch’s tomboy daughter in the book and movie “To Kill a Mockingbird.” She liked that name a lot better than her formal one, Jean Louise.

Indiana Jones — Hey, it’s my home state and I loved the movies, too.

So how about sending me some of your favorite nicknames to [email protected]. Maybe some more recent ones and those given to women — how come women don’t get nicknames like men?