Moor or Less: Oh, brother, more nicknames

Below are some of the responses I received after my recent nicknames’ column. My pithy comments are in italics:


Nobody probably knows nicknames — especially baseball nicknames —  better than Cappy Gagnon, who has written a book about Notre Dame baseball players and is a member of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research). Listed here are 10 of his favorites. The first one is a little eerie. Then there is Lucky Lohrke. If you get a chance, Google his charmed life:

Bill Moor

 —   Charlie Pabor – “The Old Woman in the Red Cap.”

 — Paul and Lloyd Waner – “Big and Little Poison.”  Sounds like it refers to their batting danger (poison).  Nope.  A Brooklyn fan, in the pronunciation unique to where the Trolley Dodgers viewed their favorite team, said, “Here comes that big poy-son and that little poy-son.”  Think about it.

 — Bob Hazle – “Hurricane.” He happened to start off his career like a hurricane at the same time there was an ACTUAL storm with that name.

 — Ted Williams – “The Splendid Splinter.” Tall, slender, “Teddy Ballgame.”

 — Lou Gehrig – “The Iron Horse.”  As Bill James has pointed out, if your nickname begins with “The,” you are special.

 —  Mickey Mantle – “The Commerce Comet.”  “The Mick.”

 —  Walter Johnson – “The Big Train.”

 —  Eddie Yost – “The Walking Man.”  I’m a big fan of players who draw walks and I knew Eddie Yost.

 —  John “Lucky” Lohrke.  Amazing story. Five or six times in his life, he escaped death through amazing circumstances.

 — Mickey Rivers – “Chance.” Chance was short for Chancellor, because he was considered the MLB player least likely to oversee a university.  Famous quote of his, when asked why he didn’t practice bunting to take advantage of his blazing speed:  “I don’t practice what I ain’t good at.”

By the way, Cappy is a pretty good nickname in itself


Pam Maxwell reminds us of William “Refrigerator” Perry (da Fridge, da Bears). That nickname stuck so securely that I had to look up his real first name. I had forgotten it was the same as mine.

 Pam also says her mom gave her name a little French twist by calling her “la Mary,” short for Pamela Mary.


Chris Sobieralski saw that I had mentioned “Hot Lips” Houlihan from M*A*S*H, both the movie and the TV series. He pointed out that there were other great nicknames from those productions.

“Looking for nicknames?” he writes. “Apparently  the military is full of them.  You brought up ‘Hot Lips’ from the movie M*A*S*H but in the same movie, and TV series, you had ‘Radar’ O’Reilly, ‘Painless’ (the dentist in the movie, I believe), ‘Trapper John,’ ‘Ugly John,’ ‘Hawkeye,’ and ‘Ferret Face’ Frank Burns (exclusive to the television series I believe).

“Over in the Navy, ‘Maverick’ is just the tip of the iceberg where all the characters are known by their call signs.”


Gary Niemier enjoys making up his own nicknames. Here is his note:

“Hey Spanky Moor-on! — My oldest daughter, Robyn, was Robbie growing up and is simply Rob on most greetings today. 

— My youngest daughter, Anne Marie, was Annie Bananie growing up and is simply Annie now. 

— A former Tribune workmate, whose moves during lunchtime basketball games were rather schizophrenic, became know as Vanilla Thunder.

— A lawyer friend of mine went back for more training so he could handle death penalty cases. He became Death Row Bodine (maybe my finest work!)

— And my little 4-year-old granddaughter, Allison Corine, I dubbed A.C.  the day she was born. I still am the only person who calls her that. And if I occasionally slip and call her Allison, she will say ‘No grandpa, I’m A.C.!’”

And he sometimes could have been called Gary Contrary around the Trib — ha, ha. Gotcha, Gary.


Jim Doolittle, with that great last name to tamper with, collected the following monikers:

“I was ‘Do-More’ in high school and occasionally ‘Do-Nothing’ or  ‘Do-Do’ if someone wanted to be derogatory.  I’ve also never liked being referred to as ‘Jimmy.’  I respond by saying ‘Do I look like a peanut farmer?’”

He “do” a lot around our neighborhood.


And last but not least, my kid brother weighed in on nicknames by saying I forgot his. He was christened Gary Lee Moor, but back when he was in his baby bed, our sister Carol (I won’t tell you her nicknames) and I started calling him Toot from the song, “Little Toot the Tugboat.”

It stuck — all his life. Even teachers and coaches called him Toot. His phone recording may say Gary, but if you call him that, you don’t know him very well.

His wife Minda fought it for a long time, but “Tootie” comes out of her mouth as much as Gary these days.

You don’t forget a name like Toot. Heck, I almost forgot it was even a nickname.