Some nicknames are born, some live up to their greatness, while still others have amazing ones bestowed upon them. He may have never seen a baseball game, but the slightly updated version of William Shakespeare’s quote is dead on. These Hall of Famers, big boppers and slick-fielding shortstops have some of the best MLB nicknames of all time
Frank Thomas: The Big Hurt
Take Frank Thomas, for example. The former Chicago White Sox slugger who entered the Hall of Fame in 2014, has the nickname “The Big Hurt” bestowed upon him by broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson. The reason for the special tag was because the former Auburn University tight end hit baseballs so hard, he hurt them.
Thomas’ 521 home runs and two American League MVP awards prove “The Big Hurt” is a legit name for the current Fox TV broadcaster. It also is a nickname Thomas is proud of given the fact he had it trademarked in 2015, and there are t-shirts, hoodies, and other memorabilia emblazoned with those three words for sale all over the baseball world.
Frank Thomas is not alone with current and former MLB stars with memorable nicknames.
Fred McGriff: The Crime Dog
Back in the day—that day being the early years of ESPN—broadcaster Chris Berman became known for bestowing funny, odd, and sometimes outright clever nicknames to MLB players during the network’s nightly SportsCenter.
History tells us that the first of these Berman wacky highlight-driven nicknames belonged to John “Tonight Let it Be” Lowenstein of the Baltimore Orioles, which, the broadcaster says, was blurted out on the spur of the moment. It was, however, Fred Griff, ex of Toronto Blue Jays and Atlanta Braves, who had the pop-culture label of “Crime Dog” placed on him by Berman.
For the record, McGruff the Crime Dog was created in 1980 by an ad agency for the National Crime Prevention Council. A cartoon with an anthropomorphic dog in a trench coat tool to the airwaves and its popularity stuck in the public consciousness. Berman, who also came up with Bob “Intentional” Walk and Dave “Parallel” Parker, gave the lanky first baseman the label shortly after the Atlanta Braves acquired the slugger from the San Diego Padres.
McGriff’s career ended in 2004 after amassing 493 home runs, twice leading the lead in four-baggers.
MLB Nicknames on parade
For the past two years, MLB has celebrated Players Weekend by allowing current major leaguers to wear their nicknames on the back of the jerseys. While this has led to some mysterious ones such as Joe Biagini’s “Jeffrey” and Chris Hermann’s “Worm,” some rise to the level of applause and consideration.
Didi Gregorius: Sir Didi or Sir MJG
The Phillies’ new shortstop is known as a man of many talents, but he also holds the distinction of being knighted after his play in the 2011 World Baseball Classic. A native of the Netherlands, Mariekson Julius “Didi” Gregorius became a knight to the Order of Orange-Nassau after his team beat Cuba in the finals. The one-time Red, Diamondback, and Yankee celebrate his title proudly.
Javier Baez: El Mago (The Magician)
The Cubs shortstop goes by the nickname “The Magician” for his amazing plays in the field. The Puerto Rican native’s slick play at shortstop and at-bat proves Baez’s sleight of hand is one of his team’s most prized possessions.