Blogs > Jim Collins' Editor's Notebook

Jim Collins is editor emeritus of The News-Herald and also serves as executive in residence at Lakeland Community College. His popular weekly column appears each Sunday in Comment in The News-Herald.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Nicknames that have stood the test of time

I stepped out of the shower the other morning and a name popped into my head. I have no idea why that happened. But things often pop into my head when I step out of the shower. There is no explanation for this phenomenon. It just happens. The name that popped into my head was Edgar “Special Delivery” Jones. It is entirely possible you have never heard of Edgar “Special Delivery” Jones. Be advised that he was an outstanding football player for the Cleveland Browns back in the days when they had a football team — a real football team. They also had real nicknames in those days. Names like “Gluefingers” Lavelli. His real name was Dante, but everyone called him Gluefingers. Everyone except Otto Graham. Otto called him “Spumoni.” The Browns also had a tackle named Leonard “Meatball” Simonetti. With a name like that he didn’t last long in the league. Indians players also had great names. They had guys like Odell Sammy Hale, also known as “Bad News” Hale. Bob Feller had a lot of nicknames, like “Rapid Robert” and “Baffling Bob.” But I always liked Julius “Moose” Solters and Roy “Stormy” Weatherly, also known as “Little Thunder” Weatherly. The shortstop was “Broadway” Lyn Lary. The names weren’t limited to Cleveland. Arkansas had a running back by the name of Clyde “Smackover” Scott. USC, or was it Southern Cal, had Sam “Wham Bam” Cunningham. Back to the Browns for a moment, they had a lineman by the name of Dick “Bam Bam” Ambrose. He got the name because he once busted another guy’s shoulder pads. Bam Bam is now a Common Pleas Court judge in Cuyahoga County. Of all the legendary nicknames in Cleveland history, the greatest was Lou “The Toe” Groza. His name was emblazoned on his license plates. George “Twinkletoes” Selkirk played for the Yankees. So did Charlie “King Kong” Keller. The Tigers had a pitcher by the name of Cletus “Boots” Poffenberger. He was one of my favorites. The reason why Enos Slaughter was called “Country” was probably self-evident. But some ballplayers were named after their town of origin. Thus we had a pitcher known by the name of “Vinegar Bend.” Who can forget “Joltin” Joe DiMaggio, also known as The Yankee Clipper. Did you know he had a brother who played for the Red Sox by the name of Dominic “The Little Professor” DiMaggio? They had a brother Vince who played for the Pirates but I don’t recall if he had a nickname. Wasn’t Jim Tobin who pitched for the Boston Braves known as “The Milkman?” Cardinals outfielder Joe Medwick had a lot of nicknames. He was known as “Ducky,” “Muscles” and other names that fit his personality. Changing gears I have a bit of a confession to make at this point. I am typing this column from my rehab room at Breckenridge Village in Willloughby and I have no idea how long it is. The column, that is. I know how long the room is. I am using my laptop computer which the lady of the house brought to me from home, and while, with some prompting, I figured out how to type in extra-large print and managed to find spell check by using the right-hand clicker. I have no clue which buttons to push to give me a word count. So I did the next best thing. I emailed the column to Theresa Neuhoff at The News-Herald and asked her to give it a word count. She told me it was 477. That is much too short. So I am attempting to “beef it up,” as we used to say in the newspaper business, to get it up to my usual 700 or 800 words. You probably never would have guessed that was my usual word count. Well, neither would I, until the word count started to become important in my little world. I’ll tell you, I think computers were designed to drive me nuts. Typing a column in a rehab room is not easy. There are too many interruptions. People are constantly coming in to stick needles in you, wrap things around you to take your blood pressure, give you pills or drag you off to do exercises. I think when I get a little better at wiggling my toes they will send me home. By the time this column finds its way into print, the Super Bowl will probably be on. Unless Theresa puts it on the Internet first. That’s another thing — putting my column on the Internet before I am ready to have people read it. That is one more thing I have no control over. I wish people would still read newspapers by holding them in their hands and eating a sandwich while they are reading. If you eat while you are using a computer you are taking too many chances of causing a short circuit. There can be short circuits in computers. There are no short circuits in newspapers.


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