The name game
Nicknames have always been a huge part of baseball - "Joltin' Joe" DiMaggio, "The Splendid Splinter, Ted Williams, and Reggie Jackson, "Mr. October".
With that in mind, I've brought the tradition to the 8-year old ball club I help coach in Toronto, the mighty East York Crushers.
Let's see......We've got "Sea Bass", "Good Time Charlie", and "Slammin Sammy". There's also "X-Man", "Mr. T", "J-Dog" and "O-Dog" - proving that as long as mankind continues to use the alphabet, everyone can have a cool nickname.
My favorite Crusher monniker?
"Boo", a nickname I hung on a great kid named Dylan. At our very first Crusher's practice, Dylan snuck up behind me and screamed "Boo!". "Boo" it was and "Boo" it is, as all the kids love shouting "Boo!" whenever he racks up a base hit.
My own little lad, Max, is also in the Crushers line-up. One of the fringe benefits of being the coach's son is that you get to select your own nickname, and Max picked a pretty cool one...."Night Train"; a colorful handle he discovered while reading an old football book. Dick "Night Train" Lane was a hard-hitting NFL defensive back who was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1974, and Max thought "Night Train" had a nice ring to it.
Speaking of history, my dad wasn't so liberal when it came to his son choosing his own nickname. Dad coached me in Little League baseball back in the 70's and hung a rather dubious handle on me....."Flash".
It had nothing to do with my blinding speed. Rather, I was one of the slowest guys on the team and whenever I'd run the bases I could hear dad's voice, dripping in sarcasm.
"Come on "Flash", pick it up!"
I can't say I loved my nickname, but I do love handing out handles to the kids I coach and thanks to "X-Man", "Boo" and "Night Train", a great baseball tradition lives on.