What's in a nickname? A label, a joke, a term of endearment? The great ones are so great there's no need for the persons actual name. Lefty, Chooch, Whitey. For me personally I have a hard time just calling any favorite athlete by their "regular" name. Nicknames can have all sorts of origins. Initials, abbreviations, childhood nicknames, clubhouse nicknames, phan favorites.
There are a plethora of nicknames in the history of Philadelphia Sports that stand out. The Minister of Defense, Randall Scramble, Weapon X, J-Roll, Tugger, Bubba Chuck, Whitey, Schmitty, HK, Concrete Charlie, Charlie Hustle, Chooch, Dr. J, Sarge, Chocolate Thunder, Hammer, Flyin' Hawaiian, The Bull, Lefty, Round Mound of Rebound, Jaws, Lights Out, Wild Thing. And this is not even scratching the surface of hockey, the self-proclaimed kings of the nickname!
Let's take a look at some of the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies and their endearing nicknames
Carlos "Chooch Ruiz: Chooch may go down as perhaps the greatest nickname in Philadelphia sports history. First of all any name that has the ability for a longated, boo-sounding cheer is a plus in my book. (i.e. "Choooooooooooooooch!") Chooch'n never gets old! The origin of the nickname for phan phavorite Carlos Ruiz is even greater. In 2009, then Phillies reliever Antonio Alfonseca, during an interview kept referring to Ruiz as chucha. The word chucha evoked a grin on his face everytime he mentioned Ruiz. In Columbian, which neither Chooch nor Alfonseca are, "chucha" means underarm odor or stinky pits. You can see now why Alfonseca was getting quite a kick out of calling Ruiz chucha. Well through mis pronunciations and word of mouth chucha became Chooch and the rest is history!
Jimmy "J-Roll" Rollins: Simple but it fits. Looking at Jimmy's name it is easy to see where J-Roll comes from. For the Phillie who is the king of handing out nicknames it is only right that he have a quality one as well. You could also associate J-Roll with Jimmy's speed and relentless play on the field and the base path.
Roy "Doc" Halladay: Doc seems to just fit Halladay like a glove. With the precision that Roy goes about his work, it is downright surgical. Doc actually origniated while Halladay was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. Jays broadcaster Tom Cheek coined the nickname in reference to wildwest gunslinger Doc Holliday.
Ryan "The Big Piece" Howard: Now Howard is a man of many names! Quite frankly anything with the world "Big" in front of has been used in reference to #6. Although the nickname "Rhino" is most often used by Howard's teammates. That nickname is also used for Phillies coach Ryan Sandberg, so their might be some confusion this season. I've also heard Big Fella, Big Man, Big Brown, and my own creation Big Smooth! Big Brown is just strange in my book and should be excluded. Now Big Smooth just fits perfectly! Big man with a smooth swing. Smooooooooooooth!
Chase "The Man" Utley: If the name Chase is mentioned in any baseball circles we know exactly who is being talked about. Only some of the greatest players in baseball history can get away with it. Babe, Mickey, Willie, Jackie......Chase! We also have the famous call by the late great Harry Kalas, "Chase Utley, YOU ARE THE MAN!"
Charlie "Uncle Cholly" Manuel: Uncle Charlie, or Cholly, is as heart felt and warm as it sounds. You look at Phillies skipper, Charlie Manuel, and you just can't help but love the man. He's your loveable uncle or better yet, your grandpa. It doesn't hurt that he brought a World Series Championship to the city in 2008. Maybe it's the way he waddles out to the mound, his undeniable baseball knowledge, or his Virginian, country woods twang. Stumbling and mumbling through interviews just puts a smile on your face.
Jonathan "Cinco Ocho" Papelbon: As if Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon wasn't weird enough, he had to go and create an alter ego. Enter Cinco Ocho, Chad Johnson's long lost twin. Rumor has it Pap's alter ego started in 2007 with the Sox during a fantasy football draft. He was so infatuated with drafting Ocho Cinco that teammate Alex Cora started calling him Cinco Ocho, and well it stuck. Papelbon often refers to himself in the third person, aptly calling himself just "Cinco." Most closers are labeled as a little off the wall, well Cinco is definitely that.
Cole "Hollywood" Hamels: Cole supposedly got the nickname from Ryan Howard after seeing Hamels wearing surfer shorts and flip flops in double A ball. Born and raised in San Diego, California the name just fits. Hamels just fits the persona of the cool kid from Cali. Despite the Hollywood title, Hamels is all business. He has developed into a beast, and the Phillies deserving King Ace. Forget Hollywood Hamels, I'll stick with King Cole!
Darin "Babe" Ruf: The name "Babe" is synonomous with baseball greatness. You don't just loosely throw that name around. There is only one Babe. Well after Darin Ruf literally tore the cover off the ball with the Reading Phillies in 2012, the nickname Babe Ruf was born. Ruf didn't just hit home runs, with the R-Phils, he crushed the ball at an alarming rate. He hit 38 in Double A, breaking Ryan Howard's team record. With a power hitter build and a baby face, the name Babe just sticks. Let's hope he sticks around long enough in the big leagues to earn that nickname!
Other notable Phillies nicknames:
Antonio Buttstardo: one of my personal favorites!
Ryan "Rhino" Sandberg
Kyle "Krazy K" Kendrick
John "J-May" Mayberry
Cliff "General" Lee: a nickname that hasn't really gained any momentum but I like it!