I recently came across the name of a New York Giants player from the 1880s named Cannonball Titcomb. I successfully fought the urge to immediately order a customized San Francisco Giants jersey, but not by much. It got me thinking, what are some of the oddest player names in Yankee history? In the 110-year reign of the New York Yankees, 1,527 players have taken the field at Hilltop Park and Yankee Stadium. After scouring the entire all-time roster, here are the most bizarre monikers I found.
Born Francesco Stephano Pezzolo, Bodie changed his name to avoid possible prejudice against his Italian heritage. He chose “Ping” for the way the ball sounded careening off of his 52-ounce bat and “Bodie” for a town in California that he once called home. He was a pioneer, becoming one of the first players of Italian descent to make it in the Major Leagues.
His mother gave him the nickname “Frenchy” based on his French heritage. He played in only 36 games with the Yankees, but distinguished himself in his 6 seasons with the Brooklyn Dodgers, earning induction into their Hall of Fame. Branch Rickey once said of him, “He’s either the greatest rotten third baseman in baseball or the rottenest great third baseman. But he’s never in between.”
He was given the nickname “Goose” by a friend who did not like his nickname “Goss.” The friend also observed that Gossage craned his neck like a goose while reading his catcher’s signs. A pioneer of the closer position, he recorded 27 saves in helping lead the Yankees to the 1978 World Series. He was a 9-time All-Star over his 22-year, Hall of Fame career.
Noodles pitched only 6 games for the Highlanders at the end of a stellar stint with the Reds. He became the youngest man to ever win 100 games since the mound was moved to the current distance of 60 feet, 6 inches, accomplishing the feat at the age of 24. Only Bob Feller has done it faster in the time since. He earned his nickname by delivering chicken noodle soup to his father every day.
Haines is the only player to win championships in both baseball and football, winning the 1923 World Series with the Yankees and the 1927 NFL Championship with the New York Giants. He served in World War I after which he attended Penn State, earning varsity letters in football, basketball, and baseball.
Hunter won 63 games as a Yankee, including 23 in 1975 alone. He helped the Yankees to the 1977 and 1978 World Series titles and was named an All-Star 8 times over his 15-year, Hall of Fame career. It was Charles O. Finley, the owner of the Kansas City A’s, who gave him the nickname “Catfish” in 1965 for the sole purpose of providing him with a flashy nickname. The name stuck.
Love was 21-17 as a starter with the Yankees. During his time he was known for his strikeout ability. In 1918 he was 5th in the American League with 3.74 strikeouts per 9 innings. That must have been some serious ched he was throwing. The name “Slim” was an easy moniker for a guy who was 6’7″ and 195 pounds.
This might be my favorite odd Yankee name of all-time. It just rolls off the tongue, sounding like the name of a private investigator from the 1920s. “Roxey Roach heeere, and I don’t want no funny business, seeeeeee.” Roach batted just .219 in his two years with the Highlanders.
Stirnweiss played on the ’43, ’47, ‘and ’49 World Championship teams in New York. He also has the distinction of winning the closest batting race in history. In 1945 he topped Chicago’s Tony Cuccinello on the final day of the season by a margin of .00009.