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The All-Name Team

Ping Bodie (Photo: LoneCadaver.com)

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.

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Ping Bodie | 1918-1921 | OF

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.

Frenchy Bordagaray | 1941 | OF

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.”

Liz Funk | 1929 | OF

Funk played in just a single game for the Yankees, in which he did not even have a plate appearance. He spent most of the ’29 season in the Pacific Coast League.

Goose Gossage | 1978-1983, 1989 | P

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 Hahn | 1906 | P

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.

Hinkey Haines | 1923 | OF

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.

Chicken Hawks | 1921 | OF

Hawks played just two seasons in Major League baseball, batting .288 in his lone season as a Yankee.

Shags Horan | 1924 | OF

Played in just 22 games in his Major League career, all with the Yankees. He spent 11 seasons in the minor leagues where he earned two batting titles.

Catfish Hunter | 1975-1979 | P

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.

Baldy Louden | 1907 | 3B

Louden played in just 4 games for the Highlanders, recording one hit. It would be 5 years before he found himself back in the Majors with Detroit.

Slim Love | 1916-1918 | P

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.

Ambrose Puttmann | 1903-1905 | P

Puttmann pitched on the franchise’s inaugural team, going 6-7 in his 3 years in New York.

Roxey Roach | 1910-1911 | SS

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.

Urban Shocker | 1916-1917, 1925-1928 | P

In his 6 seasons in New York, Shocker, who had altered his given name of Urbain Shockcor, went 61-37 with a 3.14 ERA.

Walt Smallwood | 1917, 1919 | P

Smallwood pitched in just 8 games, all relief appearances, over his two seasons with the Yankees, and probably didn’t have to adjust his jock very often.

Tuck Stainback | 1942-1945 | OF

Stainback (wouldn’t you like to rock a Stainback jersey at the Stadium?) batted .252 with the Yanks and struck out just 45 times in 687 plate appearances. He won the 1943 World Series with the Yanks.

Snuffy Stirnweiss | 1943-1950 | 2B

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.

Virgil Trucks | 1958 | P

Trucks, whose given name was Virgil and whose incredibly unoriginal nickname was “Fire,” played just one of his 17 Major League seasons in New York, going 2-1 with a 4.54 ERA.

Hippo Vaughn | 1908-1912 | P

Vaughn, whose cruel nickname was a nod to his 6’4″ 215-pound frame, was 23-29 in his 4 seasons in New York. He was also stabbed by his father-in-law in 1920.

Snake Wiltse | 1903 | P

Wiltse was 0-3 in his only season with the Highlanders. He may have gotten his nickname from his pitching delivery in which he would twist dramatically before uncorking his throw.

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