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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

53 BETTER-THAN-FICTION ATHLETES’ NAMES



I have a confession to make. For several years, I mispronounced the name of an iconic sports figure who would become the subject of one of my books. His name is Francis Ouimet, the unknown amateur golfer who shocked the world at the 1913 U.S. Open (I contend it’s the greatest of all championship tales, and it’s the subject of the beautifully illustrated picture book, Francis and Eddie, from Why Not Books). When I first heard of him, I figured, well, Francis Ouimet is the son of a French-Canadian immigrant. Surely, his name is pronounced “we-may.” Actually, no. It’s “we-met.”

Now I know. And, frankly, I think the humble handle fits his up-from-nothing story. But I also know this: If his name had been, say, Johnny Fairways or Frankie Miracle, he’d be a helluva lot more famous.

This isn’t to say that the best athletes need the best names. Just ask Jim Brown. Or Bill Russell. Or Tom Brady. But if I were going to conjure up a fictional athlete, I would name him something like Johnny Unitas. Or Usain Bolt. Or Tiger Woods. Or Shaquille O’Neal.

Indeed, for every unforgettable fictional athlete’s name—Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, Mighty Casey and Willie Mays Hayes—there are a dozen equally unforgettable names of real athletes. You take Jesus Shuttleworth. I’ll take Moses Malone. You root for Happy Gilmore and Roy McAvoy. I’ll root for Boo Weekley and Rory McIlroy. You wax nostalgic for Roy Hobbs and Forrest Gump. I’ll go with Ty Cobb and Forrest Gregg. Ricky Bobby? How about Fireball Roberts. Kenny Powers and Crash Davis? How about Boog Powell and Johnny Bench?

All fiction is derivative—a reexamination of essential truths. And even when it comes to names, truth can trump fiction.

So I offer you lots of lists here: 53 better-than-fiction names of real athletes in each of seven categories—baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, other sports, and female athletes. You’ll notice a handful of nicknames in there, but only if it was inseparable from the athlete—you know, like Magic and Babe and Catfish. And sorry, Ali and Kareem didn’t make their respective lists (but Cassius Clay and Lew Alcindor did).

Imagine each of these names as the main character of a novel, and try not to smile:


BASEBALL:
1.     Boog Powell
2.     Johnny Bench
3.     Yogi Berra
4.     Coco Crisp
5.     Razor Shines
6.     Darryl Strawberry
7.     Kirby Puckett
8.     Minnie Minoso
9.     Bake McBride
10.  Elmer Flick
11.  Shooty Babbit
12.  Dizzy Dean
13.  Daffy Dean
14.  Ty Cobb
15.  Heinie Manush
16.  Cesar Geronimo
17.  Rollie Fingers
18.  Cool Papa Bell
19.  Zoilo Versalles
20.  Mickey Mantle
21.  Enos Slaughter
22.  Oil Can Boyd
23.  Percival “Pop” Rising
24.  Elroy Face
25.  Catfish Hunter
26.  Carlton Fisk
27.  Goose Goslin
28.  Chipper Jones
29.  Candy Cummings
30.  Red Ruffing
31.  Satchel Paige
32.  Urban Shocker
33.  Wade Boggs
34.  King Kelly
35.  Duke Snider
36.  Cal Ripken
37.  Sandy Koufax
38.  Babe Ruth
39.  Frankie Frisch
40.  Shoeless Joe Jackson
41.  Three-Finger Brown
42.  Vinegar Bend Mizell
43.  Blue Moon Odom
44.  Wee Willie Keeler
45.  Pee-Wee Reese
46.  Harmon Killebrew
47.  Homer Bush
48.  Arky Vaughan
49.  Zach Wheat
50.  Cy Young
51.  Lou Brock
52.  Johnny Mize
53.  Rod Carew


FOOTBALL:
1.     Johnny Unitas
2.     Bronko Nagurski
3.     Jeff Saturday
4.     Joe Montana
5.     Alge Crumpler
6.     Y.A. Tittle
7.     I.M. Hipp
8.     Ray Guy
9.     Mercury Morris
10.  Mean Joe Greene
11.  Bart Starr
12.  Barkevious Mingo
13.  Takeo Spikes
14.  Champ Bailey
15.  Garo Yepremian
16.  Jadeveon Clowney
17.  Dexter Manley
18.  Bucko Kilroy
19.  Joe Klecko
20.  Sam “Bam” Cunningham
21.  Larry Csonka
22.  Richie Incognito
23.  D’Brickashaw Ferguson
24.  Plaxico Burress
25.  Sonny Sixkiller
26.  Mosi Tatupu
27.  Daunte Culpepper
28.  Deacon Jones
29.  Tony Romo
30.  Jumbo Elliott
31.  Zeke Mowatt
32.  Merlin Olsen
33.  Al Toon
34.  Warren Moon
35.  Andrew Luck
36.  Dick Butkus
37.  Doak Walker
38.  Emerson Boozer
39.  Lance Alworth
40.  Donovan McNabb
41.  Lynn Swann
42.  Sammy Baugh
43.  Willie Roaf
44.  Lyle Alzado
45.  Kenny Stabler
46.  Red Grange
47.  Art Monk
48.  Forrest Gregg
49.  Mike Ditka
50.  Ronnie Lott
51.  Freeman MacNeil
52.  Lincoln Kennedy
53.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis


BASKETBALL:
1.     Zelmo Beaty
2.     Magic Johnson
3.     Shaquille O’Neal
4.     Shabazz Muhammad
5.     World B. Free
6.     Rajon Rondo
7.     Meadowlark Lemon
8.     Spud Webb
9.     God Shammgod
10.  Mo Cheeks
11.  Yinka Dare
12.  Muggsy Bogues
13.  Tree Rollins
14.  Tayshaun Prince
15.  Slick Watts
16.  O.J. Mayo
17.  Manute Bol
18.  Anfernee Hardaway
19.  Fat Lever
20.  Slater Martin
21.  Kiki Vandeweghe
22.  Pooh Richardson
23.  Thurl Bailey
24.  Walt Hazzard
25.  Moses Malone
26.  Otis Birdsong
27.  Hot Rod Williams
28.  Reggie Theus
29.  Baron Davis
30.  Mookie Blaylock
31.  Julius Erving
32.  Theo Ratliff
33.  Clyde Drexler
34.  Dave Bing
35.  Yao Ming
36.  Gene Shue
37.  Clyde Lovellette
38.  Wayman Tisdale
39.  Lew Alcindor
40.  Cazzie Russell
41.  Purvis Short
42.  Larry Bird
43.  Jason Kidd
44.  Sidney Moncrief
45.  Jo Jo White
46.  Chris Bosh
47.  Hersey Hawkins
48.  Bob Cousy
49.  Quinn Buckner
50.  LeBron James
51.  Scottie Pippen
52.  Ray Lumpp
53.  Mel Counts



HOCKEY:
1.     Ziggy Palffy
2.     Frank McCool
3.     Bart Crashley
4.     Radek Bonk
5.     Tony Twist
6.     Per Djoos
7.     Busher Jackson
8.     Toe Blake
9.     Lindy Ruff
10.  Darren Rumble
11.  Howie Morenz
12.  Alf Pike
13.  Sprague Cleghorn
14.  Newsy Lalonde
15.  Syl Apps
16.  Mario Lemieux
17.  Dit Clapper
18.  Larry Playfair
19.  Zarley Zalapski
20.  Garth Snow
21.  Jari Kurri
22.  King Clancy
23.  Turk Broda
24.  Cal Clutterbuck
25.  Grant Fuhr
26.  Sid Abel
27.  Jaromir Jagr
28.  Brad Bombardir
29.  Guy Lafleur
30.  Miro Satan
31.  Parris Duffus
32.  Derek Boogaard
33.  Fred Saskamoose
34.  Jonathan Cheechoo
35.  Mike Bossy
36.  Dick Duff
37.  Jordin Tootoo
38.  Garth Butcher
39.  Hakan Loob
40.  Jonathan Quick
41.  Merlin Malinowski
42.  Eddie Shore
43.  Cy Denneny
44.  Serge Savard
45.  Ulf Samuelsson
46.  Darren Puppa
47.  Joe Primeau
48.  Pierre Pilote
49.  Bobby Hull
50.  Sweeney Schriner
51.  Rico Fata
52.  Jean Beliveau
53.  Mark Messier


GOLF:
1.     Tiger Woods
2.     Rocco Mediate
3.     Ryan Yip
4.     Smiley Quick
5.     Fred Funk
6.     Johnny Revolta
7.     Zane Scotland
8.     R.W. Eaks
9.     D.A. Points
10.  Sammy Snead
11.  Kermit Zarley
12.  Boo Weekley
13.  Fuzzy Zoeller
14.  Ty Tryon
15.  Wiffy Cox
16.  Steve Spray
17.  Orville Moody
18.  Bubba Watson
19.  Seve Ballesteros
20.  Lon Hinkle
21.  Briny Baird
22.  John Huh
23.  Duffy Waldorf
24.  Don January
25.  Tommy Bolt
26.  Tommy Armour
27.  Kevin Na
28.  Mac O’Grady
29.  Jumbo Ozaki
30.  Gary Player
31.  Ernie Els
32.  Vance Veazey
33.  Chip Beck
34.  Jack Fleck
35.  Bobby Locke
36.  John Ball
37.  Bo Van Pelt
38.  Jodie Mudd
39.  Notah Begay III
40.  Fred Couples
41.  Howard Twitty
42.  Jhonattan Vegas
43.  Luke List
44.  Hale Irwin
45.  Bunky Henry
46.  J.J. Killeen
47.  Curtis Strange
48.  Clement Smoot
49.  K.J. Choi
50.  Steve Stricker
51.  Adam Gee
52.  Old Tom Morris
53.  Vijay Singh



OTHER SPORTS:
1.     Usain Bolt (track)
2.     Bjorn Borg (tennis)
3.     Fireball Roberts (NASCAR)
4.     Willie Pep (boxing)
5.     Jacky Ickx (Formula 1)
6.     Danger Fourpence (soccer)
7.     Jeff Float (swimming)
8.     Apolo Anton Ohno (speed skating)
9.     Cassius Clay (boxing)
10.  Stirling Moss (Formula 1)
11.  Rowdy Gaines (swimming)
12.  Dick Trickle (NASCAR)
13.  Karch Kiraly (volleyball)
14.  Andre Agassi (tennis)
15.  Wolfgang von Trips (Formula 1)
16.  Wolfgang Wolf (soccer)
17.  Sugar Ray Robinson (boxing)
18.  Cotton Owens (NASCAR)
19.  Ilie Nastase (tennis)
20.  Dick Blick (swimming)
21.  Roger Kingdom (track)
22.  Pua Kealoha (swimming)
23.  Mark Spitz (swimming)
24.  Ezzard Charles (boxing)
25.  Don Budge (tennis)
26.  Ricky Rudd (NASCAR)
27.  Arthur Ashe (tennis)
28.  A.J. Foyt (auto racing)
29.  Austin Clapp (swimming)
30.  Mario Andretti (auto racing)
31.  Duke Kahanamoku (swimming)
32.  Ellsworth Vines (tennis, golf)
33.  Emerson Fittipaldi (Formula 1)
34.  Donald Beer (rowing)
35.  Joey Cheek (speed skating)
36.  Yannick Noah (tennis)
37.  Fidel LaBarba (boxing)
38.  Brian Boitano (figure skating)
39.  Matt Biondi (swimming)
40.  Lance Armstrong (bike racing)
41.  Rocky Marciano (boxing)
42.  Ernie Irvan (NASCAR)
43.  Louis Clarke (track)
44.  Commodore Cochran (track)
45.  Sunder Nix (swimming)
46.  Dick Button (figure skating)
47.  Justus Smith (rowing)
48.  Foy Draper (track)
49.  Edwin Moses (track)
50.  Jeff Stork (volleyball)
51.  Lones Wigger (shooting)
52.  Zac Zorn (swimming)
53.  Pat Cash (tennis)



FEMALE ATHLETES:
1.     Picabo Street (skiing)
2.     Lottie Dod (golf)
3.     Hope Solo (soccer)
4.     Swin Cash (basketball)
5.     Birdie Kim (golf)
6.     Crystl Bustos (softball)
7.     Tenley Albright (figure skating)
8.     Sheryl Swoopes (basketball)
9.     Mia Hamm (soccer)
10.  DeeDee Trotter (track)
11.  Margaret Court (tennis)
12.  Dottie Pepper (golf)
13.  Lolo Jones (track)
14.  Tessa Virtue (ice dancing)
15.  Inbee Park (golf)
16.  Evonne Goolagong (tennis)
17.  Valerie Brisco-Hooks (track)
18.  Chandra Cheeseborough (track)
19.  Vicky Bullett (basketball)
20.  Cammi Granato (hockey)
21.  Diamond Dixon (track)
22.  Misty May (volleyball)
23.  Euphrasia Donnelly (swimming)
24.  Lovieanne Jung (softball)
25.  Wyomia Tyus (track)
26.  Se Ri Pak (golf)
27.  Rebecca Lobo (basketball)
28.  Zina Garrison (tennis)
29.  Vonetta Flowers (bobsledding)
30.  Dakoda Dowd (golf)
31.  Venus Lacy (basketball)
32.  Heather Mitts (soccer)
33.  Summer Sanders (swimming)
34.  Billie Jean King (tennis)
35.  Olga Korbut (gymnastics)
36.  Stacy Dragila (pole vault)
37.  Dominique Dawes (gymnastics)
38.  Tamika Catchings (basketball)
39.  Breeja Larson (swimming)
40.  Lillie Leatherwood (track)
41.  Beezie Madden (show jumping)
42.  Candie Kung (golf)
43.  Cappie Pondexter (basketball)
44.  Wiffie Smith (golf)
45.  Maria Bueno (tennis)
46.  Staciana Stitts (swimming)
47.  Kimberly Kim (golf)
48.  Briana Scurry (soccer)
49.  Kristi Yamaguchi (figure skating)
50.  Lindsay Shoop (rowing)
51.  Carly Piper (swimming)
52.  Serena Williams (tennis)
53.  Cheyenne Woods (golf)


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