In 2007, I began puzzling over player nicknames. They aren’t on a guy’s birth certificate. Someone has to create them.
Furthermore, who uses nicknames? Just imagine…
“Hi, honey. I’m home.”
“Mister October, please take the garbage out NOW! Not in October!!!”
I was delighted to learn about Eddie Basinski, whose 1940s stops included the Brooklyn Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates. He owned two monikers, “Bazooka” and “Fiddler.” In 2007, with ornate penmanship, his reply shared the history of both names.
“Leo Durocher, my Dodgers mgr., gave me the nickname ‘Bazooka.’ Because of my accurate, strong throwing arm, with the quickest release he ever saw; he compared all that with the U.S. Army weapon ‘the Bazooka.’ It was my first nickname.
‘Fiddler’ came about as I studied classical violin for 16 years, gave concerts, appeared on radio, TV and gave a rendition between doubleheaders while with Portland, in my baseball uniform at home plate before one of the largest at the ballpark.
The press used both nicknames constantly. Opponents used these names, but not favorably. when I failed to get a hit, fans from opposing teams would yell, ‘Why don’t you use your violin?'”
Basinski played 11 seasons with Portland. He was a Pacific Coast League fixture. Check out this Oregonian remembrance of the Beavers, including the nifty photo of a uniform-clad “Fiddler” entertaining teammates.
Tomorrow: Detroit Tigers catcher Lance Parrish explains the origin of his nickname.