Today, I am posting about great baseball nicknames. This is the first of what I hope will be many posts honoring baseball’s best-nicknamed men. Here are my first three choices:
“Death to Flying Things” Ferguson – Robert Vavasour Ferguson (1845-1894) was an infielder, manager, executive, and umpire in baseball’s early days. Known for his unfailing honesty, but also for his stubbornness and bad temper, Ferguson was an exceptional fielder, hence the nickname. While Death to Flying Things may not be my favorite baseball nickname, it is certainly a great one, and perhaps the longest nickname in baseball history. While most famous for his ability to annihilate airborne objects, Death to Flying Things is also credited as being the first player to bat from both sides of the plate, a practice which came to be known as switch hitting.
Vinegar Bend Mizell – Wilmer David Mizell (1930-1999) was a mediocre left-handed pitcher who also went on to serve three terms as a US congressman for North Carolina. He is, to my knowledge (and I’m pretty confident in this assertion), the only congressman to be best known as Vinegar Bend.Why Vinegar Bend, you ask? Well, the origin of the nickname is not that original, as Mizell was born in tiny Vinegar Bend, Alabama. How the town got that name is a mystery to me (I could not find an explanation on the origin), but one thing is for certain – both Vinegar Bend Mizell and Vinegar Bend, Alabama, have awesome names!
Oil Can Boyd – Dennis Boyd (1959-present) is a former starting pitcher who had a great nickname but a mediocre career. Nicknamed Oil Can due to his habit of drinking beer in his hometown of Meridian, Mississippi (where beer is referred to as “oil”), Boyd was not only known for his oil drinking, but also for his prolific use of crack cocaine. Oil Can claimed to have smoked crack “every damn day” of the 1986 season. Surprisingly, Boyd won a career high 16 games that year.
Known for his colorful, offbeat personality, Oil Can Boyd announced in 2009 that he was attempting a comeback to Major League Baseball, despite being 50 years old and 18 years removed from his last MLB appearance. He was unsuccessful, but you got to give him props for trying!