CLEVELAND -- Almost every team has a player who goes by his nickname more often than his birth name. Some nicknames are as simple as changing “Roberto” to “Berto,” like the Indians’ current starting catcher. But others can get much more creative.
What are some of the best nicknames in Indians history? Let’s take a look.
Maybe Travis Hafner didn’t have the typical athletic body type. He was larger than most, weighing 240 pounds as a 6-foot-3-inch designated hitter. He earned the nicknames “The Project” and “Donkey,” but it wasn’t until utility man Bill Selby morphed the names together to create the one and only, "Pronk." The name later turned into a candy bar in 2006, as Malley’s Chocolates of Cleveland created a treat that Hafner told MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince tasted like a Nestle Crunch bar, but with “better chocolate.”
At first glance, “Satchel Paige” doesn’t look like it should be listed under the nickname category, but Paige’s real name was Leroy Robert Paige. It was said that he earned the moniker “Satchel” as a young boy when his job was to carry people’s bags (or satchels) at a train station. Clearly, the name stuck around.
3. Shoeless Joe
It’s one of the most iconic nicknames in baseball history. Before an at-bat in a game he played in Greenville, S.C., Joe Jackson removed his shoes because he started to get blisters from a new pair of cleats and has forever been known as “Shoeless Joe.”
4. Rapid Robert
Bob Feller had a fastball that made the best hitters in the game watch in awe. It was so devastating that he was nicknamed “Rapid Robert” because of his velocity (and the alliteration was an added bonus).
“It wasn't until you hit against him that you knew how fast he really was,” Hall of Famer Ted Lyons was quoted saying on Feller’s Hall of Fame profile. “Until you saw with your own eyes that ball jumping at you.”
5. The Human Rain Delay
It doesn’t get much more creative than “The Human Rain Delay.” As a player, Mike Hargrove had such a deliberately extensive routine at the plate before each pitch, which threw pitchers out of their routines. It slowed the pace down so much that he became known as “The Human Rain Delay.”
For anyone who is expecting an elaborate origin story of Carlos Carrasco’s famous “Cookie” nickname, it’s actually quite the opposite. One day in 2011, former Indians reliever Chris Perez saw Carrasco eating cookie in the clubhouse and began calling him, “Cookie.” As simple of nickname as it is, it’s still one of the best monikers in the game today.
7. Mr. Smile
There’s not much explanation needed for this one. Francisco Lindor came up to the big leagues in 2015, boasting a gigantic smile that caught everyone’s attention. The shortstop has never hidden his love for the game and is known as “Mr. Smile” for always flashing his pearly whites.
8. Mr. Freeze
Albert Belle collected a handful of nicknames, but Mr. Freeze may be the best. The slugger liked to keep a cold clubhouse, and Kenny Lofton explained on Fox Sports Ohio in 2015 that he once went over to the thermostat to turn it back up to 75 degrees after Belle had turned it down to 40 degrees. Belle walked back over, turned it down to 35 degrees and broke the thermostat with his bat, leading to his "Mr. Freeze" nickname.
9. The Grey Eagle
Tris Speaker’s hair was prematurely turning grey for his age, but he covered the outfield like an eagle. The easiest way to come up with a nickname? Put those two together and Speaker became “The Grey Eagle.”
Sam McDowell: “Sudden Sam”
Gary Bell: “Ding Dong” (I might be a little biased on this one)
Mel Harder: “Wimpy”