What's in a name? Nationals explain their own

April 22nd, 2020

Think about your first name. Were you named for someone, perhaps a relative or a public figure? Or do you go by a nickname, a modification to what your family chose for you?

For some professional athletes, their first name is more commonly used than their last. It’s an identifying marker that can become so well-known that it stands alone. So how did they wind up with those monikers?

The Nationals shared the backstories behind their first names.

: I think my dad had a pet dog in college, and then they liked the name Max and it just kind of stuck. They needed something that flew a little bit better with “Scherzer,” so they said, “Maxwell Scherzer.” My whole life, I’ve always been Max. There was another Max in school, but I’ve always enjoyed my name.

: It’s my dad’s name, too. I don’t know why my grandpa picked that name. [Growing up, my family called me] “Chiquitín.” It means like a little boy, a little guy. That’s my nickname from home. That’s the one I used on Players’ Weekend, too. My teammates call me “Cabby” for Cabrera. My first Players’ Weekend, I put “Cabby” on my jersey. My mom, she called me and she said, “Why Cabby and not ‘Chiquitín’?” I said, “Because all my teammates call me ‘Cabby.’” I have a friend from Venezuela, we played together in Little League, and he has the same [first] name. In this country, it’s hard to pronounce my name. But in every Latin country, it’s not hard.

: My dad wanted to name me Brett, after George Brett. But I think my mom’s friend just named their kid Brett shortly before that. So my mom somehow trumped him from Brett to Trea -- I don’t know what happened -- but I was almost named Brett.

: My mom had a friend, and she liked the name. I was the only Yan growing up. I’ve been the only Yan everywhere. Everybody kind of knows who Yan is. [My nicknames] were usually a play on my last name -- “Gomer.” [People mispronounce my name] more than they say it right. From Yan (like “can”) to Ian (ee-uhn) -- they think the “Y” is an “I”. I get it mispronounced with both names, Yan and Gomes. It’s a funny story. When I was in Chicago my rookie year with Toronto, their announcer literally called me three different names. Maybe it started with “Yan (like can) Gomes,” then it was “Yan Gomez” and then I think he got it right by the third time.

: Spencer, Trevor, Carter -- [my siblings and I] all had “er” at the end. I think that’s what they were going with there. Our parents called us by our first names. We all had the same nickname [from our teammates] -- usually “Boom” or “Boomer.” There was one another Carter -- Carter Hall. His dad’s the head coach at Georgia Tech. I played with his son for one year.

: I was named after [Hall of Fame infielder] Ryne Sandberg. I was born kind of in his prime years or whatnot. My parents wanted another “R” name, because that’s kind of what’s in the family with all the males in it. They were going to go with “Ryan,” but they saw [Ryne’s] name and they liked it. I didn’t really grow up thinking to be a baseball player. I just did it because it was fun. I just thought it was a cool name, and I liked Sandberg. I really like the name and he’s a Hall of Famer, and it worked out that I actually ended up playing baseball, too. For people that don’t understand it, it’s like watermelon “rind” or say “Ryan” with one syllable [Rine].

: The middle initial came from my dad. His first name is Anthony, my middle name is Anthony. He told me a story of how he wanted me to be a junior, and my mom wasn’t too thrilled about it. So he conceded and I took his name as my middle name. I included that as kind of a tribute to him. Growing up, people would call me “Mikey T.” That’s kind of the only nickname.

: When I was little and I was in kindergarten, they told me to spell my name. I spelled it with one “L.” I went home, and my mom was like, “Ah, we’ll keep it.” I swear, first time I ever spelled it was with one “L.”

: My aunt is Joann, who I’m named after -- Joseph. My sister is Francesca, who’s named after my Uncle Frank. My brother Tyson, I don’t know where he came from. … I never really asked why.

: My dad has been a high school baseball coach for 25 years. He had a player that went by the name of “Tres.” It came because he was the third in his family. Obviously, Tres is not my real name. My name’s Felipe Barrera, but I’m the third -- my grandfather, my dad, then me. My mom thought it was a good idea to call me “Tres” because nobody had that name. She’d heard it one time, and I guess it just stuck. Now everything has that name on it. … Me and my wife already talked about [keeping the same name if we have a son] -- we’re not doing it. I think three’s enough. Another high school baseball coach my dad coached against for years, he has Tres, Cuatro and Cinco. They all have the same name. I’m serious.

: Everyone’s name [in my family] has five letters. It’s Scott, Kevin, Carla and Erick Fedde. I can’t remember the last time anyone spelled my name right on purpose. Erick, you just automatically think -- they go, “With a C or a K?” I say, “With both.” I can’t remember the last time really anybody called me “Erick” anyways, besides my mom. People call me “Fedde.” I went through a phase for probably four years of my life where I was ‘Sunshine.’ I had really long, blonde hair. From that, it just evolved into “Fedde.”