John Foster: What’s in a nickname? More than words can say

Do you have a nickname?

When I moved from Ohio to Indiana, I was dubbed “Buck” due to Ohio being the Buckeye State.

My Dad called me “Deke” (short for “deacon”) and I was also “Gooner” for “junior” because my father was also named John.

My oldest sister, Charlene, became “Chuckie” while sister Jeanne was “Jeanne Reanie Lala Palooza” or just “Jeanne Reanie” since her real middle name is “Rene”.

Sports, in general, offers up lots of neat nicknames, especially boxing.

There was Joe Louis “The Brown Bomber”, “Iron Mike” Tyson and Charles “Sonny” Liston.

Ray Mancini was “Boom Boom” while Marvin Hagler was “Marvelous” and Hector Camacho was “Macho”.

Muhammed Ali was simply “The Greatest”.

Sometimes athletes just go by their initials, as in “MJ” for Michael Jordan. I always liked Larry Bird’s “the Hick from French Lick” and Earvin “Magic” Johnson.

Some call quarterback Tom Brady “the GOAT” (greatest of all time.) Hockey has”The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky.

In baseball, the “Sultan of Swat” George Herman Ruth was also known as the “Bambino” or simply “Babe”.

There was Walter “Big Train” Johnson and later, fast-baller Nolan Ryan was dubbed “the Ryan Express.” Pete Rose was “Charlie Hustle”.

There was Stan “The Man” Musial and “the Say Hey Kid”, Willie Mays. Remember Johnny Lee “Blue Moon” Odom and Jim “Catfish” Hunter or “Hammerin’” Hank Aaron?

From the entertainment world, there was Frank Sinatra (“Old Blue Eyes” and “The Chairman of the Board”). “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” has always been Elvis Presley. “The Queen of Soul” is Aretha Franklin, and Michael Jackson was “The King of Pop”.

Some people are known by their nicknames better than their given names.

Mention Robert Leroy Parker and Henry Longabaugh and people say, “Who?”

How about “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid?”

Few recall Phoebe Ann Mosey, but if you say “Annie Oakley”, eyes light up.

Martha Jane Canary was “Calamity Jane”.

Charlie Chaplin was always “The Little Tramp” while Jenny Lind was “The Swedish Nightingale”.

The acerbic and sarcastic comedian and renowned “Mr. Potato Head”, Don Rickles, was first known as “Mr. Warmth”.

Even the space program gets into the mix.

Astronaut Edwin Eugene Aldrin was nicknamed “Buzz” and was the inspiration for Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story”.

By the way, Buzz was part of the first moon landing, traveling moonward in the command module, dubbed “Columbia” and the lunar module, “Eagle”.

Those party-poopers at NASA took over naming the spacecraft after the Apollo 9 crew had “Spider” and “Gumdrop” for their space vehicles, while Apollo 10 labeled theirs “Snoopy” and “Charlie Brown”.

Now that I have your memory banks activated, I think I’ll just “Leave It to Beaver” (Theodore Cleaver).

John Foster anchors “All-News-in-the-Morning” weekdays on 1010 WCSI-AM and 98.1 FM. You can read his weekly blog at and monthly in The Republic. Send comments to [email protected]