Friday, January 20, 2006
Jumbo Schoeneck Dies
Don't worry, this isn't another one of those entries where I rant-and-rave about someone who is my height but thinner being listed as "Jumbo," although it is an occasion when I picked the entry just based on the name. But not to write about Schoeneck--who was a pretty good player in the semi-comical Union Association of 1884 but never thereafter--but rather about baseball nicknames. In the past, I've bemoaned that nicknames are, on the whole, far inferior to what they used to be. This is still true but on the other hand, at least they've gotten a little kinder. Up to 1950, there were five players who actually made it into the Encyclopedia as "Jumbo" plus another eight who had it as a common nickname, but none since. I hope Cecil Fielder counted his lucky stars that this was a tradition that had passed.
Of course, it wasn't just the heavyset who were the victims of bad nicknames, multiple players were nicknamed "Dummy" (for the deaf) or "Blackie" for, well, damn near anyone you wanted to run-down. (To be fair, not everyone nicknamed Blackie got it as a derogatory nickname but still.) Nicknames these days aren't as good, but at least they aren't actively offensive. I guess that's a silver lining.