There was a T.V. interview recently that put the spotlight on Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospect Ryan John Tellez.
Only, don’t call him Ryan John, or even R.J., because he only goes by “Rowdy.” And that goes back to when he was in his mother’s womb, so anyone caught using his real handle can expect trouble.
Any further proof needed that Rowdy is the big first baseman’s usual handle can be found by doing a Google search on “Ryan John Tellez.” The first result comes up with Rowdy Tellez minor league stats — not R.J., not Ryan John.
We like the name Rowdy, because when you look at the strapping 6’4″, 220 lb. native of Sacramento with the goatee, rowdy definitely comes to mind.
The way he hits baseballs, too, evokes thoughts of a ruffian who enjoys belittling major league pitchers with just one swing.
Throughout the last century in all sports, from college to pro, there have been some great names — some nicknames, so unfortunately funny real names and some that just make a person shake their head in disbelief. Here are 15 we think take the cake.
15. Boof Bonser – MLB
This former major league pitcher liked his alliterative childhood nickname that he legally changed it from John Paul Bonser to Boof when he was in the minor leagues. Bonser was picked 21st overall in the 2000 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants and steadily worked his way up through the organization to the AAA Fresno Grizzlies, only to be traded to Minnesota in a deal that included Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano that saw catcher A.J. Pierzynski go to San Fran. Boof made his major league debut with the Twins in 2006, going 7-6 in 18 starts with a 4.22 ERA and 84 Ks in 100.1 innings. He would pitch two more years in Minny, recording a 11 wins and 19 losses and an ERA over 5.00. He missed a whole season in 2009 due to arm surgery and after 15 unremarkable games split between Oakland and Boston in 2010, “Boof” his major league career was over (he officially retired in 2015).
14. Ron Tugnutt – NHL
Maybe he should have been a major league baseball pitcher. All kidding aside, “Tugger” as he was known, just had the misfortune of having a weird — and kinda funny — surname. What’s even funnier, he once won a trophy in junior for best goals against average that was named after F.W. Moore, aka Dinty — as in canned beef stew. After three seasons of junior with the Peterborough Petes, Tugnutt was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the fourth round of the 1986 draft (87th overall). The guy with the colorful last name debuted with the Nords during the 1987-88 season and would go on to play 537 games for eight different clubs, including Ottawa, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Montreal, Anaheim and Pittsburgh. We also think it was a good thing he didn’t work in automotive repair, particularly any job that needed the use of a torque wrench. Think of the possibilities.
13. Dick Trickle – NASCAR
For a guy who was once so badly injured as a child they never thought he’d walk again, he sure went fast as an adult. And Richard Trickle, aka Dick, took his cars to the absolute limit in the NASCAR world, despite having the laugh-out-loud funny moniker. In the 1960s, Wisconsin born Trickle started racing competitively and it wouldn’t be until 1989 that he made a full schedule debut on the NASCAR circuit (he was nearly 48 by then and actually won rookie of the year honors). He stayed on the circuit until he was 60, racing in the Outback Steakhouse 300 in Kentucky. Not only did the Wisconsin Rapids native have an unusual double entendre name, he was also famous for drilling a hole in his helmet so he could smoke, as well as installing cigarette lighters in his cars. NASCAR actually allowed him to smoke during yellow flag periods and he was once caught on camera lighting up.
12. Larry Playfair – NHL
For a guy from tiny Fort. St. James, B.C., Larry Playfair forged a pretty good NHL career. Originally drafted 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1978, the burly defenceman went on to play 688 career regular season games with the Sabres and Los Angeles Kings, scoring 120 points. But, the name “Playfair” was kind of a misnomer. He was a noted scrapper who also spent 1,814 minutes in the penalty box (including a career high 258 in 1981-82), putting him 68th all-time on the sin bin leaders’ list. As if to provide context for why his name just didn’t fit, Playfair once said this to Sabres Magazine, “I remember my mom telling me ‘You’ve got to learn to control your temper. I’d get mad really quick about stupid things, I mean anything. I remember once, [in midget hockey] we lost a playoff game, and we were going down the line, shaking hands, and I just drilled a kid right in the head, I was just so mad.”
11. Milton Bradley – MLB
For a while in major league baseball, Milton Bradley’s flame burned brightly. Then just like in the famous game company Milton Bradley’s “Battleship”, someone torpedoed his career. The ever controversial outfielder was drafted by the Montreal Expos in the second round of the 1996 draft and made his debut with the big club in 2000. He started slowly and was eventually dealt to Cleveland, where he hit a then career high .321 in 2003. In 2008 with the Texas Rangers, Bradley was an all-star for the first and only time in his career, batting .321 again and leading the American League in on base percentage (.436) and OPS (.999). On and off the field, however, Bradley was a bit of a loose cannon, once tearing his right ACL after being restrained in yet another argument with an umpire. He was out of baseball after a lacklustre season in Seattle in 2011.
10. Bake McBride – MLB
Sure, it’s another nickname, but no one in Major League Baseball knew McBride by his original handle, Arnold Ray. Bake, also short for “Shake ‘n Bake”, spent 11 seasons in the big leagues with St. Louis, Philadelphia and Cleveland and finished with 1,153 hits and a .299 average. Not bad for a guy chosen in the 37th round of the 1970 draft (by the Cardinals). McBride was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1974, when he hit .309, along with six homers, 56 RBI and 30 stolen bases. He was also a valuable asset to the Phillies during their championship 1980 season, batting .304 in the World Series against Kansas City, including a homer and five RBI. As for the nickname, even a young McBride could not explain how he had come to be known as “Bake.” Interesting.
9. Guy Whimper – NFL
Before he became a 6’5″, 315 lb. behemoth who protected quarterbacks in the NFL as a tackle, it’s quite possible that Guy Whimper was teased incessantly as a kid. Nevertheless, the Honolulu native grew into his very manly frame and played college football at East Carolina University. He was good enough to be drafted in the fourth round (129th) overall by the New York Giants in 2006 and played 30 games there before being waived, signing with Jacksonville in 2010. In 2012, he played in all 16 games for the Jaguars (the first and lone time he would do so), and even caught a touchdown pass as an eligible receiver. Whimper finished his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2013.
8. Wonderful Terrific Monds Jr. – NFL
Most people would be astonished to find out that there are three Wonderful Monds out there. Wonderful Terrific Monds Jr. was born in Fort Pierce, Fla., in 1952 and later in life played defensive back at the University of Nebraska. The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him in the fourth round in 1976, but Monds never played there. Instead, he joined the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League, winning a Grey Cup with them in November, 1976. He played one more season in Ottawa, then signed with the San Francisco 49ers in 1978, where he played one lone season. Later in life, he figured that there weren’t enough Wonderful Terrific Monds in the world and named one of his sons Wonderful Terrific Monds III. He played minor league baseball with the Atlanta Braves.
7. Dick Butkus – NFL
Having a legendary career isn’t always synonymous with having a legendary name. In the case of Richard Marvin Butkus, the short form Dick was both menacing and hilarious. The Chicago born linebacker hone his craft as a member of the University of Illinois Fighting Illini and was drafted third overall by Chicago in 1965. The Big 10 Player of the Year in 1963 would be one of the NFL’s all-time durable defenders and would be a six-time First Team All-Pro and two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year (1969-70). He retired after the 1973 season and was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. Butkus was so feared on the field that Sports Illustrated put him on the cover of a 1970 edition with the caption “The Most Feared Man In The Game.”
6. I.M. Hipp – NFL
Is there any cooler name than I.M. Hipp? Thought not. Isiah Moses Walter “I.M.” Hipp was born in Chapin, S.C., in 1956 and walked on to the Nebraska Cornhuskers as a running back in 1977 and played for the legendary Tom Osborne. From being a guy who had very long odds against him of ever even playing for the Huskers, he finished his career there as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 2,940 yards. The Atlanta Falcons drafted Hipp in the fourth round of the 1980 draft, was released due to roster cutbacks and signed with the Oakland Raiders in October, 1980. He played all of one game with the Raiders but later in life was inducted into the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame.
5. Stubby Clapp – MLB
Just saying the name elicits guffaws. It was no laughing matter, though, to Team USA at the 1999 Pan American Games. The Canadian second baseman, who later played for the St. Louis Cardinals, slapped a bases-loaded single in the 11th inning of a quarter-final match-up against the heavily favored Americans, sending the Canadians to the semi-finals. Drafted in the 36th round of the 1996 draft (well below list mate Milton Bradley), the ever popular Clapp played a few memorable years in the minors before getting a cup of coffee with the Cards, playing in 23 games in 2001. He had five hits in 25 at-bats and contributed an RBI. Originally named Richard Keith Clapp, he comes by the alias “Stubby” naturally, as both his father and grandfather where “Stubby’s.” Clapp’s son Cooper is aptly named “Stubby IV.”
4. Razor Shines – MLB
As major league careers go, Anthony Razor Shines — yes, Razor is not a nickname but a middle name — really did have just a cup of coffee in the show. Drafted in the 18th round of the 1978 draft by the Montreal Expos, Shines appeared in 68 games, mostly as a pinch hitter and defensive replacement. He collected 15 hits in 81 at-bats, with a double and five RBI. He also had the distinction of pitching one inning of one-hit ball for the Expos during a blowout loss to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1985. Post-playing career, Shines coached at the minor league level in the Chicago White Sox, Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers systems, winning over 500 games. He was also a first base coach with the New York Mets and third base coach for the White Sox.
3. God Shammgod – NBA
Also known as Shammgod Wells, it is widely held that most NBA luminaries think this is one of the best handles ever seen. God Shammgod had an un-Godly crossover move that made him near legendary and in the world of crazy names, he played with Ron Artest (aka Metta World Peace) and Karim Shabazz at La Salle Academy in Manhattan. Shammgod played two seasons at Providence College, setting the Big East freshman assist record (since broken) and in 1997 helped lead the Friars to the Elite 8, where they lost to Arizona. In that game, Shammgod poured in 23 points and added five assists, all while being matched up against future NBA star Mike Bibby. Shammgod played 20 games for the Washington Wizards (who drafted him 45th overall in 1997), averaging 3.1 points and 1.8 assists per game.
2. Tommy Gunn – NCAA Basketball
We love this guy’s name, just because. And Tommy Gunn would be proud of his alma mater today, as the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, a no. 12 seed in the South Region, shot down (pardon the pun) no. 5 Minnesota 81-72 in the first round of March Madness Thursday night. Gunn, a 6’3″ guard out of Syracuse, N.Y., played four seasons with the Blue Raiders, starting in 2000-01. By his junior year, Gunn averaged 15.9 points per game, 2.8 assists and a career high 42.8 percentage from beyond the arc. Gunn never played in the NBA, but did play over in Europe with Sopron KC (Hungary), Besancon BCD of the French National Basketball League (LNB Pro A) and Poitiers Basket 86, also of the LNB.
1. Austen Powers – NCAA Basketball
Yah, baby, yah! Oh, sorry, we’re not talking about the International Man of Mystery. Although, the Austen Powers who played collegiate hoops at Seattle University has played overseas in Portugal with Fisica Desportiva de Torres Vedras (now that’s a mouthful). Born in Glendale, AZ, this Powers started his NCAA career as a freshman and sophomore with Cal-State Northridge during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. The 6’8″ forward played sparingly, average less than two points per game. However, after moving over to Seattle University, Powers’ game came to life and he started all 29 games for the Redhawks, leading the team in scoring with 12.9 points per game and was second on the team in rebounds (6.4) and total blocks (17).