Nicknames are the glue that puts a name in the lights instead of the shadows. The dark corners of newspaper sports stories have players who are uninspired because of that lack: a nickname makes an average player better in their minds because the fans are inspired by the story surrounding the meaning of a nickname.
The most memorable nickname I can recall is one given to that big, huge country kid who played for the Chicago Bears in the 1980s. I, of course, am speaking of "The Refrigerator" or just "The Fridge." William "The Refrigerator" Perry was as big as that label and he had a wide-gapped smile that was an all-star smile even with its lack of perfection. As a matter of fact he was memorable because of his imperfect smile.
Shaquille O' Neil is known as "Shack" by most though he also likes to be called "The Big Aristotle." He, without a doubt, has the best personality of any sports figure I've ever seen. He got a lot of interviews because he was also pretty good at hoops : he was a great player actually. His glib sense of humor is charming and made him and the NBA a center-stage attraction when he was on television.
Even the untold story of nicknames boost the visibility of players. It also usually shortens the name of the player and, so, makes his sports visibility more accessible to fans. Nothing could be more important in sports than recognition and, so, accessibility.
Check out the attached video to see what these videographers came up with. There are names from the past and the present.
Some of the names are nearly a century old. "Shoeless Joe" Jackson last played baseball in 1919 after a gambling scandal banned him and a bunch of other players who were accused of throwing the World Series in 1919.
Magic Johnson was, of course, a basketball player.
Franz Beckenbauer was a German soccer player in the 1970s and 80s.
Greg Norman was a star golfer from Australia.
Ian Thorpe was a blazing fast swimmer from the 1980s.
Maurice "The Rocket" Richard was a hockey player in the 1940s who had a little brother who was called "The Pocket Rocket."
Donald Bradman was a cricket player.
Mike Tyson was a boxer.
Anderson Silva is a mixed martial arts fighter.
This top 10 list reaches all the way back to the nineteen-teens.
- "Shoeless Joe" Jackson
- Earvin "Magic" Johnson
- William "The Refrigerator" Perry
- Franz "Der Kaiser" Beckenbauer
- Greg "The Great White Shark" Norman
- "Ian "The Thorpedo" Thorpe
- Maurice "The Rocket" Richard
- Donald "The Don" Bradman
- "Iron Mike" Tyson
- Anderson "The Spider" Silva