Back in time — I mean way, way back — the word was “eke” but, by the 15th century, it had evolved into “neke.” Strained through various translations of Old English, Gothic, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and whatever, and you have the word “nick” as in nickname.

Now, isn’t that a pretty sneaky way to introduce a discussion about a dying art — the coining of cognomens for your favourite athlete.

There was a time not so very long ago when almost every sport had athletes known only by a nickname, not by mother’s choice on a birth certificate. Peewee, Peanuts, Pickles, Twinkletoes, Dizzy, Mud, Bronko…there were thousands. Seriously, who called Babe Ruth George? Or Casey Stengel (Charles), Yogi Berra (Lawrence), Cyclone Taylor (Fred), Turk Broda (Walter)?

Oh, it’s true that, in the clubhouse, a player might call his teammate by some rude profanity or by a cutesy euphemism — you know “Hammie” for Hamilton, “Blackie” for Black, or “Cookie” for Cook — but, for the most part, the substitute names never filter down to the fans.

That old familiarity of yesteryear has seemingly disappeared. There isn’t one player in the WLA or the OLA Major leagues today that is known as Crusher, or Butch, or Punk, or ….heck, there isn’t even a Skip.

And, you know folks, there are — and has been for sometime — so many opportunities to play name games. For example, old lacrosse players with certain physical characteristics were re-christened, Jumbo McLean, Chubby Smith, Baldy Hanson, Bones Stewart and Peewee Bradshaw. With “physical” in mind, think what might have been done with Bill Foote, Bill Legge, Jamie Goodheart, Jim Lightbody, George Longman or Jim Curley.

How about living creatures? We had Puss Cameron, Mousy Davy and Chummy Crabbe.

So why wasn’t something done with Harold Fox, Ian Bull, Bob Curr, Dave Gibbons, Gord Lyons, Bob Wolfe, Lyall Sheepwash and Ryan Herd? Duck Mack should have inspired something for John Swan, Glen Robbins, Cliff Quayle, Ron and Terry Jay, Lauren Crowe, Rob Henhawk, Arnie Bird or referee Bill Duck (of course, the latter might have been called some different names at times).

Lacrosse has inspired a Truck McDonald and a Pal Butler in the occupational category but nothing was concocted for Bill Jobb, Brian Baker, Harvey Barber, Ron Barker, Jim Dorman, Darryl Fisher, Tom Forrester, Jim Mason, Chad Miller, Steve Porter, Chris Shepherd, Walt Weaver, Andy Taylor, Rob Cook, Matt Disher or Bob Trainor.

How about attitude? Punk Kennedy, Slack McCranor, Shine George and Spunk Oddy did little to stimulate a handle for Greg Pryde, Cal Smillie, Roy Hope, Brian Moody or Pete Wise.

There was Cookie Ryan and Buck Berry, but fans weren’t hungry enough to consume some friendly fun with Bill Chestnut, Jim Rice, John Wheat and Drew Candy. This food for thought might have been seasoned by Greg, Grant and Ron Pepper, Skip Mint, Bob Salt and Ron Sage.

Hey, we’re on a roll: King Crick could have crowned Trevor Duke, Matt King, Art Noble, Wayne Baron or Kim Squire. The roughness of the sport prompted nom de plumes for Gunner Lackner, Punch Thompson, Rock Stoney and Buckshot Thomas, so why wasn’t something done for Drew Spiers, Colin Hunter, Gerry Cannon, Mike Darts, Al Savage, Harry Wipper and Chad Pounder?

Thirsty? Well, we had Nip O’Hearn and Hop Ayles — why, then, did we miss out on Donn Sherry, Bruce Gibson or Mike Champagne? Lacrosse players, compared with other major sports, earn relatively little money but Randy Goodrich and Owen Richman could visit Ken Banks with their Steve Penny, Gord Nickle and Jim Gold.

What do you mean, you think this rambling commentary is corny? Boy, there’s just no justice — just ask Kevin Kopp, Brian Law, Scott Marshall, Al Ranger and Harry Judge.

Come on, now, start thinking! Let’s conjure up a few nicknames for some of our favourite boxla boys.

Well, okay, I hear the hissing. I know you can’t be bothered. Behind all apathetic dullness lies raging indifference – it’s a sanitized world.

Related Images: