Players changing monikers nothing new

Players changing monikers nothing new

Players changing monikers nothing new
What's in a name?

Depends on the name.

Cal McLish, a pitcher in the post-World War II era, carried the full name of Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. A mouthful.

Connie Mack, the Hall of Famer who managed the Philadelphia A's for a half-century, was named Cornelius McGillicuddy at his birth in 1862. Time magazine referred to him by that name when it featured him on one of its covers in 1927. Though he went by the last name of Mack throughout his life, he never legally changed it.

Then there was Ed Ott, a Pirates catcher in the 1970s. Shortest name in the history of Major League Baseball.

Giancarlo Stanton's decision to move away from the name "Mike" and toward his given birth name, as he discussed on Wednesday, and the recent revelations regarding Indians pitcher Roberto Hernandez and Marlins pitcher Juan Oviedo raise the question of how common it might be for a player to either change his name or request to be called by a different name.

Hernandez and Oviedo are different cases, of course. Fausto Carmona and Leo Nunez, as they were known, respectively, were caught falsifying their names in their native Dominican Republic, and their real names were then learned. Giants reliever Santiago Casilla revealed in 2006 that his real name was not Jairo Garcia, the name that he falsely used to make him appear three years younger than his actual age when he first signed with the A's in 2000.

But others have been by choice.

Joey Belle was a top prospect in the Indians organization in the 1980s, driving in 148 runs in 198 Minor League games. But by the time he made the Major Leagues for good in 1991, he was Albert. Like the case with Stanton, Albert was his given first name. Joey apparently was a derivative of his middle name, Jojuan.

Blue Jays slugger George Bell was known as Jorge early in his career. The 1987 American League Most Valuable Player is fourth in career home runs for Toronto, with 202.

Jose Gonzalez was a shortstop who had just received a cup of coffee with the Cardinals in 1984 when he was traded to the Giants along with three others for slugger Jack Clark. When he joined the Giants, he changed his name to Uribe, his mother's maiden name. He wanted better name recognition. "There are too many Gonzalezes in baseball," Uribe explained.

Uribe, called "the ultimate player to be named later" by coach Rocky Bridges, went on to play nine full seasons in the Major Leagues, eight of them with San Francisco.

There have been instances in which a player hasn't changed his name, but has asked that he be called a different version of his name.

Among those have been Guillermo Hernandez and Dick Allen.

Willie Hernandez was a left-handed reliever of modest success for the Cubs from 1977-83. He was a Cy Young and MVP winner for the Tigers in 1984, finishing 68 games and saving 32 for a Detroit team that won 35 of its first 40 games and rolled to a World Series title. In 1988, he asked to be called Guillermo -- not an actual name change, but a request to be called by his given name, the Spanish version of William.

"I use it because it's my name," Hernandez said. "What's wrong with using my real name?"

Allen had been known as Dick as a youngster, but at some point before he broke in with the Phillies in 1963, the media called him "Richie," possibly to create a link between him and revered Phillies star Richie Ashburn, or perhaps for other reasons. Allen disliked the name, saying it was better suited for a child. It was a subject of contention between the slugger and the media, and after he was traded to the Cardinals during the 1969-70 offseason, he asked to be called Dick. And that it remained for the duration of his career, which included two AL home run titles and an MVP while with the White Sox.

Possibly in a similar vein, there was Roberto Clemente, who was from Puerto Rico and came up with the Pirates in 1955, only eight years after Jackie Robinson broke the racial barrier in the Major Leagues. A reflection of society's struggles to accept minorities in baseball was the appearance of an Americanized version of his name: "Bob" appeared on his baseball cards and that name was also used by some in the media. Clemente was not called Roberto on a Topps card until 1970. It isn't known if it was by request or because the card company corrected its insensitivity on its own.

There have been requests to be called by nicknames in print, such as those made by Dwight "Doc" Gooden and Tim "Rock" Raines. Neither truly stuck for long as first references in newspaper articles. But Cito Gaston's name did -- he was known as Clarence, his birth name, when he played for the Padres in the early '70s, long before he became the two-time World Series-winning manager of the Blue Jays.

There have been spelling corrections, such as Kendry to Kendrys Morales, and the introduction of an additional letter, as in the case of Edinson (formerly Edison) Volquez.

Asking to be called by a different name requires the conscious adjustment of those around that person, as well as fans and those in the media. Stanton says he will continue to answer to "Mike," the name he has used since grade school because his classmates had so much difficulty pronouncing Giancarlo (JEE'-ahn-cahr-loh). If that's the case, the transition period will likely be longer. But Stanton, at least by way of what he said to the media on Wednesday, doesn't seem to care much about it.

As Hernandez said, he's simply using his real name.

Bobbie Dittmeier is a reporter and editor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.