And what gives with Archie (the Merry Mongoose) Moore? It's because, said the Mongoose, "I had a unique talent for ridding my life of snakes and rodents, some of which were people. I eliminated them from my path and mind. How? I got out of their way. Simple as that."
Why Marvin (Mr. Fuzzy) Stinson? Because, says this veteran sparring partner, ' "my mother called me Fuzzy because that's the way my hair's always been. The kids added Mr. out of respect."
Why Oail Andrew (Bum) Phillips? Because no one in Bum's family could pronounce Oail, so a sister attempted Brother, which came out Bumble, which was shortened to Bum. Phillips doesn't mind the moniker "as long as you don't put a 'you' in front of it."
GREAT MOMENTS IN NICKNAME HISTORY
Pete (Charlie Hustle) Rose Appears on The Mac Neil-Lehrer News Hour.
MACNEIL-LEHRER: "You've often been called Johnny Hustle. Are you proud of that?"
PETE ROSE: "Johnny Hustle?"
Sports didn't invent the nickname, of course. In the 1700s members of Parliament came up with the moniker Edmund (the Dinner-Bell) Burke because his windy ramblings prevented them from going off to eat at dinnertime. But in sports, nicknames help establish a family outside our own. It's telling that the only field approaching sports in the frequency and color of its nicknames is that most clannish of realms, organized crime.
Far too often nicknames have sprung from the typewriters of sportswriters who seem to be striving for some cheap recognition or who have confused their role with that of toastmaster. Grantland Rice and Damon Run-yon were giants in their field, but alliterative coinages like the Galloping Ghost (generally credited to Rice) and the Manassa Mauler, for Red Grange and Jack Dempsey, respectively, are emphatically not the highlights of their oeuvres. Yet even those are better than Tom Terrific (for Seaver) and Hammerin' Hank (for Aaron, among others), the uninspired products of some of Rice's heirs.
The best nicknames are minimalist character sketches that at once encapsulate and enhance. In fact, etymology tells us that "nickname" is derived from the Middle English ekename, the noun eke meaning "addition." Yet the term nickname is also a misnomer of sorts, because a felicitous one doesn't nick its subject, it nails it, gets it just right, gouges a little piece of that person with its correctness. Phooey to those who dismiss nicknames as fluff, p.r. or self-aggrandizement. As Rom Harré, a lecturer in the philosophy of science at Oxford, has said. "Those who have no nicknames have no social existence; they are nonpeople.... It may be better to be called Sewage than merely John."