OK, we’ll admit, some of these are stretches.
If there were more baseball players nicknamed Pumpkin or Cranberry or things like that, it wouldn’t have been so difficult to compile this list. But there weren’t, so these are the Thanksgiving-related trivia nuggets you can dispense over dinner on Thursday.
A Negro Leagues legend, Stearnes was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2000. Why was he called Turkey, instead of his given name Norman? From his HoF bio: “He is said to have earned the nickname “Turkey” because of the unusual way he ran, which resembled that of a turkey, arms flapping and all, however Turkey himself claimed it was because he had a pot-belly as a child.”
Frank “Turkeyfoot” Brower
Brower played five seasons in the bigs, with the Senators and Indians, from 1920-24. He hit .286 in his 450 career games, with a season-high 16 homers for Cleveland in 1923. Why Turkeyfoot? From the book “Baseball Nicknames” written by James Skipper, an explanation from Brower’s daughter: “His real nickname was ‘Tuckey’ which he got as a child. Sportswriters thought he said Turkey because of his Southern accent. Later it was changed to Turkeyfoot because he was so fast.”
A Hall of Fame third baseman for the Pirates from 1920-37, Traynor got the nickname Pie as a kid. Exactly how is up for debate. According to his SABR bio (which you should all read), he liked asking for a piece of pie after neighborhood games as a kid. He was elected to the Hall in 1948
No idea if he’s related to the Macys of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but the last name is worth a spot here, even though T.J. didn’t make the majors. He played in a couple of independent leagues in the United States, and then the right-handed pitcher started his final 14 games in the Dutch Major Leagues in 2012.
Yeah, we know. It’s pronounced pee-yay. But we told you from the beginning a couple of these would be stretches. He came up with the Cubs and played for the Orioles and Pirates before becoming a starter in Korea in 2014, batting .326 with 17 homers in 119 games for the Hanwha Eagles.
Pilgrim played three seasons in the low minors, mostly in Georgia, from 1954-56. He’s a legendary athlete at Rome (Georgia) High School.
Yes, another stretch from stuffing to Stuffy. Apparently, when he was a kid, the folks would say, “That’s the stuff” when they watched him play. It wasn’t that he liked Thanksgiving stuffing, unfortunately. He was a heck of a baseball player, thought. He played parts of 19 seasons in the bigs, retiring with a .307 career batting average. He was most famous for being part of the Philadelphia A’s “$100,000 infield” in the early 20th century.
Brothers Carlos and Camilo Pascual
Carlos was known as “Big Potato” and naturally his younger brothers, Camilo, was “Little Potato” because of course. Camilo, who had the better big-league career, was inducted into the Twins’ Hall of Fame a couple years ago.
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