Nov 2, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive tackle Joe Greene wipes his eye in a ceremony to retire his number during halftime of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
Sports fans love nicknames. There are some very famous athletes known simply by the moniker placed on them. Mention “Refrigerator Perry” and immediately William Perry the former Chicago Bear among other teams comes to mind.
More commonly known by simply as The Fridge, it’s an example of how a nickname can stick to a player and become more popular then the birth name. In Pittsburgh, say the word Pops and you think of Willie Stargell. The Chief will bring the late Art Rooney Sr. into the conversation. These days we have Big Ben Roethlisberger in football, Sid the Kid Crosby in hockey, and Andrew Cutch McCutchen in baseball.
An article of this nature could go on with so many nicknames that are tagged to athletes who played sports in Pittsburgh and would be much to lengthy for one simple column. But there are those men who had nicknames that will forever be easily remembered in the ‘Burgh and their first and last names most likely not even need to be mentioned. Without providing much detail about their accomplishments or background, the most popular of those nicknames are listed below.
Both the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers had a Mad Dog on their teams. The Stillers had Dwight Mad Dog White. The Buccos, Bill Mad Dog Madlock. Playing alongside White was a handful of nicknamed players including L.C. Hollywood Bags Greenwood, Mean Joe Greene, Jack Dracula Lambert, Terry The Blonde Bomber Bradshaw, Jefferson Street Joe Gilliam, and Jack Dobre Shunka Ham.
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Even the Pittsburgh Penguins have chipped in with nicknames such as the man who used love to hit the ice fighting, Dave The Hammer Schultz. Another thug on the ice for Pittsburgh was Steve Mental Case Durbano. Crobsy’s current goalie is Marc-André Flower Flurry. Kris Letang is known as Tanger. The owner of the Penguins is also an ex-Penguin and one of the NHL’s best players ever, Mario Super Mario Lemieux. From the 1970s who can forget Bob Battleship Kelly?
While Pro Wrestling may not be regarded as a real sport by some, it is highly popular in Pittsburgh and has been since the best days of world champion Bruno Sammartino who established his life in Pittsburgh but was best known as The Living Legend. Wrestling fans from way back when will remember Studio Wrestling hosted by Bill Cardille and later featured other Pittsburgh wrestlers such as Mikel Baron Sicluna and Jumping Johnny De Fazio.
Pro Boxers have made their mark in Pittsburgh with the most famous being Billy The Pittsburgh Kid Conn who challenged and nearly defeated the great Joe Louis for the heavyweight championship of the world. Harry The Pittsburgh Windmill Greb was another great boxing champion.
Back in baseball, Pittsburgh had an infielder in the 60s who was known as Dr. Strangeglove and that was Dick Stuart. Years later after Roberto Arriba Clemente tragically passed, the next great right fielder came along and was a Cobra named Dave Parker. Today we have Pedro El Toro Alvarez who plays with Cutch. But many moons ago there were two brothers who starred for the Buccos, Paul and Lloyd Waner who were better known as Big Poison and Little Poison. Preceding those two was the greatest third baseman in the history of baseball who made Carnegie, Pennsylvania famous, Honus The Flying Dutchman Wagner.
In 1979 when the Pirates won the World Series led by Pops, his teammates included John Candy Man Candelaria and Mike Hit Man Easler. Phil Scrap Iron Garner manned second base during that season, and the Bucs had a Hammer in the outfield who was John Milner. On the mound in relief was Kent Teke Tekulve. Still hanging around that year from the 1971 championship team was Manny Sangy Sanguillen.
Finally making the Pro Football Hall of Fame is Jerome The Bus Bettis. For a time his lead blocker in Pittsburgh was Tim The Bus Driver Lester. Bettis’s coach was Bill The Jaw Cowher. While Chuck Emperor Chaz Noll was leading those dynasty teams with so many nicknames in the 70s, he also had drafted a kid who earned the nickname Hydroplane that being Jack Deloplaine. One of the great Steelers of all-time is Bullet Bill Dudley.
Bill Cowher had other players with colorful monikers led by Chris Fuamatu-Ma’Afala but more easily known simply as Fu. Lining up at nose tackle for a long time around that era was Casey Big Snack Hampton. Returning this season for at least one more year is James Silverback Harrison. Returning to Pittsburgh as a coach last year on defense was a man who had one of the more curious names that no one seems to be able to figure out. That would be Joey Peezy Porter.
Back in the 1950s, did anyone dare challenge Fran Rogel on his nickname of Twinkle Toes? Going back further in years with the Steelers, there was a Whizzer, Bryon White would go on to become a Supreme Court Justice. Once again with the Pittsburgh Pirates, until he was traded to Baltimore last year, Travis Lunchbox Snyder was a solid utility player for the Bucs.
As mentioned, there was the Flying Dutchman known as Honus Wager, but in the 1970s, the Pirates had a moundsman known as the Frying Dutchman, Bert Blyleven who was born in the Netherlands. During the 1970s as well was an amazing hitting center fielder who was pretty good with the glove too, Al Scoops Oliver. Finally, a hard throwing relief pitcher had a brief stint (1977) with the Pirates and Rich Goose Gossage eventually made the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
As indicated, this article could go on and on with nicknames. There are too many to mention. Vote on your favorite from the one listed below and there are too many to include in the poll so if you don’t’ see one you like, feel free to send an email to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org and your suggestions will be provided in a future article!