The New York Yankees are the most iconic franchise in Major League Baseball. Naturally, its rich history of players, titles and success is celebrated worldwide, and several of those players have come to be known by a singular phrase or name. There are literally dozens to choose from, but here are a handful of the best of the bunch:
15) Gary Sanchez: “The Kraken”
“Release the Kraken!” The nickname was given to Sanchez, the heaviest-hitting catcher the Yankees have had in years, by his general manager Brian Cashman.
The Kraken is basically a “mythical sea beast that is capable of unleashing a whole lot of hell and misery on its victims,” per Dana Hanson of Money Inc. That’s precisely what happens when good Gary is on a groove.
14) Mickey Rivers: “Mick the Quick”
Mickey Rivers was a center fielder in the Yankees’ championships of 1977 and 1978. In total, he played three and a half seasons with the Bombers, and given his raw speed, earned the nickname “Mick the Quick.”
13) Hideki Matsui: “Godzilla”
Matsui was a beast for a decade in Japan when the Yankees brought him to America prior to the 2003 season. He mashed with the Bombers, too, and in total, hit 507 home runs – 332 in NPB and 175 in MLB.
Matsui’s skin problems early on in his career are actually to blame for the nickname, which stuck during the years because he was a powerful outfielder.
12) David Wells: “Boomer”
The legend says that David Wells is called “Boomer” because, well, he has a “booming” personality. Others say that the nickname comes from his large physique, love for motorcycles and an intense attitude in general.
11) Orlando Hernandez: “El Duque”
A key cog in the late-nineties dynasty rotation, Cuban starting pitcher Orlando Hernandez achieved enormous on-field success with the New York Yankees.
He was perhaps just as famous because of his nickname: “El Duque,” which means “The Duke.” It is a hereditary title in the British and certain other peerages, which is fitting because Orlando inherited it from his father.
10) James Augustus Hunter: “Catfish”
Hanson tells the story of Hunter’s nickname: “When he was a child, he would run disappear from his home and when he came back he would have a couple of catfish with him. Because of this habit, his mom and dad gave him the nickname Catfish and it stuck.”
Oakland A’s owner Charles O. Finley was the one who heard about the nickname, resurrected it and popularized it.
9) Lou Gehrig: “Biscuit Pants”
“Biscuit Pants” is one of two Lou Gehrig’s nicknames appearing on this list. He was a man of, shall we say, a thick backside, and he wore baggy pants, too. There you have it: “Biscuit Pants.”
8) Mickey Mantle: “The Mick”
Mickey Mantle was the idol of generations. Thousands of people grew up admiring his greatness, demeanor, charisma and on-field success in the fifties and sixties.
And he was called “The Mick,” as in, there is only one Mick. Short, quick, powerful and sticky.
7) Joe DiMaggio: “The Yankee Clipper”
The man also known as “Joltin’ Joe” was a true pop icon of the thirties, forties and fifties in the United States. He was a unique batter, capable of running averages close to .400, while also boasting legendary power.
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the nickname “The Yankee Clipper” was a reference to the great sailing ship.
6) Lou Gehrig: “The Iron Horse”
Lou Gehrig held one of baseball’s “unbreakable” record for decades until Cal Ripken Jr. broke it in the nineties: most consecutive games played, with 2,130. After his death in 1941, it was reported that Gehrig played through some ugly injuries just to maintain the streak alive.
5) Mariano Rivera: “The Sandman”
The Sandman is a feared creature by children, just like opposing hitters feared seeing the best reliever in baseball history on the mound. The nickname was popularized after a guy named Michael Luzzi suggested the Metallica song “Enter Sandman” as his walk-up music.
4) Reggie Jackson: “Mr. October”
If you are a baseball player, then you definitely know you succeeded when people call you Mr. October. It is a nickname directly associated with performing in the clutch, which is what Reggie did with the Athletics and Yankees during his career.
3) Derek Jeter: “Mr. November”, “Captain Clutch”
“Mr. November” is the evolution of “Mr. October,” which means that Derek Jeter hit some very important hits in the very last few games of several postseasons. In fact, Jeter has most of the hitting records during the playoffs, including games played (158), plate appearances (734), at-bats (650), hits (200), singles (143), doubles (32), triples (5), runs scored (111) and total bases (302.)
2) Babe Ruth: “The Bambino”
The “Bambino” was the nickname of the first face of the franchise, and the one that stuck for years due to the Red Sox curse associated with his sale to the Yankees. It’s far from his only nickname, however.
Here is the exhaustive list of nicknames ever received by George Herman Ruth: “Babe”, “Home Run King,” “The Bambino”, “Bammer,” “the Bam,” “the Wali of Wallop”, “the Rajah of Rap”, “the Caliph of Clout”, “the Wazir of Wham”, “the Sultan of Swat”, “The Colossus of Clout,” “Maharajah of Mash,” “The Behemoth of Bust,” “Behemoth of Biff,” “The King of Clout” and the “Goliath of Grand Slams.”
1) Whitey Ford: “The Chairman of the Board”
I’m not saying that Whitey Ford was a bigger figure than Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, DiMaggio, Jeter or any other name on the list. But you have to admit that “The Chairman of the Board” sure has a ring to it.
The great Yankees lefty was born Edward Charles Ford, but given that he inspired respect in every sense of the word, and that he thrived under pressure, Elston Howard came up with the epic nickname. It’s powerful and it inspires respect. “The Chairman of the Board.” Coolest nickname ever.
This is, of course, my own personal rankings regarding something that can’t really be quantified. I would be happy to read your thoughts as well, so what do you think is the best Yankees nickname ever? Let us know in the comments.