What’s in a Name?

LukeIn some cases, more than you think. 

By Luke Robinson


A couple of months ago, I wrote in this column about some of the peculiar names I have encountered while broadcasting games at the AHSAA’s Final 48. There are all kinds unusually placed apostrophes and multiple spellings for common names like Stacey or Brandy littered throughout that tournament’s programs.

This month I want to take that name theme a little further and write about some of the more interesting ones in sports history. Considering how many times I get the “Luke…I am your father” routine, I have always had an affinity for less popular monikers.

For example, as an NBA enthusiast back in the mid-1980s, I may have been the only kid in Tallapoosa County with a World B. Free poster.

Oh, you have never heard of World B. Free? It’s cool. Despite the badass name, his fame never really took off to Jordan-esque heights (which is ironic considering he was also dubbed, “The Prince of Midair.”)

Free (born Lloyd Bernard Free) was a 16-year pro-ball vet who had more than a few seasons of hovering near the NBA’s  scoring lead. Unfortunately for Free, he was probably born too early to enjoy the notoriety he deserved.

Free should really get more credit for re-naming himself since it was the 70s and all. His self-labeled nickname seems much more organic and original than the current NBA’s copycat Ron Artest and his relatively recent change to Metta World Peace.

Free is cool and errythang, but there are a lot more names that are more creative, funnier, or just flat unfortunate.

Perhaps you enjoy a more regal title. How does God Shammgod strike you? As a high school superstar (who ironically played on the same team as Ron Artest), he was known as “Shammgod Wells.” However, upon attending Providence College in 1995, he had to either use his first name of “God” or legally change it. Since he did not have the $600 to go through that process, God Shammgod is what he went by from that moment forward.

“God” is a bit much? How about Florida Atlantic footballer “Yourhighness Morgan” then? This name works as both pro-royalty and pro-marijuana legalization purposes.

What about  “Chief Kickingstallionsisms” who balled at Alabama State not too long ago? At 7’ 1” and 255 pounds, the only thing bigger than him was his personalized license plate. I guess “Chief” was easier to deal with than his real name of “GrlenntyaGrlenntya.” That guy had to be hell in a spelling bee.

While on the subject of the more empiric titles, I suppose Captain Munnerlyn, Majestic Mapp, and Napoleon Outlaw do deserve honorable mentions. Oddly (or not so oddly), Majestic’s brother’s name is “Scientific.” Not kidding.

I’ll also add Danger Fourpence, a former Zimbabwean soccer player, to this list. It’s not necessarily regal, but it is a little British in that it sounds like he should be plotting to blow up the moon in a James Bond movie.

But I know what you are looking for when it comes to outlandish designations: Names that can be sexually suggestive.

It’s almost too easy to begin with NASCAR’s Dick Trickle or baseball’s Dick Pole. Those two aren’t even close to the worst names though. Chubby Cox, Dick Paradise, and Wang Liqin may feel they have it a little worse.

I will start even more obscurely, though,  and slide right into Fabian Assman (wait… there has to be a better way to type that.)

Kramer may have made “The Assman” popular on Seinfeld in the 90s, but it was Fabian Assman who played goalkeeper in Argentina. His opponents say nothing gets by him easy. Unless, of course, it is rich in fiber.

Then there is Urban Shocker. Mr. Shocker was a star on the baseball diamond back in the early 1920s. Luckily for him, he didn’t live long enough for his name to become the star of many a dirty joke.

Wide receiver Fair Hooker has an interesting title. But if you are going to be a “Hooker,” people will appreciate your being “Fair.”

Meanwhile, I can only say the opposite for former St. Louis Cardinal Stubby Clapp. Having “Clapp” is bad enough; you have to be “Stubby,” too? That’s almost as bad as former Atlanta Falcon Siff Phlyss or golfer Gonn E. Rhea. (OK, I made those up, but Stubby Clapp was very real.)

So the next time you want to complain  to your parents about naming you Normie or Exa Emma, try to remember that things could be worse. You may have had to do banana-fana-fo-fana with “Wonderful Terrific Monds, Jr.”

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