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Category: athlete names

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If there’s one arena that may have been kind of neglected in the nameberry search for cool namesakes, it would probably be the wide, wide world of sports.

There are a couple of explanations for this.  Number One is the fact that so many star athletes were known by nicknames—Mickey and Ricky, Babe, Dizzy, Yogi, Catfish, Satchel, Tiger, ad infinitum.

Beyond that, most of the others have had standard-issue jock names and known by their diminutives— Bill, Willie, Charlie, and  Jack and Jim and Tim and Tom and Ted.

But we’ve dug through the archives and managed to come up with the following group of more out-of-the-ordinary monikers:

AMOS ALONZO Stagg — early football coach, an innovator in college football

AUREALIUS Thomas – in the College Football Hall of Fame

BANKS McFadden –excelled in football, basketball and track, voted the Associated     Press’s ‘Athlete of the Year’ in 1939

BIBB FALK – played for the Chicago White Sox

BOWIE Kuhn –Major League Baseball Commissioner

BROOKS Robinson – a third baseman for the Baltimore Orioles for 23 years

BURLEIGH Grimes (nn ‘Ol’ Stubblebeard’) — Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher

CARNEY Lansford – Major League third baseman and then coach

DORNE Dibble – wide receiver for the Detroit Lions

EARLY Wynn (nn Gus) –pitcher inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

FERGUSON Jenkins – Another Baseball Hall of Famer, also played basketball with the Harlem Globetrotters

FISHER DeBerry – legendary US Air Force Academy football coach

FRANCO HARRIS –played football for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks

HOLLAND Donan – college football defensive tackle

NILE Kinnick – won the 1939 Heisman Trophy

PAAVO Nurmi – Finish track star, outstanding long-distance runner of his time

PARRY (born Patrick) O’Brien – American shot-put champion

RAFER Johnson – Olympic decathlete

RYNE Sandberg – Chicago Cubs second baseman, named after pitcher Ryne Duren

SLADE Cutter –in the College Football Hall of Fame

SLATER Martin (nn ‘Dugie’) – one of the NBA’s best defensive players in the 1950s

THANE (born Walter Thane) Baker –Olympic gold medalist runner

VALMY Thomas – major league catcher

YALE (born Robert Yale) Lary – played football for the Detroit Lions

ZEBULON (Zeb) Terry – early (1916-22) Major League baseball player

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The World Cup means many things to many people–mostly rooting for their country’s team–but to name nerds it also means a chance to sample a smorgasbord of international names. They’re all here–Slavic names, Norse names, Hispanic names, African, Asian and Anglo names…

Here’s a selection of some that we found particularly intriguing and possibly exportable, together with the team they play for  (understanding that it doesn’t necessarily represent their own ethnnicity).  In some soccer cultures–especially Portugal and Brazil–there’s a tradition of using only one name (one Brazilian superstar moniker I’m NOT including is Kaka, even if the accent is on the second syllable), and some of the choices below are the nicknames the players are known by.

ABOU Diaby (France)

ACHILLE Emana (Cameroon)

ALOU Diarra (France)

ARJEN Robben (Netherlands)

AURELIEN Chedjou (Cameroon)

BECARY Sagna (France)

BOJAN Jokec (Slovenia)

BROU Angoua (Ivory Coast)

BROWN Ideye (Nigeria)

CACAU (Germany)

CLEMENTE Rodriguez (Argentina)

CRISTIANO Ronaldo (Portugal)

DANILO Turcios (Honduras)

DANKO Lazovic (Serbia)

DECO (Portugal)

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Athlete Names: Tennis, anyone??

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We’ve talked about the names of great poets and painters and musicians and worthy political and social namesakes, but one area we’ve somewhat neglected is athlete names.

The names of tennis champs are interesting because they include both genders and are international in scope.  And since the US Open (then called the US Men’s Singles Championship) dates back to 1881and the Women’s to 1887, with Wimbledon starting in 1877 and the Davis Cup to 1900, there’s plenty of opportunity to look back and include some cool  vintage names as well.

These are the names of tennis champs (and a few high-ranked contenders who didn’t quite make it to the very top) with possess distinctive names—so sorry John, Bill and Billie-Jean.

GIRLS

ALICE Marble

ALINE Terry

ALTHEA Gibson

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Everyone knows the name of Amelia Earhart, but how many others do we know of the equally daring female pilots—then called aviatrixes– who made their mark during the early days of flying?

In the wild and wooly barnstorming, daredevil days of aviation from its beginnings to World War II, there were few occupations outside the home open to women other than teaching, nursing and secretarying.  That’s when a group of adventurous females—some of them girls still in their teens– took to the skies, risking their lives flying flimsy wooden aircraft in open cockpits.  Often disparaged and mocked by the male pilots, there was both  camaraderie and competitiveness among these flygirls as records for speed, distance and altitude were swiftly set and broken, and there was a constant succession of ‘firsts’.

Here are their names, some common and some unusual, any of which would make an admirable namesake. (btw, some of these ‘first’ claims might appear to be contradictory).

ADRIENNE Bolland, a Frenchwoman who was the first to fly across the treacherous Andes mountains.

ALYS McKey Bryant,  the first woman to fly in Canada.

AMELIA Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic by air, making the fastest crossing on record in 1932 (for the rest, see the movie).

AMELIE (called Melli) Hedwig Boutard-Bess was an early German female aviator.

AMY Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.

ANESIA Pinkeiro Machado was Brazil’s first female pilot.

ANNE Morrow Lindbergh, the first woman to earn a glider pilot license, in 1930, accompanied husband Charles on many flights.

BERYL Markham was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west.

BESSICA Medlar Raiche constructed a biplane in her living room and made her first solo flight in 1910.

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Olympic Names: Gold Medal Choices

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Guest blogger JILL BARNETT gives out Olympic medals.  No, not for the sports, silly; for the names.  But before we begin, an Olympic name trivia note: Roughly 20 percent of the U.S. men’s ice hockey team is named Ryan.  Why?  We’re guessing the inspiration might have been the hockey-playing heartthrob played by Ryan O’Neal in Love Story.

When I was in second grade, I had figured out two things: that the Rubik’s Cube could be easily solved by simply peeling off the colored stickers and reaffixing them onto the correct squares, and that I was destined to roller skate in the Olympics. Granted, there was no artistic roller skating event, but I was confident that if just one member of the International Olympic Committee could see me doing my best Xanadu routine while wearing my new unicorn-embossed roller skates with fuzzy pink pom-poms, he or she would recognize the need to include it in future Olympiads.

Being firmly grounded in reality, however, I soon realized that my gold medal dreams would more likely be realized by transferring my exemplary roller skating skills (I could skate backwards and forwards, and when I needed to stop, I’d gracefully dive into the grass) onto the ice. I would become a figure skater–the next Dorothy Hamill–and after a brief stop at the Olympics, I’d join her in the Ice Capades, or better yet, become a cast member of Disney on Ice!

With my new ice skating obsession, I was naturally fixated on the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics, rooting for Rosalynn Sumners as she skated her way to the women’s silver medal, and cheering on Scott Hamilton as he won the men’s figure skating gold. I even stayed glued to the TV long enough to watch other events such as skiing, speed skating, curling (which I affectionately call “shuffleboard on ice”) and bobsledding, which of course inspired me to ride a greased cookie sheet down the hill in front our house and into oncoming traffic.

And even though my ice skating dreams quickly melted after I crashed into a wall at my friend Monica’s fourth grade skating party (I never quite grasped the concept of braking), I’ve continued to faithfully view the Winter Olympics on television every four years. But it’s not only the sporting events that I enjoy; I also love to hear the athletes’ names!

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