What’s in a Name?

Or better still, what’s behind a name? I have had a nickname that has been with me for quite a while. It’s not a bad one, but lingers as an acronym of the original, so when an old friend mentions it in front of a new friend, it has to be explained. It’s difficult to impart the full emotions that made the nickname attractive when given, and often the use of the nickname picks up additional meanings that have nothing to do with its origin; it takes on a life of its own.

Nickname The First
My first nickname, bestowed by my brother’s friend, was “Cork”. It was because, from behind, my husky build made we seem wide. This was not a nickname of grace or admiration. I assume it referred to an upside down cork, wider at the bottom. That name lasted through junior high.

Worse Than The First
In ninth grade, I made the junior varsity baseball team. I was not a great player, but I wasn’t bad. I was proud to be on the team. One weekend, we had a tournament on Saturday after a Friday afternoon game. My mother worked late on Fridays, so I washed my uniform myself. I made the mistake of washing it with a pair of red shorts, and my white uniform turned pink.

I washed that uniform four more times that night, but I could not remove the pink. The next day, I was called “Pinkie”. What could I say to deny that?

The One That Stuck
That same baseball season, we were playing at Cuyahoga Heights. They were something of an arch rival, and it was a game we all wanted to win. The field itself was memorable because it was in a stand of trees and had a very remote feel to it. No roads or building could be seen from the field, but an active train track ran along one side—it was possible to hit a foul ball on a passing train and never, ever see that baseball again.

I was not having a great day at the plate. I hit the ball in each of five at bats, but I hit four ground balls to the short stop, reaching first only once on what was ruled (unfairly) an error. On my fifth at bat ( a lot of at bats, by the way, for a seven inning game) I drilled a beautiful line drive into right field. The right fielder caught it on the first hop, and threw me out at first base. I had just barely left the batter’s box when the umpire raised his fist.

Our lone fan, Larry Lowther, had a great chuckle at this. Larry, father of our shortstop Marc, was at all of our games, and was a well-liked man. So when he took a break from his laughter to shout, “Hey, Mick the Quick!” it was heard by all and with regard. Henceforth, I was known as Mick the Quick.

It was a far better name than “Pinkie”, so, in a sense I am grateful. It is worth noting that the player who called me Pinkie that Saturday morning was none other than Larry’s son Marc. A couple of funny guys if ever there were.