Season X, A Look Back: History of Nicknames
It is no secret that the success of the league has been aided by the strong bonds between league members. Unlike other sports leagues where players almost exclusively use their real names, the HRL rarely calls people by their god-given name. Like many fraternal organizations, nicknames have become a hallmark of the league, giving players a sense of familiarity and camaraderie with each other. Whether by design or a very fortunate accident, many of the players do not know the actual names of other league members. This has often led to confusion and puzzled expressions when players who know each other outside the league refer to each other by their “real” names.
Season X gives us a chance to look back at the history of nicknames in the league, rate some of the best nicknames, and speculate on the future of nicknames in the league as we continue on the path towards Season XX.
Did these guys start the WIFFLE naming tradition? (D-Day, Otter, Boon, Bluto, Pinto, Flounder, and Hoover) Note: None of these are HRL WIFFLE nicknames
What makes a good nickname?
There are 3 elements to a good WIFFLE nickname. Nicknames should:
1. Describe the personality/characteristics of the person.
2. Be easy to remember or legendary (makes the person WIFFLE-famous)
3. Be somehow humorous or enlightening
There are very few nicknames that possess all three elements. Many players are lucky to even have one component in their moniker. Many WIFFLErs have none.
Although a wide variety of names have been used in the HRL, nicknames can be broken down into several basic categories; nicknames based on actual names, nicknames based on other nicknames, nicknames obtained from an event or incident occurred, a feature or characteristic about the WiFFLEr, and “other”. The next section looks at these groups in greater detail, providing examples of the best in class from each nickname category. Nicknames were rated on the 3 essential elements of a good name using a complicated (and proprietary) rating system. This system is so complex, you need a PhD to understand it, and even then, it doesn’t make sense.
Nicknames based on actual names
Since year 1, nicknames based on players actual names has been commonplace. This type of name, is the junk food of the nickname world, often proving to be the least descriptive of the actual player resulting in a nickname that isn’t remotely funny, and at times, very difficult to remember. If you end up with one of these, please try to change it right away.
Famous WIFFLE names in this category: Eck, Gusto, Shirls, Joe, Cota, Hendi, Mike P, Molgs, J-Ski, M-Ski, Peeks, Priest, Mathis, Westy, Dr. Seuss, Washman, Quick, Seibs
Group Winner: J-Ski J-Ski’s nickname wins this category because it has become a source of branding for the Xpos transcending the limitations of being based on the player’s actual name.
Nicknames based on other nicknames
After season one, the league began to see similarities between new recruits and existing players. This led to a slew of nicknames based on existing nicknames. One example; during the early days of the HRL Nine led the league in walks. When a rookie entered the league began to draw walks, he quickly became Ten. A second Joe became “The Deuce” avoiding yet another nickname based on a real name.
Famous WIFFLE names in this category: Ten, Torpedo, Deuce, Bliss Jr., The Spork, Steve 3
Group Winner: Torpedo. Based on his relationship to Rocket, this name makes sense yet is also memorable enough to stand alone.
Nicknames based on an event
Sometimes during the course of a WIFFLE game or practice (practice?!?!) an event occurs that dramatically shapes the course of WIFFLE history. These events are memorialized with a new nickname. Edgar obtained his name when he failed to run out a solidly hit ball. Sanchez remarked on how he was covered in dirt. Eddie Bauer was wearing nice clothes at the rink.
Famous WIFFLE names in this category: Edgar, Sanchez, Eddie Bauer, 911, Spoon
Group Winner: 911 - Getting injured at the first WIFFLE scrimmage earned Jamie the 911 moniker (dial it up) which has remained legendary to this day.
Nicknames based on a personality characteristic or as wish fulfillment
Some WIFFLErs are lucky enough to enter the league with their own nicknames or chose their name through sheer force of will. These names can be based on hobbies, favorite numbers, or previous untold stories.
Famous WIFFLE names in this category: Tugboat, Truck, Trinkey, Nine, Balls,
Group Winner: Truck – He started the league so of course he gets to bring his own nickname with him. The name is legendary (although Tank might beat it by a nose).
It is starting to get dark... time to go back into my coffin...
This is a catch-all category. These were derived from the sign in to the message board (Cheezy) and nicknames based on appearance.
Famous WIFFLE names in this category: Cheezy, Palpatine, Chops
Group Winner: Palpatine – Looking like the emperor from the Star Wars series is enough to win any category of nickname contest.
Evolution of a nickname
At times, WIFFLE players have changed nicknames by choice or the by the will of the league. Popcorn became Lumberjack which evolved into Lumbercorn. Tugboat became Thugboat. Cota became Dick and then became Cota again. Shakespeare turned into Shakesbeard. H8R turned into The Legend but never has shaken the H8R moniker. The evolution of nicknames also has lead to unofficial or alternative nicknames such as “Reverse Vampire” or “Chewy”. Unofficial names are not to be spoken of outside of the hallowed rinks of the HRL.
HRL Season X Nickname Tournament
Disagree with what you see here? Now is the chance for you to get involved. The HRL messageboard will be selecting the greatest WIFFLE nickname of the last 10 seasons! The participants have been seeded and brackets can be filled out (CLICK the pic below for a large version of the bracket). To qualify, participants had to have played at least 3 seasons (tenure helps) and rate highly on the three components. The winner will be selected based on MB votes in each head to head matchup over the course of the WIFFLE season. The HRL: WIFFLEBALL Prize committee is hard at work determining the prize to be given to the winner. Good luck to everybody included, and see you at the rinks!
*Westy has contributed to the HRL website as a featured columnist since season 1. After receiving unanimous praise and critical acclaim for his article exploring the use of WIFFLE rinks in the league he is attempting another article celebrating the league’s tenth season. As always, he is available for weddings and Bar Mitzvahs.