Throughout the history of professional sports, there have been many unforgettable players. Some players are memorable because of a specific skill that they displayed on the field. Others may be remembered because they had crazy personalities. Still others are unforgettable because of their unusual names.
And these names could be interesting for a number of reasons, whether it be a wild nickname, lots of alliteration or even a strange double entendre. Below is a list of the craziest names in the history of pro sports.
Blue Moon Odom
Johnny Lee Odom was born in Macon, Georgia on May 29th of 1945. He was given the name Blue Moon by a classmate, thanks to his rounded face. Blue Moon had a talent for pitching and played for some very good Athletics teams throughout the 1960s and ’70s.
Odom was an important member of Oakland’s back to back to back World Series teams of the early 1970s. He also pitched well enough to make two All-Star games during the 1968 and 1969 seasons.
For the first two years of her life, Picabo Street had no name and was referred to as “Baby girl.” Once she turned three, her parents let her choose her name which is how she ended up with her unusual moniker.
And Picabo had loads of talents on skis. She became a household name in the 1990s due to her performance in the 1994 and 1998 Winter Olympics. She won silver at the 1994 games in Lillehammer and then captured gold during the 1998 games in Nagano.
Many of the names on this list are really fun, but they are also nicknames. That’s not so with Urban Shocker, though his original last name is a little different as it was spelled Shockcor. It was changed once he became famous, since it was a little easier to spell.
Shocker was a terrific pitcher for the Browns and Yankees in the 1920s. He led the Major Leagues in wins in 1921 and led the league in strikeouts in 1922. The right-hander sadly died of pneumonia while still active in 1928.
World B. Free
When World B. Free began his NBA career, he was known as Lloyd Free. And he was a heck of a basketball player. The 1980 NBA All-Star was a deft scorer who averaged over 20 points a game over the course of his NBA career.
Free changed his name to World on his 28th birthday in 1981. The name change was not due to any kind of hopes for world peace, though. It was simply because guys on the playground used to refer to him as being “All-World.”
With a last name like Whimper, it was going to be tough to pick a first name that would have sounded tough before it. With the first name Guy, this offensive tackle grew to be a massive and talented football player.
Whimper played in the NFL for 8 seasons with stints with the New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Pittsburgh Steelers. The tackle managed to win a Super Bowl ring as a member of the New York Giants in 2008.
Interestingly enough, Majestic Mapp did not even have the most unique name in the Mapp family. His brother, Scientific Mapp, was also a basketball player who played his college ball for the Florida A&M Rattlers.
Majestic was the much better basketball player however. The 6-1 point guard from The Bronx made the 1999 McDonalds All-American team and parlayed that success into a college career at the University of Virginia. While he didn’t have a professional career, Mapp became a trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Again, what a name means in America might mean something different in a player’s home country. Miroslav Satan was born in Czechoslovakia in 1974. That doesn’t mean that a Buffalo Sabres jersey reading Satan did not look super cool in the late ’90s.
Satan was a terrific player in the NHL during his 12-year career. He scored a total of 363 goals and notched 372 assists. He now acts as the President of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation.
Alaa Abdelnaby not only had a tongue-twister of a name, he also had one of the best lines about playing college ball at a rigorous school like Duke. He told reporters, “The only way I can make five A’s is when I sign my name.”
The Power Forward parlayed his success at Duke into a five-year career in the NBA. Following his NBA career, Abdelnaby also had stints in Greece, France and with multiple teams in the CBA.
Walter James Vincent “Rabbit” Maranville played in the MLB from 1912 and 1934. He retired in in 1935, and his record 23 seasons in the National League wasn’t broken until 1986, by Pete Rose.
He got the unusual nickname “Rabbit” during his time in the minor leagues with the New Bedford Whalers. There are two different stories about how exactly the name was given to him. One says it was because he had large ears, and the other claims it was because of the way he hopped around on the field.
While some thought his name might sound like a rare disease, Vitas Gerulaitis was actually quite an accomplished tennis player. Gerulaitis was a force during the mid to late 70’s capturing the Australian Open title in 1977.
Following his playing career, the personable Lithuanian-American became a well admired tennis commentator for the USA Network. Sadly, Gerulaitis passed away at the age of 40 when he was accidentally poisoned by carbon monoxide while sleeping at a friends house.
When people hear they name Coco Crisp they either think of a delicious breakfast cereal or a Centerfielder who had a terrific 14-year career in the major leagues. Born Covelli Loyce Crisp in 1979, the switch-hitter made his debut in 2002.
Blending good outfield defense, strong base running and bit of pop, Crisp was a fixture at the top of the lineup for the Cleveland Indians and Oakland A’s. Coco won a World Series with the 2007 Red Sox and led the American League in stolen bases in 2011.
Ronald Frederick Bradley Tugnutt was born in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada in 1967. A hardworking Goaltender, he worked himself through the minor league ranks and made his NHL debut with Quebec Nordiques during the 1987-88 season.
Tugnutt was a part time starter and strong back-up during his 17 year career. His biggest highlight came in 1991 when he saved 70 of 73 shots in a game against the Boston Bruins. Following his career, Tugnutt owned the Central Canada Hockey Leagues Kemptville 73’s.
Born in Wisconsin in 1941, there was very little that Richard Trickle could have done about his name. I mean, he could have gone by Richard or Rick or Ricky, but that wasn’t really his personality. The short track specialist was known to drill a hole in his helmet so he could smoke during races.
Trickle also had a very successful career in stock car racing, being named Nascar’s Rookie of the Year in 1989. Tragically, the racer died by his own hand in 2013 after living in severe pain.
Sometimes a player’s name can be a perfect match for the kind of person they actually are. For Larry Playfair, not so much. The 1980’s NHL Defenseman wasn’t known so much for his gentlemanly play as he was for his willingness to mix it up.
Playfair wasn’t much of a goal scorer, tallying 26 goals over 14 seasons. He did spend plenty of time in the penalty box, though. Following his playing career, he called Buffalo Sabres games on television.
John Paul Bonser was born in St. Petersburg, Florida in October of 1981. He didn’t remain John Paul Bonser. In 2001, while playing in the minor leagues, he legally changed his name to Boof, which was his childhood nickname.
As he worked his way through the Giants farm system, Boof became a top prospect and was dealt to the Minnesota Twins. He never quite made good on his enormous promise, though, and retired in 2015 after stints in Taiwan and the Atlantic League.
Creedence Clearwater Couto
It’s safe to take a guess as to what kind of music this soccer star’s parents are into! Yes, they really named him Creedence Clearwater Couto, although he goes by “Paulista” professionally as a striker for Santa Cruz in Brazil.
He has plenty to say about his unusual moniker. “It’s difficult to write, even harder for Brazilians to pronounce, so they sometimes revert to calling me Paulista because it’s easier. And most youngsters today have never heard of the group, so I often have to repeat my name several times. The only thing that I regret is that some people are more interested in me because of my name than because of my qualities as a footballer.”
Sometimes, the name given to a child can place unreasonable expectations on said child. Naming your son “God” really amps up the pressure. But for most of his amateur career, God Shammgod made good on his unusual name.
Shammgod attended Providence College after making the McDonalds All-American team out of the renowned La Salle Academy in Manhattan. After a decorated college career, Shammgod played for a brief while with the Washington Wizards. He now works as a Player Development Coach for the Dallas Mavericks.
The name Richard Butkus (especially the shortened version of the name that he goes by) has prompted sophomoric laughs from teenagers since the linebacker’s pro football debut in the NFL in 1965. In order to make a name like that work, he would have to be a remarkable football player. And Butkus was.
The punishing linebacker spent the entirety of his nine-year career with the Chicago Bears. He racked up a total of eight Pro Bowl Appearances and two Defensive Player of the Year Awards. A First Ballot Hall of Famer, Butkus set a standard for future defensive stalwarts.
To some, the name “Milton Bradley” might bring to mind board games like Connect Four and Battleship. But fans of baseball will recognize it as the name of an MLB outfielder who had an 11-year career in the pros, playing for the Expos, Indians, Dodgers, A’s, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, and Mariners.
Sadly, Bradley’s post-baseball life has been touched by misfortune and crime. In 2018 he was sentenced to 36 months of probation on charges of domestic battery.
At first glance it might not seem that there’s anything too unusual about this particular name. But just keep in mind that the last name is pronounced “freeze.” Which means that this name sounds just like “antifreeze” when spoken out loud.
It’s very fitting, since Andy Fries is a race car driver who is probably pretty familiar with the green stuff that helps to keep engines running at their peak performance.