Old Hoss Radbourn, one of the greatest names in Braves history, tagging some poor fellow gently on the head. I feel bad for other guy, who appears to just want to caress his precious sheet of paper while lying on a cracked linoleum floor. Why won't you just let him do it, Hoss?
The Braves have featured many great names in the franchise's long history. This post will focus on the teams from 1876 until 1906, when the franchise was located in Boston and known as the Red Stockings (until 1882) and then the Beaneaters.
Here are 15 of my favorite player names from this era, in chronological order from their time with the franchise. All names are from the player's "top-line" listing at Baseball Reference (i.e., how they are listed in leaderboards, etc.). I didn't look at nicknames that weren't a part of the player's official name, though I'm sure there are some good ones.
Foghorn Bradley, 1876: In his only year in the majors, 20-year-old Foghorn had a 2.49 ERA in 173.1 IP for the Boston Red Stockings (eventually the Braves). That ERA was worse than it looked though; the NL average ERA was 2.31, and Bradley's run average (counting unearned runs) was an unsightly 6.00. I'm guessing that his voice was rather... sonorous.
Tricky Nichols, 1876: Nichols appeared in one game for the Red Stockings, notching a complete game victory while allowing 7 hits and 5 runs (just 1 earned).
Daisy Davis, 1884-85: In parts of 2 seasons with the franchise, by then nicknamed the Beaneaters, Daisy wasn't much tougher than his name suggests. He had a 5.15 ERA with the franchise, while the NL average in 1885 was 2.82.
Tom Poorman, 1885-86: Poorman was a right fielder who hit .253 / .284 / .348 for the Beaneaters in his 2 seasons. I don't know if he made enough money to disprove his surname.
Old Hoss Radbourn, 1886-89: The Hall of Fame pitcher and noted social media user didn't have his best years in a Beaneaters uniform, but he still managed to post a 3.58 ERA in over 1400 innings spread across 4 seasons with the team. He also notched 157 complete games out of 163 starts, which is very much like a Hoss.
Tony Von Fricken, 1890: Von Fricken appeared in just 1 major league game. He started and went 8 innings, but allowed a mind-boggling 16 runs ("only" 9 earned) on 23 hits and 8 walks. With no strikeouts. I wonder if he used his last name as a curse? "Another hit? Awww, vonfricken!"
Pretzels Getzien, 1890-91: Getzien presumably got his nickname from his birthplace, the stereotypically pretzel-crazy nation of Germany. (Fact*: Germans eat pretzels at every meal.) To this day, Getzien is the best German-born pitcher in MLB history. He had a 3.39 ERA and 46 complete games in 49 starts for the Beaneaters.
* Not a fact.
Cozy Dolan, 1895-96 and 1905-06: Dolan spent hit first two seasons for the Beaneaters, and he must have felt at home in Boston, because he returned to the team for his final two seasons. Cozy came up as a pitcher but spent most of his career as an outfielder. He hit .257 / .316 / .320 for the franchise, and also had a 4.44 ERA in 39 games. Sadly, Dolan came down with typhoid fever during spring training of 1907 and died not long after.
Bill Keister, 1898: A middle infielder who appeared in 10 games for the Beaneaters, Keister fell flat on his, well... rear end, hitting just .167 / .167 / .233 for the franchise. He'd go on to have success with other teams, even leading the AL in triples in that league's inaugural season of 1901. Keister also had a great nickname: "Wagon Tongue."
Hi Ladd, 1898: "Hi Ladd" sounds like how you'd greet a scottish boy, not the name of a major league ballplayer. Ladd didn't last long in MLB, though; he had just 5 career plate appearance, 4 of them with the Beaneaters. He went 1/4 with a single.
Charlie Frisbee, 1899: Frisbee was an outfielder who had a .329 batting average in 169 PAs for the Beaneaters. Also of note: his nickname was "Bunt." (Somewhere, Fredi Gonzalez's ears just pricked up.) I wonder if Frisbee ever got tossed from a game by an irate umpire?
Boileryard Clarke, 1899-1900: So named because of his booming voice, Clarke went on to become the longtime coach at Princeton, whose baseball stadium was named "Clarke Field" in his honor. His playing skills weren't as impressive as his coaching or vocal abilities, however. In Boileryard's 2 years with the Beaneaters, he hit .274 / .310 / .325, which even for catchers of that era was not very good.
Togie Pittinger, 1900-04: I just love the way this name sounds. Pittinger was an important part of the Beaneaters' pitching staffs in his years with the team. He was very effective in 1902, posting a 2.52 ERA in 389 innings, but he did have major control problems. Pittinger led the majors in walks in 1902, 1903, and 1904. He also led the league in homers, hits, and earned runs allowed in 1903.
John Malarkey, 1902-03: Despite his name, Malarkey pitched well in his 2 years with the franchise, with a 2.89 ERA in 423 innings.
Roy Witherup, 1906: I wonder if opponents ever mockingly added "and die" to Witherup's name. In any case, he had just a 6.26 ERA in 46 innings for the Beaneaters.
I'll post some more great names from Braves franchise history sometime next week. Feel free to suggest your favorite names in the comments.