PHOENIX — “Now pitching for your Diamondbacks, No. 25, Hollywood!!”
Major League Baseball’s inaugural Players Weekend was not only a hit for fans. The stars of the show seemed to enjoy it, too.
“Some people only want to expose themselves in a certain way and this is going to force people to share a little bit of themselves in a more intimate way,” manager Torey Lovullo said.
Players from all 30 MLB clubs sported nicknames on the backs of their jerseys, along with colorful socks and non-traditional uniforms.
Here is what the Diamondbacks’ starting lineup for Friday night’s game against the San Francisco Giants looked like:
- Freight Train-LF
- B Dru-2B
- The Pike-SS
Players and coaches agreed that the weekend came at an ideal time — in the heat of some tough pennant races — and allowed the players to show a more personal side to the fans.
“A lot of the guys we know but we’ll just see what people do and they’ll get to put their personality out there for everyone to see,” Paul Goldschmidt said.
The event was well received around the league. One of the most popular nicknames was “Corey’s Brother,” worn by Seattle Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager as a fun nod to his talented younger brother.
Some of the Diamondbacks’ nicknames are pretty obvious like Goldy, Lambo, and Pollo, but where did they come up with names like Hollywood, The Sheriff, and Freight Train?
Relief pitcher, Archie Bradley, aka “Hollywood,” just enjoyed the ring of the name and stuck with it.
“Sometimes I do things that are a little more Hollywood than other people,” Bradley said. “It’s not that I necessarily like being in the spotlight, I just understand it’s what we do and you might as well enjoy it and have a smile on your face while you’re doing it.”
Fellow reliever, Andrew Chafin, is going by “The Sheriff” this weekend and his nickname is at the top of many players’ favorites list.
“I think it really fits him,” Bradley said. “ The old Wild Wild West guy he is, so sheriff fits nicely.”
Catcher Chris Iannetta has been dubbed C.I. since he joined the Diamondbacks, but he doesn’t know who started that.
“I think it pigtailed off of C.O. (Chris Owings),” Iannetta said. “Everyone was calling him C.O. and first initial, different last name. It just stemmed from that I guess.”
Even Lovullo joined the fun, repping “Sal” on the back of his uniform, which comes from his real first name, Salvatore.
“It’s something that’s special to me because my friends from back home call me Sal,” he said. “I know if someone is calling me Sal, that they know me from when I was very, very young.”
Others enjoyed ribbing their teammates.
“You got Hollywood. No one ever calls him that so I don’t know what that is,” mused Jake Lamb about Bradley’s choice.
One player that opted out of a goofy nickname was Zack Greinke, who just stuck with, well, Greinke. His decision to just use his last name fits his personality.
“He’s a Cy Young winner. You don’t need a nickname when you do that,” Bradley said.
“Today, anything is appropriate for him,” Lovullo said. “He’s starting so it’s fine with me.”
Along with the funny nicknames on the back of the jerseys, there was a special patch on the sleeve showing the evolution of a player from a young age to the big leagues. Under the patch was a spot for players to write the name of someone who was influential in their success.
The game-worn jerseys will be auctioned off at MLB.com. One hundred percent of the proceeds will go to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Foundation.
For a game that has been accused of being all business, the sports finally had a chance to show its lighter side.
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