Spring is here, a time when young men’s fancies turn to begging their parents not to make them play Little League. Baseball has become one of the least popular sports among kids these days, dropping below competitive standing. However, to many us of older folks, it’s still the greatest game ever played in pajamas. So, to celebrate the new baseball season, we thought we’d explore a forgotten aspect of the game’s rich history: the name Dick.
Believe it or not, Dick was once a common name among Major League Baseball players. Many players up through the 1970s and into the 1980s called themselves Dick, choosing to shorten their name from Richard.
The most famous Dick might be former MVP Dick Allen, who played for the Phillies and White Sox, among others. He actually came up with the Phillies as Richie, briefly turned to Rich, and then inexplicably called himself Dick in the latter part of his career. This Dick was so big he even had gloves and bats with his John Hancock on them.
Then there is Dick Pole, who played for the Red Sox and Mariners in the 1970s. He was a decent pitcher, but more importantly, Dick Pole might be the only man in sports with the rare quadruple entendre name. Legend has it that he once pitched against Pete LaCock, who played for the Royals and is the son of Hollywood Squares host Peter Marshall. Marshall was born Ralph LaCock, but he changed both of his names when he went to Hollywood. His baseball playing son was also born Ralph LaCock, but he only changed the Ralph part and kept LaCock. The moral of the story is, they both really hated the name Ralph.
Overall, there were about 200 Dicks throughout baseball history, including Dick Hall, Dick Drago, Dick Ward, Dick Sisler, Dick Bass, Dick Tidrow, Dick Terwilliger, Dickie Thon, and Dick Green, to name a few. But Dick has fallen out of favor as people eventually came to the realization that the name is synonymous with Dick Cheney. The last great baseball Dick was probably Dick Ruthven, who pitched for the Phillies through the mid-1980s. We may never see another great Dick again.