When the Royals were fêted at the White House last summer for their 2015 World Series title, then-President Obama couldn’t resist a jab.
“You’ve got an offense led by homegrown guys like Alex ‘Gordo’ Gordon and Mike ‘Moose’ Moustakas. Eric ‘Hos’ Hosmer. World (Series) MVP Salvador ‘Salvy’ Perez,” Obama said at the time. “These guys are all great players. Can I say, though, the nicknames aren’t that creative. It’s like, Barack ‘Barack’ Obama. You know? I mean, listen to this — Hos, Moose, Gordo — we’re going to have to work on these.”
It’s fair to say that Obama’s speechwriter swung and missed with that joke, because there actually is more to some of these Royals nicknames.
On Wednesday, the Royals announced the nicknames that will be on the player jerseys during the series at Cleveland from Aug. 25-27. It’s part of the “Players Weekend.”
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Bear: The thinking is that starting pitcher Danny Duffy chose this because of the bear suit he wore after the Royals clinched the division title in 2015. (“It’s a bear suit, Joel” is a quote almost every Royals fan remembers).
However, he chose Bear for his uniform because it’s a term of endearment.
“My mom used to call me when I was little,” Duffy said. “Since I was like 2, she called me bear. I actually has nothing to do with that (the suit).”
Sledge: Relief pitcher Peter Moylan says he’s been called that for years and, obviously, the way the “Sledge-iotto” coffee drink has taken off makes sense for that to be his choice.
“I’ve been called Moylo every now and then,” Moylan said. “In Australia, if you Sledge someone it means you’re talking (smack), and I’m usually pretty good at that. I’ve been called Sledge since about 2012.”
Whit Bird: Second baseman Whit Merrifield has been hearing that name all his life.
“That’s something my dad has called me ever since I was young,” Merrifield said. “That’s the only nickname I could think of. Whit is technically a nickname.”
Papo: First baseman Eric Hosmer explained this is what he heard when he arrived in Kansas City in 2011.
“One the coaches when I first came up, Eddie Rodriguez, and (catcher) Brayan Peña when I was a rookie, they would call me Papo,” Hosmer said. “It’s something we always used down in South Florida. It’s a Latin thing. It’s like saying, ‘what’s up, dude?’ or ‘what’s up bro?’ or something like that. It’s just something that’s stuck with me.”
By the way, Hosmer remembered what Obama said last summer.
“He didn’t get any of the nicknames right,” Hosmer said. “He called Salvy ‘Sal,’ and Salvy is ‘Niño.’ He called me ‘Hos’ ... he kind of abbreviated it. Whoever wrote that speech for him should have cleaned that one up a little bit.”