Monday, August 13, 2007

Any Other Tigers Out There?

New daughter Sam Alexis Woods requires at least two names to be recognized, while her daddy needs only one--Tiger (WireImage)

At another site I mentioned how Tiger Woods was known so widely by the one name "Tiger" and asked how many other sports stars could make the same claim. Based on input I received and my analysis, here's my list so far (though as I think about it, this thread runs dangerously close to ESPN's hideous "Who's Now?" feature). Since I didn't blog about the PGA, which Tiger won, maybe this will help fill the gap, while providing some legitimate justification.

Still Active, Nickname is Only Name Used

Tiger (Eldrick Woods) - worldwide, I suspect

Junior (Ken Griffey, Jr) - moreso with baseball fans than others

Becks (David Beckham) - elsewhere but US

Many soccer stars, particularly from Brazil. I'll add a list later.

Still Active, Given Name

Ichiro (Suzuki) - Japanese baseball star playing with the Seattle Mariners. His first name appears on the back of his uniform.

Shaq (O'Neal)
- short for Shaquille, but close enough to his given name to be in this category

Kobe (Bryant) - an unusual name, named after steaks when his dad played basketball in Japan.

Manny (Ramirez) - not so unusual a name, but he's made it his own, much like Reggie Jackson.

Nomar (Garciaparra) - his unique name is "Ramon" spelled backwards.

Venus and Serena (Williams) - Richard Williams knew how to name girls for future fame.

Peyton and Eli (Manning) - though Manning name has its own panache and hasn't really been dropped. Archie might also qualify.

LeBron (James) - though LBJ might take over as most common reference

From the Past, Nicknames

(The) Babe (George Herman Ruth); although he was known widely by other nicknames (Bambino, Sultan of Swat) as well.

Pele (Eduardo de Nasciamentes) - the "Tiger" of his day. Internationally renowned, he took the extra step of dropping his given name altogether and replacing it with "Pele." (photo by Jeffrey Biteng)

Duke (Edwin Snider) - he shares this appellation with John "The Duke" Wayne.

Yaz (Carl Yastrzemski) - with a name like Yastrzemski he had to be good. I had to look that spelling up and correct it.

Magic (Earvin Johnson) - Johnson started his college career as Earvin, but his play and soon his name became "Magic."

Bo (Jackson) - I think this was a nickname. Can't tell you what his real name was--Arthur, maybe? Well, Bo knew, anyway--football and baseball too.

OJ (Orenthal James Simpson) - now moreso known as America's most (in)famous still-walking-around-free double murderer.

I'm sure there are other past soccer players in this category, but I'm not willing to do the research. I remember Maradona.

From the Past, Given Names

The NBA's all-time leading scorer, he started with two names (Lew Alcindor) converted to three (Kareem Abdul Jabbar), but needed only the sky hook and one name, Kareem, to be recognized. (

Reggie (Jackson) - outsized personality overcame common name to make it his own. As cocky as the actor is on ESPN's "The Bronx is Burning", I don't think he measures up to the real thing.

Martina (Navratilova) - at least until Martina Hingis came along, but by then Martina was out of the singles limelight. Her difficult last name also encouraged first-name only references. Billie Jean (King),. Chrissie (Evert) and Steffi (Graf) also come close to making this category.

Arnie (Arnold Palmer) - He had his own army! I think that a sports fan (and many others) in the late 50s and early '60s would have recognized who "Arnie" was without a last name or sport mentioned.

Fictional Characters

Rocky (Balboa) - maybe the one and only. Almost certainly the most famous in this category. Here is Sylvester (Sly) Stallone's character battling Apollo Creed in the first and best Rocky movie.

Please leave any other names you can think of that should be on this list as comments.

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