SportsProf

(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How Did This Guy Get His Nickname?

Kids can ask the most confounding questions. In a roundabout way at the breakfast table this morning, we got to talking about various nicknames (one of my angels asked what a "pinhead" is). My wife and I tried to explain, and then I mentioned that a baseball player for the Phillies years ago had the name Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones. Call it an extension of nicknames, call it a stream of consciousness, call it that Philadelphia has had champions only in 1915, 1950, 1980, 1983 and 1993, so the champions are memorable, even if they date back 50 years.

And he just wasn't any old ballplayer. He was the third baseman, a good third baseman, for the 1950 "Whiz Kids" team that took the NL by surprise, won the pennant and then lost four straight (albeit close) games to the Yankees in the World Series. True, the team had future Hall of Famers Robin Roberts and Richie Ashburn on the team, but it also takes players a notch or two below, like Del Ennis, Dick Sisler, Eddie Waitkus, Bubba Church, Curt Simmons and, yes, Puddin' Head Jones, to get you there.

So the question arose at the breakfast table, "What does 'Puddin' Head' mean?"

Quite frankly, I didn't have a clue. I can only speculate that either Mr. Jones liked to eat pudding or that people thought he was a bit batty, err soft in the head, and since pudding is soft, well, you can make the connection, I suppose (sorry for the Yoda-like sentence). But those are only guesses.

If any of you can enlighten me, such as the Sports Curmudgeon, I would be grateful.

Thank you.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a popular song entitled "Puddin' Head Jones" recorded by Rudy Vallee in the 1930's. Maybe from that?

TIGOBLUE

2:35 PM  
Anonymous The Sports Curmudgeon said...

Indeed, I do remember Willie "Puddin' Head" Jones from the Whiz Kids. But if I ever knew the origin of that nickname, it is lost in the recesses of my brain.

Jones had chronically sore feet which led to him having the speed of your typical fire hydrant. On one occasion, he supposedly responded to a question about how his feet felt by saying they only hurt when they touched the ground.

Sorry I can't be of more assistance here...

4:57 PM  
Blogger phillysportsfan86 said...

As the legend goes and the song says puddin head was a knickname commonly to players who were mentally challenged by the intricacies of the game. Apparently Jones was one such player.

3:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Willie got his nickname because he had a habit of not ducking on his way to second in a double-play situation. He took more than one throw to first on his head...once right between the eyes and it knocked him silly. It was his way of breaking up the DP.

6:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My father grew up with Puddin Head and you're all incorrect. He loved liver pudding and always ate it, even before games. our family is still in touch with his brother who is still alive and my Uncle was interviewed on him.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey who is his brother??? Puddin head jones was my great,great uncle and i never knew that part of the family..besides my grandmother if course...and i was told he was hit in the head with a baseball,was told to stay in the hospital and he climbed out the window and showed up the next day for the game, head still bandaged up!!!..if you could get back with me my email is dan_kloh@yahoo.com

9:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I grew up a Cincy Red fan and saw Willie wind down his career with the Reds in 59 and 60. He was the slowest runner I'd ever seen. I remember a game in which he launched a home run and at the crack of the bat I got up to go to the restroom. When I returned to my seat, Willie was rounding third.

5:15 AM  

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