The Name Game


(From Birdie Kim to Stubby Clapp, everyone is searching for a name that people will remember.)

Unless you’re a duck in a room full of hunters, standing out in a crowd can take you a long way.

Take the case of Birdie Kim, who captured last week’s U.S. Women’s Open. Before she was a Birdie, she was a Ju-Yun. However, with no less than five other players on the LPGA Tour with the last name of Kim, she changed her name to Birdie to pump up her profile. Mission accomplished, although Birdie’s birdie out of the bunker on the 18th hole to win the Open has helped her become a little more famous as well.

But who knows?

If ol’ Ju-Yun would have picked “Bogey” for a new handle, her life may have turned out a whole lot different. Similarly, if Gladys and Vernon Presley had named their son Fred, the entire course of rock and roll would have been altered.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Fred has left the building!”

Doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, right?

You can’t beat a colourful handle in baseball, either. When asked to identify Canada’s most famous ball player, a lot of people will name Ferguson Jenkins, Larry Walker or Justin Morneau. But Stubby Clapp is guaranteed to get some votes, too. Sure, he’s only appeared in 23 games in the Majors and is wrapping up his career with a lowly minor league club in Edmonton but wherever he goes, the 5’8″ Clapp is a fan favourite. People first fell in love with him at the 1999 Pan-Am Games in Winnipeg when Team Canada came close to winning what would have been a miracle gold medal. But if the public address announcer had used Stubby’s actual birth name, the reaction wouldn’t have been quite so raucous.

“Ladies and gentlemen, now batting…….Richard Clapp!”

Even if you shorten it to Dick Clapp, it has a better chance of getting posted in the American Journal of Medicine than being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sportscasters also realize the importance of a marvellous moniker. Jim Van Horne is one of the biggest stars in Canadian broadcasting but there’s a good chance that the career of Dave Melynk wouldn’t have measured up.

Dave Melnyk, you see, is Jim Van Horne’s real name.

“Back in the 70′s, I was a deejay and CHUM radio in Toronto wouldn’t hire me unless I changed my name,” explained Van Horne.

And check out some of management’s suggestions.

“Jim Nasium”…..”Chuck Roast”…..”The Cisco Kid”.

In the end, “Jim Van Horne” emerged as the winner, which is a good thing since the odds of “The Cisco Kid” becoming one of the country’s most respected sports anchors aren’t all that great.

Then again, people would have definitely remembered it.

So, forget about Mike Toth because from now on I’m laying claim to a brand new name.

“Hi everybody, I’m Jock Strap and welcome to Sportsnet Connected!”

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