1. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown: 1904 – 1912, 1916.
Picking the top nickname for this list is difficult, and I’m probably going to change my mind about the position of a lot of these ten days from now. “Three Finger,” however, has always stuck out to me.
Mordecai Brown was part of one of the greatest eras of Chicago Cubs baseball from a playoff success perspective, being an integral part of the 1907 and 1908 Cubs who won back-to-back World Series. Brown’s career ERA+ sits at an impressive 139, but his 1906 seasons stands as one of his most remarkable feats.
Even among Deadball Era pitchers, Brown managed to pitch to an eye-popping 253(!) ERA+ with a 2.08 FIP and 0.934 WHIP, which all led the league. He also managed to lead the league in shutouts with nine.
All of this said we’re here for the nickname. How did Mordecai Brown become the famous “Three Finger” Brown?
Brown got his nickname from his childhood clumsiness. While he was only cut down to four an a half fingers, Brown technically only had three viable fingers after he accidentally lost part of his right index finger in some farming equipment and permanently disabled his little finger after falling and breaking it.
The nickname “Three Finger” has a sort of mythical quality to it, just as “Babe,” “Teddy Ballgame,” or “The Say-Hey Kid” does. It’s a nickname associated with greatness that was granted by the disfigurement that gave Brown said nickname in the first place.
It’s such an interesting nickname to me because it promotes discussion of one of the greatest sports on the planet and one of it’s greatest legends. Plus, like all good nicknames, it sounds pretty darn cool.