Momo, Tom Ace and Worm: Explaining some of Athletics’ puzzling Players’ Weekend nicknames

Athletics will host Giants for 2-game series this Players' Weekend

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 26: (L-R) Matt Chapman #26, Jed Lowrie #8 and Matt Olson #28 of the Oakland Athletics celebrate defeating the Minnesota Twins after the game on August 26, 2018 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. All players across MLB will wear nicknames on their backs as well as colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs inspired by youth-league uniforms during Players Weekend. The Athletics defeated the Twins 6-2. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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For one late-August weekend each season (since 2017, at least) the MLB lifts its rigid decree of uniformity to allow its players and coaches a wild weekend in which they can wear, in game, their very own custom cleats, gloves and Little League-style jerseys with hand-picked nicknames on the back. It’s just a great time for everyone involved.

The Athletics have a rich history for nicknames, due in part to former owner Charles Finley’s — or Charlie O — affinity for them. Catfish Hunter is just another James without him.

There are no “Catfish” or “Rollies” on the 2019 A’s nickname list. but they do cover a wide range of hilarious, obvious, touching and confusing. Nick Martini used the martini Emoji, Josh Phegley will use “PTBNL” (player to be named later) as a way to acknowledge what he deems his quasi-anonymous status in the league.

Others are self-explanatory: Matt Olson will be “Oly,” Mike Fiers is “Smokey,” Khris Davis is “KD,” Ramon Laureano is “Romancito.”

Matt Chapman will forgo his typical “Chappy” nickname for “Hurtado,” honoring his college teammate Nick Hurtado, who died of bone cancer in 2013.

“I know it was his dream, like a lot of my friends, to play in the major leagues, and he never got that opportunity,” Chapman told reporters in Chicago. “So I figured it would be the best way to represent him and be able to get his last name on a major league jersey and play a game in the big leagues, in a sense, so I thought it would be pretty cool.”

There are, of course, a couple that don’t register obvious on first read. Here are some explanations for a couple puzzlers.

Stephen Piscotty – Momo

There are no “Ms” and just one “O” in Piscotty’s full name, yet out of that came Momo. There’s a story behind it, of course.

Piscotty grew up with two other brothers, and his parents would refer to the trio as Larry, Curley and Mo, the Three Stooges. Larry and Curley didn’t stick, but Piscotty’s “Mo” did.

“All through my Little League career, that’s what everyone called me,” Piscotty said. It’s a way for Piscotty to honor his family — his late mother, Gretchen, and father Mike — and that time in his life.

“I know they get a kick out of it,” he said.

Chris Herrmann – Worm

Worm isn’t an appealing nickname, but the A’s catcher has claimed it as his own big time. One high school teammate came up with it and it just stuck.

“I get to the baseball locker room one day and one of my teammates named Trevor Hurley, out of nowhere he just says ‘Hey, Herm the Worm,’ and it just stuck ever since.” I still have teammates still calling me the Worm.”

Herrmann, an avid video gamer who streams on Twitch, chose “Herm the Worm” as his username.

Mark Canha – Tom Ace

As far as we know, Canha has not headed a major league rotation. His name also is not Tom. Yet, he prefers you call him Tom Ace this weekend.

Of course, Ace is the short form of a more complex web of nickname creation. He explains.

“It started when Sean Doolittle and Josh Phegley, a few years back, started calling me Tom McCahnahan, for some reason, I don’t know how that started. They just started calling me Tom McCahnahan,” Canha said.

“And then it reminded me of Tom Ace from ‘Ace Ventura.’ So I would shake their hand every time they said Tom McCanhahan and say, ‘Tom Ace,’ like he does in the movie, where he interrupts the guy when Courteney Cox’s character says this is Ace, ‘Tom Ace!’

“Jim Carrey was always a personal hero and I’ve always been a big fan of his, so that’s how it happened.”

The A’s will be wearing all-white jerseys with these nicknames on back in a two-game series against the San Francisco Giants at the Coliseum for Players’ Weekend.

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