Most baseball nicknames -- that is, the nicknames actually used every day by a player's teammates -- are terribly boring. Case in point: Paul Goldschmidt's nickname is Goldy.
Ah, but sometimes something interesting happens. Case in point:
Diamondbacks relievers made up the whole "America's First Baseman" thing, put it on T-shirts, and practically brought Goldschmidt to a blush.
"I'm glad the guys have fun with it," Goldschmidt said, "but I'm not a big attention seeker."
His personal T-shirt went on a hanger in his locker and almost certainly will never see its owner's back.
The notion of the tall, broad, earnest and clean-cut Goldschmidt as America's First Baseman was born in the Diamondbacks' bullpen. A few of the relievers had watched the NFL draft, got to talking about the Dallas Cowboys – America's Team, once – and somehow, in the way things can only come together in the merging of idle cerebral cortexes in a bullpen, Goldschmidt became part boy next door, part superhero. The man (and his wife, Amy) volunteers at the local children's hospital. He's finishing his undergraduate degree – started at Texas State, interrupted by the 2009 draft – through online courses. And he's third in the league in WAR entering Wednesday.
I love it. But for now, "America's First Baseman" is merely an artifact, a snapshot of a terribly brief moment. Players come up with silly nicknames and exclusive t-shirts all the time, but little of it sticks. Now it's up to us: me, you, and Peter Gammons. America's First Baseman will become a true nickname, worthy of the encyclopedias and the songbooks, only if we make it so.