Friday, May 3, 2024

Insight: The Name Game

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

I happened to be watching a baseball game on television the other evening and the pitcher for the Oakland Athletics in the game was named J.P. Sears. It made me wonder what the “J.P.” initials stood for and why he doesn’t use them in his professional career.

Actor George William Bailey has appeared on television
in 'The Closer' and "M*A*S*H and in films such as
'Mannequin' and 'Police Academy.' He is known
professionally, however, by his initials, G.W. Bailey. 
After looking him up online, I found that John Patrick Sears is from Sumter, South Carolina and was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2017. He made his major league debut with the New York Yankees in 2022 and was traded that same season to Oakland. I still have no idea why he only uses initials instead of his actual given name.

Looking that information up led me to think about other celebrities, fictional characters or other entities who only go by their initials. I wondered if I could compile a list of such individuals with initials in their names using the entire alphabet.

A.A. Milne of England authored a series of books about Winnie-the-Pooh. His real name was Alan Alexander Milne.

B.O. Plenty was a scruffy and somewhat smelly villain in the old Dick Tracy newspaper comic serials.

C.S. Lewis was a British writer, literary scholar, and theologian who wrote “The Chronicles of Narnia.” His real name was Clive Staples Lewis.

D.B. Cooper is the alias used by a man who hijacked a Boeing 727 in November 1971 and is thought to have parachuted from the aircraft with a satchel of ransom cash. He was never seen again after that, and his identity remains a mystery to this day.

E.E. Cummings was a prolific American poet, painter, essayist, and playwright from Massachusetts. His real name was Edward Estlin Cummings.

F.P. Santangelo played baseball for the Montreal Expos, San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Oakland Athletics and a broadcaster for the Washington Nationals. His real name is Frank-Paul Santangelo.

G.W. Bailey is an actor who appeared on the M*A*S*H television show and was a dim-witted captain in the Police Academy film series. His real name is George William Bailey.

H.P. Lovecraft was an American author of horror and fantasy fiction, His real name was Howard Phillips Lovecraft.

I.Z. was the stage name of the late Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole, best known for his rendition of “Over the Rainbow” while strumming a ukelele.

J.C. Penney created a major chain of department stores in 1902. His real name was James Cash Penney, Jr.

K.D. Lang is a Canadian singer famous for her 1992 hit “Constant Craving.” Her real name is Kathryn Dawn Lang.

L.C. Greenwood was a defensive end on the Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl championship football teams of the 1970s. His real name was L.C. Henderson Greenwood with the L.C. initials being his actual first name.

M.C. Hammer is an American rapper known for his 1990 hit “U Can’t Touch This,” and launching the parachute pants craze in men’s fashion. His real name is Stanley Kirk Burrell, and he’s thought to have taken the Hammer stage name after baseball superstar Reggie Jackson told him that he resembled ‘Hammering’ Hank Aaron.

N.C. Wyeth was an American painter and illustrator. His real name was Newell Convers Wyeth.

O.J. Simpson was a star football player and actor. He was acquitted by a jury after being charged with the murder of his ex-wife and her friend. His real name was Orenthal James Simpson.

P.T. Barnum was an American showman and promoter who established a popular traveling circus. His real name was Phineas Taylor Barnum.

QB VII was a 1970 novel by Leon Uris and later developed into a television court case mini-series starring Ben Gazzara and Anthony Hopkins in 1974. The name "QB VII" is an abbreviation for Queen's Bench Courtroom Number Seven, the site of the court trial.

R.J. Mitte is an actor with cerebral palsy who played the son of a chemistry teacher turned mastermind criminal in the television show “Breaking Bad.” His real name is Roy Frank Mitte III.

S.E. Hinton is an author who wrote the novel “The Outsiders” while still attending high school in Oklahoma. Her real name is Susan Eloise Hinton.

T.S. Eliot was an English poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, literary critic, and editor. His real name was Thomas Stearns Eliot.

U.L. Washington played Major League Baseball for 10 years as an infielder for the Kansas City Royals, Montreal Expos and Pittsburgh Pirates. His real name is U.L. Washington and the initials do not stand for anything,

V.C. Andrews is an author known for writing horror-themed novels. Her real name is Cleo Virginia Andrews.

W.C. Fields was an actor, comedian, and juggler, who appeared in vaudeville shows and in Hollywood films. His real name was William Claude Dukenfield.

XR is a robotic space ranger character in Disney’s Buzz Lightyear film. His initials stand for “Experimental Ranger.”

Y.A. Tittle was a National Football League quarterback who played for the San Francisco 49ers, New York Giants, and Baltimore Colts for 17 seasons. His real name was Yelberton Abraham Tittle, Jr.

Z.Z. Top was a rock band originating in Houston, Texas and known for such popular hits as “La Grange” and “Tush.” The band’s name is thought to have come from member Dusty Hill’s nickname, ZZ.

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