Hi, everybody! Steve here – I’ve not been holding up my end of the GNIB deal, so I’ve decided to awaken from my slumber with a dual-nickname extravaganza! Given that GNIB (read: Eric) has focused on the amazing names from the distant past, I decided it might also be nice to keep the contemporary baseball fan involved.
With that in mind, I present Exhibit A: William Lance Berkman. Mr. Berkman is a baseball playing guy for the St. Louis Cardinals. He was born in Texas, played high school ball in Texas, moved onto college ball in Texas, and then was drafted by the Houston Astros. He’s as Texas as Hank Hill and, clearly, he is not to be messed with1.
As it turns out, Lance Berkman is extremely good at hitting baseballs. He’s put up video game numbers2 at pretty much every level, including the majors. Berkman has a career slash line of .296/.409/.545 and OPS+ of 146 in his 13-season career with the Astros, Yankees, and Cardinals. Wowza!
But of course, as a contemporary baseball fan, you know all about Lance Berkman’s baseballing prowess. So let’s get down to business – how did this man end up with two fantastic nicknames in an era where even some of the biggest stars have crappy nicknames derived from the initials-and-syllables formula?
Well, let’s begin with Fat Elvis. It’s a simple enough explanation – he has an uncanny resemblance to Elvis Presley during his later, more rotund days3. This is particularly evident when smirking, as they have similar eyes/nose/cheeks. Here are a couple photos for your comparative viewing – one of Elvis and one of Lance. I know what you’re thinking – when did Lance Berkman enter an Elvis lookalike contest4 and when did Elvis Presley play professional baseball?
Obviously that nickname makes sense. So, then, where does he pick up the moniker Big Puma? Well, by giving himself the nickname – sort of. Apparently in addressing his Fat Elvis nickname on a Houston radio show, Berkman said "I'm more like a puma, so I'm not sure why people call me Fat Elvis." The hosts ran with it and it caught on5.
What’s the final word? Well, I choose Fat Elvis for two reasons; 1) he’s delusional if he isn’t sure why people call him Fat Elvis, because he’s a dead ringer; and 2) no person, not even Lance Berkman, is allowed to give himself a nickname. However, this is just one man’s opinion – feel free to voice your own thoughts in the comments section!
1 In fact, if you believe Little Texas6, you might even submit that God blessed his origins, and by extension, him. And given how religious Mr. Berkman is, that seems reasonable.
2 People usually say “PlayStation numbers,” but I feel that’s discriminatory against people like me who don’t own anything newer than a Sega Genesis.
3 In reality, Lance Berkman is certainly heavier than young Elvis, but decidedly more trim than the later fat Elvis. Should we really be calling him “Fat Young Elvis” or “Skinny Fat Elvis” instead? Or maybe even Tiny Elvis?
5 I did a significant amount of investigation, none of which revealed any physical resemblance between an actual puma and Lance Berkman.
6 Yeah, that's right, a digression away from a digression. I just wanted to note that if you happened to go to middle school where I did, you probably remember that Little Texas song from running laps in gym class. Still no explanation as to why it was played.