Baseball History: What’s Up, Doc?

Player nicknames have been a part of baseball history ever since outfielder Lip Pike became the first “professional” baseball player in 1866. Since then, nicknames like Red, Pinky, Dutch, Heinie, Dizzy, Lefty, and Rube have been bestowed upon hundreds of players. However, no other player nickname has been used more than “Doc”.

This article pays tribute the dozens of major league players who went by this moniker. Here are all of them:

Doc Curley (Second Baseman, 1899). Walter “Doc” Curley only played ten games in his pro career with the Chicago Orphans, garnering four hits and a .108 career batting average. Curley was well-educated (a rarity among ballplayers at the time), having attended College of the Holy Cross, the University of Massachusetts, and the University of Virginia. The nickname “Doc” was probably given to him because of his academic background.

Doc Gessler (Outfielder, 1903-1911). Henry Gessler, a graduate of Johns Hopkins Medical School, was one of three legitimate doctors to play in the 1906 World Series (along with Doc White and Frank Owen). Gessler played for several teams, but is best-remembered as an outfielder for the Chicago Cubs.

Doc Marshall (Catcher, 1904-1909). William “Doc” Marshall played for seven teams in his five-year career, batting .210 with two career home runs. Marshall attended Slippery Rock University, Grove City College, and the University of Pennsylvania. (Not to be confused with Doc Marshall, the New York Giants infielder from 1929-1932).

Doc Miller (Outfielder, 1910-1914). Unlike many of the other Docs on this list, Roy Miller wasn’t a trained physician or a college graduate. However, he was a decent hitter, posting a batting average of .295 throughout his career with Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati.

Doc Parker (Pitcher, 1893-1901). Harley Parker appeared in 18 games, compiling a 5-8 record with a 5.90 ERA throughout an intermittent career with the Chicago Colts and Cincinnati Reds.

Doc Watson (Pitcher, 1913-1915). Charles “Doc” Watson posted a 22-21 career record with St. Louis and Chicago, with a 2.70 ERA.

Doc White (Pitcher, 1901-1913). A dental school graduate, Guy “Doc” White famously pitched 45 consecutive scoreless innings. With the Phillies and White Sox, White compiled a 189-156 record, and ranks 16th in all-time career ERA (2.39). In 1910, White co-wrote a best-selling song with famed writer Ring Lardner.

Doc Casey (Third Baseman, 1898-1907). A collegiate baseball star at the University of Maryland, James Patrick Casey played ten major league seasons with Brooklyn, Washington, Detroit, and Chicago. Casey retired with 1122 hits, 191 stolen bases, and a .258 average.

Doc McJames (Pitcher, 1895-1901). McJames was the National League’s strikeout champion in 1897 as a member of the Washington Senators. James “Doc” McJames attended the University of South Carolina before his professional baseball career.

Doc Scanlan (Pitcher, 1903-1911). William Dennis Scanlan pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Brooklyn Dodgers, compiling a 65-71 record with a 3.00 ERA.

Doc Bushong (Catcher, 1875-1890). Albert “Doc” Bushong had a lengthy but unremarkable playing career with six different teams, most notable the championship St. Louis team of 1886. Bushong studied dentistry at the University of Pennsylvania and became a practicing dentist after he retired from baseball.

Doc Ayers (Pitcher, 1913-1921). Yancey “Doc” Ayers pitched for the Senators and Tigers in the American League, retiring with a respectable 2.84 ERA in spite of a 65-79 win-loss record.

Doc Cramer (Outfielder, 1929-1948). Roger “Doc” Cramer was a five-time All Star, and his powerful bat helped the Detroit Tigers win the World Series in 1945. A career .296 hitter, Cramer retired with 2705 hits, the most for any player who retired prior to 1975 who is not in the Hall of Fame. He ranks 62nd all-time in MLB history in hits.

Doc Adkins (Pitcher, 1902-1903). Merle “Doc” Adkins compiled a 1-1 pitching record with the Boston Americans and New York Highlanders, with an ERA of 5.00.

Doc Newton (Pitcher, 1900-1909). Eustace Newton gave up his career in dentistry to play baseball, and became a mediocre pitcher for Cincinnati, Brooklyn, and New York. His career record is 54-72, with a 3.22 ERA.

Doc Powers (Catcher, 1898-1908). Michael “Doc” Powers is famous for being the first player to die as a result of a baseball injury, which he sustained by crashing into a wall while chasing a foul pop-up during the first game ever played at Shibe Park in Philadelphia. Powers, a stand-out baseball star at Notre Dame, was a licensed physician.

Doc Prothro (Third Baseman, 1920, 1923-1926). Prothro was a practicing dentist before signing a contract to play in the majors. In the five seasons he played with the Senators, Red Sox, and Reds, James “Doc” Prothro posted a .318 career batting average, and later became the manager of the Phillies, compiling a dismal record of 138-320. His son, Tommy Prothro, coached the Los Angeles Rams and San Diego Chargers of the NFL in the 1970s.

Doc Crandall (Pitcher, 1908-1918). James Otis Crandall was given his nickname by writer Damon Runyon, who described Crandall as “the physician of the pitching emergency”. Crandall became a fan favorite for his pitching and hitting abilities. A .285 career batter, Doc Crandall retired in 1918 as a member of the Boston Braves, compiling a pitching record of 102-62 with a 2.92 ERA.

Doc Amole (Pitcher, 1897 and 1898). Morris “Doc” Amole went 4-10 in parts of two MLB seasons with the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Senators.

Doc Dougherty (Pinch Hitter, 1951). Playing one game with the Tigers, Harold “Doc” Dougherty failed to reach base.

Doc Edwards (Catcher, 1962-1970). Howard Edwards earned his nickname as a Navy medic. In his MLB career, Edwards served mainly as a back-up catcher, retiring after several seasons with Cleveland, Kansas City, New York, and Philadelphia. He was a .238 career hitter.

Doc Farrell (Infielder, 1925-1935). Edward “Doc” Farrell was a utility infielder, primarily with the Boston Braves and New York Yankees. Farrell attended college at the University of Pennsylvania.

Doc Gooden (Pitcher, 1984-2000). Dwight Gooden was one of the most-feared pitchers of the 1980s. While most baseball fans remember “Dr. K” as a member of the Mets, Gooden also pitched for the Yankees, Indians, Devil Rays, and Astros.

Doc Gautreau (Second Baseman, 1925-1928). Walter “Doc” Gautreau played four unremarkable major league seasons with the Athletics and Braves.

Doc Graham (Outfielder, 1905). Immortalized by the classic film “Field of Dreams”, Archibald “Moonlight” Graham was indeed a real-life baseball player who played for one inning with the New York Giants, but never got to bat. Graham was also a practicing physician.

Doc Johnston (Infielder, 1909-1920). Wheeler “Doc” Johnston played for Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. A career .263 hitter, Johnston was part of Cleveland’s championship team in 1920.

Doc Medich (pitched for 7 MLB teams from 1972-1982). A graduate medical student from the University of Pittsburgh, George “Doc” Medich was called into the stands twice in his MLB career to aid a fan suffering a heart attack. Eventually his medical license was suspended after pleading guilty to writing false prescriptions for controlled substances.

Doc Hamann (Pitcher, 1922). Elmer Hamann made one major league appearance with the Indians in 1922, accomplishing a near-impossible feat. He faced 7 batters without recording a single out, for a lifetime ERA of infinity.

Doc Lavan (Shortstop, 1913-1924). An average hitter, John “Doc” Lavan played shortstop for St. Louis, Washington, and Philadelphia (along with teammate Doc Imlay). Lavan was a medical doctor, serving as a Navy surgeon in World War I, and later served as Director of Research for the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis. Lavan is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, along with pitcher Doc Martel.

Other Docs:

Some “Docs” had very short or unspectacular major league careers. These include…

Stuart “Doc” Bowers (Boston Red Sox pitcher, 1935-1936).

Bobby “Doc” Brown (New York Yankees shortstop and third baseman, 1946-1954). Brown attended Tulane University, Stanford University, and UCLA, and is a legitimate doctor.

Pat “Doc” Carney (Boston Beaneaters pitcher and outfielder, 1901-1904).

Ralph “Doc” Carroll (Philadelphia Athletics catcher, 1916).

Luther “Doc” Cook (New York Yankees outfielder, 1913-1916).

Mickey “Doc” Doolan (played for six teams as an infielder from 1905-1918).

Ed “Doc” Edelen (Washington Senators pitcher, 1932).

Joe “Doc” Evans (a utility player for three teams, mainly the Cleveland Indians, from 1915-1925).

Warren “Doc” Gill (Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman, 1908).

Charlie “Doc” Hall (New York Metropolitans outfielder, 1887).

Willard “Doc” Hazleton (St. Louis Cardinals infielder, 1902).

Eddie “Doc” Higgins (St. Louis Cardinals pitcher, 1909-1910).

Richard “Doc” Hoblitzell (Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox first baseman, 1908-1918).

Arthur “Doc” Irwin (played with five teams as an infielder from 1880-1891).

John “Doc” Kerr (Pittsburgh Rebels and Baltimore Terrapins catcher, 1914-1915).

Harry “Doc” Imlay (Philadelphia Phillies pitcher, 1913).

William “Doc” Johnson (Boston Braves outfielder, 1918).

Michael “Doc” Kennedy (Cleveland Blues catcher, 1879-1883, and Buffalo Bisons catcher in 1884).

Tom “Doc” Knowlson (Philadelphia Athletics pitcher, 1915).

Ed “Doc” Lafitte (Detroit Tigers pitcher, 1909-1912).

Lou “Doc” Legett (Boston Braves/Red Sox catcher, 1929-1935).

Sam “Doc” Landis (Philadelphia Athletics and Baltimore Orioles pitcher, 1882).

William “Doc” Land (Washington Senators outfielder, 1929).

George “Doc” Leitner (Indianapolis Hoosiers pitcher, 1887).

George “Doc” Lowe (Cincinnati Reds pitcher, appeared in one game in 1920).

Edward “Doc” Marshall (New York Giants infielder, 1929-1932).

Leon “Doc” Martel (Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Doves catcher, 1909-1910).

Henry “Doc” McMahon (Boston Red Sox pitcher, appeared in one game in 1908).

William “Doc” Moskiman (Boston Red Sox infielder, played in five games in 1910).

William “Doc” Nance (Louisville Colonels and Detroit Tigers outfielder, 1897-1901)

Horace “Doc” Ozmer (Philadelphia Athletics pitcher, 1923).

Hartman “Doc” Oberlander (Cleveland Blues pitcher, 1888).

Vivian “Doc” Potts (Washington Senators catcher, appeared in one game in 1892).

Billy “Doc” Queen (Milwaukee Braves pinch-hitter, appeared in three games in 1954).

Samuel “Doc” Ralston (Washington Senators outfielder, 1910).

Frank “Doc” Reisling (Brooklyn Superbas and Washington Senators pitcher, 1904-1910).

John “Doc” Rutherford (Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher, 1952).

Harry “Doc” Sage (Toledo Maumees catcher, 1890).

Theodore “Doc” Sechrist (New York Giants pitcher, appeared in one game in 1899).

Harry “Doc” Shanley (St. Louis Browns shortstop, played five games in 1912).

Homer “Doc” Smoot (St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds outfielder, 1902-1906).

Wally “Doc” Snell (Boston Red Sox catcher, played six games in 1913).

John “Doc” Stafford (Cleveland Spiders pitcher, appeared in two games in 1893).

Adam “Doc” Swigler (New York Giants pitcher, appeared in one game in 1917).

Howard “Doc” Twining (Cincinnati Reds pitcher, appeared in one game for 2 innings in 1916).

Harry “Doc” Tonkin (Washington Senators pitcher, 1907).

Bob “Doc” Vail (Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher, appeared in four games in 1908).

Albert “Doc” Waldbauer (Washington Senators pitcher, appeared in two games in 1917).

Fred “Doc” Wallace (Philadelphia Phillies shortstop, played two games in 1919).

Walt “Doc” Whittaker (Philadelphia Athletics pitcher, pitched two innings in 1916).

Charles “Doc” Wood (Philadelphia Athletics shortstop, played three games in 1923).

George “Doc” Yeager (played for five teams as a utility player from 1895 to 1902).

These are the 81 professional baseball players who have been nicknamed “Doc”. As you can see, most of these players were active during the dead-ball era of baseball. On some teams, such as the Philadelphia Athletics or Cincinnati Reds, it was possible to have 3 or 4 players named Doc on the field at the same time!

(Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, BaseballLibrary.com, MLB.com)