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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Actual Origins Of Matt Kemp's "Bison" Nickname

Baseball-Reference's BR Bullpen wiki is, at this moment, the most authoritative source listing Matt Kemp's "Bison" nickname, but does not mention its origins, an oversight I hope to correct in this post. Phil Gurnee in a March 19, 2008 post at SportsHubLA claimed that the nickname was of Bob Timmermann's doing, but this does not actually seem to be the case. The first known reference to this seems to be in a May 25, 2006 Dodger Thoughts gameday thread; at post 108, we get
108. natepurcell 2006-05-29 11:18:23
Kemp has looked a lot better at the plate today. he isnt swinging at balls, looks composed and looks nothing like his adrian beltre impersonation from yesterday.

lol, the braves announcer just call him a big stomping buffalo.

109. autumnlanding 2006-05-29 11:18:45
"like a big buffalo running around the bases"

111. natepurcell 2006-05-29 11:19:53
we now need a nickname for Kemp that has the word buffalo in it.

112. autumnlanding 2006-05-29 11:20:48
i agree buffalo is a HARD nickname

113. mikethinksblue 2006-05-29 11:20:51
buffy comes to mind

116. D4P 2006-05-29 11:22:14
I'm guessing Bob would prefer "bison" over "buffalo."

So the actual originator was commenter D4P, who was riffing on the suggestion by one of the Braves' broadcasters. For full credit, perhaps we can get natepurcell (who infrequently reads me) to answer whether he was watching the TV broadcast that day, or listening to the radio. The former seems more likely than the latter, because if you had Gameday Audio, why would you listen to the game (unless Nate lives in the Atlanta area). According to the List of Atlanta Braves broadcasters Wikipedia page, that means the possible utterer might have been I certainly plan on getting to the bottom of this.

Update: Why, of course: Wikipedia:

Kemp's nickname is "The Bison."[5] During the second major league game of Kemp's career, on May 29, 2006, he stole second base in the fourth inning, after which Atlanta Braves television announcer Don Sutton said he looked "like a big buffalo running around the bases." The observation was appropriate due to Kemp's imposing size and surprisingly fast footspeed. The nickname was modified to "The Bison," the more proper term for the North American mammal to which the moniker refers.
Thanks to JJ24 and CanuckDodger in today's DT thread for pointing this out.

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I think "Bison" is a result of me being pedantic.
Doesn't Bob of get partial credit? D4P did say that "I'm guessing Bob would prefer "bison" over "buffalo." "
So without Bob's known preference to correct people when they use the word Buffalo, D4P would never had made the comment.

Phil Gurnee
I don't see why; he took no active part in the exchange (though he did participate in the thread); if he wanted to make that assertion, he certainly could have.

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