Nicknames. A lot of “cool” people have them and it’s usually a lot of fun to call people by their nicknames rather than their given names.
My name is Anthony Joseph, therefore my friends and those close to me call me A.J.
When the Yankees acquired A.J. Burnett last off-season, I was so happy because we share the same initials. The Yankees also have a rookie prospect named Austin Jackson, whose initials are also A.J.
Well allow me to let everyone in on a secret: having the initials A.J. may sound cool, but it can be bad. In fact, growing up people left an impact on me that scarred me for life.
I’ve been called every name in the book from Apple Juice to Apple Jacks; from Ask Jeeves to Ant Jemima (that one really hurt, especially because it made sense–my name is Anthony and instead of using “aunt” they took the first three letters of my name and used “Ant”)
But none made me shake my head more than being called Ajax, which happens to be Austin Jackson’s new nickname. For my initials to be reduced to being called a brand of toilet cleaner…yea, it was rough.
Needless to say I know how Jackson feels.
What impressed me (and sort of shocked me) about him was in 2009 Spring Training; against the Red Sox, Jackson belted a grand slam home run. After the game he was sent packing and told he would remain in the minor leagues.
But he stuck it out and played hard on the farm this past year. And we may see him up in the big leagues this upcoming year.
Jackson may possibly get called up to the Yankees’ main roster in 2010, being that he put up such solid numbers in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this past year. The 22 year-old phenom batted .300 with four homers and 65 RBIs while stealing 24 bases in 132 games.
Not bad numbers, I have to say. The question now is, can he do this at the Major League level? That remains to be seen.
But let’s say Jackson does make it in New York and becomes a fan-favorite within the next two or three years. I cannot fathom going to a Yankee game and listening to the capacity crowd at Yankee Stadium yell at the top of their lungs, “Ajax!!!”
That would bring back horrible memories for me. I mean, people called me that to make fun of me! It would make me sad. Although the nickname sounds clever for Jackson because of his last name…well, I will never be comfortable hearing that name.
The name “Ajax” will always remind me of the troubled part of my childhood.
Maybe I can spend some time coming up with a better nickname for him; hopefully one that can catch on quick enough. Maybe the A-Train? Or Action Jackson? Heck, his middle name starts with a “J” too, why not just A.J. Jackson?
Whatever happens, I just hope we Yankee fans are not cheering Ajax at him. As a diehard fan myself, it would be too painful for me; I wouldn’t be able to bear it.
I can only hope Jackson doesn’t mind being called Ajax and I really hope he didn’t go through what I went through growing up in terms of nicknames. The same goes for Burnett. We “A.J.s” are special guys and we have to stick together!
So call us what you want. But we’ll always be A.J.