Randy Smith: Naming Babies After Sports Heroes

Wednesday, May 25, 2022 - by Randy Smith
Randy Smith
Randy Smith

Back in the 1990s it seemed that every time you turned around someone was naming a child Peyton. Of course they were naming them after Tennessee star quarterback Peyton Manning and it didn't matter which gender they were.

There were male Peytons and female Peytons. It was all because of the adoration that fans had for Archie and Olivia's middle son.

According to records from Names.org, Peyton has had 44,000 babies named after him.That number is actually second only to soccer star Mia Hamm who has had 53,000 children named after her and, of course, most if not all are girls.

Rounding out the top three is Jalen Rose with 37,000 babies named for him.

More recently, fans of the Cleveland Browns have been steadily naming their babies Baker, after Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, Last year there were 368 Bakers born nationwide, with 17 alone in the state of Ohio. Another very popular name currently is Kyrie, named after Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving.  In 2010, there were only 27 male children in the country named Kyrie. However, in 2011 after Irving was picked number one in the NBA draft, it increased to 138 and in 2018 there were more than a thousand babies named Kyrie. In the past decade the name Kyrie has increased 5,128 percent.

After my wife Shelia and I were married in 1973, I wanted to name our first born son John Unitas Smith after famed quarterback Johnny Unitas.  I thought to myself, "What a unique name." Shelia talked me out of it a few years later when she became pregnant with our first child, which was a girl we named Christina. I still held out hope for John Unitas a couple of more years but she talked me out of it again when our son David was born in 1982.

It should be noted that naming children after sports heroes goes way back in our family. My father wanted to name me, Theodore Yogi Smith after his favorite ball players Ted Williams and Yogi Berra. I'm really glad that my mother, like my wife, talked him out of it. And, of course, my son Davey named his daughter, my youngest grandchild, Mattingly after his boyhood hero Don Mattingly. After Mattingly was born I called one of my friends and told them that Davey had named his daughter after Don Mattingly. My friend replied, "He named her Don?"

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Randy Smith can be reached at rsmithsports@epbfi.com


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