The MLB Avengers: Thor, The Incredible Hulk and 6 more players with 'Avengers' nicknames
By the hammer of Thor! Wielding a bat and glove at 6-foot-6, 240 pounds with a head of blonde hair, Syndergaard certainly looks the part of the Asgardian god of thunder. It turns out that the dominant second-year Mets starter is actually just the latest in a line of MLB players with a nickname shared with a member of Marvel Comics’ Avengers. Click on for a bit more about Syndergaard/Thor, followed by the other players with superhero nicknames.
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Thor: Noah Syndergaard
Syndergaard hit the weight room in character on Halloween in 2013. 'The home planet of Thor is called Asgard, which is like my last name,' Syndergaard once said of his nickname. 'It just kind of stuck with me. I guess a Mets fan gave it to me, and I’m not going to say, ‘No.’ It’s not a bad name to have.' In the Marvel world, Thor, one of the founding members of the Avengers, can swing his hammer Mjolnir at twice the speed of light. That kind of bat speed is probably unattainable for Syndergaard, but he’s on his way to making his at-bats appointment viewing just like his less physically gifted teammate, Bartolo Colon.
The Incredible Hulk: Brian Downing
Downing wouldn’t look especially imposing compared with today’s players, but in his days (1973-1992, and before the steroid era) the longtime Angels DH/outfielder’s chiseled physique was something special. The slugger lifted weights year-round and built a batting cage and unique workout gym in his home.
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Iron Man: Cal Ripken Jr.
Ripken wore an Orioles uniform his entire career, not armor, but he did have an Iron Man-esque superhuman healing ability. Ripken broke Lou 'The Iron Horse' Gehrig’s consecutive games played record (2,130) on Sept. 6, 1995, and dialed it up to 2,632 games before he finally took a seat in 1998.
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Captain America: David Wright
The ailing New York Mets third baseman earned his moniker after an otherworldly performance for Team USA in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Unfortunately, Wright has not enjoyed his namesake’s transformative healing and endurance powers as he once again has landed on the disabled list after doctors diagnosed him with spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal column. There is still no timetable for Wright's return to baseball.
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Beast: Jimmie Foxx
Hall of Fame first baseman, three-time AL MVP (1932, 1933, 1938) and prodigious power hitter Foxx was known as 'Beast' (as well as 'Double X'). Foxx predated Marvel’s character Beast by about 30 years, as Beast (Henry McCoy) debuted in 1963 and joined the Avengers in the 1970s before leaving to join the Defenders. Among other powers, the comic Beast possesses superhuman strength. Foxx was no mutant like the comic figure, but close. Yankees pitcher Lefty Gomez once said of Foxx: 'He has muscles in his hair.'
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Spider-Man: Torii Hunter
At 39, Hunter is still an effective outfielder but Father Time has robbed him of a step or two that he possessed during his Gold Glove days from 2001-2009, when he regularly made acrobatic, wall-climbing grabs that inspired his nickname.
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Sandman: Mariano Rivera
Mariano’s career in the bigs lasted much longer than Sandman’s (real name William Baker) with the Avengers, for whom he was briefly a reserve. Sandman did his dirty work in New York like Rivera, who relied on a nasty cutter, while Sandman has foiled others by projecting his sand particles at high speeds. Exit light, enter night. Mariano is off to the Hall of Fame in 2019.