Saturday, September 14, 2013

The story behind Nick "Chili" Buss

-- by @Josh_Suchon

The Dodgers call him Nick Buss.

The Isotopes call him Chili Buss.

They're both right.

The name on the birth certificate is Nicholas Chili Buss. His dad always wanted unique middle names for his kids. The first three kids had normal middle names. Nick was the last chance for something different. His dad once played in a charity golf tournament with former major leaguer Chili Davis and always liked the name Chili.

So that's how he got the middle name.

Nick Buss always went by Nick, until his junior year of college at USC. He ordered an internet connection for his apartment, when his roommates discovered his middle name was Chili. They loved the name and started calling him Chili.

The rest of the time on the baseball field at USC, teammates and coaches called him Chili.

When he got to professional baseball, the nickname remained among Dodgers staff and teammates in the minor leagues.

Last year at Double-A Chattanooga, hitting coach Franklin Stubbs called him Chili all year, not knowing that was simply his middle name. Everybody just assumed it was a nickname.

This year -- before the Isotopes game on Tuesday, April 23 against Oklahoma City -- Isotopes general manager John Traub asked Buss if he wanted to be referred as Chili over the public address system, in game notes, and on the radio broadcast.

Buss, who hates drawing any attention to himself, replied, "sure."

My scorebook from the first game we called him Chili.
That was the 19th game of the season. At the time, Buss was hitting .295 with four home runs and 12 RBIs. He was in a 2-for-19 slump at the time, the two hits being a home run and bunt single.

In the first game -- when I referred to him as "the baseball player formerly known as Nick Buss" -- Chili went 2-for-4 with three runs scored. The next day, Chili went 2-for-4 with a walk and three more runs scored at Round Rock. 

We called him Chili the rest of the season.

Around the All-Star break, I asked Buss what it was like going by Chili the last three months. Buss said it was great, except that at least 2-3 times a game, somebody on the field -- an umpire, a coach, a fan, an opposing player -- would ask what's the story behind his name and it got annoying constantly telling the story again.

I told Buss that people ask me the same question too, so I'm probably saving him another 2-3 times telling the story every day.

So now that Nick Chili Buss has been called up to the majors for the first time, figured I'd document the story one more time, and hopefully save Buss a few more times explaining the story.

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