Javier Baez certainly lived up to his “El Mago” nickname in Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins, evading a tag at home plate with a brilliant swim move.
“El Mago,” Spanish for “The Magician,” is a fitting moniker for a player like Baez, who has dazzled with his theatrics on the diamond throughout his major league career.
A pair of journalists first gave Baez the nickname during the 2016 season. Terrence Tomlin and Eugene McIntosh, co-founders of the Chicago-based sports media group, “The Bigs,” decided to dub Baez “The Magician.”
“We were planning some content and coming up with nicknames for some of the players,” Tomlin told The Athletic in 2018. “We got to Javy Baez. His original nickname was ‘The Magician.’ We started calling him, ‘The Magician.’ Then we heard (broadcasters) say, ‘Javy Baez, the Magician.’ We looked at each other (and) said, ‘What?’”
From there, Tomlin and McIntosh converted the nickname to Spanish, translating it to “El Mago.” That caught on, too.
The pair then made baseball cards for the array of Cubs players who they had given nicknames, printing the sobriquet on the back of the card. They showed the mock card to Baez, who excitedly took it to the clubhouse and did not return it.
Soon after, Baez referred to himself as “El Mago” on Twitter. In 2017 and 2018, he donned “El Mago” on the back of his jersey during Players Weekend, a special event that allowed players to sport nicknames rather than their last names.
“El Mago” isn’t entirely unique to Baez. David Silva, a longtime midfielder for Manchester City and the Spanish national team, earned the nickname for his spectacular play. Current Nationals shortstop Alcides Escobar embraced “El Mago” after Indians’ announcer Tom Hamilton referred to him by the nickname during a broadcast. Former NBA player Andrea Bargnani was known as “Il Mago” – the Italian translation – growing up.
And now, Baez is carrying on its legacy.