Miami Marlins slugger Mike Stanton has become one of the fastest-rising star in Major League Baseball. Now he's using his new-found notoriety to make a simple request: that people start calling him by his given name.
Though he goes by Mike, Stanton's real name is Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton. Stanton is not Italian, nor is Giancarlo a family name. His parents simply liked the name when they gave it to their son.
When he is introduced over the PA system before at bats in Spring Training and beyond, he will now be called Giancarlo Stanton.
Stanton's family and friends have plenty of names to choose from. His mother calls him Cruz; teammates call him Bigfoot. "I respond to many names," Stanton said Wednesday. "It's all good."
But now he will officially be Giancarlo. That will be the name on his paychecks, and it is already on his locker at the Marlins' Spring Training complex in Jupiter.
Stanton switched to Mike in fifth grade, when classmates and teachers kept mispronouncing his name. "No one could pronounce it right," he said. "Everyone thought it was two words. Gene-carlo, Juan-carlo, Gionne-carlo. You have seven periods in school, so seven times a day: 'No, that's not the name.'"
The switch to Mike "was just easier," he said. "If you can't pronounce that, then there's something wrong with you."
Stanton will likely give broadcasters and PA announcers plenty of opportunities to use the "new" name while he's in the middle of a home run trot. In just one and a half big league seasons, he's already hit 56 home runs, many of the tape-measure variety.
Only Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez have hit more before their 22nd birthdays in the past 40 years. Stanton turned 22 in November.