Yesterday, MLB.com reported that Braves outfielder B.J. Upton will start going by his legal name, Melvin Upton Jr. That means it'll change on his uniform, on the scoreboard, even on his bats. Today, Upton reported to Braves camp and told reporters—some of whom still called him "B.J." out of habit—that there's really no single reason for it.
"This has nothing to do with starting a new chapter," Upton said. "I just wanted to. My father thought enough to give me his name, so why not?"
The "starting a new chapter" line is a reference to what everyone has assumed: that Upton is changing his name as a way to change his luck. His two years in Atlanta have been the worst of his career, and baseball players are superstitious, so he's just trying to shake things up and really doesn't want to grow a beard.
But Upton insists that's not it. He says most of his friends and family already call him Melvin, or just Mel, and that "nobody really calls me B.J., except at the stadium."
"Call me what you want, it doesn't matter to me," Upton said. "Obviously, the people I've known my whole life and the people I've grown to know, I don't care [which name they use]. But for the general public, my real name is Melvin and that is [how] I want to be referred to."
But where did "B.J." come from? (This is not a dumb question. I'm ostensibly a baseball fan, and I get paid to write about it sometimes, and I had no idea it wasn't his name.)
Even before Upton was born, his father had been nicknamed "Bossman," and growing up, Upton assumed the nickname "Bossman Jr."—soon shortened to B.J. It what he's gone by throughout his baseball career, and only now, at age 30, has decided it's time for a change. Let's see if his his numbers react to a new moniker more like Giancarlo Stanton's, or like Juan Carlos Oviedo's.