Where Have All the Bobs Gone?

Last Bob in sports? (Photo: Bradjward)

Jon Bois at SB Nation writes about the disappearance of Bobs in sports:

Across the histories of Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, and NCAA football and basketball, there have been a total of 1,884 athletes who primarily went by the name Bob. Not Robert, or Bobby, but Bob. 

Of those 1,884 Bobs, Sanders [of the San Diego Chargers] is the only one still playing.

We’ve written regularly about names and how some just go out of fashion. The fact is that “Robert” is still holding its own. From the Social Security Administration’s Names Index:

Popularity of the male name Robert
Year of birth Rank
2010 54
2009 55
2008 49
2007 47
2006 47
2005 37
2004 36
2003 35
2002 34
2001 30
2000 29

But “Bob,” as both a nickname and a given name, has fallen out of favor. As the SSA database informs us, “Bob is not in the top 1,000 names for any year of birth in the last 12 years. Please enter another name.” It turns out that Bob as a given name fell out of the top 1,000 back in 1984:

Popularity of the male name Bob

Year of birth Rank
1983 935
1982 940
1981 985
1980 855
1979 795
1978 812
1977 778
1976 711
1975 624
1974 619
1973 543
1972 536
1971 449


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  1. Pittfan says:

    …and Bob isn’t even Sanders real name, it’s Demond.

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  2. rageon says:

    They changed their name to “Matt” and deciced to play quarterback.

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  3. David says:

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  4. orcoyen says:

    Maybe the decreasing number of Bobs is related to the increase of Roberto as a given name and, thus, to the increase of latin population in the US… Just a thought.

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  5. Bobby says:

    I’m a Bobby…on my actual birth certificate. Seems I’m already on the extinct list!


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  6. Tony says:

    I never quite understood why “Bob” was a nickname for “Robert” in the first place…

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  7. JPB says:

    Ever since that athlete who had no arms and legs and fell into the water……

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

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  8. Robert aka Bob says:

    This is a very important issue to me. I am so glad that Freakonomics did a study on this. The government needs to do more to combat this issue. We can not allow Bob, or Robert for that matter, to disappear due to Global Warming or Bush. We can do this by raising taxes on people with more popular names and names that are growing in popularity and distributing their wealth to names like Robert and Bob. Furthermore, all Bobs and Roberts should Unionize so that we can force new parents to name their children Robert and call them Bob and encourage name changes. SAVE THE BOBS!

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