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


Leave A Comment

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.



View All Comments »
  1. RPM says:

    In sports, it’s likely a racial thing. Blacks now make up a higher percentage of pro athletes than in the past, and Freakonomics fans know about the trend toward unique first names (fewer Roberts or Bobs) among blacks.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0
  2. Raquel says:

    most people have a hard time pronouncing my name spelling my name. some just rather call me Rachel. Now my question ,is does Raquel comes from Rachel or is it Rachel that comes from Raquel. from what i have search and find on the internet Raquel is a Hebrew . wjich gives me the impression, that Rachel is a american translation of Raquel. Please anyone that can clarify this for me.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0