A couple of years ago, retired Canadian hockey player Wayne Douglas Gretzky — “the Great one” — talked about baby names with Ernie Johnson and Charles Barkley, hosts of The Steam Room (vid) podcast.
Gretzky’s first child, a girl, was born in 1989.
(This was the year after he married his wife, American actress Janet Jones. It was also the year after he won his fourth Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers.)
Gretzky said, “I wanted to name my first daughter Gordie. My wife nixed that.”
So, instead of naming their firstborn after Gordie Howe, they named her Paulina.
A year later, in 1990, they welcomed a baby boy.
And I said, okay, I get to name my second one. So I named him Ty, after Ty Cobb, because I love baseball.
So when I grew up, I don’t know, I was one of those kids that, in April, I threw my hockey equipment in the basement…I couldn’t wait to play baseball. […] I loved it. I just loved the game. I loved the thinking part of it, the fundamentals of the sport, I just truly — I couldn’t get enough of baseball.
In fact, when he was a teenager in Ontario, Gretzky came close to signing a professional baseball contract. (He played shortstop and pitcher.)
So that explains why a hockey legend named his eldest son after baseball legend.
Wayne and Janet’s next two sons were named Trevor and Tristan (middle names Douglas and Wayne, respectively). Their fifth and final child, a girl, was named Emma.
P.S. Ty Cobb’s full first name? Tyrus.
- Popplewell, Brett. “Trevor Gretzky: The Great Son.” Sportsnet.ca 30 Sept. 2013.
- Pillai, Kaivalya R. “NHL Legend Wayne Gretzky Once Accepted His Choice for Baby Names Was Veto’d by Wife but He Still Got One Through.” Essentially Sports 20 Jan. 2023.
Image: Adapted from Wayne Gretzky New York Rangers by Håkan Dahlström under CC BY 2.0.