When I hear the name “Biff,” I assume it’s a nickname for something else. I found the name “Biford” online, which is of English origin and means “lives at the river’s crossing.” Perhaps it rhymes with Clifford and is shortened the way we would turn it into “Cliff.” And if there’s a better explanation for where the name comes from, I don’t know what it might be.
In fact, there were no recorded instances of this name being given to any boys born in the United States until 1944. Somehow, in the darkest days of World War II, there were six boys who were given that name. It’s as if a small coterie of parents decided to create a special club or something. And then when the war ended and all of the soldiers returned home, all the Biffery stopped. No other “Biffs” appeared until the early 1950s.
To be fair, though, the data I have found on the subject does not apply to names that are given to fewer than five children in any single year. If I name my child “Spongebob” because I’m a total doofus, the government isn’t going to record that name for the world to know about. “Biff” is a much better name than “Spongebob,” but the government’s record keepers don’t really distinguish between the two.
With that said, a television show called Biff Baker, USA began airing on CBS in 1952. The actor playing the role of Biff Baker in the series was Alan Hale, Jr., who had been acting for many years but was a bit more than a decade away from the role that I know him for, as the Skipper on Gilligan’s Island.
It was during the two-year run of Biff Baker, USA that young Biff Benedict Pocoroba was born in Burbank, California. Is it possible that he was named for a character on a television show? I’m at a loss to think of a better genesis for his name, which has only been given to a handful of other children throughout history, which hasn’t appeared on the government’s list of names since 1980, and which will be forevermore linked to the bad guy from the Back to the Future movies.
The 1984 Topps card shown above is undoubtedly Biff Pocoroba’s last. He spent his entire career with the Atlanta Braves, and even though he made the team in 1984, his standing role as a backup catcher had been taken away by another player. As a result, he was used in four games–all as a pinch-hitter–before being released in April of that season. He had been a starter for two seasons in Atlanta, and was named to the All-Star team in 1978, but at 30 years of age he was out of baseball altogether.
So what do you do after the playing career is over? Biff Pocoroba started a business–with his two brothers–called Sausage World, Inc. in the Atlanta area. The location makes sense, since he spent his playing days there. There’s no reason to go anywhere else, is there? Just looking at their website made me hungry, and I’m sure there’s no shortage of people who want to buy their products.
And to end this post
I’m wondering if
We’ll ever again see
Another named Biff
(With my apologies to all the Biffs out there, Pocoroba and otherwise)