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"Baby Shacks" or "Baby Shanks"?


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During Colonel Brendan Doherty's appearance this morning on Newsmakers, I was surprised when he responded to a question about Louis "Baby Shacks" Manocchio, the reputed head of organized crime in Rhode Island, by referring to him as "Baby Shanks."

It had been my impression that "Baby Shanks" was a mistaken derivation of the actual nickname.

The sometimes-authoritative Wikipedia goes with "Baby Shanks."

But a number of Internet references employ "Baby Shacks."

Tim White, who is continuing his esteemed father's work in reporting on organized crime, later explained that both nicknames have their adherents (as reflected by Doherty's response). As he wrote on Channel 12's Web site:

The two most popular theories: he got the "Baby Shank" moniker from working in a restaurant (presumably "shank" of meat), and "Baby Shacks" for being rather successful with the ladies (as in "shack" up). Baby, is a bit of a mystery.

One high level law enforcement source says the confusion on the nickname isn't the media's alone.

"Wiseguys call him Louie Shacks or Baby Shanks," the source says. Noting Shanks has nothing to do with a cut of meat. "God no. Baby Shanks... it's a small knife."

You will also come up with Luigi over Louis, often. But Manocchio is listed with the Rhode Island Division of Motor Vehicles as Louis. And since they're never wrong... (incidentally, the DMV has not officially decided on Shanks or Shacks).

  • wally pickford said:

    Re:  "Baby Shacks."  The most reliable source on LCN nicknames was the late Anthony Mancuso, who headed the state police intel unit before moving into the Providence job.  He told me two years ago, in response to a journalistic question, that Luigi earned his correct moniker as a baby-faced guy who did well with the women. . .and still did into his 70s!  There is no authenticity to "Baby Shacks."  Take "Shacks" to the bank.  Thanks, Anthony.

    November 24, 2008 12:59 PM
  • Larry Sasso said:

       I have no sources on this, but I always assumed it was a derisive reference to the man's legs, i.e. he has the "shanks of a baby." The website World Wide Words explains the derivation of shanks this way: "This is from standard English shank for the part of the leg from the knee to the ankle, which comes from Old English sceanca, the leg bone..." Hence expressions such as "he took shank's mare to get here" - meaning someone walked to his destination.

       It's only a hunch on my part. I've never seen the man. However, it innately makes more sense than the other suggested roots of the nickname.

    December 5, 2008 4:38 PM
  • wally pickford/reprise said:

    Forgive me, but my hoped-for clarification was fatally flawed by a typo.  The accurate nickname for Mr. Manocchio is "Baby Shacks," NOT "Baby Shanks," for the reasons stipulated.  I apologize for my confusing clarification.  WP

    December 23, 2008 10:48 AM

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