October 21, 2017

A Few Baseball Laughs

Since baseball has come up in our conversations the past couple of days, I thought maybe we could lighten things up a little this afternoon with a few of my favorite baseball anecdotes and quotes.

I’ll start with a personal favorite. When I was a young adult living in New England, Jon Miller became the play-by-play voice of the Red Sox. I still remember him telling this story on the radio and in our family we repeat it and laugh about it to this day:

* * *

In 1974, the A’s promoted a nineteen-year-old outfielder to the big leagues from Birmingham, the A’s class-AA farm team. His name was Claudell Washington.

Claudell wasn’t a talkative person. Upon his arrival from the minors, I interviewed him and found most of his answers were “Yes” and “No.”

Trying to sound impressive, I said, “Claudell, you’re not only making the jump all the way from double-A to the major leagues,  but the jump to the world champions of baseball. Any trepidation about the move?”

“I had the flu in spring training,” Claudell shrugged. “But I’m fine now.”

– Jon Miller, Confessions of a Baseball Purist

* * *

An interviewer started to ask Yogi Berra about his two hits from the previous night when Berra corrected him and said he had three hits.

The interviewer apologized. “I checked the paper and the boxscore said you had two hits. The third must have been a typographical error.”

“Hell, no,” Berra replied. “It was clean single to left.”

–  Baseball Almanac

* * *

Phil Masi was catching one day when Al Javery faced the Giants. The first three hitters all ripped hits on Javery’s first pitch. Casey Stengel popped out of the dugout for a conference on the mound.

“What kind of pitches has he been throwing?” Stengel asked Masi.

“I dunno,” Masi said. “I haven’t caught one yet.”

– Baseball Almanac

During the World Series of 1934, Dizzy Dean was sent into the game as a pinch-runner. On a ball to the shortstop Billy Rogell, Dizzy roared into second base but did not slide. Rogell’s throw hit him squarely on the head and Dizzy fell flat, laying motionless on the infield dirt. The ball had been thrown so hard it bounced fifty feet into the air. After a time, Diz revived, left the field, and was taken to the hospital.

The headlines next day read: “X-Rays taken of Dean’s head – nothing found.”

Several days removed from the hospital, Dean came back to pitch game five. When he reached the mound, a fan raced onto the field to present him with a mediaeval armor helmet.

Razzball

* * *

There have been many superstitious players but few could match Baltimore pitcher Mike Cuellar. When Cuellar and the team arrived in Milwaukee once, he solemnly informed Weaver that he had left his lucky baseball cap behind in Baltimore, and that even though he was on a nine-game winning streak, he would surely lose the next night if he pitched with a replacement cap. Weaver ordered the Baltimore traveling secretary to send for Cuellar’s cap, and with the help of one Oriole front-office executive, two airline representatives, two pilots, and a series of hand deliveries involving a change of planes in Chicago, the cap was presented to Cuellar just before game time. Cuellar opened the envelope containing the cap and cried out, “It’s not my GAME cap! They sent my PRACTICE cap!”

Milwaukee hitters sent Cuellar to the showers in the third inning, but before he reached the dugout, he threw the cap down and stomped on it.

Baseball Anecdotes

* * *

Paul Richards developed a reputation as one of the brainiest of managers.

…One of Richards’ strategies that backfired occurred in Baltimore, where he decided that catchers were disadvantaged in plays at the plate, because it was easier for a sliding runner to kick the ball out of a catcher’s mitt than a fielder’s glove. So Richards devised a play whereby the pitcher would throw his glove to the catcher on a ball hit to the outfield with a runner in scoring position.

Joe Ginsberg was catching the first time this glove-switching maneuver was in effect. “Here comes this guy galloping like a horse from third,” Ginsberg remembered, and as he reached for pitcher Bill Wright’s thrown glove, he — and Richards — suddenly realized the play didn’t make much sense when a left-hander was pitching.

Baseball Anecdotes

* * *

Some favorite Casey Stengelisms

  • “All right, everybody line up alphabetically according to your height.”
  • “Now there’s three things that can happen in a ball game: you can win, you can lose, or it can rain.”
  • Good pitching will always stop good hitting and vice-versa.”
  • “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”
  • “I was not successful as a ball player, as it was a game of skill.”
  • “Lefthanders have more enthusiasm for life. They sleep on the wrong side of the bed and their head gets more stagnant on that side.”
  • “I feel greatly honored to have a ballpark named after me, especially since I’ve been thrown out of so many.”

* * *

Some other good quotes:

  • “There will be two buses leaving the hotel for the park tomorrow. The two o’clock bus will be for those of you who need a little extra work. The empty bus will leave at five o’clock. (Dave Bristol, Brewers manager)
  • “All coaches religiously carry fungo bats in the spring to ward off suggestions that they are not working.” (Jim Brosnan, Reds pitcher)
  • “I can never understand why anybody leaves the game early to beat the traffic. The purpose of baseball is to keep you from caring if you beat the traffic.” (Bill Vaughn, columnist)
  • “When we win, I’m so happy I eat a lot. When we lose, I’m so depressed, I eat a lot. When we’re rained out, I’m so disappointed I eat a lot.” (Tommy Lasorda, Dodgers manager)
  • “The most important things in life are good friends and a strong bull pen.” (Bob Lemon, Yankees manager)

* * *

And finally, in honor of his induction this year into the Hall of Fame, a brief glimpse at the joy of Chicago Cubs’ great Ron Santo:

 

Comments

  1. Regarding that game cap – am I the only person who thought of The Fifty-First Dragon?

    My favorite Yogi-ism is: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.” I use that at work ALL THE TIME. Because it’s true.

  2. Richard McNeeley says:

    How about some from Harry Caray

    “When I die, I hope they don’t cremate me ‘cuz I’ll burn forever”
    “You know they’re not going to lose 162 consecutive games”
    “It’s the fans that need spring training. You gotta get ’em interested.”
    “I’ve only been doing this fifty-four years. With a little experience, I might get better.”
    “Now, you tell me, if I have a day off during the baseball season, where do you think I`ll spend it? The ballpark. I still love it. Always have, always will.”
    “Hello again, everybody. It’s a bee-yooo-tiful day for baseball.”
    “It could be, it might be, It is! A home run!”
    “Holy cow!”

    • I’ve only been doing this fifty-four years. With a little experience, I might get better.

      And that would have been said in the late 80s. So had got to have another decade or so to “get better”.

    • cermak_rd says:

      I remember one with Harry and Steve Stone. Harry had a dislike against 3 hour baseball games (too long) especially when the length was caused by slow pitchers (long windup, frequent timeouts, throws to first to pin the runner etc). And his attention would start to wonder in the later innings, especially if it was a lopsided game in score.

      Harry: “And it’s a hard line drive caught by the 3rd baseman.”
      Steve: “Harry, the batter struck out, that was the catcher’s throw to the 3rd baseman”

      I miss Steve and Harry. They were a team. Both loved the game.

      Now I don’t mind Pat and Keith is actually pretty good now that I’ve got used to his smooth, McCarver-like accent. Though for me he has been forever immortalized by Steve Goodman.

  3. cermak_rd says:

    I think one of my faves is the one attributed to Casey Stengel when he managed the ’62 Mets and one of his players had struck out and come in and thrown a tantrum in the dugout breaking up the furniture. Casey came up to him and told him that if everyone on that team that played poorly broke the furniture, there would be no place to sit.

    Another from that same team and season and from Casey was his comment to the players upon their losing 100 games in that season that he didn’t want any of the players to feel bad about it because not one of them could have done it on his own.

    My favorite announcer related one (I have a bunch of Harry Carey ones I love, but this one illustrates a classic grammar error) by Jerry Coleman: “Winfield goes back, back…he hits his head against the wall… it’s rolling toward second base.”

  4. ?“The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided.”

    This sentence could begin this way: “The secret of pastoring is. . . . “

  5. My favorite from Stengel, made later in life: “Most people my age are dead at the present time.”

    Mike, we Giants fans get to listen to Jon Miller every day. Just a few days ago our seven year old son remarked that he loved Miller’s voice and it made him feel relaxed.

  6. I told my husband he had to see the last video He saw #10 and said “It’s Ron Santo and he will click his heels 3 times”

    Thanks Captain Mike. We have lots of happy memories of the bleachers at Wrigley Field

  7. Wasn’t it Stengel who when asked by a reporter what he though of his team’s execution that day replied that he though it was a good idea?

    • No, that was John McKay, when he was coaching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. However, Stengel did say about his ’62 Mets, “Can’t anybody here play this game?”

  8. Richard McNeeley says:

    Ken Levine
    “It’s gone! No, wait a minute”

    “They broke it to me gently. The manager came up to me before a game and told me they didn’t allow visitors in the clubhouse.”- Bob Uecker

    “He slides into second with a stand-up double.”- Jerry Coleman

  9. What player played for both the Cincinnati Reds and the L.A. Dodgers during the same game at Chavez Ravine on June18th, 1963?

    Helen Dell

    the organ player.