Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Quotable Characters

Few sports have come close to generating as much written material as baseball. Over the years, the game has been analyzed to death. Players and managers are put under a microscope daily as writers with fast-approaching deadlines scramble to turn out interesting copy. When it comes to interviews, some guys play it straight while others inject a little humor into their commentary. The consistently quotable personalities are a truly rare breed and make the lives of jouranlists easy. 

I'd like to kick off another series of thematic ramblings with a list of some of baseball's most quotable characters and the utterances they became famous for.

Casey Stengel
Nicknamed "The Old Perfessor," this garrulous story-teller spent more than 50 years around the game as a player and manager. His often semi-coherent statements became know as "Stengel-ese." He is perhaps best known as manager of the Mets and Yankees though  he also spent time with the Dodgers and Braves. A few of his most memorable quotes are as follows:

"The key to being a good manager is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who haven't made up their minds yet."  

"We are a much improved ball club. Now we lose in extra innings."

"If we're going to win a pennant, we have to start thinking we're not as good as we think we are."

"It's wonderful to meet so many friends I didn't used to like."

"At the end of the season, they're going to tear this place (The Polo Grounds) down. The way you're pitching, that right field section will be gone already."

Ralph Kiner
Sometimes, it's broadcasters themselves who generate the memorable lines. Kiner was a dangerous slugger in his day, leading the NL in homers for 7 straight seasons with the Pirates from 1946 through 1952. After his playing days were over, he stepped into the New York Mets broadcast booth and developed a reputation for stating the obvious. Here are a few of his funniest observations:

"All of his saves have come in relief appearances."

"Solo homers usually come with no one on base."

"The Mets have gotten their lead-off batter on only once this inning."

"The reason the Mets have played so well at Shea this year is because they have the best home record in  baseball."

"Don Sutton lost 13 games in a row without winning a ball game."

Leo Durocher
Known for his win at any cost attitude, "Leo the Lip" had a pretty big mouth. The things that came out of it became instant classics. Enshrined at Cooperstown as a manager, his teams won 3 pennants and one world Series. He was on the winning end of two Fall Classics as a player. He is most often affiliated with the Giants though he wore seven different uniforms during a career that spanned 5 decades. Here are my favorite Durocher quips:

"I believe in rules, sure I do. If there weren't any rules, how could you break them."

"Baseball is like church: many attend, few understand."

"I never did say that you can't be a nice guy and win. I said that if I was playing third base and my mother rounded third with the winning run, I'd trip her up."

"Some guys are admired for coming to play as the saying goes. I prefer those who come to kill"


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