Wrapping up my discussion of baseball's most quotable personalities, here are 3 of my absolute all-time favorites.
To some, Cobb was the greatest baseball player of all time. About the only thing he didn't do is hit for power. What he did do was hit for higher average than anyone in the history of the game (.366), winning 11 batting titles and a triple crown in the process. Cobb was a fierce competitor who was universally despised by opponents, whom he pounded on both literally and figuratively for 24 years. He was well-spoken, analytical and introspective off the field. Here are some of his greatest quotes:
"When I began playing the game, baseball was about as gentlemanly as a kick in the crotch."
"I had to fight all my life to survive. They were all against me, but I beat the bastards and left them lying in the ditch."
"I have observed that baseball is not unlike a war and we batters are the heavy artillery."
"Baseball is a red-blooded sport for red-blooded men. It's no pink tea and the molly-coddles had better stay out."
"Every batter works on the theory that the pitcher is more afraid of him than he is of the pitcher."
Ruth was in a class all by himself. In fact, when players today do something remarkable at the plate, their performances are sometimes referred to as "Ruthian." When he retired in 1935, the Babe's 714 homers were 400 more than the closest runner-up--Lou Gehrig. He still holds the all-time record for slugging percentage. A larger than life character, Ruth lived fast and died relatively young. He signed autographs, promised homers to sick kids and gave back to the community at large. His daily exploits both on and off the field were chronicled in the papers. There simply has never been another player like him. Though Ruth was not generally known as a thinker, some of his quotes are quite insightful.
"You just can't beat the person who never gives up."
"All ballplayers should quit when it starts to feel as if all the bases run uphill."
"Never let the fear of striking out keep you from coming to the plate."
"If I'd tried for them dinky singles, I could've batted around .600."
(Upon being informed that he was asking for more money than the President:) "I know, but I had a better year than Hoover."
Weaver led the Orioles to 3 pennants and 1 World Series victory between 1969 and 1971. He added another pennant in '79. The chain-smoking Weaver was one of the most ornery managers ever to take the field. He was known for turning his cap around backwards so he could get right on top of an umpire without actually making contact. He was also known for kicking dirt and trashing dugouts when he was really angry. Weaver was an ingenious strategist with a flamboyant personality. He provided so many good quotes, it's actually difficult for me to limit them to just a few. Here are a handful of my favorites:
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts."
"A manager's job is simple. For 162 games, you try not to screw up all the smart stuff your organization did last December."
"We're so bad right now that for us, back-to-back home runs means one today and another tomorrow."
"I never got many questions about my managing. I tried to get 25 guys who didn't ask questions."
"On my tombstone, just write: The sorest loser who ever lived."
Last but certainly not least--how could I leave out Lefty Gomez? Gomez made it into the Hall of Fame on the strength of his pitching--he won two triple crowns, five World Series rings and posted a 6-0 postseason record for the Yankees between 1930 and 1942. He was also a much sought-after public speaker, responsible for some of the greatest quips in baseball history. The following sampling only scratches the surface of his unique wit:
"A lot of things run through your head when you're going in to relieve in a tight spot. One of them was: "Should I spike myself?"
"I talked to the ball a lot of times in my career. I yelled: "Go foul! Go foul!"
(To Lou Gehrig before his farewell speech) "Hell, Lou, it took 15 years to get you out of the game. Sometimes, I'm out in 15 minutes."
"I was the worst hitter ever. I never even broke a bat until last year when I was backing out of the garage."
"The secret of my success was clean living and a fast outfield."