One of the things I have always enjoyed about baseball is the characters the game has produced, as well as some of the quotes those people came up with.
Babe Ruth signed a contract one year with the New York Yankees for more money than the President of the United States made. When asked by a reporter if he thought that was fair, Ruth thought for a second, then repulsed, “Why shouldn’t I make more? I had a better year.”
Warren Spahn was asked how many pitches he had in his repertoire. His response was straightforward: “A pitcher needs two pitches – one they’re looking for, and one to cross them up.”
Contrast that approach with that of Frank Tanana, a veteran pitcher who was asked the same question: “My curve, my slider, and what used to be my fastball.”
Of course, two of the best quote-sters (is that even a word?) were Yogi Berra and Casey Stengel, each of who spoke English (sort of) but with a somewhat different logic to it.
Berra was once quoted as saying, “I only said half the things they say I did,” referring to the attribution of any funny baseball line to him. He did say, though, “Nobody goes to that restaurant anymore. It’s too crowded”, as well as, when giving directions to someone, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
One of my favourite Casey Stengel stories doesn’t involve a quote from the man himself.
In 1962, he was managing the expansion New York Mets (of whom he said, “They’re always showing me new ways to lose ballgames”) and Marv Throneberry, a sort-of-good hit, no field player, hit a ball into the gap and ended up at third base with a triple.
The other team threw the ball back in to the pitcher, who took his stance for the next batter, then stepped off the pitching rubber and threw the ball to first base.
The defence appealed the Throneberry hit, saying he had missed first base on his trip. The first-base umpire agreed, and motioned that Throneberry was out.
Casey came out of the Mets dugout, all set to argue the call, but was stopped by his first-base coach.
“Don’t bother, Casey,” he advised Stengel. “Marv missed second base too.”