Always a fan of good sports quotes, over the years I’ve been able to gain inspiration, let out a chuckle or get a better understanding of the ironies in athletics.
Just by drinking in what coaches and players have had to say made me a better sports fan. More knowledgeable. More forgiving. More interested in the personalities.
Take the day in 1976 when coach John McKay was asked about the execution of his 0-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His reply lives on:
“I’d be in favor of it.”
Storied Yankees manager Casey Stengel talking with Mickey Mantle in 1953 …
“Mick, we’re going to need you to steal more bases.”
Mantle nodded, started to walk away but came back to the Ol’ Professor …
“Hey, Case, how ’bout I just hit more doubles?” the Commerce Comet wondered.
I suppose the political correctness of most modern-day athletes, coaches and owners is appreciated/demanded, but when somebody like the former hockey coach Harry Neale — who never had a winning season in eight NHL seasons with Vancouver and Detroit — spoke, the perspective could be hilarious:
“Last year we couldn’t win at home and were losing on the road. My failure as a coach was that I couldn’t think of anyplace else to play.”
Neale is now the TV color man for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Anyway, today’s rationale for delving into who said what is thanks to a Christmas-comes-early email from my longtime friend Mike Elliott of Mesa, Ariz.
Elliott found a bazillion sports quotes and sent them to me, so I thought I’d share. Hope you enjoy …
“I’m working as hard as I can to get my life and my cash to run out at the same time. If I can just die after lunch Tuesday, everything will be perfect.”
— Doug Sanders, ex-pro golfer (63 at the time)
“My theory is that if you buy an ice cream cone and make it hit your mouth, you can learn to play tennis. If you stick it on your forehead, your chances aren’t as good.”
— Vic Braden, tennis instructor
“I don’t know. I only played there for nine years.”
— Walt Garrison, Dallas Cowboys fullback, when asked if coach Tom Landry ever smiles.
“We were tipping off our plays. Whenever we broke from the huddle, three backs were laughing and one was pale as a ghost.”
— Houston Oilers general manager John Breen, 1971
“The film looks suspiciously like the game itself.”
— New Orleans coach Bum Phillips after being routed by Atlanta
“I have discovered in 20 years moving around the ball park that the fans’ knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to the price of the seats.”
— Bill Veeck, Chicago White Sox owner, 1960
“Because if it didn’t work out, I didn’t want to blow the whole day.”
— Green Bay and Notre Dame football great Paul Hornung on why he got married before noon
“I learned a long time ago that ‘minor surgery’ is when they do the operation on someone else.”
— NBA analyst and UCLA great Bill Walton
“The only difference between me and General Custer is that I have to watch the films on Sunday.”
— Northwestern’s Rick Venturi, whose Wildcats went 1-31-1 in his three years as coach
“The key to managing a 25-man team is keeping the five players that don’t know you away from the five players who don’t like you.”
— Casey Stengel
“I don’t know until my barber tells me on Monday.”
— Legendary coach Knute Rockne when asked why Notre Dame had lost a game
“All the fat guys watch me and say to their wives, ‘See, there’s a fat guy doing OK. Bring me another beer.’ ”
— Former Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich
“I found out that it’s not good to talk about my troubles. Eighty percent of the people you tell don’t care. The other 20 percent are happy you’re having them.”
— Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda
“Better make it six. I don’t think I can eat eight.”
— Yankee catcher Yogi Berra when asked how many pieces he wanted his pizza cut into
(And thanks, Mike. Send more)
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.