Nine quotes about baseball; and I didn’t even include any of those by Yogi Berra, who said, “If you come a fork in the road, take it.” Or for that matter, the famousu words of Chicago Cubs star Ernie Banks who said, “Let’s Play Two.”
In any case, here are some others that catch my attention.
GOOD PITCHING WILL BEAT GOOD HITTING ANY TIME, AND VICE VERSA. Bob Veale, 1966
TRYING TO SNEAK A PITCH PAST HANK AARON IS LIKE TRYING TO SNEAK A SUNRISE PAST A ROOSTER. Attributed to both Joe Adcock and Curt Simmons
HITTING IS TIMING. PITCHING IS UPSETTING TIMING. Warren Spahn
THERE ARE TWO THEORIES ON HITTING THE KNUCKLEBALL. UNFORTUNATELY, NEITHER OF THEM WORK. Charlie Lau, 1982
These first four quotes address the skills of baseball. Bob Veale was a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates at the time he said this. He still holds several pitching records for the Pirates
Joe Adcock and Curt Simmons, the alleged source of the second quote, were both musclebound hitters who could clobber the ball so very hard. Adcock played from 1950 to 1966, hitting 366 homers. Curt Simmons was a pitcher from 1947 to 1967, winning 193 games. Both men were certainly qualified to assess the skills of Hank Aaron, who broke Babe Ruth’s home run total of 714 homers, ending with 755.
The third quote is by Warren Spahn, one of the best left handed pitchers in all of baseball. They say he was as crafty a pitcher as there was, too. He won 363 games in his 21 years in baseball.
Charlie Lau, the origin of the fourth quote, was a second rate catcher for the Baltimore Orioles, never truly distinguishing himself as a hitter. His lifetime average over 11 years of baseball was .255, never hitting more than 6 homers in one year. Yet, he was a true teacher and superb batting coach for the Baltimore Orioles, known for his ability to teach so many how to hit successfully.
WHEN THEY START THE GAME, THEY DON’T YELL “WORK BALL.” THEY SAY, “PLAY BALL.” Willie Stargell, 1981
PEOPLE ASK ME WHAT I DO IN WINTER WHEN THERE’S NO BASEBALL. I’LL TELL YOU WHAT I DO. I STARE OUT THE WINDOW AND WAIT FOR SPRING. Rogers Hornsby
BASEBALL, IT IS SAID, IS ONLY A GAME. TRUE. AND THE GRAND CANHYON IS ONLY A HOLE IN ARIZONA. George Will in MEN AT WORK: THE CRAFT OF BASEBALL, 1990
THE OTHER SPORTS ARE JUST SPORTS. BASEBALL IS A LOVE. Bryant Gumbel, 1981
YOU SEE, YOU SPEND A GOOD PIECE OF YOUR LIFE GRIPPING A BASEBALL, AND IN THE END, IT TURNS OUT THAT IT WAS THE OTHER WAY AROUND ALL THE TIME. Jim Bouton in BALL FOUR, 1970.
These next five quotes center on the love of baseball as a game, which explains to some degree why I decided to spend my February days writing up 28 different essays on baseball.
The first quote is from a team mate of Bob Veale – Willie Stargell was a big, strong home run hitter for the Pirates, and a leader of the team both on and off the field. Willie hit 475 homers in 21 years of baseball – all of them with the Pirates. I do miss seeing that kind of team loyalty.
The second quote is from a player well before my time (1915 to 1937) – he was more from my dad’s era. Rogers Hornsby was also known for taking care of his eyes so he could see the ball better when he was hitting – he even refused to go to the movies, fearing damage to his eyes. He later was a manager for several years, his final year was 1953, the year I was born.
George Will is known as a journalist and political analyst, but he is also regarded highly for his baseball writings. Clearly the man loves the game.
Bryant Gumbel is also a journalist – of the TV variety. He was seen on the TODAY show on NBC for many years.
I have found no quote stronger than the last one here – Jim Bouton was a pitcher for the Yankees, winning a good many games in his first few years – but then he blew his arm and became a knuckleball pitcher with a small bit of success. His book BALL FOUR appeared in 1971 and was vilified for its almost sacrilegious tone about major league baseball. Though I agree with that criticisim, I still think this last quote truly defines what makes up a good baseball fan.
Whether it’s in the heart with team loyalty or in the head with the statistics and understanding of baseball strategy, baseball can truly grab hold, deep and hard.