Saturday, May 9, 2015
I happen to love baseball. I played it all the time as a kid, actually hoping someday I’d make the big leagues. I was pretty good, but not that good. I read baseball biographies, collected baseball cards, and learned about the all-time greats. When I first started planning for a career, I wanted to be a Major League Baseball color commentator. I still think I’d be better than a lot of them. Today’s blog is about baseball. Quotes from TV and radio, movies, players, and books will be featured.
I’m starting with a couple of quotes from TV and radio:
“The immortal” Chico Escuela, who was said to have come to the US from the Dominican Republic, was portrayed by Saturday Night Live cast member Garrett Morris in 1978. After John Belushi introduced him, he got up, stood at the podium, and said in a thick Hispanic accent: “Thank you berry much. Baseball been berry, berry good to me.” Who hasn’t heard someone repeat that famous line about baseball?
After 55 years of broadcasting Major League games, including 42 years with the Tigers, Hall of Fame broadcaster, Ernie Harwell, retired and has since passed away. Often referred to as the Voice of Tigers Baseball, Harwell would open each season before the first spring training game by reciting the "Song of the Turtle," a stanza that celebrates the freshness of spring, renewed life and opportunities, and ushers in the baseball season for Tigers fans.
“For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”
Anyone who has been a long-time Tigers fan remembers Ernie Harwell fondly for how he helped us love baseball.
Now for some movie quotes:
The upcoming quote ranked #54 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 100 movie quotations in American cinema. This is a dialogue from A League of Their Own.
Jimmy: Evelyn, could you come here for a second? Which team do you play for?
Evelyn: Well, I'm a Peach.
Jimmy: Well, I was just wonderin', 'cause I couldn't figure out why you threw home when we got a two-run lead! You let the tying run get to second, and we lost the lead because of you. You start using your head. That's the lump that's three feet above your ass.
[Evelyn starts to cry]
Jimmy: Are you crying? Are you crying? Are you crying?! There's no crying! There's no crying in baseball!
Because of this movie and Tom Hanks, anyone who’s played the game knows “there’s no crying in baseball.”
Here is a direct quote from the 1993 film, Sandlot. After being asked by Ham Porter if he wanted a s'more, Scotty Smalls replies several times with the question, "Some more what?" After his frustration grew with Scotty, Ham replies with, "You're killing me, Smalls." This phrase is commonly used to express discontent or frustration toward a person, and yes, it came from a baseball movie.
From Field of Dreams, I included two dialogues that I love. One made me laugh and one touched my heart.
The pitcher knocks Archie Graham, the doctor who goes back to his youth to get a second chance to play with professional baseball players—the rookie—twice into the dirt with high, inside fastballs.
Archie Graham: Hey, ump, how 'bout a warning?
Clean-shaven umpire: Sure, kid. Watch out you don't get killed.
Shoeless Joe Jackson (talking to Archie): The first two were high and tight, so where do you think the next one's gonna be?
Archie Graham: Well, either low and away, or in my ear.
Shoeless Joe Jackson: He's not gonna wanna load the bases, so look low and away.
Archie Graham: Right.
Shoeless Joe Jackson: But watch out for in your ear.
The next one is Kevin Costner getting a second chance with his dad. Ray is Kevin Costner.
John Kinsella: Well, good night, Ray.
Ray Kinsella: Good night, John.
[They shake hands and John begins to walk away]
Ray Kinsella: Hey... Dad?
Ray Kinsella: [choked up] You wanna have a catch?
John Kinsella: I'd like that.
Here’s another movie quote I hear all the time from Major League. Rookie sensation, Ricky Vaughn (Charlie Sheen) was pitching his first game, sans the thick-framed glasses. The stadium was empty and Harry Doyle (Bob Uecker) was announcing the radio play-by-play. Sheen uncorked a wild pitch about six feet outside that bounced off the stadium wall behind, and what did Uecker say for his listeners? “JUST a bit outside.”
Next are some quotes from Major League Baseball:
"Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Lou Gehrig said this at Yankee Stadium the day he officially retired from baseball. He was dying of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord—Lou Gehrig’s Disease), yet because of baseball, he considered himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.
Before signing Jackie Robinson, Branch Rickey (the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers) made it very clear that: “I’m looking for a ballplayer with guts enough not to fight back.” Rickey was looking for an individual who was both a great athlete and a “gentleman”—a person with the inner-strength and self-restraint who could withstand intense hostility and aggression without being reactive. He needed an athlete who wouldn't perceive “not fighting back” as a sign of weakness or lack of courage. In Mickey Mantle’s auto-biography (which I read as a kid) called The Quality of Courage, Mantle explains how not everyone liked Jackie Robinson but he’d never run across anyone who didn’t respect him. Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, so he gets credit for ushering in a huge percentage of my favorite players.
Ernie Banks, nicknamed “Mr. Cub” and “Mr. Sunshine,” was a Major League Baseball shortstop and first baseman for 19 seasons from 1953 through 1971—thanks partly to Jackie Robinson. He loved the game and his words are often quoted on a beautiful summer day. “It’s a great day for baseball. Let’s play two.”
“It’s a round ball and a round bat, and you have to hit it square.” Pete Rose or Ted Williams or Willie Stargell is credited with this quote. I included it because I like it, plus I once heard a humorous description of a square ball and a square bat and a player trying to hit the ball around.
A reporter asked superstar, Joe DiMaggio, "Why did you play so hard?"
"Because there might have been somebody in the stands today who'd never seen me play before, and might never see me again.”
I like how he felt obligated to give his best every day.
Here are a few quotes from well-known authors about baseball:
“[Baseball] is a game with a lot of waiting in it; it is a game with increasingly heightened anticipation of increasingly limited action.” ― John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany
“Baseball is a good thing. Always was, always will be”…. “Baseball is also a game of balance.”― Stephen King, Blockade Billy
“My instinct is a winning coach, and when it said ‘Batter up,’ I didn't argue that I wasn't ready for the game. I gripped the bat in both hands, assumed the stance, and said a prayer to Mickey Mantle.”― Dean Koontz, Odd Thomas
“Baseball isn't just a game. It's the smell of popcorn drifting in the air, the sight of bugs buzzing near the stadium lights, the roughness of the dirt beneath your cleats. It's the anticipation building in your chest as the anthem plays, the adrenaline rush when your bat cracks against the ball, and the surge of blood when the umpire shouts strike after you pitch. It's a team full of guys backing your every move, a bleacher full of people cheering you on. It's...life.” ― Katie McGarry, Dare You To
And finally, from another sports biography that I read as a kid, Jim Bouton, author of Ball Four, said, “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.”
Yes, baseball has gripped me my entire life. It’s been “berry berry good to me.” It’s America’s greatest pastime. And Smalls, like “The Song of the Turtle,” it has showed renewed opportunities, broken the color barrier, united father and son, made us laugh and cry, and showed us a slice of life that stays in our vocabularies and gives us images of people proud enough to give their best every day. “It’s life” so why not play two?