I get a kick out of sports fans. For instance, when their team runs a lesser team off the field, they will say, “Boy, we were hittin’ tonight!” But when their team gets trounced by a better team, it’s “they (their team) couldn’t hit the side of a barn.”

Tim McCarver, an All-Star catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s and 1970s, summed it up when he described Bob Gibson as one of the greatest pitchers in Major League history: “Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I ever saw. He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”

Here are some of my favorite sports quotes:

1. “Baseball players are smarter than football players. How often do you see a baseball team penalized for too many men on the field?” — Jim Bouton, former pitcher for the New York Yankees.

2. “I don’t like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped to the plate with a bat in my hands — I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the pitcher” — Rogers Hornsby, Hall-of-Fame St. Louis Cardinals second baseman.

3. “The secret of managing is to keep the guys who hate you away from the guys who are undecided” — Casey Stengel, famed New York Yankee manager.

4. “The last time Willie Mays dropped a pop fly, he had a rattle in one hand and a bonnet on his head,” — Sportswriter Jim Murray.

5. “I found out that it’s not good to talk about my troubles. Eighty percent of the people who hear them don’t care, and the other 20 percent are glad you’re having trouble,” — Tommy Lasorda, longtime Los Angeles Dodgers manager.

6. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts” — John Wooden, record-setting UCLA basketball coach.

7. “The best way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then pick it up,” — Bob Uecker, baseball announcer and former Major League catcher.

8. On the stages of senility: “First you forget names; then you forget faces; then you forget to zip up your fly; and then you forget to unzip your fly” — Branch Rickey, Major League baseball executive.

9. On being designated as baseball’s “greatest living player” at age 66: “At my age, I’m just happy to be named the greatest living anything” — Joe DiMaggio, Hall-of-Fame Yankee outfielder.

10. On why coaching is tougher than practicing medicine: “Doctors bury their mistakes. We still have ours on scholarship,” — Abe Lemons, former Oklahoma City University basketball coach.

11. Asked if he had any superstitions: “Yes, two. One, don’t call someone a bad name if they have a loaded pistol. Two, don’t call your girl friend Tina if her name is Vivian,” — George Underwood, East Tennessee State forward.

12. “As I was saying when I was so rudely interrupted 11 years ago” — Sportswriter Stanley Woodward, in his first column for the New York Herald-Tribune since being fired 11 years earlier.

13. “Absolute silence — that’s the one thing a sportswriter can quote accurately,” — Bobby Knight, while coach of Indiana University.

14. “A sports journalist is someone who would if he could but he can’t, so he tells those who already can how they should,” — Cliff Temple, English sportswriter.

15. “If I ever need a brain transplant, I want one from a sportswriter, because I’ll know it’s never been used,” — Joe Paterno, Penn State football coach.

16. “It’s good sportsmanship to not pick up lost golf balls while they are still rolling,” — Mark Twain.

17. “Five. That’s how long it takes for naturalization, isn’t it?” — Rinus Michels, Los Angeles Aztecs coach when asked how many years it would take the U.S. to produce a great soccer player.

18. “I do not participate in any sport with ambulances at the bottom of a hill,” — humorist Erma Bombeck on skiing.

19. “If I make a set of rules, then a guy goes out and steals an airplane. He comes back and says, ‘It wasn’t on the list of rules,” — Abe Lemons.

20. “Lombardi got down on his hands and knees and prayed for cold and he stayed down too long” — Henry Jordan, Green Bay Packers defensive tackle, on the 13-below-zero temperature that prevailed at the start of the Packers’ 1967 NFL Championship game against the Dallas Cowboys.

21. “He’s a credit to his race — the human race” — Sportswriter Jimmy Cannon on heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis.

22. “He’s a perfectionist. If he was married to Raquel Welch, he’d expect her to cook” ——— Former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Don Meredith on coach Tom Landry.

23. “A coach isn’t as smart as they say when he wins, or as stupid when he loses” ——— former Texas football coach Darrell Royal.

24. “If a coach starts listening to the fans, he winds up sitting next to them” ——— Johnny Kerr, NBA player and coach-turned-sportscaster.

25. “I really only ever wanted two things. First, I never really wanted to be rich. Second, I never really wanted to be poor” ——— Lou Holtz, when he was the football coach at the University of Arkansas.



Other lesser-known quotes:

1. “If you spit tobacco juice in my face one more time I’m going to knock your tooth out,” ——— Little League umpire Roy Bean to Uncle Jonas after 6-year-old Cousin Nudge was kicked out of a T-Ball game for using a “corked” bat.

2. “You’re ugly and so is your momma. Oh, you want a second opinion. Your kid couldn’t catch a cold. I’ve seen better hands on a shark. He can’t even spell base hit. I’ve seen quicker feet on a turtle. More playing time! He’s lucky to be our water boy “ ——— baseball coach Johnny Kelley to an irate mom who thought her son wasn’t getting enough playing time. Describing the boy’s defensive abilities: “He’s so uncoordinated he can’t open his glove and squeeze at the same time.”

3. “Go to the other end of the gym and pick up your jockstrap,” ——— coach Joe Smith to his point guard, Leo Kelley, after Quilla Buggs (his real name), Tullahassee’s point guard, faked one way, then went another — leaving part of Kelley’s private athletic equipment behind. That was the only time I received a standing ovation.

4. “Here’s your sign!” ——— Uncle Jonas, holding up one finger, after Barry Bonds signed his souvenir ball: “To the Okie hillbilly with one tooth, an IQ of one and one ugly wife.”

5. “Take this job and shove it!” ——— Uncle Rhubarb to the Texas Rangers’ concessions manager. It seems his check for a month of selling beer in the stands was only $7.95, after his drinks were deducted.

6. “You are the stupidest moron I’ve ever seen. No! Take that back. You’re not smart enough to be a moron,” ——— Mrs. Smith, Cousin Nudge’s kindergarten teacher, after he had sharpened little Timmy Welch’s finger in the pencil sharpener.

7. “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” ——— Sam the bartender after Aunt Carp had jerked Uncle Jonas by the ear off a barstool and dragged him outside to their pickup.

8. “I’m full as a tick” ——— Boxer Mike Tyson after one of his ear-biting episodes.

9. “That glove could have been the one Michael Jackson lost,” ——— defense attorney Johnnie Cochran in the O.J. Simpson trial.

10. “I don’t care if he makes a trip to the bathroom, you be right beside him holding his hand,” ——— Coach Joe Smith to Leo Kelley, who was guarding the state’s leading scorer, Quilla Buggs.

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