David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports: 250 Anecdotes — Pitchers

Pitchers

• George Jessel lived long and prospered, being born in 1898 and dying in 1981, with many years of fame, fortune, and divorces in the middle. In 1910, he was batboy for the New York Giants, managed by John McGraw, at the Polo Grounds. At this time, the big stars were Ty Cobb and, near the end of his career, Rube Waddell. Mr. Jessel used to tell the story of Mr. Waddell being called to pitch with the opposing team having three men on base and no outs. Mr. Waddell made his outfielders come in and sit on the bench, then he struck out the next three batters.

• When pitcher Greg Maddux first reported to the Chicago Cubs, he was very young and he looked small in comparison to many major leaguers. One of the Cubs coaches, John Vokovich, asked team manager Gene Michael, “Aren’t you going to say hello to your new pitcher?” Mr. Michael looked around, saw Mr. Maddux, and said, “That’s the batboy.” Mr. Maddux ended up becoming the first person ever to win the Cy Young Award four years in a row.

• In 1934, brothers Dizzy Dean and Daffy Dean pitched a double-header for the St. Louis Cardinals. Dizzy had a no-hitter until the 9th inning, when he gave up three hits but still won the game. Daffy, however, pitched brilliantly for the entire game and earned a no-hitter. After the game, Dizzy congratulated Daffy and said, “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to pitch a no-hitter? Then I would have pitched one, too.”

• New York Yankees rookie pitcher Henry Johnson was just starting to eat a sandwich in the bullpen when he was called up to pitch relief against the Philadelphia Athletics. He asked, “Who’s coming up to bat for the A’s?” The answer came back — three power hitters: “Cochrane, Simmons, and Foxx.” Mr. Johnson put down his sandwich and said, “Don’t let anybody touch that. I’ll be right back.”

• Former major league pitcher Johnny Sain once faced the great hitter Rogers Hornsby. Mr. Sain threw a pitch, which was ruled a ball by the umpire. Then he threw another pitch, which was also ruled a ball. Annoyed, Mr. Sain walked halfway to the umpire and said sarcastically, “Will you let know when I pitch a strike?” The umpire replied, “When you pitch a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know.”

• Joe Garagiola once was catching for a young pitcher who was facing the great hitter Stan Musial. Mr. Garagiola kept giving signs for pitches, but the pitcher kept shaking them off. Finally, Mr. Garagiola went to the pitcher’s mound and asked the young pitcher what he wanted to throw against Mr. Musial. “Nothing,” the pitcher replied. “I want to hold the ball as long as possible.”

• The great hitter Stan Musial once faced pitcher “Bobo” Newsome and hit a single, a triple, and a home run. The fourth time Mr. Musial was set to hit against Mr. Newsome, Mr. Newsome’s manager decided to send in a rookie pitcher. The rookie pitcher took the ball from Mr. Newsome and asked if Mr. Musial had any weaknesses. “Yeah,” replied Mr. Newsome, “he can’t hit doubles.”

Practical Jokes

• While attending Syracuse University, Dave Bing roomed with Frank Nicoletti. Mr. Bing is African American, while Mr. Nicoletti is white. Both enjoyed playing practical jokes on the other. Sometimes, Mr. Nicoletti would be in the dorm hall late at night when suddenly Mr. Bing would open the door to their room and roll some cans down the hall. Mr. Nicoletti would immediately run for their room to try to escape being blamed for the noise, but the resident assistant would come running to investigate the noise and see Mr. Nicoletti going into his room. The resident assistant would then enter the room, see Mr. Bing innocently kneeling and saying his prayers, turn to Mr. Nicoletti, and put him on probation. However, Mr. Nicoletti also played practical jokes on Mr. Bing. Because Mr. Bing was involved with Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, he had to get up early to do ROTC drills. Mr. Nicoletti would change the time on Mr. Bing’s alarm clock so that Mr. Bing would think that he was getting up at 7 a.m. when it was actually 5 a.m. Sometimes, when Mr. Bing went outside on a bitterly cold morning for ROTC drills, he would discover that he was the only person up. Then he would look at his wristwatch and discover that his roommate had fooled him again.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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