• Professional baseball player Reggie Jackson really understood the media. One day, broadcaster Joe Garagiola interviewed him about a disagreement Mr. Jackson had had with George Steinbrenner, and he gave a long answer. Unfortunately, the answer was too long. However, Mr. Jackson felt that he couldn’t tell the complete story in a shorter time, so he arranged to stretch out his second at-bat in the game so his complete answer could be played on the air. During Mr. Jackson’s second at-bat, Mr. Garagiola stood up to let Mr. Jackson know the answer was being broadcast, and Mr. Jackson did such things as calling time and getting another bat. When the answer had been completely broadcast, Mr. Garagiola sat down, and Mr. Jackson hit a double.
• Golfer Payne Stewart earned a one-stroke lead at Spyglass Hill, and he knew that rain was forecast for the next day: Sunday. If it rained and golfers could not play, then he would be declared winner of the tournament. A TV reporter asked Mr. Stewart his thoughts on the situation, and Mr. Stewart said all the right things, such as that he was hoping for good weather and that he wanted to win the tournament by playing all the holes, not through a rainout. After the TV cameras were gone, fellow golfer Peter Jacobsen asked Mr. Stewart what he really thought about the weather. Mr. Stewart grinned and exclaimed, “Rain, baby, rain!”
• For many years, Jack Brickhouse was the broadcaster of Chicago Cubs and White Sox games. Of course, this meant that he watched many, many games of bad baseball in his life. Mr. Brickhouse said shortly before his death, “If every bad game I watched reduced the time I spent in purgatory, I would spend no time there at all.”
• Charlie Dressen, who used to be manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, once said, “The Giants is dead.” Later, when Mr. Dressen was fired as manager, a New York newspaper headline proclaimed, “Dressen are dead.”
• Babe Herman of the Brooklyn Dodgers was a favorite of manager Wilbert Robinson because he was a terrific hitter despite being a terrible fielder. Once, Chicago Cubs pitcher Kiki Cuyler hit a baseball down the right-field base line. Babe should have easily caught the fly, but he didn’t move until it landed—just in fair territory. Kiki ended up hitting a triple instead of making an easy out. Dodgers Hollis Thurston, a pitcher, and Paul Richards, a back-up catcher, witnessed the entire thing from the bullpen, and they thought that manager Robinson would finally bawl out his favorite player. No such luck. Instead, Robinson bawled them out: “Hey, you two! What were you doing in the bullpen—sleeping? Why didn’t you yell to Babe that Cuyler’s hit was going to be fair?”
• In 1931, Casey Stengel managed the Toledo Mudhens, a minor-league team that was stuck in last place. Because of their losing season, the players had little interest in baseball, so they dozed in the dugout during games. During one game, Casey asked an umpire if he had an alarm clock. Surprised, the umpire asked why he needed one. Casey pointed to his dozing players in the dugout and said, “The boys left a five o’clock wake-up call. I want to be sure they get woke up.”
• The greatest jockey ever was Willie Shoemaker, and the jockey who made the biggest blooper ever was also Willie Shoemaker. In 1957, Mr. Shoemaker rode a horse named Gallant Man in the Kentucky Derby, and he had the race won—all he had to do was to cling to his lead. Instead, he mistook the location of the finish line, raised himself up in the stirrups, and allowed his horse to slow down. A horse named Iron Liege raced by him and won by a nose. This was a major error, and Churchill Downs officials suspended Mr. Shoemaker for fifteen days because of “gross carelessness.” Nevertheless, Mr. Shoemaker bounced back, winning the Belmont Stakes five weeks later while riding Gallant Man. In fact, Mr. Shoemaker behaved so well after his remarkable blooper that his sportsmanship won him the Ralph Lowe trophy. This is all the more remarkable because Mr. Lowe owned Gallant Man.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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