David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Money, Mothers

Money

• Babe Ruth occasionally got in trouble for breaking training and staying out too late. For example, in 1925, he was fined $5,000 late in the season for just those reasons. He also hit only .290—a low average for him. However, in 1926, he had a great season and hit .372. His manager, “Hug” Huggins, told him, “Babe, I admire a man who can win over a lot of tough opponents, but I admire even more a man who can win over himself.” Mr. Ruth replied, “That’s fine, Hug—do I get the fine back?” Mr. Huggins, who seldom wasted words, answered, “No.”

• If you pay for a ticket, you are entitled to express your opinion. After the Notre Dame football team was held to a tie by a much weaker team, a man accosted coach Knute Rockne and told him, “What’s the matter with your team? It stinks!” Mr. Rockne asked the man if he had paid to see the game. The man dug in his pocket and pulled out a ticket. Mr. Rockne looked at the ticket, then replied to the man, “You’re right. We stink.”

• Heavyweight champion Joe Louis lost very few fights, either as an amateur or as a pro fighter, but when he was an amateur, he lost a decision to Max Marek. No fool, Mr. Marek cashed in on his victory after Mr. Louis became a champion. Mr. Marek opened a bar and grill in Chicago, and he put a big sign out front inviting people to come in, enjoy themselves, and shake hands with Mr. Marek—“The Man Who Beat Joe Louis.”

• Famous racehorse Man o’ War was worth a fortune, and Texas oilman W.T. Waggoner wanted to buy the stallion from Sam Riddle and even offered a blank check as payment. Mr. Waggoner told him, “You go to France and bring back the sepulcher of Napoleon. Then go to England and buy the jewels from the crown. Then go to India and buy the Taj Mahal. Then, Mr. Waggoner, I’ll put the price on Man o’ War.”

• On June 3, 1932, New York Yankee Lou Gehrig hit four home runs in one game against the Philadelphia Athletics. This made him the first major-league player in the 20th century to accomplish such an impressive feat. Afterward, the other Yankees teased Mr. Gehrig, saying that he was costing the American League too much money due to replacing the baseballs he hit for home runs.

• One day, Muhammad Ali was speeding on a Los Angeles highway. A police officer stopped him and gave him a $100 speeding ticket. Mr. Ali immediately wrote a check and gave it to the police officer, who looked at it and said, “Mr. Ali, there’s been a mistake. The ticket is for only one hundred dollars. You made this out for two hundred dollars.” Mr. Ali replied, “I still have to come back.”

• Dodger co-owner Branch Rickey was tight with team money. Joe Medwick says that he once dominated the league in hitting, leading in 12 out of 13 hitting departments. Of course, he wanted a big raise. How did Mr. Rickey respond? By cutting Mr. Medwick’s salary by $5,000. Mr. Medwick asked, “How can you do this?” Mr. Rickey replied, “I expected you to hit .374 again.”

• Rube Foster was a tough manager in the Negro Leagues. He carried a pipe (for smoking) that he used to make signals, and when a player ignored his signal to bunt and instead hit a triple in a game, Mr. Foster was not happy. As soon as he could, he hit the player in the head with his pipe, and then told him, “As long as I’m paying you, you’ll do what I tell you.”

Mothers

• Martina Hingis’ mother (and coach), Melanie Molitor, raised her to be a tennis star. Not only did Ms. Molitor name Martina after her favorite tennis star, Martina Navratilova, but she also did everything she could to make her daughter interested in tennis. For example, when Martina was only two years old, her mother gave her a special tennis racket—a light one that was for adults but with a specially shaved-down handle that allowed Martina to grasp it. Ms. Molitor would throw tennis balls toward her daughter, and her daughter would try to hit them back. By age 10, Martina was embarrassed because she was beginning to beat her mother in tennis games and so she wanted to play left handed against her so her mother would win.

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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