David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — People with Handicaps, Pitchers

People with Handicaps

• Diana Golden enjoyed skiing, but her leg collapsed under her when she was 12 years old. Doctors investigated, discovered that she had cancer, and told her that her leg would have to be amputated. Diana didn’t believe them at first because most 12-year-olds don’t get cancer. She asked the doctors, “Did you ask my grandfather?” (Her grandfather was also a doctor.) The doctors replied, “He knows. He agrees with us. We’re sorry.” She cried at first, but she was able to laugh when her roommate said, “When you have a fake leg, maybe you’ll be able to turn your foot around backward.” Despite being one-legged, Diana continued her hobby of skiing. One day, a skier with two legs lost control and knocked her over. She shouted at the skier, “Look what you’ve done to my leg!” Ms. Golden was very talented as a skier—she won many gold medals as a member of the United States Disabled Ski Team.

Pitchers

• Satchel Paige won many games as a pitcher, but he also boasted about winning many games as a pitcher. In one game, he had a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning, and he quickly got the first two batters out. However, three straight errors by his teammates led to loaded bases. Mr. Paige was angry because he thought that his teammates had committed the errors on purpose. At first he was going to leave the ballpark, but he thought better of it and returned to the pitcher’s mound. He even made his outfielders sit in back of the pitcher’s mound—then he struck the batter out for the win. In a years-later game in which he did NOT make his outfielders sit in back of the pitcher’s mound, he didn’t get the win. Angry at his boasting, his teammates let an easy-to-catch fly ball fall to the game for a home run that won the game for the other team.

• Babe Ruth had trouble remembering names, so he called other people, including baseball players, such names as “Pal,” “Kid,” and “Doc.” While Babe was pitching for the Boston Red Sox, manager Ed Barrow warned about a Chicago Cub hitter named Les Mann, saying, “The man is tough against lefthanders, Babe. Any time he comes up in a pinch, I want you to be careful. In fact, it won’t do any harm to dust him off a bit, for he takes a heavy toehold on the plate.” During the game, Babe dusted off not Les Mann, but a player named Max Flack. Back in the dugout, he told Mr. Barrow, “I guess I took care of that Mann guy for you.” Mr. Barrow shouted, “Babe, you wouldn’t know General Grant if he walked up with a bat.”

• Sometimes a major-league pitcher will get a little of his own back by throwing a knock-down pitch at a lesser hitter after the big bats have roughed him up. In one 1947 game, the New York Giants—a club with some heavy hitters—got three home runs in a row by Sid Gordon, Johnny Mize, and Walker Cooper. The next batter was Buddy Blattner—not one of the heavy hitters on his team. Mr. Blattner bit the dust twice on knock-down pitches, made an out, then returned to the dugout. Mr. Cooper said to him, “I’ll say one thing, Blattner—they really respect you.”

• Politeness often pays, and lack of politeness often does not pay. Lew Burdette, a pitcher for Atlanta, got into trouble with two runners on base and no outs, so catcher Bob Uecker went out to the mound to give him a few minutes to get settled and then pitch his best. However, Mr. Burdette was in a foul mood, and he told Mr. Uecker, “The only thing you know about pitching is that you can’t hit it.” Big mistake. Mr. Uecker went back to his position as catcher—and told the batter which pitch Mr. Burdette was going to throw.

• A doubleheader in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League of the 1940s and 1950s consisted of a regular game of nine innings followed by a shorter game of seven innings. For one doubleheader, Doris “Sammy” Sams was assigned to pitch the short game, and she had thought that she had been given the easy game. However, that game turned into a mammoth struggle that she did not win until the 22nd inning. After the game, Sammy told her manager, “I don’t want to pitch any more seven-inning games—they’re too long!”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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