David Bruce: The Funniest People in Sports, Volume 2: 250 Anecdotes — Problem-Solving, Scouting, Signs


• Milwaukee pitcher Bill Zuber complained often that his arm got sore after games. Aware that the soreness probably came from Mr. Zuber’s frequent use of his blazing fastball, a friend told him that if he were cunning in his choice of pitches and did not rely so much on his fastball, then his arm would not be so sore after games. Mr. Zuber took the advice, and in part because the batters kept looking for his fastball, which he did not throw nearly as often as he usually did, he pitched a shutout. But unfortunately he had a new complaint: “My arm’s all right, but I’ve got a headache. I pitched with my head today.”

• When Cammi Granato, a gold-medal winner as a member of the United States women’s hockey team at the 1998 Nagano Olympic Games, was growing up, she was the only girl player on a boys’ team. During one game, her coach learned that the opposing players had been ordered to “get number 21”—Cammi’s number. The coach solved the problem by having Cammi switch jerseys with a six-foot-tall teammate.

• The 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team was terrible, losing 112 of 154 games. After a series against the Giants in which the Pirate center fielder had made three throwing errors and had let the ball go between his legs twice, manager Billy Meyer called a meeting to see if anyone could come up with an idea that would make them win. First baseman George “Catfish” Metkovich suggested, “On any ball hit to center field, let’s just let it roll to see if it goes foul.”


• As a child, Donna Lopiano wanted to play Little League baseball. However, when she showed up at the beginning of the season, someone else’s father showed her a rulebook, which stated that girls could not play in the Little League. She attended all the games, became convinced that she was a better player than any kid on the field, and kept playing sandlot baseball. She also bugged her parents about finding a team that she could play on. Sal Caginello, an old Army buddy of her father, scouted for the Pittsburgh Pirates and was friends with the coach of the World Champion Raybestos Brakettes Softball Team, located in Stanford, Connecticut. Her father got his old Army buddy drunk, and without ever seeing Donna play, he agreed to drive her to Stanford for a tryout with the World Champions. Sober, he kept his word, but he stayed in the car for the first part of her tryout, afraid that it was going to be a complete disaster. But he watched her play, and he got out of the car and watched. Then he walked closer, by third base, and watched. At the end of the tryout, he was in the dugout, sitting by the coach, who told him that he was the Raybestos Brakettes’ best scout ever. (Donna Lopiano played for the Raybestos Brakettes for three years, from age 16 to 19. She also became a nine-time Amateur Softball Association All-American player as a pitcher, shortstop, first baseman, and second baseman.)

• Coach George Halas of the Chicago Bears was one of the first coaches to scout teams. After losing a game by a score of 7-3 to the Washington Redskins following a controversial call by an official, the Bears complained and in turn the Redskins called them “crybabies.” Mr. Halas responded by scouting the Redskins and creating plays to exploit the Redskins’ weaknesses. The scouting paid off. The next time the Bears met the Redskins, Chicago won, 73-0.


• In 2001, Barry Bonds broke the single-season home-run record set by Mark McGwire; however, hitting 73 home runs in one season was difficult for Mr. Bonds in part because pitchers preferred to walk him rather than pitch to him and risk having him hit a home run. Late in the season, whenever Mr. Bonds’ young daughters went to the ballpark to watch their father play, they carried a sign that said, “Please pitch to our daddy.”

• In the early 1980s, the Northwestern University football team was mainly known for its losing seasons; after all, it lost 30 games in a row. In fact, when Doug Single interviewed for the job of Northwestern University athletic director, he saw a highway sign. Underneath INTERSTATE 94, someone had written NORTHWESTERN 0.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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