25 Idiosyncratic Sports Quotes

Here are some of my all-time favorite sports quotes, compiled over the last couple of decades. No particular order or categories.

1. "Besides the two fighters, the referee is the most important man in the ring."--George Foreman

2. Tim Raines, upon being asked if age 42 wasn't too old to play in baseball's major leagues, responded, "I'd only be 35 if I were in the Dominican Republic."

3. NBA coach Dick Motta commenting on one of his players getting only one rebound in a game: "That's one more than a dead man would've gotten."

4. Bill Peterson, former football coach at Florida State University, was known for occasionally garbling his words. He once tried to inspire a team with this pre-game speech: "Just remember the words of Patrick Henry: 'Kill me, or let me live.' "

5. "He was an animal, and very well-conditioned. And every time he hit you, he wanted to put you in the cemetery."--Deacon Jones on Chicago linebacker Dick Butkus

6. When UCLA was looking for a replacement for John Wooden, Joe B. Hall, who'd followed the legendary Adolph Rupp as basketball coach at the University of Kentucky, (and was heckled by fans, vilified in the media, and eventually driven out of the job), jokingly suggested that they hire him. "Why ruin two lives?" he said.

7. "I played for Casey Stengel before he was a genius (with the Boston Braves), and I played for him after he was a genius (with the New York Mets)."--Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn

8. "There will be a game where somebody scores more than Brazil, and that will be the game they lose."--Sir Bobby Robson, famed English soccer coach (known for his malapropisms)

9. "The last man to perform this well on grass was Jimi Hendrix."--Greg Cote of the Miami Herald, on Roger Federer's success on the grass courts of Wimbledon.

10. "Well, that was a real cliff-dweller."--New York Mets manager Wes Westrum, commenting on a close game.

11. During a 2000 Olympics baseball game, this observation was made by an Australian announcer obviously unfamiliar with the American pastime. Referring to runners on first and third, he said, "We now have runners on one and three."

12. "We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."--NBA player Jason Kidd

13. "My sister's expecting a baby, and I don't know if I'm going to be an uncle or an aunt."--Chuck Nevitt , North Carolina State basketball player (1982).

14. "There are two theories on hitting the knuckle ball; unfortunately, neither one of them works."--Batting coach Charlie Lau

15. "People complain that pro athletes make a lot of money; but what they don't understand is that we need a lot of money because we spend a lot of money."--NBA player Patrick Ewing

16. "The drivers will have one foot on the brake, one on the clutch, and one on the throttle."--auto racing commentator Bob Varsha

17. "Ronald Reagan and I have one thing in common: we both played fullback. I played for Michigan, he played for Warner Bros."--Gerald Ford, during the 1976 Republican primary.

18. "Joe Frazier was a Truth Machine in the ring. If you weren't in tremendous physical condition and absolutely ready to fight, Frazier would find out."--boxing commentator Larry Merchant

19. Responding to a reporter asking what kind of a pitch it was that had resulted in a prodigious home run, Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee said, "It was a combination screwball and change-up. I call it a screw-up."

20. "Say you are standing with one foot in the oven and one foot in an ice bucket. According to the statisticians, you should be perfectly comfortable."--Manager Bobby Bragan, on the fallibility of baseball statistics.

21. "I owe a lot to my parents, especially my mother and father."--golfer Greg Norman

22. "The coach has a good sense of humor. We all like his gestures. But, no, I can't say we understand him most of the time."--Yu Lei, a Chinese pitcher, speaking through an interpreter, referring to Jim Lefebvre, coach of the Chinese national baseball team, during preparations for the 2008 Olympics.

23. "My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about seven."--soccer great David Beckham

24. "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while, so if it's close, you'd better swing at it."--former professional baseball and football player Cal Hubbard, who went on to become an umpire.

25. "Ninety feet between bases represents man's closest approach to absolute truth. The world's fastest man cannot run to first base ahead of a sharply hit ball that is cleanly fielded by an infielder; he will get there only half a step too late. Let the fielder juggle the ball for one moment or delay his throw an instant, and the runner is safe. Ninety feet demands perfection. It accurately measures the cunning, speed and finesse of the base stealer against the velocity of a thrown ball. It dictates the placement of infielders. That single dimension makes baseball a fine art -- and nobody knows for sure how it came to be."--George Will

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author ("It's Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor," 2nd Edition), was a former labor union rep.

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