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For Opening Day

From John Lardner:

A young ex-paratrooper visited Ebbets Field, Brooklyn, one day, and addressed some language, as ball fans will, to Mr. Leo Durocher, the Brooklyn manager, himself the most polite and clean-tongued gentleman in the national pastime when his mouth is shut, which is a hypothetical situation.

I should really stop here because this is perfection, but the continuation isn’t bad either:

After the game the fan was beaten up with a blackjack and hospitalized by two men whom he identified as Mr. Durocher and a house cop. He must have been confused, because Mr. Durocher and the house cop say they didn’t do it.


  1. Dad too was a pretty good sports writer, with (IIRC) a similarly ironic style.

  2. Paul Alper says:

    As long as Leo Durocher has just been mentioned, here is what I wrote for a British journal in 2006:

    A good place to illustrate how much of what we believe to be true is either totally false or at least, a long way from reality, is Nice Guys Finish Seventh: False Phrases, Spurious Sayings, and Familiar Quotations by Ralph Keyes [HarperCollins, 1992, NYC]. The title comes from the by-now universally known comment in the United States of Leo Durocher, then manager of the (then) Brooklyn Dodgers (who high-tailed it to Los Angeles a few years later): “Nice guys finish last.” Durocher when managing one of the eight teams in the league actually said, “The nice guys over there are in seventh place.” And then there is the other sports phrase ubiquitous to American life in all its aspects, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” credited to the football coach Vince Lombardi. It was actually said decades before in the film, Trouble Along the Way by the daughter of the football coach, played by John Wayne.

  3. Bruce McCullough says:

    “decades before”???? The movie came out in 1953, and Lombardi started his college coaching career in 1947 and ended his pro coaching in 1969, so how does “decades” become the result of a calculation?

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