I’ll be the first person to tell you, I’m really not that big of a baseball fan. I do enjoy watching the game live and I appreciate the talent it takes to play, but I don’t necessarily follow the everyday happenings or even watch matchups regularly. What I enjoy most about baseball is its unique place in sporting and American culture, the idiosyncrasies that make our national pastime inimitable. Baseball has been played in America for almost a century and half and along the way has seen its share of characters, many whom have tried to explain their favorite game in a way everyday folk like me can appreciate. Here are a few of those explanations:
1. Baseball is the only sport I know that when you’re on offense, the other team controls the ball.
-Ken Harrelson, Sports Illustrated, 6 September 1976
2. Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.
3. Most games are lost, not won!
4. The season starts too early and finishes too late and there are too many games in between.
-Bill Veeck (Former major league owner)
5. The pitcher has to find out if the hitter is timid. And if the hitter is timid, he has to remind the hitter he’s timid.
-Don Drysdale, quoted in New York Times, 9 July 1979
6. Just take the ball and throw it where you want to. Throw strikes. Home plate don’t move.
7. Baseball is 90% mental, the other half is physical.
8. The difference between the old ballplayer and the new ballplayer is the jersey. The old ballplayer cared about the name on the front. The new ballplayer cares about the name on the back.
9. During my 18 years I came to bat almost 10,000 times. I struck out about 1,700 times and walked maybe 1,800 times. You figure a ballplayer will average about 500 at bats a season. That means I played seven years without ever hitting the ball.
-Mickey Mantle, 1970
10. Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire’s eye or on the ball.
-Jim Murray (sports writer, Los Angeles Times b.1919 d. 1998)