No. 10 Most Quotable Figure in Baseball History
In the first of a 10-part series, I’ll look at the ten most quotable baseball figures in baseball history.
The list includes one owner, three players-turned-announcers, and five players-turned-managers.Â So longevity has a lot to do with it. Late Show host David Letterman had enough quotes to crack the list, but since he’s not directly involved in baseball, I’m omitting him from this particular ranking.
The non-scientific rankings are based on the total number of quotes featured in my McFarland Baseball Quotations Dictionary, 3d ed.
10. Dizzy Dean (42 quotes)
Ol’ Diz got his name in the paper quite a bit in St. Louis. He would often tell reporters differing information regarding the date and place of his birth. When confronted with these inconsistencies, he would reply, “Them ain’t lies, them scoops.”
Dean was often fond of making bold predictions regarding his pitching, always quick to point out that it ain’t bragging if you do it—it’s the truth. On Sept. 22, 1934, he threw a three-hit shutout in the first game of a doubleheader, then his brother Paul (aka “Daffy”) threw a no-hitter in the nightcap. Dizzy was so mad he said, “If I’d know that Paul was gonna throw a no-hitter, I’da thrown one too.” And before facing the Tigers in the 1934 World Series, he predicted that “the series is already won, but I don’t know by which team.” When he heard about Detroit strategizing on how to beat St. Louis, he said, “If them guys is thinking, they’re as good as licked right now.” The Cardinals won in seven games.
A fractured toe suffered in the 1937 All-Star Game (“Fractured? Hell, the damn thing’s broken) truncated his Hall of Fame career. Dean later made a name for himself as radio and television color commentator, often butchering the English language and inserting some home-spun witticisms (“He slud into third” or “A lot of people who ain’t saying ‘ain’t’ ain’t eatin'”). Jay Hanna Dean knowingly observed at his HOF induction in 1953, “The Good Lord was good to me. He gave me a strong right arm, a good body, and a weak mind.”
His self-effacing manner (“I never tried to outsmart anybody. It was easier to outdummy them.”) endeared him to fans, although his mangling of the language was occasionally criticized.Â When the St. Louis Board of Education circulated a petition against Dean for his syntactical errors (“Sin tax? What will they think of next.”) he told them, “You learn ‘em English and I’ll learn ‘em baseball.”
Dizzy Dean died in 1974, and that year his uniform No. 17 was retired by St. Louis.