Jockmouths

Reader JW in British Columbia wrote to remind me of Bill Lee, a former pitcher for the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos, who is, she says, her favorite "jockmouth." His most famous announcement was that he mixed marijuana in his pancake batter every morning.

Reggie Jackson was notorious. "I am the straw that stirs the drink," was his most famous quote. He backed his statements up on the field. Every one of his at bats was a major production. He could strike out--he did so thousands of times, in fact--but did so with such style and flair that watching him swing and miss was as much fun as seeing him hit the ball a ton.

Satchel Paige was probably the greatest pitcher who ever lived. But he was a wordsmith, too. "Don't look back, somethin might be gainin on you," was his most famous quote, but he has a book full of them. I went into Barnes and Noble today to find his book, but got caught reading another book which I won't name since I am giving it as a gift to somebody who reads this weblog!

Dizzy Dean went into broadcasting after his pitching career was ended at age 30 by a broken toe that healed wrong. The past tense of think was "thunk" to Dizzy. Past tense of slide? "Slud." Once he was so critical of the pitchers on the field for the St. Louis Browns (the team for which he did play-by-play) that their wives banded together and said if you're so smart, why don't you go out there and pitch?

The Browns management, eager to pump up attendance, brought old Dizzy out of retirement for one game, the last of the season. He hadn't thrown a ball in six years. He shut out the White Sox for four innings, got a base hit in his only at bat, and then pulled a hamstring, finally ending his career for good.

The attendance that day in St. Louis? Sixteen thousand. Doesn't sound like much, but considering that the game the day before drew 350 people, the promotion was a success.