With San Francisco rocking James Shields in the World Series opener Tuesday, obliterating both the Royals starter and the chance of drama, my mind drifted ... to possibly one of the greatest quotes ever uttered, four decades earlier.
In the first game of the 1965 Series, the Dodgers sent their second-best pitcher to the mound, Don Drysdale.
That’s because their top guy, Sandy Koufax, sat out the game for religious reasons; it fell on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year for Jewish people.
After watching his pitcher get lit up by the Twins, manager Walter Alston walked to the mound to replace Drysdale, who reportedly said, “I bet right now you wish I was Jewish, too.”
There’s some uncertainty whether Drysdale actually said that at the time, or if it was something that came up later and assigned to the mound conversation after the fact. We’ll never know for sure at this point since Drysdale, Alston and the other man present, catcher John Roseboro, are all dead.
But either way, it’s one of those quotes that makes life, and of course news stories, more entertaining and interesting.
Closer to home, an Albany City Council work sesson this past week had its tension broken by a deadpan gem from the city’s public works director; he was responding to a suggestion that the Albany-Santiam Canal, which Albany owns, be partially dammed in such a way to force Lebanon’s stormwater runoff back into that city.
Albany and Lebanon are in a dispute of sorts over maintenance costs for the canal, which provides Lebanon with drinking water and also receives the Lebanon stormwater that flows downstream to Albany. After listening patiently, the mildly exasperated public works chief, Mark Shepard, told the council that “we’re not able to control the canal so that it floods only in Lebanon.”
The calm, clear delivery of the pointed message reminded me of my high school baseball coach and what he’d told me, as a nervous sophomore, after I had dropped a towering popup a third base:
“Lundeberg, you looked like a drunk looking up to see which pigeon was going to s--- on your head.”
Speaking of high school athletics, I’m reminded of a story a friend once pointed me to after reading it on the website of an Oregon paper, thankfully not the Democrat-Herald or Gazette-Times.
The article noted a basketball player had scored 19 points in what for him represented a tour de force. As the story breathlessly explained:
The sensation of controlling a game was unforgettable, similar to another monumental moment in his young life.
“It felt like losing your virginity, honestly,” he said.
I imagined what would have happened to me had I included that quote in a story back in my sportswriting days. I could picture our then editor, Hasso Hering, walking toward me, sports page in hand, saying, “What the hell were you thinking?” I could also hear the calls from readers, see the letters to the editor, etc.
The controversy likely would’ve driven me from my post. And speaking of quotes and controversy ...
I once wrote a profile on a high school football coach who’d been at his school for something like 40 years.
As I interviewed the school’s athletic director, he surprisingly described the coach as “controversial,” a term I had never heard associated with the man.
“What do you mean by controversial?” I asked up, but the follow-up caused the AD to backpedal and say, “His record speaks for itself.”
“What’s his record?” I then asked.
“I have no idea,” the AD replied.
OK, it’s understandable the guy wouldn’t know the win-loss totals off the top of his head, but it was still pretty comical and definitely a quote, like comparatively few others, with staying power.
Follow Steve Lundeberg on Twitter, @AnyGivenLundy, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.