Baseball Quotes – A Great Part of the Game

Baseball quotes are as much a part of the game as the records, the rules, or the stories.  Many have even worked their way into our everyday lives!  I mean, everybody knows that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” and “close only counts in horseshoes and grenades!”

Where would we be without the famous Yogi Berra quotes or some of the great pearls of wisdom from Casey Stengel?  How about the sound bites of Dizzy Dean or the numerous nicknames from Chris Berman?  There are even some great umpire quotes that offer insights into the game from their point of view.

Memorable baseball quotes come in all shapes and sizes.

In fact, many of them don’t even come from the players.  In addition to classic quotes from managers or announcers, there are lots fans from Hollywood, Capitol Hill, and even the White House who are known for their quotes about baseball.

And baseball movie quotes can keep us entertained almost endlessly.

Want to narrow it down to the most famous baseball quotes that will live on longer than the legends who said them?

This shelf of the Baseball Vault is dedicated to the baseball quotes from those who know the game best.  The players who dirtied their uniforms between the foul lines have had a lot to say about the national pastime over the years.

This is baseball in their own words.

Baseball Quotes:  A

Hank Aaron

“I’ve tried a lot of things in the off-season, but the only thing I really know is baseball.”

“The pitcher has got only a ball.  I’ve got a bat.  So the percentage in weapons is in my favor and I let the fellow with the ball do the fretting.”

“I don’t see pitches down the middle anymore–not even in batting practice.”
– during the 1973 season

“I don’t want them to forget Ruth.  I just want them to remember me!”
– as he approached Ruth’s home run record

Joe Adcock

“Trying to sneak a pitch past Hank Aaron is like trying to sneak the sunrise past a rooster.”

Pete Alexander

“Less than a foot made the difference between a hero and a bum.”
– after striking out Tony Lazzeri in the 7th inning of game 7 of the 1926 World Series one pitch after hit a long foul ball into the stands

Dick Allen

“I wish they’d shut the gates and let us play ball with no press and no fans.”

“If a horse won’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it.”
– on artificial turf

Baseball Quotes:  B

Eddie Bane

“I think I throw the ball as hard as anyone.  The ball just doesn’t get there as fast.”

Ernie Banks

“The riches of the game are in the thrills, not the money.”

“It’s a great day for a ballgame.  Let’s play two.”

“Welcome to Wrigley Field.”
– singing to the crowd before games

“Spring training means flowers, people coming outdoors, sunshine, optimism, and baseball.  Spring training is a time to think about being young again.”

Bo Belinsky

“My only regret in life is that I can’t sit in the stands and watch me pitch.”

“I think I have gotten more publicity for doing less than any player who ever lived.”

“If I’d known I was gonna pitch a no-hitter today I would have gotten a haircut.”

“Philadelphia fans would boo funerals, an Easter egg hunt, a parade of armless war vets, and the Liberty Bell.”

“Some day, I would like to go up in the stands and boo some fans.”

Buddy Bell

“We’re not so bad as people thought, although that’s not saying much.”
– after his Rangers team’s good start in 1983

“Cool Papa” Bell

“You try to get that game out of your mind, but it never leaves you.”

Johnny Bench

“They’re like sleeping in a soft bed–easy to get into and hard to get out of.”
– on hitting slumps

Yogi Berra

“Baseball is ninety percent mental.  The other half is physical.”

“All pitchers are liars and crybabies.”

“Baseball is the champ of them all.  Like somebody said, the pay is good and the hours are short.”

“It ain’t like football.  You can’t make up no trick plays.”

“The other teams could make trouble for us if they win.”

“Third ain’t bad if nothin’ is hit to you.”

“You can’t win all of the time.  There are guys out there who are better than you.”

“We’re not exactly hitting the ball off the cover.”

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”
– why the Yankees lost the 1960 World Series to the Pirates

“It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
– on the 1973 pennant race

Craig Biggio

“He probably hurt it from having to signal ‘safe’ so many times.”
– on 2nd base umpire’s shoulder injury after he left game in which Astros and Pirates had 12 stolen bases

Ron Blomberg

“With Bobby Bonds in right field and three first basemen, I might as well donate my glove to charity.”
– baseball’s first designated hitter

Vida Blue

“When I’m throwing good, I don’t think there’s a man in the world who can hit me.”

“Sometimes in this game it’s as good to be lucky as it is to be good.”

Wade Boggs

“Everyone asks me ‘why’ about everything.  I have no idea.  I see it.  I swing.  I hit it.”

Barry Bonds

“He makes his living running fast, and I make mine running slow.”
– on Carl Lewis, and his own home run trot

“Walk him.”
– on Mark McGwire

Jim Bouton

“You see, you spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball, and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.”

“This winter I’m working out every day, throwing at a wall.  I’m 11-0 against the wall.”

“If you had a pill that would guarantee a pitcher 20 wins but might take five years off his life, he’d take it.”

George Brett

“I am not too serious about anything.  I believe you have to enjoy yourself to get the most out of your ability.”

“If a tie is like kissing your sister, losing is like kissing your grandmother with her teeth out.”

Lou Brock

“He seems to have an obligation to hit.”
– on Pete Rose

“If you aim to steal 30 or 40 bases a year, you do it by surprising the other side. But if your goal is 50 to 100 bases the element of surprise doesn’t matter.  You go even though they know you’re going to go.  Then each steal becomes a contest, matching your skills against theirs.”

“Your bat is your life.  It’s your weapon.  You don’t want to go into battle with anything that feels less than perfect.”

Jim Brosnan

“Nothing makes a pitcher feel more secure than the sight of his teammates circling the bases during a ball game.”

“Bullpen conversations cover the gambit of male bull sessions.  Sex, religion, politics, sex.  Full circle.  Occasionally, the game–or business–of baseball intrudes.”

“Buy a home in the town in which you play, and you’ll be traded before your first lawn blows away.”

Steve Busby

“You may go a long time without winning, but you never forget that scent.”

“Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it’s a summer game.  I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood.  I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people.”

Baseball Quotes:  C

Roy Campanella

“I never want to quit playing ball.  They’ll have to cut this uniform off me to get me out of it.”

“You have to have a lot of the little boy in you to play baseball for a living.”

“When you’re hitting, you hit, and when you’re not hitting–well, you just don’t hit.”

Jose Canseco

“If I played all of my career in the outfield, I’d have 500 homers and 600 errors.”

Rod Carew

“Hitting is an art, but not an exact science.”

Gary Carter

“If the Expos come up with an offer I can’t refuse, I wouldn’t turn it down.”

Joe Carter

“They don’t put spring training statistics on bubble gum cards.”

Roberto Clemente

“I want to be remembered as a ballplayer who gave all he had to give.”

Ty Cobb

“A ball bat is a wondrous weapon.”

“I may have been fierce, but never low or underhand.”

“Baseball was one hundred percent of my life.”

“The great American game should be an unrelenting war of nerves.”

Rocky Colavito

“You can’t tell how much spirit a team has until it starts losing.”

Roger Craig

“There are Opening Day pitchers, and pitchers who start on Opening Day.”

“Pitching is the cornerstone of most championship teams.”

Baseball Quotes:  D

Dizzy Dean

“It ain’t bragging if you can do it.”

“He once hit a ball between my legs so hard that my center fielder caught it on the fly backing up against the wall.”
– on Bill Terry

“The game was closer than the score indicated.”
– on a 1-0 game

“The doctors x-rayed my head and found nothing.”
– after getting hit in the head in the 1934 World Series

“There’ll never be another like me.”

Bill Dickey

“He hits a ball harder and farther than any man I ever saw.”
– on Babe Ruth

“He just went out and did his job every day.”
– on Lou Gehrig

“You guys got to see this kid we have in camp.  Out of Class C ball, hits both ways, 500 feet both ways.  You got to see him.”
– on Mickey Mantle in 1951

Joe DiMaggio

“I think there are some players who are born to play ball.”

“There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time.  I owe him my best.”

“You always get a special kick on opening day, no matter how many you go through.  You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid.  You think something wonderful is going to happen.”

Dave Dravecky

“All you have to do is pick up a baseball.  It begs to you:  throw me.  If you took a year to design an object to hurl, you’d end up with that little spheroid small enough to nestle in your fingers but big enough to have some heft, lighter than a rock but heavier than a hunk of wood.  Its even, neat stitching, laced into the leather’s slippery white surface, gives your fingers a purchase.  A baseball was made to throw.  It’s almost irresistible.”

Don Drysdale

“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.”

Baseball Quotes:  E

Dennis Eckersley

“It’s like the Kennedy assassination.  Everyone I see comes up and tells me where they were and what they were doing when Gibson hit that home run.”
– on Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run in game 1 of the 1988 World Series

Darrell Evans

“I’m not old.  I was just born before a lot of other people.”

Johnny Evers

“My favorite umpire is a dead one.”

Baseball Quotes:  F

Bob Feller

“I would rather beat the Yankees regularly than pitch a no-hit game.”

Carlton Fisk

“I feel like I’m turning my back on an old friend.”
– on returning to Fenway as a member of the White Sox after 10 years with the Red Sox

Whitey Ford

“The way to make coaches think you’re in shape in the spring is to get a tan.”

“You kind of took it for granted around the Yankees that there was always going to be baseball in October.”

Ray Fosse

“Well, that’s football.”
– after the famous All-Star Game collision with Pete Rose in 1970

Baseball Quotes:  G

Joe Garagiola

“Baseball is drama with an endless run and an ever-changing cast.”

“I went through life as a player to be named later.”

“One thing you learn as a Cubs fan:  When you bought your ticket, you could bank on seeing the bottom of the ninth.”

Steve Garvey

“Spring training is like a cat with nine lives.  A baseball player has X number of lives and each spring is the birth of a new life.”

“Mostly it’s the smells that take you back.  The smell of fresh-cut grass when you first walk out onto the field.  The smell of baseballs and the smell of powdery resin.”

Lou Gehrig

“There is no room in baseball for discrimination.  It is our national pastime and a game for all.”

“The ball player who loses his head, who can’t keep his cool, is worse than no ball player at all.”

“Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

Charlie Gehringer

“Us ball players do things backward.  First we play, then we retire and go to work.”

Bob Gibson

“Hitters aren’t stupid, but sometimes I think they believe they are smarter than they really are.”

“A wise man once said a baseball takes funny bounces.”

“It is not something I earned or acquired or bought.  It is a gift.  It is something that was given to me–just like the color of my skin.”

Josh Gibson

“A homer a day will boost my pay.”

Lefty Gomez

“I talk ’em out of hits.”

“I don’t want to throw him nothin’.  Maybe he’ll just get tired of waitin’ and leave.”
– on what he wanted to throw Jimmie Foxx

“He has muscles in his hair.”
– on Jimmie Foxx

“I know they’re loaded.  Did you think I thought they gave me an extra infield?”
– after his shortstop told him the bases were loaded

“Clean living, a fast outfield and Johnny Murphy.”
– on why he had success, referencing reliever who saved many of his games

“He’s temperamental all right.  But it’s 98 percent temper and 2 percent mental.”
– on a pitcher getting pulled from the game

“Charlie Gehringer is in a rut.  He hits .350 on opening day and stays there all season.”

“I’m throwing twice as hard but the ball is getting there half as fast.”

Hank Greenberg

“When you’re playing, awards don’t seem like much.  Then you get older and all of it becomes more precious.  It is nice to be remembered.”

Baseball Quotes:  H

Mike Hegan

“The right fielder has to be very careful when a fight breaks out and the benches empty.  He’s always got his back to the enemy bullpen.”

Dave Henderson

“I wasn’t in a slump.  I just wasn’t getting any hits.”

Rickey Henderson

“It gave me no chance.  He just blew it by me.  But it’s an honor.  I’ll have another paragraph in all the baseball books.  I’m already in the books three or four times.”
– on the fastball that made him Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout victim

Tommy Henrich

“Catching a fly ball is a pleasure, but knowing what to do with it after you catch it is a business.”

“He does everything better than anyone else.”
– on Joe DiMaggio

Keith Hernandez

“For me, this battle of wits and battle of talent between the pitcher and the hitter is baseball.  Everything else is secondary.”

Rogers Hornsby

“I don’t want to play golf.  When I hit a ball, I want someone else to go chase it.”

“Any ballplayer that don’t sign autographs for little kids ain’t American.  He’s a Communist.”

“It don’t make no difference where I go or what happens, so long as I can play the full nine.”

“I don’t like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the pitcher.”

“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball.  I’ll tell you what I do.  I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Waite Hoyt

“It’s great to be young and a Yankee.”

“The secret of success as a pitcher lies in getting a job with the Yankees.”

Al Hrabosky

“When I’m on the road, my greatest ambition is to get a standing boo.”

“A lot of guys even question my sanity.  But that’s good.  I want them to know I’ll do anything it takes to win.  I want them to think I’m crazy.”

Carl Hubbell

“The screwball’s an unnatural pitch.  Nature never intended a man to turn his hand like that throwing rocks at a bear.”

Ron Hunt

“Everything worthwhile in life is worth a price.  Some people give their bodies to science, I give mine to baseball.”
– after setting hit-by-pitch record in 1971

“I’m glad Baylor broke the record.  I was hoping to find someone dumber than me.”

Jim “Catfish” Hunter

“Thank you, God, for giving me strength and making me a ballplayer.”

“He’d give you the shirt off his back.  Of course, he’d call a press conference to announce it.”
– on Reggie Jackson

Baseball Quotes:  I

Monte Irvin

“Baseball has done more to move America in the right direction that all the professional patriots with all their cheap words.”

“It was his solemn duty to catch a ball that wasn’t in the stands.”
– on Willie Mays

Baseball Quotes:  J

Bo Jackson

“When people tell me I could be the best athlete there is, I just let it go in one ear and out the other.  There is always somebody out there who is better than you are.  Go ask Mike Tyson.”

“Baseball was fun when I was in college.  It’s my job now.  But I like my 3-11 shift.”

Reggie Jackson

“A baseball swing is a very finely tuned instrument.  It is repetition and more repetition, then a little more after that.”

“Fans don’t boo nobodies.”

“I don’t mind getting beaten, but I hate to lose.”

“Blind people come to the park just to listen to him pitch.”
– on Tom Seaver

“I didn’t come to New York to be a star.  I brought my star with me.”

“The balls aren’t the same balls, the bats aren’t the same length, and it’s further between bases.”
– on the playoffs

“October.  That’s when they pay off for playing ball.”

“The will to win is worthless if you don’t get paid for it.”

“The only way I’m going to win a Gold Glove is with a can of spray paint.”

“The clubhouse is one of the seductions of baseball, it is a place where you don’t have to grow up.”

Hughie Jennings

“I owe baseball more than the game owes me.  Keep it clean and honest.”

“Hit or get hit.”

Derek Jeter

“You fans should enjoy watching this team because you’re not going to see many like it.”
– on the 2000 New York Yankees

“Some of my teammates have kids, so I know it can be done.”

Tommy John

“All winter long, I can’t wait for baseball.  It gets you back to doing the stuff you love and makes you wish the youthfulness of life could stay with you forever.”

“When they operated, I told them to put in a Koufax fastball.  They did–but it was Mrs. Koufax’s.”

“It was after he hit it.”
– on whether a pitch that George Bell hit over the wall was out of the strike zone

Howard Johnson

“Maybe they should see if his body is corked.”
– on Bo Jackson

Walter Johnson

“You can’t hit what you can’t see.”
– on his fastball

“The balls Ruth hit got smaller quicker than anyone’s.”

Todd Jones

“I only pitch one inning.  So by the time they realize I don’t have anything, the inning’s over.”

Baseball Quotes:  K

Jim Kaat

“I’ll never be considered one of the all-time greats, maybe not even one of the all-time goods.  But I’m one of the all-time survivors.”

“You make a choice on how you want to leave the game.  You can go out on your terms or on baseball’s terms.  If you go out on your terms, you do it like Stargell did, or Bench.  But if you say, ‘I want to play this game as long as I can,’ then you understand you’re not going to leave on your own terms.”

Al Kaline

“I don’t deserve such a salary.  I didn’t have a good enough season last year.  This ball club has been so fair and decent to me that I’d prefer to have you give it to me when I rate it.”
– on being offered $100,000 by the Tigers in 1971

Rod Kanehl

“Baseball is a lot like life.  The line drives are caught, the squibbers go for base hits.  It’s an unfair game.”

“Wee” Willie Keeler

“Hit ’em where they ain’t.”
– on his place-hitting batting tactics

Mike “King” Kelly

“We had most of ’em whipped before we threw a ball.  They were scared to death.”
– on his Chicago White Stockings in 1882

“I thinks, me lads, this is me last slide.”
– the base-stealer on his deathbed in 1894

Steve Kemp

“It’s not easy to hit .215.  You have to be going terrible and have bad luck, too.”

Jim Kern

“I told him I wasn’t tired.  He told me, ‘No, but the outfielders sure are.'”
– once said when being pulled from a game for a reliever

Ralph Kiner

“Cadillacs are down at the end of the bat.”
– on why he didn’t choke up on the bat

“All of his saves have come during relief appearances.”
– on reliever Steve Bedrosian

“It’s like watching Mario Andretti park a car.”
– on Phil Neikro’s knuckleball

Jerry Koosman

“I used to be so bad my bat would close its eyes when I came up.”

Sandy Koufax

“A guy who throws what he intends to throw–that’s the definition of a good pitcher.”

“I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.”

“People who write about spring training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball.”

“Pitching is the art of instilling fear.”

Baseball Quotes:  L

Joe Lahoud

“It’s easy to stay in the majors for seven and a half years when you hit .300.  But when you hit .216, like me, it’s really an accomplishment.”

Don Larsen

“Sometimes a week might go by when I don’t think about that game, but I don’t remember when it happened last.”
– on his World Series perfect game

Vernon Law

“If you don’t play to win, why keep score?”

“You will never reach second base if you keep one foot on first base.”

Bill “Spaceman” Lee

“People are too hung up on winning.  I can get off on a really good helmet throw.”

“I’m mad at Hank for deciding to play one more season.  I threw him his last home run and thought I’d be remembered forever.  Now I’ll have to throw him another.”
– on Hank Aaron

Bob Lemon

“Baseball is a kid’s game that grown-ups only tend to screw up.”

Phil Linz

“You can’t get rich sitting on a bench–but I’m giving it a try.”

“Play me or trade me.”

Billy Loes

“I lost it in the sun.”
– on why he fumbled a ground ball

Dale Long

“You can shake a dozen glove men out of a tree, but the bat separates the men from the boys.”

Ted Lyons

“Musial’s batting stance looks like a small boy looking around a corner to see if the cops are coming.”

Baseball Quotes:  M

Garry Maddox

“With all the glamour attached to hitting the ball out of the park, it takes a lot of discipline to go up there and just try to get a base hit.”

“As I remember it, the bases were loaded.”
– recalling a 1971 grand slam

Greg Maddux

“You see it in the drive-through at Wendy’s.  Some people actually care about what they’re doing and some don’t.  I care.  Everybody cares, but it’s obvious some care a lot more than others.  It just seems like the ones that care the most are the ones that stay around the longest.”

Sal Maglie

“When I’m pitching I figure that plate is mine, and I don’t like anybody getting too close to it.”

“The second one lets the hitter know you meant the first one.”
– on knockdown pitches

Mickey Mantle

“I never knew how someone dying could say he was the luckiest man in the world.  But now I understand.”
– on Lou Gehrig’s and his own retirement

“They should have come out of the dugout on tippy-toes, holding hands and singing.”
– on the Oakland A’s uniforms in 1963

“I don’t care what the situation was, how high the stakes were–the bases could be loaded and the pennant riding on every pitch, it never bothered Whitey.  He pitched his game.  Cool.  Crafty.  Nerves of steel.”
– on Whitey Ford

Walter “Rabbit” Maranville

“Nobody gets a kick out of baseball anymore, because big salaries and the pension fund have made it more serious business than running a bank.”

Roger Maris

“A season’s a season.”
– on his 162-game season of 1961 versus Babe Ruth’s 154-game season of 1927

“As a ballplayer, I would be delighted to do it again.  As an individual, I doubt if I could possibly go through it again.”
– on his 1961 season in which he hit 61 home runs and broke Babe Ruth’s hallowed record

Eddie Mathews

“I’m just a small part of a wonderful game that is a tremendous part of America today.”

“It’s only a hitch when you’re in a slump.  When you’re hittin’ the ball, it’s called rhythm.”

Christy Mathewson

“A pitcher is not a ballplayer.”

“A boy cannot begin playing ball too early.  I might almost say that while he is still creeping on all fours he should have a bouncing rubber ball.”

“You must have an alibi to show why you lost.  If you haven’t one, you must fake one.  Your self-confidence must be maintained.”

Don Mattingly

“I like being close to the bats.”
– on moving his clubhouse locker

“His reputation preceded him before he got here.”
– on Dwight Gooden

John Mayberry

“If I’m breaking them, they’re dying in style.”
– on his numerous broken bats

Willie Mays

“They throw the ball, I hit it.  They hit the ball, I catch it.”
– his formula for his success

“I like to play happy.  Baseball is a fun game, and I love it.”

“Every time I look at my pocketbook, I see Jackie Robinson.”

“I think I was the best baseball player I ever saw.”

Tim McCarver

“Bob Gibson is the luckiest pitcher I ever saw.  He always pitches when the other team doesn’t score any runs.”

“A curve ball from a left-handed pitcher to a left-handed hitter is the most dangerous pitch there is.”

“When Steve and I die, we are going to be buried in the same cemetery, 60′ 6″ apart.”
– on Steve Carlton, after catching all of his games in 1977

Willie McCovey

“The professional athlete knows there’s always another game or another year coming up.  If he loses, he swallows the bitter pill and comes back.  It’s much harder for the fans.”

John McGraw

“There is but one game, and that game is baseball.”

“Curve balls in the dirt.”
– advice on pitching to Babe Ruth

“You think the greatest thing in the whole world would be to become a baseball player.  If the best thing has already happened, what’s next?”
– on his retirement

Tug McGraw

“Some days you tame the tiger, and some days the tiger has you for lunch.”

“I love the crowd.  Whenever I need something extra, I look up and there it is.”

“Ya gotta believe.”
– motto as the 1973 Mets rallied from 6th place to win the National League pennant

Fred Merkle

“I suppose that when I die, the epitaph on my tombstone will read ‘Here lies Bonehead Merkle’.  The tough part of it is that I can’t do things other fellows do without attracting any attention.  Little slips that would be excused in any other players are burned into me by crowds.  Of course, I make my mistakes with the rest, but I have to do double duty.  If any play I’m concerned in goes wrong, I’m the fellow that gets the blame, no matter where the thing went off the line.  I wish folks would forget.  But they never will.”
– on his 1908 gaffe in which, as a runner at first base, he ran off the field following a game-winning single without touching second base, causing the game to end in a tie and costing his Giants that year’s pennant to the opposing team, the Cubs

Johnny Mize

“He was the only guy I ever saw who could play all nine positions, run and was a switch hitter.  I thought I was havin’ a pretty good year myself down there and they were walkin’ him to get me.”
– on Martin Dihigo, Mize’s teammate in Santo Domingo winter ball in 1943

Rick Monday

“It actually giggles at you as it goes by.”
– on Phil Niekro’s knuckleball

Joe Morgan

“A good base stealer should make the whole infield jumpy.  Whether you steal or not, you’re changing the rhythm of the game.  If the pitcher is concerned about you, he isn’t concentrating enough on the batter.”

Jack Morris

“I like to embarrass players on other teams.  I like making them look bad because that’s what they’re trying to do to me.”

Bobby Murcer

“Trying to hit him is like trying to eat Jell-O with chopsticks.”
– on Phil Niekro and his knuckleball

Stan Musial

“The key to hitting for a high average is to relax, concentrate–and don’t hit the fly ball to center field.”

“I love to play this game of baseball.  I love putting on the uniform.”

“On an all-star team, I vote for players of one kind–those I enjoy watching the most the ball is hit or pitched in their direction.”

Baseball Quotes:  N

Graig Nettles

“When I was a little boy, I wanted to be a baseball player and join a circus.  With the Yankees I’ve accomplished both.”

Lou Novikoff

“I got such a good jump on the pitcher.”
– on why he stole third base with the bases loaded

Baseball Quotes:  O

John “Blue Moon” Odom

“We liked the idea that we were a family.  We could fight each other in the clubhouse and fight together outside the clubhouse.  That’s what made us good. You went to the ballpark never knowing what was going to happen.”
– on the 1970’s Oakland A’s

John Olerud

“I was told you’re nobody until you do, but I still don’t like it.”
– on being struck out by Nolan Ryan

Gene Oliver

“We hit the dry side of the ball.”
– on how to hit a spitball

Buck O’Neil

“Baseball is better than sex.  It is better than music, although I do believe jazz comes in a close second.  It does fill you up.”

“Waste no tears for me.  I didn’t come along too early.  I was right on time.”
– the great Negro League and baseball ambassador

“We played the game with a group of guys who had a passion for the game.  They had a passion for life and were a very special group.  The only reason we wanted to play in the other league was to prove to them we were as good or better than they were.  Other than that, don’t feel sorry for us.”

Jim O’Rourke

“There was no paraphernalia in the old days with which one could protect himself.  No mitts, no, not even gloves.  And masks?  Why, you would have been laughed off the diamond had you worn one behind the bat.  In the early days, the pitcher was only 50 feet away from the batsman, and there was no penalizing him if he hit you with the ball.”
– Hall of Famer, quoted in 1913

Claude Osteen

“Slapping a rattlesnake across the face with the back of your hand is safer than trying to fool Henry Aaron.”

Amos Otis

“I get on base by making good contact with the ball.  But whenever I hit a home run, I’m as surprised as everybody else.”

Mel Ott

“Every time I sign a ball, and there must have been thousands, I thank my luck that I wasn’t born Coveleskie, or Wambsganss, or Peckinpaugh.”

Baseball Quotes:  P

Satchel Paige

“Age is a question of mind over matter.  If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

“I never threw an illegal pitch.  The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain’t never been seen by this generation.”

“If a man can beat you, walk him.”

“Ain’t no man can avoid being born average.  But there ain’t no man got to be common.”

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?”
– when asked about his age

“Cool Papa Bell was so fast he could get out of bed, turn out the lights across the room, and be back in bed under the covers before the lights went out.”

“One day, when I was pitchin’ to Cool, he drilled one right through my legs and was hit in the back by his own ground ball when he slid into second.”

“We don’t stop playing because we get old.  We get old because we stop playing.”

“Man, what a pitcher’s graveyard.”
– on Fenway Park

“It got so I could nip frosting off a cake with my fastball.”

“You gotta keep the ball off the fat part of the bat.”

Jim Palmer

“I don’t want to win my 300th game while he’s still here.  He’d take credit for it.”
– on manager Earl Weaver

“Most pitchers are too smart to manage.”

Dave Parker

“September is pantyhose month.  No nonsense.”

Wes Parker

“What I wonder is, where are the guys who just love to play baseball?”

“Players believe the mystique about big league baseball probably more than kids or fans do.  It’s those two words that are not applied to any other sport–big league.”

Fred Patek

“A heck of a lot better than being the smallest player in the minors.”
– on being the smallest player in the majors

Gaylord Perry

“I reckon I tried everything on the old apple but salt and pepper and chocolate sauce topping.”

“Going back down to the minors is the toughest thing to handle in baseball.”

Johnny Pesky

“It’s such a simple game, and it’s so hard to play.”

Vada Pinson

“I’m going to get myself a corked bat and blast one out of here.  What’s the suspension for Old-Timers games, 10 years?”

Kirby Puckett

“At the first card show, I felt bad seeing those little kids paying to get my autograph.  It didn’t hit me right.  I felt it in the heart.  I made a vow that once the contract is over, I’m done.  I’ll still sign, but not for money.  I wouldn’t do it for a million dollars.”

“The better he gets, the better he’s going to be.”
– on Torii Hunter

Baseball Quotes:  Q

Dan Quisenberry

“Natural grass is a wonderful thing for little bugs and sinker ball pitchers.”

“A manager uses a relief pitcher like a six-shooter.  He fires until it’s empty and then takes the gun and throws it at the villain.”

“I found a delivery in my flaw.”

“I want to thank all the pitchers who couldn’t go nine innings, and manager Dick Howser, who wouldn’t let them.”
– after winning the Fireman of the Year award in 1982

“I’ve seen the future and it’s much like the present, only longer.”

“Reggie Jackson hit one off me that’s still burrowing its way to Los Angeles.”

“I don’t think there are any good uses for nuclear weapons, but then, this may be one.”
– on the Metrodome

Baseball Quotes:  R

Rafael Ramirez

“A walk won’t get you off the island.”
– on the free-swinging Dominican players

Harold “Pee Wee” Reese

“It didn’t matter to me whether he was black or green, he had a right to be there too.”
– on Jackie Robinson joining the Dodgers in 1947

Jerry Reuss

“If you think it’s an advantage, it is.  If the other teams think it is, it’s a bigger advantage.  Actually, it means nothing.”
– on experience in a pennant race

Bobby Richardson

“If baseball is a game of inches generally speaking, then it follows that it is specifically a game of split-seconds for second-basemen.  There is no position on a baseball team which places such a high premium on timing.”

Cal Ripken, Jr.

“I want people to think of me as an iron man.”

“If I had handpicked twelve off days every year, I guarantee you I’d hit ten or fifteen points higher.”

“Whether your name is Gehrig or Ripken, DiMaggio or Robinson, or that of some youngster who picks up his bat or puts on his glove–you are challenged by the game of baseball to do your very best day in and day out.  And that’s all I’ve ever tried to do.  Thank you.”
– conclusion to his speech following his 2,131st consecutive game in 1995

Mickey Rivers

“Man, it was tough.  The wind was blowing about 100 degrees.”

“To hit .300, score 100 runs and stay injury-prone.”
– on his goals for the 1983 season

Eppa Rixey

“They’re really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren’t they?”
– on his election to the Hall of Fame in 1963

Robin Roberts

“There is no doubt that someone who tries to throw a curve or pitch at an early age before he’s developed, before his hand is big enough to grip the ball correctly, will damage his arm.”

Brooks Robinson

“This is my best time of the year.  Heck, once the season starts, I go to work.”
– on spring training

“It’s a pretty sure thing that the player’s bat is what speaks loudest when it’s contact time.  But there are moments when the glove has the last word.”

Frank Robinson

“Close don’t count in baseball.  Close only counts in horseshoes and grenades.”

“Pitchers did me a favor when they knocked me down.  It made me more determined.  I wouldn’t let that pitcher get me out.  They say you can’t hit if you’re on your back.  But I didn’t hit on my back.  I got up.”

Jackie Robinson

“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me.  All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”

“Above anything else, I hate to lose.”

“Baseball is like a poker game.  Nobody wants to quit when he’s losing; nobody wants you to quit when you’re ahead.”

“How you played in yesterday’s game is all that counts.”

“Pop flies, in a sense, are just a diversion for a second-baseman.  Grounders are his stock in trade.”

Alex Rodriguez

“You kind of get tired of giving the other team credit.  At some point you’ve got to look in the mirror and say, ‘I sucked.'”
– after the Yankees lost to the Tigers in the playoffs

Charlie Root

“Baloney.  If he had pointed to the stands, he’d have gone down on his fanny.  I’d have loosened him up.  Nobody facing me would have gotten away with that.”
– on Babe Ruth’s called shot in the 1932 World Series

Pete Rose

“Playing baseball for a living is like having a license to steal.”

“I’d walk through hell in a gasoline suit to keep playing baseball.”

“I told him who to watch.  I said if you want to be a catcher, watch Johnny Bench. If you want to be a right-handed power hitter, watch Mike Schmidt.  If you just want to be a hitter, watch me.”
– on instructing his son about baseball

“I’m not bad.  I’m no Joe Morgan, but I’m pretty good for a white guy.”
– on his speed

“Brooks Robinson belongs in a higher league.”

“Gullett’s the only guy who can throw a baseball through a car wash and not get the ball wet.”
– on rookie pitcher Don Gullett in 1970

“I’m just like everybody else.  I have two arms, two legs, and 4,000 hits.”

“The hardest thing is not making the big leagues.  Rather, it is staying in the big leagues.”

Al Rosen

“The greatest thrill in the world is to end the game with a home run and watch everybody else walk off the field while you’re running the bases on air.”

Babe Ruth

“Baseball was, is and always will be to me the best game in the world.”

“I swing big, with everything I’ve got.  I hit big or I miss big.  I like to live as big as I can.”

“That last one sounded kind of high to me.”
– commenting to the umpire after not seeing a couple of fastballs

“What I am, what I have, what I am going to leave behind me–all this I owe to the game of baseball, without which I would have come out of St. Mary’s Industrial School in Baltimore a tailor–and a pretty bad one, at that.”

Nolan Ryan

“I can’t think of anything more humiliating that losing a ballgame to a guy who steals home on you.”

Baseball Quotes:  S

Deion Sanders

“There is always something you have to work on in baseball.  You never have control of the situation.  The pitcher does.”
– on why football was easier than baseball

Ron Santo

“Funny, but there is less pressure being three or four games behind in a pennant race than three or four ahead.  Last year, we kept looking back over our shoulder.”

Mike Schmidt

“Anytime you think you have the game conquered, the game will turn around and punch you right in the face.”

“I don’t think I can get into my deep inner thoughts about hitting.  It’s like talking about religion.”

“Pete Rose is the most likable arrogant person I’ve ever met.”

“I could ask the Phillies to keep me on to add to my statistics, but my love for the game won’t let me do that.”
– on his sudden retirement in 1989

Tom Seaver

“The good rising fastball is the best pitch in baseball.”

“My job isn’t to strike guys out.  It’s to get them out, sometimes by striking them out.”

“If you don’t think baseball is a big deal, don’t do it.  But if you do it, do it right.”

Art Shamsky

“I don’t know anything about baseball.  I just close my eyes and swing. Sometimes it hits the bat.”

Ted Simmons

“I always loved baseball most.  I really think I love it more all the time.  There’s no better game–I don’t care if it’s bridge or hockey or baseball or backgammon.”

“As far as I’m concerned, there is no greater pleasure in the world than walking up to the plate with men on base and knowing that you are feared.”

Bill “Moose” Skowron

“I don’t always swing at strikes.  I swing at the ball when it looks big.”

Enos Slaughter

“One year I hit .291 and had to take a salary cut.  If you hit .291 today, you’d own the franchise.”

“Anybody who can’t hustle every minute of the two hours it takes to play a ball game ought to get out of the game and stay out.”

Reggie Smith

“If I’m going to be struck out, that’s the way to go.  It may sound strange, but I actually enjoyed that.  It was like a surgeon’s knife–quick and painless.”
– on being struck out by Nolan Ryan

Duke Snider

“In the split second from the time the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand until it reaches the plate, you have to think about your stride, your hip action, your wrist action, determine how much, if any, the ball is going to break, and then decide whether to swing at it.”

“When they tore down Ebbets Field, they tore down a little piece of me.”

Warren Spahn

“Hitting is timing.  Pitching is upsetting timing.”

“A pitcher needs two pitches–one they’re looking for and one to cross them up.”

Tris Speaker

“It would be useless for any player to attempt to explain successful batting.”

“If you put a baseball and other toys in front of an American baby, he’ll pick up the baseball in preference to the others.  The American boy starts swinging the bat about as soon as he can lift one.”

“Ruth made a grave mistake when he gave up pitching.  Working once a week, he might have lasted a long time and become a great star.”
– on Babe Ruth in 1921

Eddie Stanky

“The ants get on base and the bulls knock ’em in.”

Willie Stargell

“Trying to hit him was like trying to drink coffee with a fork.”
– on Sandy Koufax

“They give you a round bat and they throw you a round ball and they tell you to hit it square.”

“I love September, especially when we’re in it.”

“The man says ‘play ball’ not ‘work ball,’ you know.”

Steve Stone

“Pitching is really just an internal struggle between the pitcher and his stuff.  If my curve ball is breaking and I’m throwing it where I want, then the batter is irrelevant.”

Dick Stuart

“One night in Pittsburgh, 30,000 fans gave me a standing ovation when I caught a hot dog wrapper on the fly.”
– Stuart was a notoriously bad fielder

Billy Sunday

“He works as noiselessly as a Corliss engine, makes hard plays easy, is great in a pinch and never gets cold feet.”
– on Nap Lajoie

Ichiro Suzuki

“Baseball is just baseball.”
– on whether he would have trouble adjusting from the Japanese league to the Major Leagues

“I haven’t done anything yet.”
– on refusing a cover story early in his first season with the Mariners

“I’m eating a lot more pizza for lunch than I’m used to.”
– on his biggest adjustment to America

Baseball Quotes:  T

Frank Tanana

“It requires a lot of skill and a lot of effort to throw a baseball to a certain location with something on it.  That’s the damn good thing about baseball–there’s so much effort and skill involved.  The hardest thing to do, they say, is to hit a baseball.  The reason it’s so hard is the people who throw it.”

Birdie Tebbetts

“I once said to Joe McCarthy, ‘If Ted Williams played regularly in Yankee Stadium, he’d surely break Babe Ruth’s record.’  All McCarthy said was, ‘Lou Gehrig didn’t,’ and it was a good answer.”

Bill Terry

“Is Brooklyn still in the league?”
– remark by the New York Giants first baseman during the off-season after the team’s 1933 World Series championship, adding another chapter to the clubs’ storied rivalry

“Baseball must be a great game to survive the fools who run it.”

“I played baseball because I could make more money doing that than I could doing anything else.”

Bobby Thomson

“I didn’t run around the bases–I rode around ’em on a cloud.  Wow, I still don’t know what time it is or where I am.  Frankly, I don’t care.”
– on his game-winning home run to win the 1951 National League pennant against the Brooklyn Dodgers

Manny Trillo

“The best thing about baseball is that you can do something about yesterday tomorrow.”

Baseball Quotes:  U

Bob Uecker

“Career highlights?  I had two.  I got an intentional walk from Sandy Koufax, and I got out of a rundown against the Mets.”

“I made a major contribution to the Cardinals’ pennant drive in 1964.  I got hepatitis.”

“The highlight of my baseball career came in Philadelphia’s Connie Mack Stadium when I saw a fan fall out of the upper deck.  When he got up and walked away the crowd booed.”

“The way to catch a knuckleball is to wait until the ball stops rolling and then to pick it up.”

“It was great.  I got to meet a lot of important people.  They all sit behind home plate.”
– on catching for knuckleball pitcher Phil Niekro

“When I looked to the third base coach for a sign, he turned his back on me.”

“I was offered a job as a coach–a second base coach.”

“When I went to bat with three men on and two out in the ninth, I looked over in the other team’s dugout, and they were in street clothes.”

Baseball Quotes:  V

Andy Van Slyke

“It seems like Satan has thrown the DH into our game.”

“If everyone were like him, I wouldn’t play.  I’d find a safer way to make a living.”
– on Mitch Williams, after striking out in an at-bat that saw two pitches narrowly miss his head

Dazzy Vance

“Pitchers aren’t ball players.”

Sandy Vance

“I put my whole heart and soul into baseball.  Then, one day, it was all over. When you leave baseball you leave part of your childhood behind.”

Bob Veale

“Good pitching always stops good hitting, and vice versa.”

Baseball Quotes:  W

Honus Wagner

“There ain’t much to being a ball player, if you’re a ball player.”

“In all my years of play, I never saw an ump deliberately make an unfair decision.  They really called them as they saw ’em.”

Frank White

“Always keep playing hard because you never know what will happen.”

Billy Williams

“A slump starts in your head and winds up in your stomach.  You know that eventually it will happen, and you begin to worry about it.  Then you know you’re in one, and it makes you sick.”

Mitch Williams

“I pitch like my hair’s on fire.”

Ted Williams

“A man has to have goals–for a day, for a lifetime–and that was mine, to have people say, ‘There goes Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.'”

“Hitting is fifty percent above the shoulders.”

“You have to hit the fastball to play in the big leagues.”

“Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”

“If there was ever a man born to be a hitter it was me.”

“I don’t care to be known as a .400 hitter with a lousy average of .39955.  If I’m going to be a .400 hitter, I want to have more than my toenails on the line.”
– after being offered the chance to sit out a double-header on the final day of the 1941 season to keep his .400 batting average

Maury Wills

“It’s just as important to know when not to go as it is to know when to go.”
– on base stealing

“It starts out like a baseball and when it gets to the plate it looks like a marble.”
– on Satchel Paige’s fastball

Hack Wilson

Dave Winfield

“These days baseball is different.  You come to spring training.  You get your legs ready, your arms loose, you agents ready, your lawyer lined up.”

Smokey Joe Wood

“I threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body.”

Early Wynn

“Somebody will have to come and tear the uniform off me, and the guy who comes better have help.”

“A pitcher has to look at the hitter as his mortal enemy.”

“A pitcher is only as good as his legs.”

“That space between the white lines–that’s my office.  That’s where I conduct my business.”

Jimmy Wynn

“Winning makes you happy all day.”

“There’s magic in the Dodger uniform.”

Baseball Quotes:  X, Y, & Z

Carl Yastrzemski

“And if I have my choice between a pennant and a triple crown, I’ll take the pennant every time.”

Cy Young

“A pitcher’s got to be good and he’s got to be lucky to get a no-hit game.”

These are the baseball quotes that draw us to the game.  They point out its simplicity and open our eyes to its enormous depth.

So if pictures are worth a thousand words, these words–these baseball quotes–are worth a thousand numbers.