Thursday, December 23, 2010

From Leo's lip to your eyes

I had always believed former Dodgers/Giants manager Leo Durocher (pictured here in his usual pose -- arguing with an umpire) said "Nice guys finish last." Turns out that's not true. While reading James S. Hirsch's excellent biography Willie Mays, what really happened, according to Hirsch, was this: In 1951, the day after the Giants, then managed by Mel Ott, hit five home runs off Durocher's Dodgers, legendary broadcaster Red Barber approached Durocher and said "Those were real nice home runs."

"Oh, come on!" Durocher yelled (Durocher usually yelled). "They were pop flies!"

"Now, Leo, be a nice guy," Barber replied. "Be a nice guy and admit they were real nice home runs."

"Nice guy!" Durocher sneered. "Who wants to be a nice guy? Look over there at the Giants bench. Where would you find a nicer guy than Mel Ott? And where is he? In eighth place."

Now this was during the days when there were only eight teams in each league and I'm guessing as the story was retold Durocher became known for saying "Nice guys finish last." The next thing you know, someone will tell me Ingrid Bergman never said "Play it again, Sam."

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