Monday, April 6, 2015

Me and Slim and the Major Leagues

It being the first day of the baseball season, I am giving in to a temptation that has bothered me for years and today posting a short story, partly based in fact, of a young boy, baseball, major leagues he never heard of and his introduction to segregation in the South.

Me and Slim and the Major Leagues
By Tim Jones
Copyright © 2015, Tim Jones
 Reflecting back on it many years later, I think Slim may have been the first African-American person I ever knew.  Of course then he wouldn't have been called African American or even black.  The polite term then was Negro with other, more disparaging words degenerating from there even in the North.
Our first conversation began with a challenge.  "Hey, boy, throw me that ball," he called across the swimming pool.  I turned to see this tall black man bending over to lay down the long handle of a skimming basket he had been using to lift debris from the guest pool.  All of 12 at the time, I had been tossing a baseball in the air and catching it, having a catch with myself since no one else seemed to want to play.  I threw the ball across that pool and it slapped into Slim's hand which  enveloped it, the white ball disappearing into a fist of black.
"Pretty good snap for a kid," he said and tossed it back, gently.  No slap in my mitt, just a gentle thud.  "Throw it again, hard," he said, holding his hand open to make a catcher's target.  I fired one at him without a windup.  For the instant the ball was in flight, I noticed the light color of the open palm target against the deep black of the man.  Again Slim let the ball slap his hand before it vanished inside his fist.  "That all you got?" he challenged, again.  "What position you play?"
At that time I had yet to specialize.  I had tried all the positions, but I wanted to pitch.
"So, you a pitcher, huh?"
I shook my head.
"Comeon ovah heyah, boy," he said.  "Don't want to shout."
So, I walked around the pool until I reached the end of the skimming handle. 
"Lemme mark off a pitcher's mound and a plate," Slim said, and stepping off the concrete apron around the pool, dragged a line in the coquina with his foot.  "You use that."  Then, in easy graceful strides he paced off the distance from a pitcher's mound to a home plate.  Again he drew in the loose fill, this time the outline of the base.  He turned, looked at me and then squatted, holding up those white palms again to make a target.  "Now give 'er a windup and let's see what you got."
I went into an exaggerated windup, lost control of where my arm went and winged a fastball over his head and into the palmetto surrounding the motel's inner courtyard. 
Slim stood up from his catcher's squat, looked at me wide-eyed.  "You might got some snap, but you ain't got no control," he said.  Then he turned and in a motion that flowed from a shamble to a walk to a run, but seemingly distended as if in slow motion, he went to the palmetto hedge, found the ball and threw it back.
"Try it again," he said, "only this time don't go flingin' your arms and legs all over the place....easy motion and make sure you know where you're lettin' the ball go."
I toned down my windup, lifted my arms over my head, stepped forward and threw at that palm again.  Slim had to reach for it but at least this time I threw it where he could catch it.
"You got to work on that windup, boy," he said.  "You got to throw from your feet, you got to let it flow, your whole body got to throw that pitch."  He tossed the ball back.
This time I tried to think feet, legs, shoulders, arm.  This time I didn't try to throw so hard either.  The ball went straight down the middle.
"Willie Mays woulda slapped that one into next year," Slim said as he tossed the ball back.
I threw him another and another and another, losing track of time.  With each pitch, Slim offered his criticism, his suggestions, his encouragement and his challenges, a constant flow of chatter in a dialect I sometimes could barely understand.  If I had thought about it then I would have realized, Slim was the only adult I had known to that time who would spend hours having a catch with me.  I found myself trying very hard to please him, to get the windup and the pitch just right, to hear him say, "Good one," or shake his bare hand as if the ball had hurt him. 
To this day I have no idea how long we played catch, that first day or in the ones that followed.  Time mattered little to me anyway on vacation and having someone to catch with made it more vacation than following my parents to historic sites and reptile farms.  After all this was before Disney World and all the other attractions began making Florida something other than a warm place with strange fish and wonderful beaches. 
"I got to do my work," Slim said finally, ending our first day.  "Might find me a mitt and look for you tomorrow though." 
"I have another one," I offered, "a catcher's mitt."   I did have it.  I had sneaked it into the car when we packed for the trip south, thinking catching was one of the positions I might like if I couldn't work up the courage to tell people I was a pitcher, and also thinking maybe somewhere along the way I would find someone who would be up for having a catch.  My father had bought the mitt and made a valiant attempt to join me in my baseball pursuits.  But, it seemed he always wanted to quit before I did and eventually we just sort of stopped doing it.  He didn't believe in the curve ball either and one day I bonked him with one.  For the most part that catcher's mitt collected dust in my bedroom closet.  But for whatever reason when I had been packing, I noticed it and took it along. 
"OK, you look for me about the same time tomorrow," Slim said, "and you bring that mitt along."
We had moved closer together and spoke in lower tones.  "Where you from, boy?"
"Buffalo," I said,  "Buffalo, New York."
"Up north," he said, only when he said it, the sound was "up nawth" and slow.  "I been up north a couple of times. What you gonna do now?
"I guess I'll go swimming."
"Oh, man, don't do no swimming," he said. 
I didn't say anything, trying to absorb that, figure out why this man would tell me not to go swimming of all things.
"That swimming, see, it stretches your muscles out, makes them long and stringy.  You gonna play baseball, you gotta have them bunched up muscles, hard and strong.   Lemme see your muscle."
I flexed my right arm and made as big a biceps as I could. 
"OOO  eeee," Slim exclaimed.  "Now there's a muscle."  He stretched a hand toward me to feel my biceps, but that hand never quite reached me.  It stopped in mid stretch.  Slim looked at me, then he looked around the courtyard.   Then he pulled the hand away and let it fall to his side.  "Gotta finish this pool, I guess," he said and turned toward his skimming basket.
I went back to our bungalow, pulled on swimming trunks and headed for the beach to find my family.  Despite Slim's admonition, I went into the water, too.  The clear green Gulf was so different from the cold water of Lake Erie where we swam back home.  But every time I went out to deeper water to swim, I noticed how conscious I was of stretching out my muscles as I stroked across the waves.  I could feel that growing bunched muscle in my throwing arm, turning stringy and useless in the warm water.
The next day I awoke with the sun and found myself peeking through the slats of the jalousie door to see if my catcher was around yet.  We all drove down the road a way for breakfast and when we returned, I saw Slim working the palmettos, pulling out weeds around the tourist plants.  He saw me and waved when we walked from the car into the bungalow and I waved back.  We exchanged no words.
My parents wanted to know who he was and I told them I thought he worked there and that he had played catch with me the day before and he seemed to know an awful lot about baseball and particularly pitching.  I wished I could have understood the glance they gave each other as they listened to my story.  I asked my dad if he would unlock the car trunk for me and I rummaged through it until I found the catcher's mitt behind the spare tire where I had stuffed it.  He asked what that was for and I told him Slim wanted me to bring it so we could have a catch.  This may have disappointed him, I don't know.  He may have felt replaced but at 12 I had no mind for the subtle nuances of father-son relationships.  All I knew was there was a guy over there who wanted to have a catch and I took both mitts and the ball and went across the courtyard to find Slim.
"Hardly looks like anybody used this mitt," Slim said examining the catcher's glove.
 I recalled the history of the glove, but just said,  "It's pretty new."
Slim pounded his fist in my father's catcher's mitt.  "Ball probbly bounce outta here half the time," he said, "but I'll try her out.  Git down there and throw me a couple.  Let's see what you got today."
On that first pitch I forgot everything from the day before and winged a fastball over his head.  He reached for it and it bounced off the padding of the new glove and into the palmetto again.  Slim went after it shaking his head.
"Boy, didn't you learn nothin' yesterday?"
That shamed me and I settled down.  I threw ball after ball into the strike zone after that, each one bringing a comment from Slim about how some hitter would have knocked that out to Ashland Avenue or on to the moon or clear up to Yonkers.  He always had a name for the guy who would have knocked the pitch out of the world, too, guys like Willie Mays and Monte Irvine and Luke Easter.  But, he also had some guys I had never heard of, Josh Gibson and Cool Papa Bell and more.  The ones I knew already were playing in the major leagues, the others I had no idea about at all.
"How come you know so much about baseball," I asked him at one point.
"I played, boy, I played with the best," he said.
I winged him a fastball.  "Where did you play?"
"All over," he started even before the ball reached him.  He nipped it one handed in that fat glove and tossed it back.  "Played up to Kansas City once, the Monarchs."
The Kansas City Monarchs, now to my mind Kansas City was a farm club for the New York Yankees.  "Monarchs" didn't seem right, either.
"You were in the Yankee farm system?" I asked, eyes probably wide.
I tried a curve ball.
"Wasn't no Yankee bush team then." he said reaching as the curve ball flew straight to his right.  "It was major league then."
He snapped the ball back to me, stinging my gloved hand.  I knew that message:  It was a way catchers had of letting the pitcher know they didn't like the pitch.
"What do you mean, major league.  There's no Kansas City team in the majors," I said reasonably sure of my facts.  I tried another curve ball.
"Was too," he said reaching again.  "What you tryin' to throw anyway.  You ain't tryin' no curve balls are you?"
Every Little League coach I'd ever had admonished us not to throw curve balls, something about injuring our arms while they were still growing.  I expected that lecture.  Slim stood up from his catcher's crouch and walked toward me. 
"You goin' to throw a curve ball, you better learn how," he said.  He held the ball in his big black hand and demonstrated the grip for a curve ball.  "You got to line your fingers along the laces," he said.  Then in an exaggerated motion he swung his arm imitating the pitching arc.  "When you git to here, you gotta snap that wrist.  What makes it curve is the spin on the ball.  The more spin, the more curve.  You want that ball to break down, too, down and away from a right hander if you throwin' right handed like you do.  You try it.....slow."
I took the ball and aligned my fingers with the laces.  This was exciting.  For all my  years of baseball, no one had ever taken the time to show me how to throw the curve.  I had tried to figure it out on my own and apparently hadn't done too well, except maybe for the time I bonked my father.  That ball had curved.  Here was someone who really knew how to throw one, teaching me.  Two fingers along the thinnest point of laces and ready, I noticed my fingers didn't go nearly as far around the ball as his.  They looked pale and small against the smudged, dirty white of the ball and its red laces.
"Don't know how you ever gonna throw no curve ball with them tiny fingers," he said.  I knew I would grow, just show me how to do it.
"OK, slow now, take your windup, bring your arm around and then, right there, snap your wrist.  You let the ball go right there."
Even in slow motion, when I snapped my wrist I couldn't hold onto the ball and it slammed into the dirt at our feet.
Slim shook his head.  "Whooo eeee.  Batter was in China he mighta took a swing at it.  Try it again, slow."
"When was Kansas City ever in the majors?" I asked him again.
Slim acted surprised.  "Boy you got a lot to learn about baseball. Kansas City Monarchs was a major league team maybe 20, 30 years.  I got there just to the end of it.  Played with some of the best of them."
"What did you play?
"I was like you, I was a pitcher.  What you think, a outfielder could show you pitchin'?"
"So who was on the Kansas City Monarchs?  Did they ever play in the World Series?"  I felt I was on pretty solid ground here. 
"Played in 'em.  Won 'em too."
"Against who?"  Now I had him.
"Last time was the Baltimore Elite Giants."
"Who?  The Giants are in New York and they aren't called 'elite' either."
"They was then and they played in Baltimore.  Sounds to me like you're missin' something in your education."
Now he had me confused. 
"You ever wonder where Jackie Robinson and Willie Mays and Monte Irvine and Luke Easter come from?"
No, I hadn't.  In silence I thought about how just a few years before, I knew, Jackie Robinson had broken the color barrier. By the time I became aware of baseball almost every team had black players, that was the norm.  Breaking the color barrier didn't mean all that much to me.  Apparently it did to Slim.
"They come from the Negro Leagues, boy," he said, "the Negro Leagues where they played the best baseball in America, bar none."
There was another major league.  Wow.  But, how?
"Back then they didn't let no Nigra folk play in the white leagues so we had our own.  We was good, too.  Most of those guys coulda played in the white leagues but they wasn't allowed to."
For some reason I picked up a mental image of Willie Mays making one of those over-the-shoulder catches in center field at the Polo Grounds and firing all the way to home plate, shouting "say, hey" as he did.  What if we never had gotten to see Willie Mays do that?
"Was Willie Mays in the Negro Leagues?" 
"They all was.  Heck, I pitched against Willie Mays. Knocked me clean out of the park, too."
"You pitched to Willie Mays?"  I was incredulous.
"Yup!  When he was a kid, too, when he still had it.  He was almost old when he got to the white majors.  Didn't have that many years left."
All of this overwhelmed me, almost too much to absorb.  "So, all these guys were playing in another league, a major league, until Jackie Robinson went to the Dodgers?"
"That's just the size of it," Slim said.   "I pitched against Satchel Paige once. Greatest pitcher ever was."
Satchel Paige.  Now there was a name I knew.  I had actually seen him pitch once, way late in his career when most people said he was in his 50s and pitching for the Cleveland Indians.  They played the Buffalo Bisons one year in old Offerman Stadium and Satchel Paige had pitched.  He didn't seem all that great then.  Of course, by some counts he could have been 60 years old.
"Come on let's see you learned nothin' about that curve ball," Slim challenged as he turned and walked back to his home plate.
I threw curve balls over his head.  I threw curve balls in the dirt.  I threw curve balls way off to his left and then way off to his right.  Maybe a couple actually went through the strike zone.  I was playing with a major leaguer, though I wasn't absolutely sure how major his league had been.  After all how could it be that great if I'd never heard of it before that day.  Still, I believed him.  He had known, had played with my heroes.  He actually pitched to Willie Mays.
In time, my mother interrupted this reverie to retrieve me.  I introduced her to Slim, proudly, the polite way she had taught me.  She came across a little distant but accepted the introduction.  She said she was nervous.  It turned out on a drive while I was playing baseball she had hit and killed an opossum in the road.
"Did you pick it up?" Slim asked.
My mother's eyebrows raised.
"Man, I'd jump off a freight train for a possum," he said.  And, with that he handed me the catcher's mitt, allowed that he had to get back to work and with a "nice to meetcha" walked away.
Over the next few days I learned more about the Negro Leagues and more about the curve ball.  We tried sliders, too, but my fingers were just too short.  Slim taught me how to throw the slow junk, too, the pitches no righteous, fast-ball 12-year-old would consider throwing: the change up and the slow curve.  He even showed me the screwball, that curve that cuts away from a left hander when thrown by a right hander.  He told me not to throw that one because it really would hurt my arm.  Of course, I threw it anyway and was severely chastised every time.  Secretly I was proud that he recognized it as a screwball at his end of the catch.  Those days I pitched to every player who had ever hit a ball in the Negro Leagues.  Slim knew all their names and how good they were and they would come to the plate where he squatted to catch another of my wild pitches.  He knew the book on the ones he'd pitched against.  "You pitch Monte Irvine around the knees," he'd say and I would try, most often hitting the dirt in front of the plate with those low pitches.  In those few days Slim and I beat the great teams, struck out the greatest hitters, won seven or eight world series and played in every all-star game, lost in our world of baseball oblivious for those couple of hours every day to what might have been going on in the rest of the world.
In time, of course, the shadow grew, that shadow that meant packing the car and beginning the long trip north.  Probably three or four days before our departure, I went with my family on our morning ritual excursion for breakfast, all the while anticipating my catch with Slim.  After breakfast, my father stopped at a service station for gas.  I had spotted a water fountain on the side of the building and told them I was going to get a drink.  Against the white tiled wall of the garage, I leaned over the fountain.
Instead of the shot of cold I expected, the water came out tepid, warmed my mouth.  Obviously, the fountain had been standing there in the Florida sun for hours.  What I'd hoped would be cooling and refreshing instead added to my discomfort with its warmth and then with its unfamiliar, maybe rusty flavor as well.  I pulled away from the stream of water.
When I looked up, water dripping from my chin, and saw the sign, it did not horrify me.  It read "Negroes Only."  What horrified me was the strength of the grip on my biceps, my skinny pitching arm with the muscles stretched out from swimming.  When I turned to face my assailant I looked straight into the face of my mother, my own Mother, free state Mother, one generation removed from immigration herself, and into those accusing, yet, fearful and vulnerable eyes.
She glared at me and then nervously looked around.  No one watched us.  "You aren't supposed to drink out of that fountain," she said, "Didn't you read the sign?"
I admitted that I hadn't seen the sign until afterward. 
"You have to be more careful," she said, still looking around.
That was when I saw the other fountain, the one below a similar sign that read "Whites only."  I stared at it and then at the one I had just used.  The idea of the two fountains confused me for a moment until I realized just why there were two and what two fountains meant and the weight of all that led to those two insignificant water fountains and their racist signs.  This was all new to me, the reality of it.  Previous to this the only distinction I had known was the separation of men's and women's restrooms.  All my little northern sensibilities blew up inside me.  Outraged, I turned, leaned over and took another sip from that tepid fountain, all the while expecting that the cleaner one for "Whites Only" probably also produced better tasting, colder water.
This time my mother did not release her grip.  She dragged me half running, half skipping back toward the car, dragged me by that pitching arm that should be protected from such things.  This time we noticed that two men standing near the sidewalk watching her drag me along to the car and most likely had seen me drink from the wrong fountain.
In the car she told my father what I had done.  He, too began to look around nervously.  I still wasn't sure I had done anything all that wrong.  After all, I was just a kid wanting a drink of water.  What actual harm could there be in that?
We pulled away and as we passed them I noticed the two men staring after us.  Not much had ever been said in any school I attended about this sort of thing.  I knew about slavery of course, but beyond that, beyond the Civil War, I had this idea that things were all right. 
"They make water fountains for white people," my father said.  "You have to use those.  Bathrooms, too."
"All I did was get a drink of water."
"It doesn't matter.  It is different here.  I hope no one saw you.  They can get nasty about that sort of thing here."
I wondered who "they" were.   The two men standing by the sidewalk?
"It's stupid."  There in two words at the tender age of 12 without realizing it, I had summarized all of Faulkner's work.
"Stupid or not, you watch out for those signs from now on.  And, don't call it stupid, it is just the way things are."
By the time we returned to the motel, my mind had reduced the incident to insignificance. Youth forgets quickly and in the forgetting, forgives.  After all, I was about to pitch in the World Series.
I found Slim and the game resumed.  I pitched to Josh Gibson that day.  I pitched to him all day because it took that long for Slim to tell me everything about a man I learned later may have been the greatest hitter ever to swing a bat.  Of course there was no doubt in Slim's mind, but I had been brought up with Babe Ruth and Ted Williams.  After Gibson had hit every pitch I threw anywhere near the strike zone, Slim let me know it was time to quit.  We vowed to meet the next day.  "You gonna pitch against Papa Bell, tomorrow, or maybe you pitch to Judy Johnson with Papa on base....that's where he was the most dangerous."
"Never you mind," he said and walked away.  This time I stood and watched him leave.  I recall wondering at the time how a man who had played in the major leagues, at least his major leagues, ended up pulling weeds and skimming trash out of swimming pools for a living.  That thought lingered through the rest of the afternoon while my father and I fished from a row boat in a calm lagoon.
Our trip to breakfast seemed to take so much longer than usual the next day .  I couldn't wait to get back and pitch to Judy Johnson with Papa Bell on base.  For one thing we hadn't gone into the stretch yet, the motion pitchers use with men on base so they can see the base runners and pick them off, particularly at first.  As quickly as the car stopped, I raced to gather the mitts and the ball and go look for Slim.  When I emerged from the bungalow I scanned the courtyard and pool area but he wasn't in sight.  I set the catcher's mitt on the trunk lid of our car and walked off tossing the ball in the air and catching it.  I walked all the way around the grounds, behind all the bungalows through all the passageways, I looked everywhere but I couldn't find him.  I went down the path to the beach and looked across it to the water and in both directions.  Sometimes he went down there to pick up trash from the sand, but he wasn't there either.  Finally I returned to our bungalow and for a while leaned against the car, tossing the ball into the air and catching it, figuring he would show up sooner or later.  After some period of time, it might have been ten minutes or it might have been an hour, I made the rounds again but Slim was nowhere to be found.  Neither were Judy Johnson or Papa Bell.  How could I find someone I'd never heard about before?  I wondered if Slim knew the book on Judy Johnson.
I didn't find Slim on my second tour, and I couldn't find anyone to ask about him either.  By the time I returned, my family was packing the car for an afternoon jaunt.  If I remember correctly, we went to a water show at some garden sort of place.  It blurs in my mind.  I do remember by the time we left the show, stopped for dinner and then returned to the motel, it had turned to evening, a beautiful sunset on the west coast of Florida and baseball had passed from possibility.
The next morning instead of returning after breakfast, we went on to some other attraction.  It seems to me we were near the winter headquarters of a circus and we went there and then spent the day in a city, Tampa possibly.  All I recall of that day was a thunder storm and so much rain fell that streets filled up to the tops of the curbs.  When the storm ended, the water disappeared just as quickly and we returned to the motel.  With still a little daylight left when we arrived, I grabbed my glove and went looking for Slim, but again he was nowhere around. 
When I came back to the bungalow, my parents must have noticed my disappointment.  They asked what was wrong and I told them I couldn't find Slim and I wanted to have a catch. 
"Even handymen get a day off once in a while," my father said.  And that was all they said.  "Even handymen get a day off once in a while."
But you don't take a day off from baseball.
That evening we packed our bags for the trip home.  We left fairly early in the morning.  I always wanted to sit in the front seat, but this day I sat in the back, watching out the back window, searching that courtyard for some sign of Slim.  For the third day, no Slim.  If only he could have been there just to say good bye, even just to wave, mostly to say something like, "Hey boy, you work on that curve," or "hey, boy, see you in the majors."  I watched out the back window of that 1955 Chevrolet  as it crunched the courtyard coquina to the highway and turned north, leaving the the motel to fade into the palm.

But Slim never showed up to wave.   For reasons I’m not sure I will ever understand totally, the first African American and the only major leaguer I ever met had disappeared.

Kings of the Hill: Baseball's Forgotten Men

Video at the Negro League Hall of Fame mentions Judy Johnson and Josh Gibson


  1. Tim, nice story, I'm surprised you didn't make a book, has a great objective with comparison to modern baseball. You should do it, kids today don't have the understanding of baseball history with the hardships and limitations of player equity. Thanks, Del

  2. Fascinating! As I was nearing the end, all the electricity in our entire part of town went out, so I had to come in to work to finish reading it. Love it, but kept hoping for the happy ending. Such is life. Thanks for sharing the story.
    I couldn't find a "Slim" on the right team, but did find Slim Jones. Could this be him? Also found this tiniest of youtube clips:


Interesting quotations

· " “Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” — Ernest Hemingway

When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth. Kurt Vonnegut

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a cheque, if you cashed the cheque and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” Stephen King

The thing about ignornance is, you don't have to remain ignorant. — me again"

Never debate with someone who gets ink by the barrel" — George Hayes, former Alaska Attorney General who died recently

My dear Mr. Frost: two roads never diverge in a yellow wood. Three roads meet there. — @Shakespeareon Twitter

"The mark of a great shiphandler is never getting into situations that require great shiphandling," Adm. Ernest King, USN

Me: Does the restaurant have cute waitresses?

My friend Gail: All waitresses are cute when you're hungry.

I'm not a writer, but sometimes I push around words to see what happens. – Scott Berry

“The rivers of Alaska are strewn with the bones of men who made but one mistake” - Fred McGarry, a Nushagak Trapper

Many people hear voices when no one is there. Some of them are called mad and are shut up in rooms where they stared at walls all day. Others are called writers and they do pretty much the same thing. – Meg Chittenden

A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity. – Franz Kafka

We are all immortal until the one day we are not. – me again

If the muse is late, start without her – Peter S. Beagle

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain Actually you could do the same thing with the word "really" as in "really cold."

If you are looking for an experience that will temper your vanity, this is it. There's no one to impress when you're alone on the trap line. – Michael Carey quoting his father's journal

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin

It’s nervous work. The state you need to write in is the state that others are paying large sums of money to get rid of. – Shirley Hazzard

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence -- Bertrand Russell

You know that I always just wanted to have a small ship to take stuff from a place that had a lot of that stuff to a place that did not have a lot of that stuff and so prosper.—Jackie Faber, “The Wake of the Lorelei Lee”

If you attack the arguer instead of the argument, you lose both

If an insurance company won’t pay for damages caused by an “act of God,” shouldn’t it then have to prove the existence of God? – I said that

I used to think getting old was about vanity—but actually it’s about losing people you love. Getting wrinkles is trivial. – Eugene O’Neill

German General to Swiss General: “You have only 500,000 men in your army; what would you do if I invaded with 1 million men?”

Swiss General: “Well, I suppose every one of my soldiers would need to fire twice.”

Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.—Gloria Steinem

Exceed your bandwidth—sign on the wall of the maintenance shop at the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center

One thing I do know, if you keep at it, you usually wind up getting something done.—Patricia Monaghan

Do you want to know what kind of person makes the best reporter? I’ll tell you. A borderline sociopath. Someone smart, inquisitive, stubborn, disorganized, chaotic, and in a perpetual state of simmering rage at the failings of the world.—Brett Arends

It is a very simple mind that only knows how to spell a word one way.—Andrew Jackson

3:30 is too late or too early to do anything—Rene Descartes

Everything is okay when it’s 50-below as long as everything is okay. – an Alaskan in Tom Walker’s “The Seventymile Kid”

You can have your own opinion but you can’t have your own science.—commenter arguing on a story about polar bears and global warming

He looks at three ex wives as a good start—TV police drama

Talkeetna: A friendly little drinking town with a climbing problem.—a handmade bumper sticker

“You’re either into the wall or into the show”—Marco Andretti on giving it all to qualify last at the 2011 Indy 500

Makeup is not for the faint of heart—the makeup guerrilla

“I’m going to relax in a very adult manner.”—Danica Patrick after sweating it out and qualifying half an hour before Andretti

“Asking Congress to come back is like asking a mugger to come back because he forgot your wallet.”—a roundtable participant on Fox of all places

As Republicans go further back in the conception process to define when life actually begins, I am beginning to think the eventual definition will be life begins in the beer I was drinking when I met her.—me again

Hunting is a “critical element for the long-term conservation of wood bison.”—a state department of Fish and Game official explaining why the state would not go along with a federal plan to reintroduce wood bison in Alaska because the agreement did not specifically allow hunting

Each day do something that won’t compute – anon

I can’t belive I still have to protest this shit – a sign carriend by an elderly woman at an Occupy demonstration

Life should be a little nuts or else it’s just a bunch of Thursdays strung together—Kevin Costner as Beau Burroughs in “Rumor has it”

You’re just a wanker whipping up fear —Irish President Michael D. Higgins to a tea party radio announcer

Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are—Michelle Obama

Things sports announcers say

"… there's a fearlessment about him …"

"He's got to have the lead if he's going to win this race."

"Kansas has always had the ability to score with the basketball."

"NFL to put computer chips in balls." Oh, that's gotta hurt.

"Now that you're in the finals you have to run the race that's going to get you on the podium."

"It's very important for both sides that they stay on their feet."

This is why you get to hate sportscasters. Kansas beats Texas for the first time since 1938. So the pundits open their segment with the question "let's talk about what went wrong." Wrong? Kansas WON a football game! That's what went RIGHT!

"I brought out the thermostat to show you how cold it is here." Points to a thermometer reading zero in Minneapolis.

"It's tough to win on the road when you turn the ball over." Oh, really? Like you can do all right if you turn the ball over playing at home?

Cliches so imbedded in sportscasters' minds they can't help themselves: "Minnesota fell from the ranks of the undefeated today." What ranks? They were the only undefeated team left.

A good one: A 5'10" player went up and caught a pass off a defensive back over six feet tall. The quote? "He's got some hops."

Best homonym of the day so far: "It's all tied. Alabama 34, Kentucky 3." Oh, Tide.

"Steve Hooker commentates on his Olympic pole vault gold medal." When "comments" just won't do.

"He's certainly capable of the top ten, maybe even higher than that."

"Atlanta is capable of doing what they're doing."

"Biyombo, one of seven kids from the Republic of Congo." In the NBA? In America? In his whole country?

"You can't come out and be aggressive but you can't come out and be unaggressive."

"They're gonna be in every game they play!"

"First you have to get two strikes on the hitter before you get the strikeout."

"The game ended in the final seconds." You have to wonder when the others ended or are they still going on?

How is a team down by one touchdown before the half "totally demoralized?"

"If they score runs they will win."

"I think the matchup is what it is"

After a play a Houston defender was on his knees, his head on the ground and his hand underneath him appeared to clutch a very sensitive part of the male anatomy. He rolled onto his back and quickly removed his hand. (Remember the old Cosby routine "you cannot touch certain parts of your body?") Finally they helped the guy to the sideline and then the replay was shown. In it the guy clearly took a hard knee between his thighs. As this was being shown, one of the announcers says, "It looks like he hurt his shoulder." The other agrees and then they both talk about how serious a shoulder injury can be. Were we watching the same game?

"Somebody is going to be the quarterback or we're going to see a new quarterback."

"If you're gonna play running back in the SEC you're gonna take hits."

"That was a playmaker making a play."

Best headlines ever

Sister hits moose on way to visit sister who hit moose.

Man loses his testicles after attempting to smoke weed through a SCUBA tank

Church Mutual Insurance won't cover Church's flood damage because it's 'an act of God'

Homicide victims rarely talk to police

Meerkat Expert Attacked Monkey Handler Over Love Affair With Llama Keeper

GOP congressman opposes gun control because gay marriage leads to bestiality

Owner of killer bear chokes to death on sex toy

Support for legalizing pot hits all-time high

Give me all your money or my penguin will explode

How zombie worms have sex in whale bones

Crocodile steals zoo worker's lawn mower

Woman shot by oven while trying to cook waffles

Nude beach blowjob jet ski fight leads to wife's death

Woman stabs husband with squirrel for not buying beer Christmas Eve