Not Quite a Book Review: Sense & Nonsense

There is an interesting dynamic that happens when you officially combine two families – aside from too many names to remember – and it means you suddenly have close attachments to people you are just getting to know. For me, the benefit of gaining a husband-to-be also includes another grandfather, Thomas R. Smith, who lives much nearer than my own and is frighteningly similar in many ways to the one I still have through birth. Boppa and I often get the chance for private conversation and I think he enjoys chatting about his previous “life” in the world of agriculture & Ag. Finance. But I haven’t actually known him all that long so imagine my surprise when I found out that a few years ago, he put together a bunch of his favorite jokes, stories and quotes and published his own book!

Sense & Nonsense turned out to be a funny little distraction in the crazy times of new family interactions and considering that he devoted an entire chapter to athletics, I thought maybe I would take advantage of the work he already did in collecting all this amusement into one place and share some of them with you.

True Confessions of a Little League Manager, by Tom R. Smith

Three summers spent managing a Little League Baseball team have convinced me that baseball is America and America is baseball.

Baseball is most often pictured in the form of huge stadiums, wildly cheering fans, stern umpires and great stars. However, the baseball that is most near and dear to the hearts and homes of our nation is Little League baseball.

Little League baseball is people. It affects people in many ways.

Young, eager, red-blooded managers, through a wide variety of deteriorating processes, become shriveled, bald-headed, toothless little round gnomes.

Strangely enough, mama’s little darlings become baseball players.

Staid, conservative, businessman fathers react on occasion as snarling tigers.

Sweet, lovable young mothers, in the heat of the contest, become screaming maniacs.

I have the teeth marks to prove all these statements.

Little league baseball is boys like Jimmy Ryan. Jimmy joined our club without the benefit of a father with whom he could play catch. He had never learned how to throw. He was a “girl thrower,” or sometimes called a “chicken winger.”

Three weeks of practice did wonders for him.

He was playing center field during practice. After hitting him a fly, I felt perfectly secure in stooping to pick up another ball to hit. As I straightened up, his bull’s eye throw to the plate hit me square in the mouth. It left me with a mouthful of enamel and what is still described as a rather peculiar pucker.

Little league players come in all shapes and sizes. David Boon joined our team last year. He was shaped like a side view of a Log Cabin Syrup bottle. He had the biggest feet I have ever seen on such a small boy; and they turned outward at an unusual angle. One glance at the angle of his feet and the other boys nicknamed him “ten minutes to two.”

Due managerial deliberation placed him at second base. Any ball hit to him was funneled right into his glove by his feet.

Howie Roan, Jr. had a different problem. When excitement overcame him, he lost control of his bladder. I placed him in right field where control is less important than it is for a pitcher, for example. Control is more important at the ballpark though than it is on the farm. We kept him in a deep right field out near the fence all summer, so he could go by the boards in an emergency.

Baseball does teach sportsmanship. My two sons and I returned from a Saturday afternoon game. We had been soundly defeated by a score of 22 to 9. It was a close game until the last half of the first inning.

My wife was waiting on the patio and cheerfully called out, “how did your game come out?” She doesn’t go to the games anymore (she has the same problem as Howie Roan, Jr.)

Jeff, our 8 year old, answered her inquiry, “We Won!”

I immediately launched into a dissertation on the importance of learning to accept defeat and to lose gracefully. I pointed out that we wouldn’t always win and that we had in fact been soundly defeated.

When I finished, Jeff said, “We won.”

Again I explained that baseball was like life – a series of wins and losses and that we must learn to accept the bitter with the sweet.

Once more he spoke out, “we won!”

Again I repeated my lecture, as he turned on his heels and went out the back door.

As he went across the yard, the neighbor lady called to him, “Jeff, how did your game come out today?”

Without stopping or even turning his head, he responded, “We didn’t play today.”

Little League Lexicon:

Close game – 32-29

Heavy hitter – 1 for 13

Spiked – touched by a sneaker

Fans – Mothers knitting in the stands

Home run – single and three errors

Big hit – sixty feet, including the roll

Error – the boy assigned to first base

Bad hop – what any missed grounder took

Team bus – Pitcher’s father’s station wagon

Great arm – boy who carries equipment to the game

Manager – Father who gets home from work early

Double play – three runners on second base at the same time

Most valuable player – candy store owner’s son

Curve ball – what struck out batter says pitcher has

Catcher – a 50 pound boy in 60 pounds of equipment

Some great baseball quotes:

Don Liddle, New York Giants’ relief pitcher: He was summoned from the bullpen in the 1954 World Series to pitch to Vic Wertz of the Cleveland Indians, with the score tied in the eighth inning and two runners on. Wertz crushed a Liddle pitch, rocketing 460 yards in dead center field. Only at the Polo Grounds would such a drive not be a home run, and only the Giants young center fielder, Willie Mays, could have run I down and make perhaps the greatest catch in World Series history. Liddle, promptly replaced, strode into the dugout and said contentedly, “well, I got my man!”

Jerry Coleman: Pete Rose has 3000 hits and 3014 overall.

Unattributed: the umpires are rally flexing their fangs tonight.

George Bret: I’d like to strike oil and buy up all the newspapers, radio and TV stations in the country and fire all the jerks in the sports departments. (does that make you wonder if there would be anyone left?)

Christy Mathewson: Fans look at umpires as necessary evils to the luxury of baseball, like the odor that follows an automobile. (yeah, and some stink worse than others..)

Jimmie Durante:

The umpire was a runt of a fellow. An enormous batter was up and an equally large catcher was behind the plate. The count was one and one.The next pitch sizzled across the corner of the plate and the umpire called out, “Two!”

“Two what?” snarled the catcher.

“Yeah, two what?” growled the batter, raising his bat.

The umpire looked from one to the other and said, “Too close to tell!”

Scott Ostler, writer: George Brett may have had a bad year at the plate, but he has a healthy slugging percentage. So far this season (1981), he has swung at, slapped or broken one photographer, two sportswriters and two toilets.

Dan Quisenberry: My new contract with the San Francisco Giants is guaranteed through the year 2000 or until the last “Rocky” movie is made.

(and you can’t have a quotes section without some Yogi Berra contributions!)

When asked what time it was, Berra responded “You mean right now?”

Good pitching beats good hitting every time; and vice versa

Throw three fast balls, one up, one down and one the other way.

Don’t major in the minors.

The future ain’t what it used to be.


With apologies to my soon-to-be brother-in-law: An Arab sheik had three sons and he offered to give them each anything they wanted. The first chose a home on the Riviera, three wives and a billion dollars. The second asked for and received a castle in Spain, five wives and a billion dollars. The third, a rather simple fellow, said all he wanted was a Mickey Mouse outfit… so the sheik bought him the Chicago Cubs.

And lastly, a hockey joke because it was funny: A young player learned that he had been traded to Detroit. He told the press, “I don’t want to go there. All they have in that town are hookers and hockey players.” The owner at the same press conference said, “Young man, I’ll have you know that my wife came from Detroit.” The young player recovered miraculously, “Which team did she play for?”

Yes, folks, this is the kind of story I frequently hear at family dinners – I’m a lucky a girl. Btw, I basically only shared his offerings regarding baseball. If this were a blog about golf, you’d be rolling laughing because the section of the chapter which he follows suit had me practically peeing my pants.

2 Replies to “Not Quite a Book Review: Sense & Nonsense”

  1. “…section of the chapter which he follows suit had me practically peeing my pants.”

    Sounds to me like you need to be in deep RF with Howie Roan.

    Good stuff, Babs… and of course, you too, Mr. Smith.