You’re going to get a kick out of several of these famous sports quotes from notable sportswriters through the ages. In this collection of the best of the best, we feature time-tested quotations from the likes of Jim Murray, Grantland Rice, and Red Smith. These sayings address baseball, basketball, boxing, football, golf, auto racing, horseracing, and more. Enjoy!
Jim Murray – Famous Sports Quotes
Jim Murray worked for the Los Angeles Times from 1961 until 1998. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, Murray also won the NSSA’s Sportswriter of the Year Award 14 times! Have a read through the quotes below and you’ll begin to understand why he was so successful.
1.) Merlin Olsen went swimming in Loch Ness and the monster got out.
2.) Show me a man who is a good loser and I’ll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss.
3.) He has a strike zone the size of Hitler’s heart.
4.) Gentlemen, start your coffins.
(On the Indy 500 Race)
5.) I’m thankful for Secretariat – but I wish he had to keep working for a living like the rest of us. Early retirement might be OK – but at age three?
6.) Hockey is the Bloody Mary of sports.
Best Jim Murray Quotations
7.) When Mike Tyson gets mad, you don’t need a referee, you need a priest.
8.) Baseball is a game where a curve is an optical illusion, a screwball can be a pitch or a person, stealing is legal and you can spit anywhere you like except in the umpire’s eye or on the ball.
9.) Nothing is so bad it can’t be made worse by firing the coach.
10.) Giving Magic the basketball is like giving Hitler an army, Jesse James a gang or Genghis Khan a horse.
11.) Sandy Koufax’s fastball was so fast, some batters started to swing while he was on his way to the mound.
12.) They still haven’t fixed the freeway. It’s Kentucky’s turn to use the cement mixer.
13.) Golf is the cruelest of sports. Like life, it’s unfair. It’s a harlot. A trollop. It leads you on. It never lives up to its promises. It’s not a sport, it’s bondage. An obsession. A boulevard of broken dreams. It plays with men. And runs off with the butcher.
14.) Willie Mays’ glove is where triples go to die.
Red Smith – Famous Sports Quotes
Noted sportswriter David Halberstam called Smith, “The greatest sportswriter of two eras.” Born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Smith is perhaps best known for his work with the New York Herald Tribune and the New York Times. Smith tended to write about baseball, football, boxing, and horseracing. Not a fan of basketball, he referred to it as “Whistle ball.”
15.) Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter, cut open a vein, and bleed.
16.) I like to get where the cabbage is cooking and catch the scents.
17.) Dying is no big deal; the least of us will manage it. Living is the trick.
18.) Baseball is a dull game only for those with dull minds.
19.) It is well known that the older a man grows, the faster he could run as a boy.
20.) I have known writers who paid no damned attention whatever to the rules of grammar and rhetoric and somehow made the language behave for them.
21.) Today’s game is always different from yesterday’s game.
22.) It was an ideal day for football – too cold for the spectators and too cold for the players.
23.) Any sportswriter who thinks the world is no bigger than the outfield fence in not only a bad citizen, but also a lousy sportswriter.
24.) Ninety feet between bases is perhaps as close as man has ever come to perfection.
Grantland Rice – Famous Sports Quotes
Grantland Rice was a 20th Century sportswriter noted for his elegant writing style. He may be best known for his biblical reference to the Four Horsemen of Notre Dame that was published in the New York Herald Tribune. Bill Simmons’ blog, Grantland, was named in his honor.
25.) I learned much more from defeat than I ever learned from winning.
26.) Eighteen holes of match play will teach you more about your foe than 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.
27.) Fate only picks on the cowards and quitters, So give ’em both barrels – and aim for the eyes.
28.) You are meant to play the ball as it lies, a fact that may help to touch on your own objective approach to life.
29.) Every father who ever lived has a dream for his son.
30.) It’s not whether you won or lost, but how many bad-beat stories you were able to tell.
31.) Kindness in ourselves is the honey that blunts the sting of unkindness in another.
32.) Eighteen holes of match play will teach you more about your foe than 18 years of dealing with him across a desk.
33.) Golf gives you an insight into human nature, your own as well as your opponent’s.
34.) For when the One Great Scorer comes To write against your name, He marks-not that you won or lost- But how you played the game.
Plimpton created a participatory style of sports journalism where he entered the ring or playing field to learn more about the sport he was covering. He was a third-string quarterback for the Detroit Lions in the preseason, pitched in an exhibition game against MLB all-stars, and climbed into the ring with Archie Moore, a boxing champion. His popular books showcased these experiences. He also wrote about the fictional pitcher, Sidd Finch, who could throw a fastball 168-miles-per-hour, that was published in Sports Illustrated as an April Fools joke.
35.) I never understood people who don’t have bookshelves.
36.) The pleasure of sport was so often the chance to indulge the cessation of time itself–the pitcher dawdling on the mound, the skier poised at the top of a mountain trail, the basketball player with the rough skin of the ball against his palm preparing for a foul shot, the tennis player at set point over his opponent–all of them savoring a moment before committing themselves to action.
37.) Besides, good swearing is used as a form of punctuation, not necessarily a response to pain or insult, and is utilized by experts to lend a sentence a certain zest, like a sprinkling of paprika.
38.) At the base of it was the urge, if you wanted to play football, to knock someone down, that was what the sport was all about, the will to win closely linked with contact.
Steve Rushin – Famous Sports Quotes
Married to basketball Hall-of-Famer Rebecca Lobo, Rushin won the 2005 National Sportswriter of the Year award. A popular back-of-the-magazine writer for Sports Illustrated, Rushin has written several books including the excellent Sting-Ray Afternoons and Nights in White Castle.
39.) Hype is supposed to overpromise and underdeliver, not overpromise and overdeliver. Usually, it doesn’t deliver at all – it takes your money and keeps your pizza.
40.) I’d happily cover the British Open every year until St. Andrews slides into the sea or Scotland runs out of beer, whichever happens first.
41.) Broadcasters calling a big game are often reminded to let the action breathe. A great moment of a televised game doesn’t need any narration, which is why the announcers – the good ones, anyway – shut up at the celebration and let the pictures do the talking.
42.) Yes, sports are very often very boring, which is good and necessary: If games were one long highlight, we wouldn’t have any highlights at all.
43.) Swish: A made basket. Swoosh: The Nike logo. Swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh, swish-swoosh: A thousand coaches in nylon tracksuits, walking through hotel lobbies at the Final Four.
Best Steve Rushin Sayings
44.) It’s one thing to wear jerseys at games, which fans have been doing in great numbers for 30 years, dressing as if they might be summoned from the stands on a moment’s notice to pinch-run. But those same jerseys are now omnipresent on airplanes, in restaurants, in doctor’s waiting rooms.
45.) Scarcity drives up demand, and the short golf season in Minnesota makes residents of that state mad for the sport. It’s the same reason ancient Scandinavians worshiped the sun: because they saw so little of it.
46.) With the exception of undertakers, athletes are the only professionals obliged to feign sorrow on a daily basis, pretending that every June baseball loss is a tragedy requiring library silence in the clubhouse.
47.) On its surface, the HBO documentary series ‘Hard Knocks,’ about the New York Jets’ training camp, resembles another HBO series, ‘The Sopranos.’ Both star the stout patriarch of a New Jersey ‘family’ preoccupied with food, intimidation, and florid profanity.
48.) My wife’s name, Rebecca Lobo, is on sandwiches and street signs in New England. It adorns the arena rafters at the University of Connecticut, where she first became a basketball star. Her high school in Massachusetts is on Rebecca Lobo Way, a nice trump card to play at reunions.
A sports columnist and short-story writer, Lardner won praise not only for his sports writing but also for his writing on other topics. Contemporaries like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway admired his work.
49.) The only real happiness a ballplayer has is when he is playing a ball game and accomplishes something he didn’t think he could do.
50.) Although he is a very poor fielder, he is a very poor hitter.
51.) There isn’t anything on earth as depressing as an old sportswriter.
Frank Deford – Famous Sports Quotes
A writer for Sports Illustrated and a commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition radio program, Deford was a pro’s pro. He won U.S. Sportswriter of the Year six times.
52.) I think at its best, sport does bring us together.
53.) One of the most immoral things is college football and basketball, where everybody is making money except the players.
54.) I believe that professional wrestling is clean and everything else in the world is fixed.
55.) To see the glory in sport, where somebody comes from behind and does something, sinks a shot in the last second or throws a touchdown pass or hits a home run, there is a beauty in that, and at the end of the day, that’s why we love sports more than anything else.
Roger Angell – Famous Baseball Quotes
An American essayist, Angell was a regular contributor to The New Yorker. He has written seven classic books on baseball including The Summer Game and Season Ticket.
56.) Baseball’s absolute unpredictability makes amateurs of us all.
57.) I felt what I almost always feel when I am watching a ballgame: Just for those two or three hours, there is really no place I would rather be.
58.) My favorite urban flower, the baseball box score.
59.) Since baseball time is measured only in outs, all you have to do is succeed utterly; keep hitting, keep the rally alive, and you have defeated time. You remain forever young. Sitting in the stands, we sense this, if only dimly. The players below us — Mays, DiMaggio, Ruth, Snodgrass — swim, and blur in memory, the ball floats over to Terry Turner, and the end of this game may never come.
60.) Hold a baseball in your hand … Feel the ball, turn it over in your hand; hold it across the seam or the other way, with the seam just to the side of your middle finger. Speculation stirs. You want to get outdoors and throw this spare and sensual object to somebody or, at the very least, watch somebody else throw it. The game has begun.
Damon Runyon – Famous Sports Quotes
Runyon was a newspaper writer and short-story writer. He was noted for writing about gangsters, gamblers and hustlers. These “Runyoneque” type characters were gleaned from his study of people in New York City where he worked. Two of his stories were the inspiration for the Guys and Dolls Broadway musical.
61.) Life is tough, and it’s really tough when you’re stupid.
62.) I long ago came to the conclusion that all life is 6 to 5 against.
63.) Failure is always present as an actor. I make my living by taking chances. If I’m not risking something, then I’m not doing my job, so I’m constantly failing. In fact, I’m trying to fail bigger. I try to focus on the positive, the moment, and try to realize where I’m at in an attempt to understand the failure.
64.) Always try to rub up against money, for if you rub up against money long enough, some of it may rub off on you.
65.) The race may not always be to the swift nor the victory to the strong, but that’s how you bet.
Dan Jenkins – Famous Golf Quotes
Jenkins is known for his irreverent prose and as the author of Semi-Tough, which took a hard look at professional football. He worked at Sports Illustrated for 25 years. For many of those years, Frank Deford was a colleague. His daughter, Sally Jenkins, is a sports columnist for the Washington Post.
66.) Every golfer has at least 14 enemies: his clubs.
67.) The devoted golfer is an anguished soul who has learned a lot about putting just as an avalanche victim has learned a lot about snow.
68.) Part of the charm of basketball lies in the fact that it’s a simple game to understand. Players race up and down a fairly small area indoors and stuff the ball into a ring with Madonna’s dress hanging on it.
69.) Golfers don’t fistfight. They cuss a bit. But they wouldn’t punch anything or anybody. They might hurt their hands and have to change their grip.
70.) Always keep in mind that if God didn’t want a man to have mulligans, golf balls wouldn’t come three to a sleeve.
71.) A good one iron shot is about as easy to come by as an understanding wife.
72.) There have been so many great moments in golf that you even forget some of them.
73.) The golf ball has no sense at all, which is why it has to be given stern lectures constantly, especially during the act of putting.
— — —
I hope you enjoyed these keen observations from some of the top sports writers over the last century.
— Mike O’Halloran
Mike is the author of three books on sports and is the editor of Sports Feel Good Stories.
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