Back
Verbal gaffes from the world of sports
Sep 25, 2015

From time to time, we all get our thoughts jumbled and we blurt out the most ridiculous things.  But it seems that the world of sports produces a higher percentage of such bloopers than most other forms of endeavour.

Maybe it’s the stress and intensity of sport or the heat-of-the-moment excitement that causes people on the field, golf course or in the broadcast booth to make those incredible verbal gaffes. Whatever the cause,  the results are pretty amusing.

For example:

• The late Howard Cosell, master of the language — most of the time — once paused during a sports broadcast and uttered this gem, “At this juncture, let us reflect back nostalgically on the past.” 

Very logical, if, perhaps, a little redundant.

• Danny Ozark, as manager of the Philadelphia Phillies, was asked what went wrong when his team blew a 15  game lead. He groped for an historical reflection, but blew that one too, when he replied, “Well, listen guys, you know, even Napoleon had his Watergate.”

• Tommy Bolt, a golf pro from an earlier era, was famous, or infamous, for his temper. But “Terrible Tommy” also became well-known for his assorted verbal “shanks.” Tommy was once asked about his lack of emotional control when he would throw a golf club after a particularly horrendous shot. Tommy recoiled at this affront and calmly pointed out that he was actually in control. “For example,” he said, “If you’re going to throw a club, it’s important to always throw it ahead of you — down the fairway — so you don’t waste energy going back to pick it up.”

• Asked about the re-scheduling of the Bob Hope Desert Classic, PGA official Labron Harris commented: “We think the tournament has a much better chance to be as good as always.”

• Philadelphia Eagles coach Joe Kuharich once observed that “trading quarterbacks is rare, but not unusual.”

• Jerry Coleman, broadcasting the San Diego Padres games, once described a play as follows: “And so he slides into second with a stand-up double!”

And then there’s always Yogi.

• Yogi Berra, who’s verbal gaffes are the benchmark by which all spoken blunders are measured, once declared that:  “Yankee Stadium is a historical landmine.”

On other occasions, Yogi remarked that: “Ninety-nine per cent of life is half mental,” “We made too many wrong mistakes,” “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him,” “You can observe a lot just by watching,” “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded,” “Little League is great — it keeps kids out of the house,” and, “A nickel ain’t worth a dime no more.”

Such Berra-isms are classics among sports bloopers. But it’s ironic to note that Yogi’s son, Dale, seemed on his way to being a chip off the old block when he was asked to compare himself to his Dad. Dale replied, “Well, I’d say that our similarities are different.”

There’s an interesting story about Yogi that exemplifies the old adage: “What goes around, comes around.” 

In 1964, Yogi was in his first year as manager of the Yankees. The team suffered an awful series of injuries, but, in spite of that, Yogi led the Yanks to the pennant, only to lose to the Cardinals in a tough seven-game World Series. 

And how did Yankee management reward Yogi? They fired him and hired Cardinals manager Johnny Keane. But  Yogi had the last laugh in the next season when Keane led the Yankees to where they hadn’t been in 40 years — a  sixth-place finish. As Yogi would say, “The game ain’t over ’til it’s over.”