BILLY BALL

Billy-Ball Daily / Bill Chuck (Billy-Ball his own self)

MISQUOTED?

Leo Durocher is widely known for the quote, “Nice guys finish last.” But the Brooklyn Dodgers didn’t exactly say it, according to Ralph Keyes, who examined the origins of 450 famous quotes in his new book “The Quote Verifier.”

In going through microfilm of the July, 1946 copies of New York’s Journal-American Keyes found that he league-leading Dodgers were about to play the seventh-place New York Giants, and a radio reporter asked Durocher why he couldn’t be nicer, the manager waved at the Giants’ dugout and said, “The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place.”

The next day, Frank Graham of the Journal-American wrote a column titled “Leo Doesn’t Like Nice Guys.” A reprint of the column in Baseball Digest said nice guys were in “last place,” instead of “seventh place.” Durocher’s words were subsequently compressed into the very quotable “Nice Guys Finish Last.”

“Verdict: Credit the concept to Durocher, its pithy version to the press,” writes Keyes,

Here’s one more – In 1920, when “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was being tried for his role in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, a sportswriter quoted a little boy as asking Jackson outside the courthouse, “It ain’t so, Joe, is it?” That quote was polished to “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

But other sportswriters present at the scene did not include any variation of the quote. And it’s not the type of quote most reporters would gloss over. Jackson, himself, always denied it happened, later calling it “the biggest joke of all.”

“Verdict: Joe said ‘it ain’t so’ was never said, and he probably was right,” Keyes writes.

Ozzie Guillen is hoping to hire Keyes to determine what he means as soon as he says it.

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