David Bruce: Be a Work of Art — Umpires, War


• Les Moss, a good man at repairing baseball gloves, once was given the glove of an opposing player, catcher Clint Courtney, to mend. He did so, but he also sewed some pieces of Limburger cheese into the glove. As the game wore on that day, the catcher’s mitt began to stink. Umpire Ed Hurley noticed the stink, and he asked Mr. Courtney, “Don’t you feel well?” Mr. Courtney said he felt fine, but the stink grew worse as the game continued, and eventually Umpire Hurley threw Mr. Courtney out of the game with a strict order to see a trainer about his “problem.

• In the minor leagues, an umpire named Patrick Shaner grew tired of criticism from the fans, so during a game he walked away from the plate, went up to the stands, and took a seat. After the next pitch was thrown, he turned toward an abusive fan and asked, “What do you think it was — a ball or a strike?” The fan replied, “I can’t tell — we’re too far away.” Umpire Shaner said, “You’re right. Now I’ll go back to my regular place of business.” The fan remained quiet for the rest of the game.

• In 1946, during a Red Sox game, umpire Red Jones began hearing insults coming from the Boston dugout. He threw two Red Sox players out of the game, but the same voice kept hurling insults at him, so he threw out five more Red Sox players. Still, the same voice hurled insults at him. Eventually, Mr. Jones threw everyone in the dugout out of the game — but the same voice kept insulting him. Later, he found out that a ventriloquist had been sitting behind the Red Sox dugout

• Baseball manager Ralph Houk enjoyed arguing with umpires. He once challenged rookie umpire Art Frantz in Mr. Frantz’ very first game as a major league umpire. He told Mr. Frantz, “No bush-league SOB is going to throw me out of the game,” and Mr. Frantz told him, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Ralph.”

• After Babe Ruth had stuck out, he started arguing with umpire Babe Tinelli, saying, “There’s 40,000 people here who know that last one was a ball, tomato head.” Mr. Tinelli replied, “Maybe so, but mine is the only opinion that counts.”


• This is an example of underground political humor from the time when Lithuania suffered from Russian rule: A Lithuanian farmer once found an ancient lamp in a field. Because it was dirty, he rubbed it — and a genie appeared and granted him three wishes. The Lithuanian thought a moment about his wishes, then said, “My first wish is for China to invade Lithuania. My second wish is for China to invade Lithuania. My third wish is for China to invade Lithuania.” The genie asked why the Lithuanian wanted China to invade Lithuania three times. The Lithuanian replied, “Because the Chinese Army will have to cross Russia six times.”

• While having dinner with President Abraham Lincoln, a man complained about how hard it would be to beat the Confederate soldiers in the Civil War: “You can’t do anything with them Southern fellows. If they get whipped, they’ll retreat to them Southern swamps and bayous along with the fishes and crocodiles. You haven’t got the fish-nets made that’ll catch them.” President Abraham Lincoln listened to the man, and then said, “We’ve got just the nets for traitors, in the bayous or anywhere.” “What kind of nets?” asked the man. President Lincoln replied, “Bayou-nets,” and speared a fishball with his fork.

• Many soldiers in South Vietnam were killed by North Vietnamese snipers. While in Vietnam, Colin Powell suggested to Captain Vo Cong Hieu that his soldiers wear bulletproof vests, but Captain Hieu wasn’t convinced that they would help. But on patrol a soldier wearing a bulletproof vest was hit by a sniper’s bullet that knocked him down. The man stood up, and Mr. Powell removed the flattened bullet from the vest and showed it to the other soldiers. After that vivid demonstration, more soldiers began to wear bulletproof vests.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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