The way we were

Published 6:36 am Saturday, November 4, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury


At a time not so long ago–when smiling was a frequent response to something said or done– we were more relaxed, feeling that much was right with the world. Sadly, smiles have pretty much abandoned faces around our shrinking world.

Today, if Abbott and Costello somehow reappeared on earth with their best verbal exchanges about “who’s on first,” there’d be quick searches for strait jackets instead of readings on laugh meters.

Most comments from “quotable” people, whether in the world of politics, business, sports or entertainment, are sharp-edged. Gentle souls seeking restorative humor from yesteryear are in short supply.

A single quote, forwarded via email by a friend from college days, affected me warmly. He’s long been known for his quick wit, as well as occasional acerbic tendencies. In the autumn of his life, he’s digging through historic files of humorous quotes that once caused the world to rock with laughter.

The one he sent is timely, since Americans whose interest in baseball shot upward in all time zones due to the intensity and excitement provided by the 2017 World Series.

A part of me is hesitant to share my friend’s “find”, since there’s clearly an envy factor to admit. Not only is he extremely sharp, he resides in swanky digs across the pond, unless he’s sailing the high seas. Whichever, his “location du jour” is such that he thumbs through files in utmost comfort. A drumroll, please, for this denizen of a high-end world, whose favorite sports quote was a sterling response from a baseball umpire about a century ago. It is credited to one Bill Klem, who worked a record 18 World Series.

He was behind the plate when a rookie pitcher complained about a pitch he thought to be a strike. Klem thought otherwise.

The batter was one Rogers Hornsby, thought by many baseball experts to be the best hitter of all time.

The “judge and jury” calling balls and strikes responded in classic fashion– his few words carefully chosen and rolling off his tongue into a vault of classic quotes worthy of “smile consideration” in 2017. He countered, “Son, when you throw a strike, Mr. Hornsby will let you know.” (Hornsby was a native of Winters, TX.)

My friend’s collection also includes current quotes.

An example is a response to recent allegations that NBA basketball king LeBron James is cheap.

My buddy agrees, figuring James would climb over a gate to save the hinges. Never mind he’s paid 32 million in US dollars annually, not counting millions more for endorsements. Still, he chooses a phone app with advertisements to save money.

I have long believed that the more eccentric people are, the more likely they are to be quotable. Near the top of the list of eccentric coaches was the late Rick Majerus, best known when he coached the Utah Utes to the 1996 NCAA tournament’s “final four” for a losing effort against powerful Indiana University coached by the fiery Bobby Knight.

Portly, bald and a hotel resident throughout his adult life, the bachelor’s wit was keen, sharp and usually self-effacing. When he had open-heart surgery, it required seven bypasses. He claimed “one for each food group.” He thought maybe his burial should be at the finish line of Churchill Downs, so he could be “run over one more time.” Pointing out that Indiana had four McDonald’s All-Americans, Majerus said four of his players were from towns so small, they didn’t even have a McDonald’s.

Majerus managed to keep life in perspective. Sadly, he died too soon at age 64, and left no clones. Too bad he and Klem (no relation to Red Skelton’s Klem Kadiddlehopper) left no clones–at least none that I know of. I’ll ask my friend; he’ll enlighten me after dressing me down for suggesting he ever has acerbic tendencies.


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Twitter: @donnewbury Facebook: don newbury.