This week we bring you one the most-requested of all Jim Murray columns. When asked what their favorite column is, most Jim Murray fans will reply that it is the 1979 classic titled headlined ‘If You’re Expecting One-Liners, Wait a Column.’ Since we are asking for your help — check our website right here — it’s only fitting that this week we give you what you’re always asking for.
So grab a tissue and enjoy this classic column from July 1, 1979.
JULY 1, 1979, SPORTS
Copyright 1979/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY
If You’re Expecting One-Liners, Wait a Column
OK, bang the drum slowly, professor. Muffle the cymbals. Kill the laugh track. You might say that Old Blue Eye is back. But that’s as funny as this is going to get.
I feel I owe my friends an explanation as to where I’ve been all these weeks. Believe me, I would rather have been in a press box.
I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, laughed a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.
We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.
You see, the friend I lost was my eye. My good eye. The other eye, the right one, we’ve been carrying for years. We just let him tag along like Don Quixote’s nag. It’s been a long time since he could read the number on a halfback or tell whether a ball was fair or foul or even which fighter was down.
So, one blue eye is missing and the other misses a lot.
So my best friend left me, at least temporarily, in a twilight world where it’s always 8 o’clock on a summer night.
He stole away like a thief in the night and he took a lot with him. But not everything. He left a lot of memories. He couldn’t take those with him. He just took the future with him and the present. He couldn’t take the past.
I don’t know why he had to go. I thought we were pals. I thought the things we did together we enjoyed doing together. Sure, we cried together. There were things to cry about.
But it was a long, good relationship, a happy one. It went all the way back to the days when we arranged all the marbles in a circle in the dirt in the lots in Connecticut. We played on-old-cat baseball. We saw curveballs together, trying to hit them or catch them. We looked through a catcher’s mask together. We were partners in every sense of the word.
He recorded the happy moments, the beauty of a Pacific sunset, snow-capped mountains. He allowed me to see most of the major sports events of our time. I suppose I should be grateful that he didn’t drift away when I was 12 or 15 or 29 but stuck around more than 50 years until we had a vault of memories. Still, I’m only human. I’d like to see again, if possible, Rocky Marciano with his nose bleeding, behind on points and the other guy coming.
I guess I would like to see a Reggie Jackson with the count 3 and 2 and the Series on the line, guessing fastball. I guess I’d like to see Rod Carew with men on first and second and no place to put him, and the pitcher wishing he were standing in the rain someplace, reluctant to let go of the ball.
I’d like to see Stan Musial crouched around a curveball one more time. I’d like to see Don Drysdale trying not to laugh as a young hitter came up with both feet in the bucket.
I’d like to see Sandy Koufax just once more facing Willie Mays with a no-hitter on the line. I’d like to see Maury Wills with a big lead against a pitcher with a good move. I’d like to see Roberto Clemente with the ball and a guy trying to go from first to third. I’d like to see Pete Rose sliding into home headfirst.
I’d like once more to see Henry Aaron standing there with that quiet bat, a study in deadliness. I’d like to see Bob Gibson scowling at a hitter as if he had some nerve just to pick up a bat. I’d like to see Elroy Hirsch going out for a long one from Bob Waterfield, Johnny Unitas in high-cuts picking apart a zone defense. I’d like to see Casey Stengel walking to the mound on his gnarled old legs to take out the pitcher, beckoning his gnarled old finger behind his back.
I’d like to see Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali giving a recital, a ballet, not a fight. Also, to be sure, I’d like to see a sky full of stars, moonlight on the water, and yes, the tips of a royal flush peeking out as I fan out a poker hand, and yes, a straight two-foot putt.
Come to think of it, I’m lucky. I saw all of those things. I see them yet.
Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times
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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation?
The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.
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A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.
Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole. An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.
Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.