Mondays With Murray: Butkus Speaks: ‘Bleepandblurkandgetthefreakouttahere!’

Happy 77th birthday to Dick Butkus!

——

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 5, 1971, SPORTS

Copyright 1971/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Butkus Speaks: ‘Bleepandblurkandgetthefreakouttahere!’

  Dick Butkus is one of the leading pass receivers of the National Football League. He led all of the Chicago Bears’ wide receivers in passes caught Sunday against the Rams at the Coliseum. He caught two footballs on the fly and one on the ground.

  What makes Butkus so valuable is, he often catches a football before it is thrown. This is mondaysmurray2because, in addition to catching footballs, he also catches people who have them. He shakes them upside-down till they let go.

  Butkus has 19 lifetime receptions, which is remarkable since he wasn’t the primary receiver — or even the secondary — on any of them. Roman Gabriel completed 15 passes against the Bears on Sunday — four to Josephson, three to Snow, two each to Rentzel and Ellison, one to Smith, one to Masslowski and two to Butkus.

  Butkus recovered his 18th career fumble in the second quarter, and four plays later, the Bears had scored their only points of the day, three. He is the nearest thing to an offense the Chicago Bears have. Only the quarterback gets his hands on the football more than Dick Butkus.

  I thought I would go down to the locker room Sunday to interview this All-Pro wide receiver of the Bears, find out how he ran his patterns, what moves he put on the defenders (and one moving into Butkus’ zone hoping to catch a football has to be classified as a defender).

  I expected, of course, the conversation to be in sign language, and I brought a stalk of bananas, my bush hat, an elephant gun, and scribbled my will on the back of an envelope. It is inadvisable to approach Dick Butkus on the heels of a 17-2 loss in anything less than a reinforced Land Rover with a white hunter, armed, abroad.

  They say Fay Wray locks herself in her room when Butkus comes to town. And when he hits New York, the Army surrounds the Empire State Building while the Air Force buzzes it. Other players play in a face mask, with Butkus, it’s a muzzle.

  First of all, I’m happy to report it can talk. The rumor going around that Dick Butkus went through college on a vine, or that he was discovered by a scout for a Tarzan picture is not true. Neither is the report that he dresses by himself because his fur makes his roommate sneeze.

  I know it can talk because when I knocked on its dressing room it said clearly, “fuzzandblurkandgetthefreakouttahere!”

  I went over to safety man Ron Smith’s cubicle. “If I come flying out of there,” I said, pointing to Butkus’ locker, where shoulder pads, helmets, socks and cleated shoes came flying through the air accompanied by screams of rage, “will you call for a fair catch?”

  Smith grinned. “He’ll be all right as soon as he has his couple cups of blood,” he soothed. “You see, he hasn’t had his quarterback today yet.”

  “Does he shower or just lick himself clean?” I asked.

  “Listen,” said Smith, “I knew Butkus when I was a sophomore at Wisconsin and he was at Illinois and he was mean then and he was still mean as of a few minutes ago. He chews cement and spits out sidewalk.”

  I tapped on his cage again.   “Bleepandfreakandblurpandcrockandchickandcreep!” it roared. “Cantcha wait till I get dressed?”

  He came out of the shower a few minutes later. Mighty Joe Young would have run screaming up a tree. I gave a nervous laugh.

  “I didn’t recognize you without a quarterback under your arm,” I joked feebly. Butkus glared. He never smiles.

  “Listen, did you see what they’ve done out there with their little fairy plays? Those little end-around tippy toes, the chicken-trip stuff and then those twerps sneak back on you, those little elves give you a slip, and those bleep-censored officials say ‘one more word out of any of you and it’s 15.’ You call that football?! If I came out of here for a dance, I’d have worn pumps. Lemme comb my hair, fer cryin’ out loud!”

  A moment later, the defensive genius of the Chicago Bears, the last Monster of the Midway, stalked out with that rolling gait of his like a charging rhino. “Hey, Butkus!” yelled the crowd. “You got quarterback sticking to your whiskers.” “Hey Butkus, make yourself at home! Eat somebody!” “Hey, Butkus, do they let your cage on the airplane with the rest of the people?” “Hey, Butkus, do they bring your food on a plate or on a rope?”

  Butkus just glared. “Bleepandfleepandtweerpandfagandbagand,” he growled. “Girls’ football!”

  Someone nudged me in the ribs. “You’re lucky he’s in a good mood today,” he said.

-——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.

Mondays With Murray: Baseball is Erasing History

It’s Giving Tuesday on Dec. 3. Facebook and PayPal will match donations made on this day starting at 5 a.m. PST and ending when their $7 million in guaranteed donations runs out. Please consider making a donation via our Facebook Page or our PayPal Giving Fund Page. Every little bit helps and even more since it’s being matched by Facebook and PayPal.


Last weekend, for the first time in 35 years, the NFL suspended a player for betting on NFL games. CB Josh Shaw of the Arizona Cardinals won’t be eligible to petition for reinstatement until Feb. 15, 2021.

This got us thinking about another player who was caught betting on his sport . . . Pete Rose. The big difference is Shaw, unlike Rose, will be able to petition to get back in the game. Rose was never offered that luxury but rather was banned from baseball, and his inevitable induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, for life.

Maybe now, after 30 years (Rose was banned in August 1989), MLB will consider lifting his ban and letting the all-time hits leader into the hall that should have a wing named after him.

Please enjoy Jim Murray’s 1991 column headlined “Baseball Is Erasing History” about Rose’s many accomplishments that will go unrecognized in Cooperstown.

——

January 13, 1991, SPORTS

Copyright 1991/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Baseball Is Erasing History

  Pete Rose never got 4,256 hits. Pete Rose never got 746 doubles. Pete Rose never played in 3,562 big league baseball games. Pete Rose never played in six World Series, seven playoffs.

 Pete Rose never slid head first into home plate, scattering the catcher and the ball as he went. Pete Rose never ran out a base on balls.

  There’s no such person. Pete Rose never existed. He is a non-person. He is like one of those Soviet despots they expunge from the history books.

 Pete Rose never paced a dugout with that funny little gap-toothed grin, waving his mondaysmurray2Popeye arms and explaining with gestures and rolling slides in the dirt exactly how the game should be played.

  Pete Rose never played the game for 24 years with the little boy’s zeal and wonder until, if you closed your eyes, you could picture him with his cap on sideways, knickers falling down to his ankles and dragging a taped ball and busted bat behind him, looking for all the world like something that fell off Norman Rockwell’s easel.

  Must have been some other guy. Because Pete Rose ceased to exist on Thursday. He was erased from society by a group of judges they must have found in Salem.

 What are they trying to tell us? There was no Charlie Hustle? There was no swaggering, pixieish No. 14 who for two decades filled notebooks and headlines and seemed to epitomize all that was fine and right with the grand old game?

  There was no guy who spoke up for baseball and promoted it all he could, who never hid in the trainer’s room or ducked out a side door in defeat, who never just took the money and ran?

  There was no guy who, when the World Series in Boston was rained out four days out of five, came dutifully to a news conference to keep the scribes in print and the Series, which was to become one of the greatest ever played, alive?

  There was no such guy as the Reds’ third baseman in that Series who turned to a base runner from the other team and said, “Ain’t this great? Ain’t this fun?”

  Pete Rose was a figment of our imagination? He was a cartoon character like Yogi Bear?

  We’re supposed to forget he was ever real? We’re supposed to expunge all his records? Banish him to a corner of the sports world inhabited only by the Black Sox of 1919 and one or two other non-persons in the game?

 Get outta here! What for? Because he had a gambling addiction? Because he couldn’t pass a bookie parlor or a 9-5 shot or the overs-and-unders on the Bears’ games without wagering a few bob?

  What about the guys who had other addictions? The crowd that got caught in the cocaine busts in Pittsburgh? Hey, Babe Ruth had an addiction, too. He liked rye whiskey. And that was as illegal as cocaine in his time.

  I wish we could get some of those judges who voted to take Pete out of circulation to sit in on rape trails once in a while. I wish they could serve on some of those appellate court benches where they throw a serial killer’s conviction out because the cop interrogating him forgot to call him “sir” or didn’t have a warrant to take his knife away from him.

  I wish I could figure out why guys who kill eight nurses in five states get people holding candle vigils outside their prison cells while Pete Rose gets the book thrown at him.

  Do you want to stand there and tell me Pete Rose wasn’t good for baseball? Lord, he was baseball. He’s a menace to the game? Gimme a break!

  I’m a law-and-order man myself. I’ve been known to deplore the fact that society has lost its capacity for indignation, has shrunk from punishing its criminals.

  And I completely understand that you hold the highly successful to a different set of standards than the less privileged. You want to kick a president out for hushing up a robbery, that’s OK with me.

  But hey! Pete Rose didn’t go to Harvard. Pete Rose never took prelaw. Stop and think about it, Pete made a living in an industry where it’s not only all right to steal, it’s expected of you.

  Pete never discussed Stendhal. Pete never went to the opera. You don’t take Pete to Buckingham Palace. Pete played baseball for a living. It was probably that or mow lawns.

 A lot of people have sympathy for Shoeless Joe Jackson. He was even the hero of a movie, for cryin’ out loud!

  But wait a minute! Shoeless Joe Jackson was a crook. He was an accessory before the fact. He was part of a conspiracy to throw the World Series, no less. That’s major league trifling with the faith of a nation. Whether he threw the Series or not is beside the point. He agreed to do it. His silence made him a co-conspirator.

 If Pete threw ball games, why don’t they tell us about it? Why don’t they prove it? Ax murderers get a better day in court than he did.

  He couldn’t have thrown any World Series. His team won three of the six he appeared in.

  Oh, he cheated on his income tax? He didn’t declare some income he earned?

  Noooo! Who could believe a person would do that? Try to pay as little as they could to the government?

  He didn’t fill ballparks for all those years. He didn’t have the dirtiest uniform in the National League. He didn’t wisecrack around the batting cage each spring: “I’ll tell you three things gonna happen this summer — the grass gonna get green, the sun’s gonna get hot and Pete Rose is gonna get 200 hits.” He’d like to tell you: “I may not be the best hitter on this club, but I’m the best white hitter!”

 But he never did those things. They never happened. He never happened. Ty Cobb’s the only guy in history who ever got more than 4,000 hits. They’re going to take Pete Rose away.

  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to miss him.

-——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.

Mondays With Murray: DiMag Shuns Sainthood, Becomes Mortal Again

Today (Nov. 25) would have been Joe DiMaggio’s 105th birthday. In honor of Joltin’ Joe’s birthday, we bring you not only a Jim Murray column from Sept. 1, 1968, but also an excerpt from Jim Murray’s autobiography about the first time he met DiMaggio.

JIM MURRAY: Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe

Excerpt from JIM MURRAY: An Autobiography (Pages 19, 21-22)

   “I was, as it happened, the cinema correspondent for Time magazine at the time. This was a highly prized assignment in the company that was about as movie-struck as a high school sorority. You couldn’t walk the corridors of Time, Inc., at the time without tripping over 10 people who were sure they were going to be the next great film directors.

   “My job was to keep the cinema section apprised of the movements of the film industry and to pick out three or four cover stories a year — that is, pick a movie star, hopefully female, to put on the magazine’s cover and break up the monotony of the series of grim-visaged secretaries of state and military men who ordinarily glowered off its page and sold precious few copies on the newsstands. . . .

   “I pitched a story on Marilyn to the Magazine. They agreed. The studio saw a Time magazine story as an entrée to a bigger, picture story in the big-brother Life magazine, one of the most highly prized publicity plugs a film or film star could get.

   “My assignment was to do a story on her and explore her as a cover possibility later on. I took her to dinner on the Sunset Strip, to one of those mob-owned restaurants — Alan Dale, I believe, ran it — along the boulevard, after picking her up at her residential hotel on Olympic Boulevard.

   “As we dined and talked, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a famous former athlete come into the restaurant by a side door. He was escorted to a private dining area by the owner and a screen was placed around the table.

   “I knew the great Joe DiMaggio when I saw him and, later in the evening, when Marilyn leaned over and breathed, “Do you mind if you don’t take me home but I go home with a friend of mine?” I was ready. “Only if you introduce me to Joe DiMaggio first!”

——

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 1968, SPORTS

Copyright 1968/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

DiMag Shuns Sainthood, Becomes Mortal Again

  It was the sportswriter Bob Broeg who first surveyed Joe DiMaggio in the chorus-girl livery of Charley Finley’s Athletics — white shoes, green sleeves, gold stripes, white hat — and allowed dryly, “Seeing Joe in that is like seeing Santa Claus in a purple bikini.”

  The writer Charlie Einstein suggested the team be re-christened “Charley’s Aunts.” Another columnist suggested they dust off the old line, “What’s a nice girl like you doing mondaysmurray2in a place like this?” and apply it to Joe in the Oakland locker room. The implication was, Joe was playing the piano downstairs in the waterfront dance hall.

  He was even the subject of the leering Simon and Garfunkel lyrics for “The Graduate” mockingly linked with the infamous Mrs. Robinson. “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio/A nation turns its lonely eyes to you/Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!” And, later, “Jolting Joe has left and gone away/Hey!Hey!Hey!”

  For the baseball purist, this is like stoning a saint, painting black eyes on the Mona Lisa, putting cigarette ads over the Sistine Chapel, wrapping fish in a Vermeer. Like catching a statue in the park smoking or the Queen Mother playing darts in a pub in Soho.

  I don’t suppose anybody ever played the game of baseball with the pure grace and style of Joseph Paul DiMaggio. He excelled at the game with the kind of bored, disdainful perfection of a fencing master beset by clods, almost as if he were good in spite of himself. “He was like a dowager distributing baskets to the poor,” the late Tom Meany once told me. “He never looked like he was even SWEATING.”

  He was aristocracy on and off the field. He not only never got gravy on his tie, he never even got dirt on his uniform. They wrote songs about Joe DiMaggio for real in those days — not the sneering type but the genuine flag-wavers. He was an idol of the day of the magnitude of Charles Lindbergh — aloof, godlike. He never caught fly balls like a guy falling through a skylight. He was THERE when the ball came down. He stood at the plate as easily and naturally as a guy watching a sunset. Historians swear he went five years once without hitting anything but a line drive. Some of his hits went through the infield but many went through the infielders. Joe DiMaggio played baseball the way a fish swims, a bird flies or a lion bites. If anybody seemed suited to his environment it was J.P. DiMaggio.

  And yet Joe DiMaggio had ulcers. Joe DiMaggio got gray before he was 35. The pressure he never let anyone see would have broken windows for miles around if he ever let it out. He would get the bends if he left the locker room too early, if he didn’t adjust to different pressures on his way back to the street or Toots Shor’s.

  All New York expected of him was an annual Triple Crown, a pennant, world’s championship, impeccable behaviour on and off the field. He was a captive of his genius like all geniuses — the gift of God had a “Return in 60 days if not satisfied” clause.

  Joe left Baseball like a guy getting a parole. No one ever yelled “Ya, bum, ya!” at Joe DiMaggio. That was the trouble. He was untouchable, a holy man. As a result, he couldn’t wait to leave and he fled to where he could be “Hey, you” or “You’re away, you hacker” or even “Mr. DiMaggio.”

  Baseball dismissed him as “too aloof.” They took loudmouthed banjo hitters for managers, sweet-talking salesmen for the front office. They left Joe in his plaster cast with pigeons perched on his shoulders.

  Joe DiMaggio came to a personal decision this year. The statue left the pedestal, the portrait climbed down from the frame. He put the halo on backwards. He is sick of being an institution, the prisoner of his reputation.

  Charley O. Finley asked him to join the Oakland A’s and all baseball protested. Finley is a brawling, shoot-from-the-hip type of front office competitor, the kind of guy who realizes even the Emperor goes to the bathroom. And then there were, of course — ugh! — THOSE UNIFORMS! Joe DiMaggio would NEVER climb into one of those!

  Well, Joe fooled everybody with a nice neat bunt along the third-base line. He accepted Finley’s offer and, instead of climbing into the kind of uniform you can put a carnation in every day, he put on Finley’s circus suit and started to teach kids how to bat. Joe resigned as saint. And, if Simon and Garfunkel really want to find him, they might try Anaheim Stadium today or the opening of the World Series regional roundups next season. That just might be Joe carrying the lineup up to home plate if you can make him out through the glare of that suit.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.

Mondays With Murray: He Always Put His Best Leg Forward

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 1988, SPORTS

Copyright 1988/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

He Always Put His Best Leg Forward

  Will somebody please hold Merlin Olsen down for a few days? Tie him up if you have to.

  It might be a good idea to give every defensive lineman in the area rabies shots. Quarantine the Ram camp.

  Conrad Dobler is in town!

  You all remember Conrad Dobler? The guy with the Fu Manchu moustache and the antisocial instincts of a treed gorilla. Put an iron flowerpot on his head and a sabre in mondaysmurray2one hand and you got Conan the Barbarian. A one-man Mongol horde. Genghis Khan would hide.

  Conrad didn’t play football, he waged it. You couldn’t describe what he did as play. Not unless you figure the Indians played Custer.

  Dobler turned a line of scrimmage into a killing ground. He went about the game with the maniacal, suicidal fervor of one of those people who think you go right to heaven if you die in battle.

  Football is a brutal, violent game, but Dobler put another dimension to it. Strong men would go white at the lips, and veins would stand out in their necks when they spoke of Conrad Dobler. And those were just his teammates.

  People on other teams would have to be restrained from getting a gun and insisting no judge in the world would call it anything but justifiable homicide. Dobler wasn’t just hated, he was abhorred.

  He loved it.

  He tells his side of the story in a new book, “They Call Me Dirty” (Putnam), that he was in town to publicize this week.

  Dobler didn’t have a career, he had an apocalypse. Some guys put on their game face the morning of the game. Dobler was born with his. Some guys wear a mask to protect their face. Dobler wore his to protect the league.

  First of all, there was the leg whip. This was a little refinement of the art of football mayhem that can only be likened to bombing unarmed cities or stoning baby carriages.

  It calls for a lineman, if fooled or knocked out of his block, to whirl his body around with his legs out-thrust in such a way that they come blasting across the opposing lineman’s knees — or eyes or teeth — and do more or less permanent damage to his ability to make the tackle, or breathe normally for the rest of the game, for all of that.

  Dobler also had this little technique of jamming his fingertips or his knuckles into an opponent’s Adam’s apple, a little maneuver the Gestapo used to use to make you talk. Dobler’s victims sometimes weren’t able to talk for days. Even Mean Joe Greene used to say, “What’s the matter with you, Dobler?”

  Conrad Dobler was almost the Eddie Stanky of football. He wasn’t very big, he wasn’t very strong, he wasn’t very fast — all he could do was beat you. He always felt he had to get the first punch in. And the second and the third.

  Still, he was part of what was, certifiably, the best offensive line in the history of pro football. The St. Louis Cardinals of the ’70s, the cement blocks of football, with Dobler, Dan Dierdorf and Thomas Banks anchoring them, set the National Football League record by giving up only eight sacks one season, and one of those was a field-goal attempt that went sour on a bad snap from center. To give you an idea how impressive that was, the Raiders’ quarterback was sacked nine times last Sunday alone.

  Dobler’s assault was psychological as well as physical. “I used to find some reason to get mad at that guy across from me. He had freckles. He didn’t have freckles. He talked too much. He didn’t talk enough.

  “Then, I had to get him so mad at me, he’d forget to play football. He’d just want to kill me. He’d forget to get the quarterback.

  “I remember, once, I had Kenny Houston so mad at me on a sweep, he went right for me and let the ballcarrier go. He upended me. But the ballcarrier went in for a touchdown. He’d say, `Ha, Dobler! I got you that time!’ And I’d say, `You think so, donkey? Look in the end zone!’ “

  Dobler used to get Olsen, the Rams’ all-world defensive tackle, so mad that they would turn their game into Dempsey-Firpo. Years later, on one of his TV shows, Olsen had a scene that showed a tombstone in the old West. On it was the inscription: “Here lies Conrad Dobler. Gone but not forgiven.”

  Eventually, this notoriety boomeranged. Dobler had achieved such a reputation for kicking and biting — “Ever stop to wonder what fingers were doing inside my face mask?” — that the league not only outlawed the leg whip and the throat gouge, but Dobler became the marked man of football.

  “There’d be a play where another lineman would have part of another player’s shirt in his hand — and they would call the holding on me!” Dobler says.

  He was like the Mafia don who lives his life in the lenses of the FBI photographing his every move. He couldn’t function. “When you start stalling your team’s touchdown drives with phantom penalties, you’ve had it.”

  Still, Dobler figures he elevated one of the obscure positions in football into a semi-glamour role. “I needed an edge and I found it,” he says. “I played 10 years and on the best offensive line ever in football.”

  If he has any regrets, it’s that he never played in a Super Bowl — and that his outlaw reputation overshadowed his considerable talents as a player.

  “I want people to know I was the very best,” he says. “I want them to know I was a player of ability. I made teams good. And when I left them, they became losers again.”

  Sure, Conrad. Whatever you say. Now, can I have my hand back? And please put me down!

——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.

Mondays With Murray: You Want a Good Driver? Check with Roger Penske

Last week it was announced that the George family had sold the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and the Indy Car Grand Prix. The 2.5-mile oval in Speedway, Indiana, that has been in the Hulman-George family since 1945 now is owned by Roger Penske.

In honor of Veteran’s Day (Penske is a big supporter of veterans) and Penske’s purchase of the IMS, we bring you Jim Murray’s column from April 19, 1993.

Enjoy!

——

APRIL 19, 1993, SPORTS

Copyright 1993/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

You Want a Good Driver? Check With Roger Penske

  It used to be said, if you wanted a baseball player, you checked with Branch Rickey. He could spot a 20-game winner from the window of a moving train, so the legend went.

  If you wanted a football player, you went with Knute Rockne. He could get George Gipp out of a pool hall.

  Needing a fighter, you would go to Cus d’Amato and tell him whether you wanted a Patterson or a Mike Tyson.

  A Louis B. Mayer could find star quality in a guy parking cars at the studio lot.

  mondaysmurray2But if you want a race car driver — and ones named Unser or Andretti aren’t available — check with Roger Penske.

  Penske can spot a racing champion driving a cab. Or a truck. Look at the record: He found Mark Donohue, who was a graduate of Brown University, no less, and looked more like a refugee from an Ivy League faculty than a speed merchant. Penske won Indianapolis with him.

  Then, he sort of found Tom Sneva driving a school bus in Spokane, Wash. He was principal of a high school, for cryin’ out loud. Penske won Indianapolis with him.

  He found Rick Mears on a motorcycle in Colorado. Penske won four Indianapolises with him.

  None of those guys really fit the mold of the hard-bitten leadfoots of the roaring road. I mean, they didn’t remind you of A.J. Foyt till they hit Victory Lane. Neither did Danny Sullivan when he won for Roger at Indy. Danny had been a Manhattan playboy.

  So, when Penske signed a young Canadian chauffeur named Paul Tracy to replace the retiring Mears last year, a lot of people might have wondered what he saw in him. Except it would be like asking Rockne what in the world he saw in the Four Horsemen. Or what made Doc Kearns think Dempsey could fight.

  Paul did not fit your basic profile of an Indy prospect. He wore glasses for nearsightedness. He was so pale he could haunt a house. You could see through him. If he chewed gum, you could see it.

  But he had been driving cars since he was 6. His father would drop him off at a Go-Kart track with a box lunch and a can of gasoline and leave him there all day. He spent more time on wheels than entire teamster locals in eastern Canada.

  When he was 15, he was competing in world championship Kart races. As he got older he was around cars so much he almost needed a periodic oil change himself.

  Canadian kids are supposed to head for the ice as soon as they’re old enough to lace on skates. Paul Tracy preferred a garage to a rink, wheels to skates. He wanted to be an Unser, not a Gretzky.

  He won a Can-Am race when he was only 16, the youngest ever. He was winning races before his voice changed. He was driving cars when other kids hadn’t gotten off tricycles. He could drive better than he could walk.

  But there was nothing to suggest this was a future Foyt. Until Penske caught his act.

  Penske didn’t want to sit him on the pole at Indy right away. What he basically wanted, at first, was a kid with patience, common sense and an ability to stand boredom. All of these are in short supply along pit row, where the greatest collection of people in a hurry in the world can be found.

  Penske wanted to put his young discovery through a crucible of testing. This is a long, monotonous grind where you road-test cars, not by the hour but by the day. It’s a lonely boring way to spend a day. Or a week. Even a bus driver’s job is more fun than that of a racer, who has to tool a race car for interminable hours on an oval. He drives 500 miles and doesn’t go anywhere. He never sees another car.

  Tracy did it, day after dull day. And the day came when Penske finally decided he had paid his dues and put him in a race car.

  It’s too early to tell if he’s going to carry the Penske flag into further victories, but he got his first victory in an Indy car race on Sunday in the 19th Long Beach Toyota Grand Prix by more than 12 seconds over a former Indy winner, Bobby Rahal, and the current world Formula One champion driver, Nigel Mansell.

  Tracy was like a guy let out of the laboratory. He had company on the track. He even scrubbed wheels with Danny Sullivan. He had the thrill of several flat tires in traffic, and went through the crowded streets of Long Beach, instead of the wimpy surfaces of a test track.

  If you’ve ever looked at the family sedan gas gauge as it wavered perilously close to “E” and sucked it up and hoped it wouldn’t go on fumes as you were going through a rough stretch of road or neighborhood, you can sympathize with Driver Tracy.

  He had been exchanging leadership in the race with the great Mansell until he hit Lap 60 and pitted, surrendering the lead to the Briton. Tracy refuelled. He tailed the Mansell car until it needed to pit on Lap 73.

  Tracy had enough fuel for about 40 laps. He had 45 left in the 105-lap race. He put Mansell behind him and got ready.

  In that situation, you wait for the dreaded cough and sputter in the engine and the sudden loss of power and movement. It never came. Paul Tracy spun under his first Indy-car checkered flag.

  In a race that had Unsers and Andrettis and Formula One champions and six former Indy 500 winners, it came as a great surprise to a lot of people.

  But not to Roger Penske. He can pick a race driver out of a crowd shot at the Vatican at Easter. Winning with Paul Tracy is easy. He probably could have done it with Spencer.

——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.

Mondays With Murray: Zeke From Cabin Creek

Our 2019 Great Ones Award honoree, Jerry West, had some very kind words to say about Jim and the JMMF. He also expressed that he had one particular Jim Murray column that was his favorite. We call it Zeke From Cabin Creek and it is this week’s MWM classic.

Enjoy!

——

FEBRUARY 2, 1962, SPORTS

Copyright 1962/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Zeke From Cabin Creek

  MORGANTOWN, W.VA. — The state of West Virginia is America’s poorhouse, an area of such permanent arrested economic development that its only out is to declare war on the United States and try to lose.

  Even the Confederacy didn’t want it. Its oil fields were so shallow, they played out as soon as the first Texan stopped for gas. There are sections of the state where they don’t stare if you’ve got shoes — but they do if you’ve got laces in them.

  The other night, as the Lakers rolled in over ice-slick cobblestone streets, Rudy La Russo mondaysmurray2looked at the weathered brick buildings and shuddered. “I got to pick my wife up something from Morgantown,” he leered. “Why not Morgantown?” someone cracked.

  The people look like they’re on their way to a hard times party and maybe they are. The last time fresh money came in, a couple of guys were trying to buy a pass to the White House with it.

  He could be the best backcourt player in basketball history, but he looks as if he had just shinnied down a rope from the Mayo Clinic. He’s so thin you could mail him. If he didn’t enter with the rest of the basketball team, they’d make him sit in the children’s section.

  He’s had so many head colds he should play in a scarf and mustard plaster. His nose has been broken so many times he gets air by a detour. You can follow him home every night by a trail of Kleenexes. He sneezes more often than a TV cold tablet commercial. When the familiar question “which one’s West?” was asked at the game the other night, the laconic answer was “wait till the third period. He’ll be the one who looks like he died five minutes ago.”

   In a league largely populated by pachyderms, Jerry West frequently seems to disappear in mid floor like a small boy swallowed up in a forest. But when he comes out again, he usually has the ball — and often the basket.

  He has been injured so many times and gotten off the bench to play so well, the coach is afraid of the day he shows up healthy. “The night he comes on in crutches, the scoring record will disappear,” is his prediction.

  At the end of a season, Jerry is so under-weight he would have to carry lead to ride in the Kentucky Derby. But the other teams would just as soon see a live vampire in the rafters as see Jerry West go up for a jump shot.

  The jump shot itself is a relatively new technique in the still-infant sport of basketball but, as practised by West, it may be generations before it can be made any more perfect. West doesn’t simply soar with the ball — he seems to hang there like a kid who has leaped to a fence, chinned himself and hung over for a long look. It is the nearest thing to a defiance of the law of gravity in sports.

  In the rib-cracking game pro basketball has become, West cannot hope to crash through like an Elgin Baylor or Tom Heinsohn or other resident bull elephants. He zig-zags his way to the basket like a mosquito. It still counts two points. One night this year, they added up to 63, No other backcourt man ever racked up that many before and the chances are good only one will ever do it again — Jerry West.

  Around the league, basketball buffs are stunned at the improvement in West’s play. “He’s gorgeous,” Nick Kerbawy, ex-general manager of the Pistons, exclaimed spontaneously as West single-handedly tied the score against Detroit with 10 seconds to play and then ran away from them in overtime.

  In the West Virginia University field house the other night, where they consider Jerry West should have his own star in The Flag, the ancient field house almost tottered on its supports. He came off the bench, limping with a charley-horse on which half his weight in bandages had been wrapped, dumped in 46 points, brought the team from a 10-point deficit to a regulation tie and then ran Oscar Robertson ragged in the overtime to all but cinch a Laker conference championship.

  The adulation afterward embarrassed him to the point of donning a beard and dark glasses. Hot Rod Hundley, who would head for the Ed Sullivan Show on the next bus if he hit 46, took West with him to a university practice that afternoon. West hid in the shadows. “I don’t want the guys to think I’m trying to hog the spotlight,” he complained.

  In Morgantown where West, Hundley and other natural resources used to board with a lively, bouncy lady pharmacist, Mrs. Ann Dinardi, it was as if a small son had been found after all night in the swamp.

  Even the team instinctively protects its baby-faced assassin. “Zeke,” they call him, because the southern accent that comes out of his deviated septum and mouth from which teeth have been knocked in the backboard rumbles, sounds like something that would come from an Al Capp character with a pointed black hat and beard, squirrel rifle in hand and jug at his bare feet. “That ain’t Dixie, baby,” coos Hot Rod Hundley. “That’s hill-billy. Anybody in the league can understand old Zeke gets two free throws and the game ball.”

  In West Virginia, they understand Jerry West — and what he means to the game. They may not have seen many $20 bills, but they’ve seen basketball players. And Jerry West may be basketball’s basket-case in other parts of the country, but he’s basketball’s best down here. “Man and boy, I’ve seen ’em all,” boasted a state trooper as the crowd filed out still cheering the other night. “And l’il ole Jerry West’s the best there’s ever been. You watch what I say.”

——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.

Mondays With Murray: Ravages of Time

Jim Murray was born on Dec. 29, 1919, so we are preparing for what would have been his 100th birthday. Today we take you back 50 years to a column Jim wrote about turning 50.

Enjoy!

——

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 30, 1969, SPORTS

Copyright 1969/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Ravages of Time

   I woke up Monday morning and looked in the mirror — and an imposter winked back at me.

  That fellow in the mirror was 50 years old that day. Not me. I’m somewhere between 26 and 39.

  “Good morning, Mr. Hyde. How does it feel to be 50?” I asked him. I’ve been needling him for years.

  You see, this fella has been playing tricks on me for a long while. For instance, being mondaysmurray2young, I have a cast-iron stomach. HE gets gas on the stomach. Lately. When HE gets gas on the stomach, I belch.

  I never should have taken the old fool on. You know, I can hear perfectly well. The trouble is the sounds come through HIS ears. Therefore because of HIM, I find myself saying, “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.”

  He’s insidious, implacable. My enemy was in that mirror. It’s like fighting China. He’s got all the time in the world. One of these days, I’m going to be lying on my back in bed with a sawbones looking grave above me and people crying in the corner, and I’m gonna say, “Do me a favor. Go in and take a look at that old creep in the mirror and tell him to get a new boy. That I’m going over the wall. I’ve had enough of carrying his load.”

  You see, I know what he’s going to do to me. He’s already begun. You know that nice turn I used to take off a teed-up golf ball? Well, now it sounds like twigs snapping under an elephant. My backbone was as supple and gristly as a baby shark’s. Shucks, it was only three years ago, I was the best twister at the office party.

  Now, he’s got me taking a 3-wood off the tee.

  You remember how I used to fire those long, arching passes to the boy out in the lot? Well, he’s taken all the lube out of the bow joint. I throw underhanded like a girl now.

  My eyes are just as good as they ever were — 20/200. He has clouded them over for reading fine print. My belly used to be as flat as Texas. HE has put on weight. I would try to outwit him by jogging 10 miles or so every day, but the doctor tells me dead men sell no scales.

  The worst he’s done is corrupted my mind. I mean, I still have 31 of my 32 teeth (they got more gold in them than the city of Florence) and two million separate strands of hair on my head, but I’ve got HIS neck. It’s beginning to wattle.

  But the worst disease he carried is nostalgia. I mean, I’ve always been a guy who wanted news, the latest thing, the newest gimmick. But, you see, this old creep I took in out of the cold 49 years 11 months and 30 days ago is now using me like a ventriloquist. Someone says an electric toothbrush is a great invention and — in my voice — my enemy says, “Anybody who doesn’t have the strength to push a brush up and down his teeth should put them in a glass, anyway.”

  But, worst of all, youngsters say, “Boy, that Rod Carew is a great hitter!” and you find yourself screaming, “Rod Carew! I thought he was a coxswain! Why, with the ’27 Yankees, he’d have to take batting practice with the bullpen crew. The regulars would be afraid to pick up bad habits just watching him. Now, Babe Ruth, THERE was a hitter. Used to warm up against machine gun bullets. He could bat .360 against the Gatling gun.”

  “Paul Warfield is a great end,” they say. “Paul Warfield! I thought he was a baritone! He’d be in a taxi on the 1950 Rams. Now, Hirsch and Fears, THERE were ends. They were, you might say, THE ends.”

  Or, they may bring up some hot-shot young golfer. “Couldn’t shag for Hogan,” you sniff.

  Well, my enemy’s gums hurt. His hands shake, his blood is tired, and he wants to go put on something by Lawrence Welk, and he’s worried about sitting in a draft and wants to go sit in a blanket with Musterole and do crossword puzzles. Me, I want to go surfing.

  I suppose now I’ll go out and get hit on the head by some young punk that a young athlete like me would kick under the car if I didn’t have that coward at the control. He’s jealous is what he is. He’s been trying to turn my hair gray for 10 years, but my hair is younger than both of us. I think he’s got one week to give me rheumatism or they make him turn in his scythe. He keeps telling them I’m only Shangri-la on the outside, but inside, I look like Ptolemy. He ought to know. He’s in there. Not me.

——

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

———

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.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

——

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.