The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

March 11, 2013

Sports films offer wealth of long-lasting quotations

By Jim Raykie
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---- — “I hit it again because that shot was a defining moment, and when a defining moment comes along, you define the moment, or the moment defines you.”

-- Roy McAvoy to his caddie in “Tin Cup”



My family thinks I’m crazy when I blurt out a quote from one of the numerous sports movies that I’ve watched.

As a movie buff, I’ve watched many others, of course, but the quotes from films like “Hoosiers” and “Miracle” are ones that stick.

I confess that my favorite non-sports quote is “So let it be written; so let it be done.” That famous line was uttered by Yul Brynner in 1956 playing Pharoah in “The Ten Commandments” and from time to time I’ll repeat it when the situation seems right.

The other day, several minutes after watching a showboat during an NCAA basketball game with my wife and daughter, I piped up enthusiastically:

“When you pull on that jersey, you represent yourself and your teammates. And the name on the front is a hell of alot more important than the one on the back!”

Thinking I should be committed as they looked bewildered at me, I reminded them that it was one of the classic lines from Coach Herb Brooks in the movie “Miracle” when he’s trying to carve an identity for his U.S. Olympic hockey team in 1980.

Another of the many insightful quotes from “Miracle” that makes me think about the late Coach Ed McCluskey and other great coaches comes from Brooks after his assistant questions the players he has selected for the team.

“I’m not looking for the best players, Craig. I’m looking for the right ones,” he deadpans.

Some of the best lines are the shortest ones - short on words, long on meaning. Like Jimmy Chitwood’s response to Coach Norman Dale during a timeout to set up the last shot in the state game during “Hoosiers” – “I’ll make it.” Or when Chitwood drops a bomb at a meeting of town residents hoping to oust the beleagured coach: “I play, Coach stays. He goes, I go.”

Manager Jimmy Dugan in “A League of Their Own,” played by Tom Hanks, was a wealth of great lines. One when he tries to talk star catcher Dottie Hinson out of quitting: “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

Another after he chastizes outfielder Evelyn Gardner for her folly in the field. “Are you crying? There's no crying! There’s no crying in baseball!”

“Major League” was a source of inspiration. I watch it most times when it’s on TV.

I’ve been known to recite from time to time the line by pitcher Eddie Harris to slugger Pedro Cerano ...“You trying to say Jesus Christ can’t hit a curve ball” ... “Juuuuuuust a bit outside” from Harry Doyle ... or Manager Lou Brown’s highlight of the film ... “Forget the curve ball Ricky. Give him the heater.” It’s one of my favorite lines when I watch coaches in any sport trying to out-think themselves.

How about more humor? Look no farther than a classic line by Walter (John Goodman) in “The Big Lebowski” when he tells his buddy: “Smokey, this is not ‘Nam. This is bowling. There are rules.” Or greenskeeper Carl Spackler in “Caddyshack” as he pretends to be hitting golf balls while swinging a sickle and destroying the flowers at the country club: “It looks like a mirac ... It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole! It’s in the hole!”

Who can forget Burgess Meredith as Rocky Balboa’s trainer when he encourages the raw, lazy pug from Philadelphia: “You're gonna eat lightning, and you're gonna crap thunder!” Or aged baseball player Roy Hobbs in “The Natural” when he finds that he has splintered the bat that he had whittled from a fallen tree as a child and tells the batboy: “”Pick me out a winner Bobby ...”

We have great quotes that are serious. One of the most famous, “Today, I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth,” by ALS-stricken Lou Gehrig in his last game in Yankee Stadium in “Pride of the Yankees.” Or Notre Dame football Coach Dan Devine in the film “Rudy” during a talk to his team: “No one, and I mean no one, comes into our house and pushes us around.”

I’ve got a lot more (just ask my family), but you’ve read enough. OK, maybe one more, but it won’t sit well in our politically correct society.

It’s from Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) in “Remembering the Titans:” “A water break? Water is for cowards.”



Jim Raykie is the executive editor of The Herald and writes this column on Mondays.