Fred Russell’s “Screwball Scrapbook”


Fred Russell and Grantland Rice

Beloved sportswriter Fred Russell was a Nashville treasure.  A protégé of Grantland Rice, Russell had a national following, too. Russell’s favorite features from his first fifteen years of sports writing are published in “I’ll Go Quietly” (1944, Nashville Banner). Rice wrote the introduction. The book covers the gamut of sports subjects from football to horse racing.

In the chapter named “Screwball Scrapbook”, sports quotes are highlighted, but of course my favorites are the ones about baseball:

  • Batter returning to bench after facing knuckle-ball pitcher: “That guy throws you a handful of fingers.”
  • Baseball scout describing a pitcher’s speed: “He could throw a strawberry through a battleship.”
  • In the early days of broadcasting a Brooklyn announcer, reporting that Babe Herman had popped to Don Hurst, voiced it: “Hoiman hersted to Hoist.”
  • Addressing a St. Louis civic club, Coach Mike Gonzales of the Cardinals said: “I hope to live long enough to spend the rest of my life here.”
  • Frank Frisch’s supreme insult: “You look like an umpire.”
  • Dazzy Vance, upon signing his contract: “I didn’t get as much as I expected, but it was more than I thought I would get.”
  • Jim Lindsey’s description of how he pitched to Paul Waner of the Pittsburgh Pirates: “I gave him my best pitch, then ran to back up third.”
  • Boots Poffenberger’s explanation of his 1940 pitching success at Nashville: “Clean living and a great second base combination.”

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