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Mum Is Not the Word for Chattering Pirate

When the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andy Van Slyke talks, said the Sporting News’ 1989 baseball yearbook, people listen.

And boy, does he talk.

“When we have a closed-door meeting, his teammates want to tape his mouth shut,” Pirate catcher Mike LaValliere said. “He has to put his two cents in, and it isn’t worth two cents.”

You be the judge. Herewith, a sampling of one-liners delivered by the Pittsburgh center fielder:

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--"The biggest adjustment from the minor leagues to the major leagues is learning how to spend $45 in meal money a day.”

--On his colorblindness: “I hope they don’t ever come up with a green-and-red ball.”

--On his dyslexia: “Sometimes I think the count’s 2 and 1 when it’s 1 and 2. There are some games we actually lost that I thought we won.”

A little more: Van Slyke has a keen ear for doublespeak.

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Recently, he took exception to the safety announcements made on a Pirate flight. The flight attendant was reviewing procedures to be followed “in the unlikely event of a water landing,” when Van Slyke interrupted her.

“No one lands in the water,” he said. “They call it a crash.

“And what about ‘preboarding?’ Does that mean you get on before you get on?”

Trivia: Name the only team in NHL history to qualify for the playoffs in each of its first 10 years in the league.

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Horsing around: Daily Racing Form columnist Joe Hirsch has a new book out about Horatio Luro, the trainer of Kentucky Derby winners Decidedly (1962) and Northern Dancer (1964).

“The Grand Senor,” as Hirsch titled the book, was well-known for his quick wit.

Once, when told by a writer that the muddy track at Churchill Downs “had a good bottom,” Luro countered by saying, “That’s all well and good . . . but the trouble is, my horse, he has to run on the top.”

That mature look: Whitey Herzog, who is 57, was asked a while back whether he’d like to manage until he’s 80, Sparky Anderson’s announced goal.

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“Why would I want to do that?” Herzog replied. “He (Anderson) is 55 now and he already looks 80.”

Late word from Seattle: Johnny Kerr, formerly coach of the Chicago Bulls and now one of the team’s broadcasters, played in the first National Collegiate Athletic Assn. basketball semifinals to be referred to as the Final Four.

That was with Illinois in 1952, when the tournament was played in Seattle.

“I recall we lost by two to St. John’s (in the semifinals, 61-59). I was named to the all-tournament team, but I didn’t even find out until about four years ago. That’s how big it was. No big media and interviews. We just played and went home.”

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The spring of ’39: Fifty years ago today, the Boston Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup in five games in the first best-of-seven series.

Par for the course: “It’s ridiculous the way they are building courses these days. Every time I turn on a TV set, I see nothing but ponds and lakes, island greens, rivers running beside fairways that are as narrow as a gun barrel.

“Sometimes I think the architects are ghouls or sadists, whatever you call them. They take delight in watching balls sail in the water. It takes fairness out of the game.”

The words of some disgruntled hacker?

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No, it’s the opinion of 87-year-old Gene Sarazen, a winner of golf’s Grand Slam--the U.S. Open, the British Open, the PGA and the Masters.

Trivia answer: The Edmonton Oilers.

Quotebook: Pitcher Bruce Hurst of the San Diego Padres, after his first major league hit: “Even a blind dog finds a bone every once in a while.”


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