* On the 1989 earthquake that disrupted the World Series: “God put the World Series in perspective here in San Francisco Tuesday night.

“He shook the ballpark, like a dog would a rag, just minutes before the start of Game 3.

“A baseball game is about as trivial a pursuit as you can imagine when nature is in a rage. The earth growled, heaved and, suddenly, a World Series that had been as deadly dull as a chess game in a firehouse became more wildly exciting than you would want.”

* On the death of Loyola Marymount basketball player Hank Gathers: “Death should stay away from young men’s games. Death belongs in musty hospital rooms, sickbeds. It should not impinge its terrible presence on the celebrations of youth, reap its frightful harvest in fields where cheers ring and bands play and banners wave.”


* At the Indy 500: “Gentlemen, start your coffins!”

* On Muhammad Ali: “He lay on a sofa in white shorts and gray socks with an exhausted but mystical expression on his face. No crowds in mink, no loud music, no sounds of sycophants. The man who had just won his way into sport’s richest vault was lying there just staring as if he couldn’t believe what had happened.

“Ali (then Cassius Clay) spoke like a man in a trance that night. He wept, whispered, marveled. I have kept my notes and my column from that remarkable night because it was an Ali the public was never to see--withdrawn, staring at something only he could see.”

* On Elgin Baylor: “Nobody ever made me want to be a basketball player until I saw Elgin Baylor. The poetry, drama, and meaning of the game eluded me until he made it all clear.”


* On tragedy and terror at the Olympic Games: “They are 2,500 miles, three time zones--and 24 years--away but I think I know what my colleagues are going through in Atlanta this weekend.

“Rage, frustration, helplessness, resentment, sadness and, if not despair, something close to it.

“Here they were covering an event that is an expression of all that is best in mankind--the youth of the world entering on fields of friendly competition, mingling, enjoying, laughing, exchanging pins, rings, addresses, a world of hope, happiness and heroism.

“And then the merchants of death and hate crash the party with their engines of murder and mayhem.


“It was 1972 when our little world of non-winning times, golden fractions and golden medals came crashing down on our heads. . . .

“Has the cost of the Games gone up too much when it starts adding up to human lives? I think not. We already have enough bars on our windows, locks on our churches, parties we cancel. You don’t change the world by hiding from it.”

* In a 1972 conversation with a sick and blind Jackie Robinson, at the World Series, as remembered by writer Tom Callahan: “Jackie, it’s Jim Murray,” Murray said when they touched.

“Oh, Jim,” Robinson answered, “I wish I could see you again.”


“No, Jackie,” Murray said, “I wish we could see you again.”