Thank God for My Karate Training


It was in 1946. July, I think. The Dodgers were playing the Cardinals. The game got out of hand by the fifth inning or so. The Dodgers were losing big. As I usually did during those times, I began telling stories to break up the monotony of the game. Well, for some reason — and to this day I still can’t for the life of me remember why — I began talking about Brooklyn’s pitcher Kirby Higbe. And I mentioned that though he was getting up there in age, he still was firing a pea of a fastball. Well, this fan that was sitting right in front of the press box took umbrage to that statement, and stood up to tell me so. He started cursing at me telling me I had no idea what I was talking about. Even if that were so, he had no business interrupting my broadcast — no matter how slow the game was. I placed my hand over the mic and politely asked him to take a walk, as I still had a job to do. I tell you what, that just made him madder. Would you believe this guy started climbing into the broadcasting booth? I swear on a stack of bibles he did. I could smell the whiskey on his breath and the soil in his britches. I don’t even know how he got in the ballpark. Luckily, we had gone to commercial at this point, or the good fans of Brooklyn would have heard him shouting and raving about Lord-knows what, making liberal uses of curse words. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there. He must have taken offense to my silence, because he suddenly took a lunge at me. I knocked him to the ground and subdued him long enough for some police officers, who were running security for that game, to hear the racket and come investigate. Thank God for my karate training.

— Red Barber, to Time. 1974

So I was warming up in the bullpen in San Francisco. You know how the bullpens are basically just down the foul lines? Well, I was warming up there, and they have this little fenced-off alcove thing. It looks like the camera crew would go there, but there are fans there instead. It must be some sort of VIP thing or something, I don’t know. Well, on that day, there was a person in that alcove that had like one of those helper dogs. I’m guessing they were blind or couldn’t see good or something, but I remember thinking earlier that it was weird that someone had a dog in the ballpark. So I’m warming up, and the bullpen catcher boots one and it ricochets off his glove and rolls over to where the people were. The dog loses its shit. It goes running for the ball as the bullpen coach picks it up and throws it back to me. The dog runs up the stairs and sprints after the ball, he’s coming right at me. Right after I catch the toss from the bullpen coach, the dog jumps in the air, heading right toward my face. I raise my glove up, step to one side, and push the dog away while it’s mid flight. It bites the end of my glove as it flies by. I shake it off the glove which sends it tumbling in the air, and it lands on its shoulder. By that time, someone else from that alcove had come out and wrangled the dog with a treat to lure it away from us. What a bad helper dog. I hope no one throws a ball while its trying to lead someone across the street. Thank God for my karate training.

— Eric Gagne, to Sports Illustrated. 2004.

I had just won my 9th consecutive MVP award. The President had invited me on Air Force One to congratulate me and to bring me along on a trip up the east coast to help victims of Hurricane Navin. Eventually, I have to use the john. So I excuse myself and head toward the back of the plane. I’m washing my hands when I hear all this commotion in the cabin. People yelling, stuff breaking, things like that. I peek my head out of the bathroom to see dudes in all black pointing like machine guns at everybody, including the President. So I close the door, push open the ceiling tile in the bathroom, and start slowly crawling in the ceiling. I get right above where I think the bad guys are, and I crash down through the ceiling tiles. I land right next to one guy. I bust his face, take his gun, and hit two more dudes with the butt of the gun. Three of them are lying on the ground when I hear two more come running up from the cockpit area. I know that shooting a gun inside a plane is a bad idea, so I remove the clip and chuck the gun at the first dude. I hit him square in the head. He falls back onto the other guy. I run down the aisle, and jump on the two of them. I throw their guns and grab them by the hair. One in each hand. I knock their skulls together, and they crumble. I sweep the rest of the plane after I tie those five guys up. Yeah, it was a weird day. Thank God for my karate training.

— Mike Trout, to me on my death bed. 2072.

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David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.

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A Eskpert
A Eskpert

MLB –> The Mike Trout League of Baseball.