There’s certainly been no shortage of colorful characters on the Washington sports scene.
From Sonny Jurgensen to John Riggins to Curtis Portis on the Redskins and from Walter Johnson to Bucky Harris to Bryce Harper on the Nationals, DC sportswriters have been provided with plenty of great material over the years.
Here are this writer’s ten all-time favorite quotes from Washington sports figures:
10. “That’s a Clown Question, Bro.” Nats’ phenom Bryce Harper in May 2012 to a clueless Toronto reporter who asked him if he planned to celebrate his homer with a Canadian beer. Harper’s a Mormon and doesn’t drink.
9. “I gave him an unlimited budget and he exceeded it.” Redskins’owner Edward Bennett Williams on coach George Allen.
8. “If if’s and buts were candy and nuts, oh what a party we’d have.” Ken Beatrice, a popular radio sports talk host, first on WMAL and later on WTEM from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. He would repeatedly use this line on callers who offered wildly improbable trade scenarios for pro football or baseball teams.
7. “They say the Redskins’ scouting budget (under owner George Preston Marshall) was 50 cents…or the price of a Street and Smith’s and one other football magazine.” Eddie LeBaron, the diminutive Redskins’ quarterback in the late 1950’s.
6. “The opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” Dick Motta, coach of the Washington Bullets’ NBA championship team in 1978, bringing DC its first pro sports title since the Redskins won the NFL championship in 1942.
5. ‘Loosen up, Sandy baby.” John Riggins to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the Washington Press Club’s annual salute to Congress in January, 1985. Riggo also slept on the floor for an hour while Vice President George Bush and other luminaries spoke to the crowd of about 1,300.
4. Jim Brown, born ineligible to play for the Redskins, integrated their end zone three times yetserday.” Actually, not a quote but the lead on a classic Shirley Povich column in the Washington Post. On another occasion, Povich described the Redskins’ colors as “Burgundy, Gold and Caucasian.”
3. “The future is now.” George Allen, shortly after taking over as Redskins’ coach, neatly capsuling his fondess for trading unproven draft choices for proven NFL veterans. He engineered 19 trades in his first season as head coach in 1971 and more than 80 during his tenure. He was such an eager wheeler dealer that he once traded the same guy twice.
2. “It’s a beautiful night for baseball here at Griffith Stadium.” Bob Wolff, the Senators play-by-play announcer from 1947 through 1960. He said it before nearly every game regardless of the weather.
1. “You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Manager Bucky Harris on the 1954 Washington Senators.