Ping Bodie

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Give me a mace and I'll drive the pumpkin down Whitey Ford's throat.

Ping Bodie (October 8, 1887 – December 17, 1961), born Francesco Stephano Pezzolo, was a center fielder in Major League Baseball who played for the Chicago White Sox (1911–1914), Philadelphia Athletics (1917) and New York Yankees (1919–1921). Bodie batted and threw right-handed. He was born in San Francisco.


  • It's an impossibility to do much fence-busting up there; all the fences are concrete walls.
    • Circa summer 1915, explaining his failure to put up power numbers befitting his "Fence-Buster" nickname at the Major League level; as quoted in "Balls and Strikes; Bodie's Humor Surely Saved Him" by Billy Evans, Harper's Weekly (September 25, 1915), p. 309
  • Rooming with him. Why, I room with the big monkey's baggage.
  • It wasn't a baseball; it was a rock.

Quotes about[edit]

  • St Louis fans will remember Bodie as the player Callahan called down so hard one Sunday at Sportsman's Park. Callahan walked to first on a free ticket. Bodie followed him to the plate and whaled away at the first pitch, forcing "Cal" at second. Jimmy roared like a mad bull. "How many times do I have to tell you not to swing at the first ball unless the man on base has the signal for the hit and run?" inquired Callahan. "I forgot you were down there, and the ball looked so good I couldn't resist taking a wallop at it," replied Bodie. 'Ping' is not a very bright ball player, but he certainly knows how to pickle the pill. He reminds old-timers of "Tip" O'Neill, the famous slugger of Charlie Comiskey's St. Louis Browns of 1885.
    • Anonymous, "Will Sox Capture Another Pennant", The Chattanooga News (May 22, 1912), p. 14; reprinted in the Los Angeles Times, El Paso Herald, and The Anaconda Standard, on June 2, 8 and 9, respectively.

  • Ping Bodie threatens to jump to the Feds. That is, he threatens the Feds.
    • "Bugs" Baer, "Mince Pie: A Little of Everything," The Washington Times (March 28, 1914), p. 12
  • Even if the groundhog doesn't see his shadow, Ping Bodie's will be large enough to supply all purposes.
    • "Bugs" Baer, "Mince Pie: A Little Bit of Everything; Rabid Rudolph Says," The Washington Times (January 30, 1915), p. 10
  • Baseball will miss Ping Bodie, but baseball won't miss Ping as much as Ping used to miss the baseball.
    • "Bugs" Baer, "Mince Pie: A Little Bit of Everything; Booting 'Em From the Thirty-Yard Line," The Washington Times (February 19, 1915), p. 14
  • Italy's threat to join in the war was doubtless caused by the waiver affront offered to Ping Bodie.
    • "Bugs" Baer, "Mince Pie: A Little Bit of Everything; Rabid Rudolph Says," The Washington Times (February 22, 1915), p. 10
  • When Paul Swan claimed to be the most beautiful man in the world, there was no one to dispute him, as Rollie Zeider had jumped to the Feds, bunions and all, and Ping Bodie had flowed uphill over the Rockies into the Pacific League.
    • "Bugs" Baer, "Mince Pie: A Little Bit of Everything; Rabid Rudolph Says," The Washington Times (May 10, 1915), p. 12

  • 'Ping' was worth more to him than many base hits.[...] But the name could not confer immortality upon Bodie. He has passed out of the big show and today we read a one-line newspaper item under a San Francisco date line: "Ping Bodie has ben suspended for one day and fined $10 for punching a spectator." Sic transit gloria mundi. What could be more ignoble than a $10 fine? The mighty Babe Ruth is called upon to pay fifty times that amount for doing no more than throw sand at an umpire. It is a little as if Attilla, the notorious, should be cited for disorderly conduct and required to report regularly to a probation officer.

  • A couple of years ago "Ping" got a job umpiring in a California League. One days fans disagreed with him on about every decision he made. Finally "Ping" called time, took off his mask and protector, waddled up to the fifth row in the grand stand and sat down—settled himself and yelled "Play ball!" The home manager rushed up, stuck his nose through the screen and yelled: "What's the idea?" "Well," Ping answered, "if these guys can see better from here, then this is where I sits. Play ball!"
  • After Bodie left the majors, he got a job umpiring in a little league in California. The fans were riding him hard one day when he stopped the game, climbed to the top row of the grandstand, sat down and hollered, "Play ball!" Both the astonished managers stuck their faces against the screen and asked him what was the big idea. "If those guys can see better up here than I can from down here, then here's where I call 'em from," he roared. "Play ball!"
    • Joe E. Brown, circa summer 1947, speaking with Jack Clarke in the Chicago Sun; as quoted in "Roundy Says," The Wisconsin State Journal (August 9, 1947), p. 6

  • It ought to be 'fine'. It's costing you more than $600.
    • Manager Jimmy Callahan, responding in turn to Ping's taciturn and seemingly unperturbed response to Callahan's already irate query, "How's the beer?", Bodie having just broken his vow of season-long abstinence, thus costing himself a promised $600 end-of-season bonus, over and above the ostensible five cent fee; as quoted in "Bodie Buys Beer and Loses Bonus Almost Earned," The Billings Gazette (September 6, 1913), p. 14

  • Ping Bodie received a loving cup at the Fair last month as the most popular player on the Coast. It is rumored that Ping will hock the cup and, with the proceeds of this transaction, send a Christmas present to his former manager, Callahan, of the Cubs [sic]. It is not known whether the present will be dynamite or Paris green.

  • As, an hour ago, he exchanged persiflage with the clerk in the hotel lobby, that person just taking his place at batting practice was only a sprightly Italian-American "kid" with a brown eye lighted by animal spirits and a tendency to bellow popular songs. Now he is veritably "Ping" Bodie, the fence buster, who, as both Comiskey and Walsh will assure you on their honor, can hit a ball harder than any man that has decorated the diamond since Anson's day. And when he steps to the plate and meets the ball with a follow-through like that of an expert golfer, you grant to him in your heart all the adulation of the sporting writers.

  • Justice demands that we try to see the entire picture, analyze all the factors of a situation, before we make a judgment. It is so easy to condemn, when we see only one side. Ping Bodie, one of baseball's most famous umpires, was getting a heavy dose of razzing from the fans during a baseball game in California. Suddenly, in the middle of the game, Ping called the proceedings to a halt. He then walked over to the grandstand and climbed laboriously to the top. When he reached the top row he bellowed: "Play ball!" The bewildered managers rushed up to Ping and asked him what he thought he was doing. Ping answered: "If those guys," waving his arms at the fans, "can see better up here than I can down there, then here's where I call 'em from. "Play ball!"

  • Ball fans in and about Chicago and also in the western states sing the praises of "Ping Bodie" of the White Sox. Any time one mentions a good ball player, comes the query: "How about Bodie?" Now for the sake of argument I will give the relative averages of Bodie and Jackson of the Clevelands. Each began playing major league ball last year. Bodie played 145 games; jackson 147. Bodie hit .288; fielded .969. Jackson hit .408; fielded .959. Bodie stole 14 bases; Jackson 41. Who's who now?



On facing pitcher Walter Johnson:

Quotes about[edit]

  • Cravath can pat those Spalding berries neater and further than Ajax could with four blackjacks and a bass fiddle loaded with dynamite. If the old boy could hoof like he can spank he would be leading the works so far that the next guy wouldn't be next at all. At all. Gavvy's props are built like a couple of wharf pilings and are just about as nimble. He loses more infield hits than there is tattooing in the navy. Once we piped the old bird stepping out to grab second base. The pitcher wound up like a windmill in a feeble breeze in order to get everything set right. Just like putting sugar on Tanglefoot to snare flies. Same idea. Cravath took a lead that would have landed the kaiser in Paris if distributed in the right direction. He was knocking off 50 miles per hour, but 49 of those miles were straight up and down. Just like riding in a flivver on an oyster shell turnpike. The pitcher tossed a fungo to the catcher and all the time Gavvy's dogs were aimed toward second. He was picking 'em up and laying 'em down good. It was a wild ankle excursion. His elbows were steaming a million, but his insteps were cold. The catcher snapped off a chew of Piper Heidsieck and tossed another fungo to second base. Gavvy was out by a boat length if the boat was the Leviathan.
    His head was sure full of larceny.
    But his feet were honest.
    • Bugs Baer, "Two and Three: Putting the Next One Over," The Pittsburgh Post (June 24, 1919), p. 14
      "Head" vs. "heart"—and grammatical niceties—notwithstanding, the bolded portion of this excerpt should prove familiar to anyone with more than a passing acquaintance with the career of Ping Bodie. For almost a century (literally ever since a 1924 story penned by a misremembering tandem of Babe Ruth and ghost writer), Baer's oft-paraphrased punch-line, perhaps more than anything aside from Bodie's own frequent acknowledgments of having roomed with Babe Ruth's baggage, has shaped the average, moderately history-conscious baseball fan's perception of Ping. The only trouble is, it clearly had nothing to do with Bodie, but rather his fellow pre-Ruth slugging icon, Gavvy Cravath. Of course, both Ping's and Gavvy's slugging exploits would soon be eclipsed by Ruth, and so it is perhaps fitting that it would be that selfsame, famously not-so-good-with-names Bambino who, via the aforementioned 1924 article, was at least in part responsible for inadvertently ensuring that Bodie's most enduring non-luggage-related legacy be erroneously reduced to that of a lead-footed punch line.

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