Vin Scully? Keith Olbermann? Dan Patrick? Satchel Paige?
Dear Quote Investigator: In the world of competitive sports an injured athlete often is placed on a list indicating that his or her health and readiness will be reevaluated each day. All of us can experience dramatic swings in well-being within twenty-four hours. One philosophical commentator stated:
The player is listed as day-to-day. Aren’t we all?
These words have been attributed to long-time Los Angeles Dodgers sportscaster Vin Scully, ESPN SportsCenter personality Keith Olbermann, and SportsCenter colleague Dan Patrick. Would you please explore its provenance?
Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in the “Los Angeles Times” on June 9th, 1991. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
Quotebook: Vin Scully, during Friday’s Cub-Dodger game: “Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. (Pause.) Aren’t we all?”
June 9th was Sunday; hence, the game occurred on Friday June 7th, 1991. The quotation was also reported in “The Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser” of Honolulu, Hawaii. 2
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
On June 10th “The Courier-Journal” printed the Scully quotation and omitted the word “pause”: 3
Announcer Vin Scully, during Friday’s broadcast of the Chicago Cubs-Los Angeles Dodgers game: “Andre Dawson has a bruised knee and is listed as day-to-day. . . . Aren’t we all?”
In October 1991 the “Tallahassee Democrat” of Florida credited Scully but changed the identity of the injured player: 4
And for our money, the best quip of the year, from Los Angeles Dodger announcer Vin Scully talking about a knee injury to Pedro Guerrero:
“He’s listed day-to-day. Aren’t we all?”
In 1992 a columnist in a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania newspaper assigned the saying to famous baseball player Satchel Paige: 5
And, in the words of Satchel Paige, learning an injured teammate was listed as day-to-day: “Aren’t we all?”
By 1994 broadcaster Keith Olbermann was employing the line: 6
QUOTING: “He’s day to day, but aren’t we all.” — ESPN’s Keith Olbermann, on the Astros’ Andy Stankewicz and humanity in general.
In 1995 Scully was still receiving credit although the name of the injured player had changed again: 7
And perhaps my all-time favorite comes from the voice of the Dodgers, Vin Scully. He describes a player with nagging injuries: “They say Raul Mondesi is listed as day-to-day. But aren’t we all?
In 1996 the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” of Missouri credited sportscaster Dan Patrick: 8
Patrick: “He’s listed as day-to-day, but then again, aren’t we all?”
In 1997 a columnist in a San Bernardino, California newspaper discussed the ESPN SportsCenter duo Olbermann and Patrick. The saying was assigned to Patrick: 9
But usually, he’s more subtle than his partner and you have to love a sportscaster who can sound like Jean-Paul Sartre: “He’s listed as day-to-day but, then again, aren’t we all?”
In 1999 “The Arizona Republic” of Phoenix, Arizona published a profile of Olbermann and ascribed the line to him: 10
He came up with one of the best one-liners ever while at ESPN. Talking about an injured player’s status, he said, “He’s listed as day to day — but then, aren’t we all?”
“I think that’s probably my most meaningful line,” he said. “It’s both funny and meaningful.”
In conclusion, based on current evidence the saying should be ascribed to Vin Scully. Other sports commentators have used the line, but the Scully citation is the earliest. Admittedly, this article presents a snapshot of information available now, and future researchers may discover a citation that shifts the credit.
(Great thanks to Roy Allen whose inquiry led QI to formulate this question and perform this exploration.)
- 1991 June 9, Los Angeles Times, Morning Briefing by Julie Cart, Quote Page C2, Column 1, Los Angeles, California. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1991 June 9, The Sunday Star-Bulletin & Advertiser (The Honolulu Advertiser), Morning Briefing: Trevino right on course by Advertiser News Services, Quote Page C3, Column 6, Honolulu, Hawaii. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1991 June 10, The Courier-Journal, Sports People edited by Wally Dempsey, Quote Page D2, Column 2, Louisville, Kentucky. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1991 October 28, Tallahassee Democrat, A year of gems from the boys of summer by Gerald Ensley, Quote Page 1C, Column 1, Tallahassee, Florida. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1992 March 3, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Keep in mind: It’s day-to-day by Bill Lyon, Quote Page D1, Column 1, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1994 July 15, The Palm Beach Post, Sportscasting a real rat, uh, dog race by Charles Elmore, Quote Page 2C, Column 4, West Palm Beach, Florida. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1995 August 8, Chillicothe Gazette, Sorry Tribe: Reds in 6 by Doug Kimsey (Gazette wire editor), Quote Page 7A, Column 1, Chillicothe, Ohio. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1996 June 13, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Late Night with Ted, Bob and Gomer by Bob Rose (GET OUT Assistant Editor), Quote Page 39, Column 4, St. Louis, Missouri. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1997 March 19, The San Bernardino County Sun, Sultans of smug hit homer by Gregg Patton (Sun Staff Writer), (Continuation title: ‘SportsCenter’: A way of sports life, The Roster: Dan Patrick), Start Page C1, Quote Page C6, Column 4, San Bernardino, California. (Newspapers_com) ↩
- 1999 January 10, The Arizona Republic, Pied piper of punch lines: Olbermann leads sportscasting’s comic revolution by Jim Gintonio (The Arizona Republic), Quote Page C3, Column 2, Phoenix, Arizona. (Newspapers_com) ↩