I Had to Get Up to Answer the Phone Anyway

Yogi Berra? Desi Arnaz? Carl Brandt? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following anecdote is told about baseball great Yogi Berra. He received a telephone call very early in the morning, and the caller apologetically said, “I hope I didn’t wake you.” Yogi replied:

Nah, I had to get up to answer the phone anyway.

Is this an authentic Yogiism?

Quote Investigator: There is good evidence that Yogi did deliver this quip. He included a version in his 1998 collection “The Yogi Book”, and the story was attached to his name in newspapers by 1958.

Yet, the joke can be traced further back in time, and the earliest evidence located by QI appeared in a syndicated Hollywood gossip column in September 1942. The humorous line was reportedly spoken by the musician and actor Desi Arnaz who was one of the stars of the popular television comedy program “I Love Lucy”. The use of “ayem” instead of “A.M.” in the following was a stylistic quirk of the columnist: 1

Pat O’Brien is chuckling about an early ayem phone call to Desi Arnaz. Noticing Desi’s voice sounded dull, Pat asked: “Did I get you out of bed?” “Not at all,” mumbled Arnaz, in a voice drugged by sleep, “I had to get up to answer the telephone anyway.”

In October 1942 the joke was printed in “The Calgary Herald” of Alberta, Canada. The caller and callee were unidentified, and the time period was shifted from early in the morning to late at night: 2

Then there is the story about the man who was awakened at 4 a.m. by the ringing of his telephone.
“Sorry to trouble you at this time of night, old man …” began the voice at the other end of the wire.
“‘sall right.” interrupted the other. “I had to get up to answer the telephone, anyway.”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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  1. 1942 September 4, State-Times (State Times Advocate), Jimmie Fidler in Hollywood, Quote Page 8-B, Column 3, (GNB Page 20), Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (GenealogyBank)
  2. 1942 October 14, The Calgary Herald, Prairie Wool by Wilf Bennett, Quote Page 4, Column 4, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Google News Archive)

Lose As If You Like It, and Win As If You Are Used to It

Ralph Waldo Emerson? Eric Mark Golnik? Thomas Hitchcock, Jr.? Thomas Hitchcock, Sr.?  F. Ambrose Clark? Rosalind Russell? Jock Whitney? Desi Arnaz? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a quotation about sportsmanship that I would like to learn more about:

Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.

I have seen these words credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Eric Mark Golnik, and anonymous. Could you examine this saying?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no compelling evidence linking the coinage of the saying to Emerson or Golnik. The earliest relevant citation located by QI was a precursor printed in The Times of London in 1920. An article about the Tennis Amateur Championship praised a player named E. L. Phillips [TCPH]:

Mr. Phillips has learned the most difficult thing in all games, to lose as if he liked it, and is therefore even a pleasure to play against, in spite of the fact that he often wins.

The excerpt above presented part of the saying. A more complete version appeared in a 1929 book in the domain of horse racing titled:  “Between the Flags: The Recollections of a Gentleman Rider”. The author placed the statement between quotation marks indicating that the adage was already in circulation without attribution [BFHP]:

In racing, the rough and the smooth are so quickly interchangeable that the only path safe from the ridiculous, is the one guarded by “Win as if you are used to it. Lose as if you liked it.”

In 1942 the Edwardsville Intelligencer, a newspaper in Illinois, published the maxim as a freestanding sentence without ascription, i.e., as filler material. The word “it” in the phrase “like it” was apparently accidentally omitted [LLEI]:

Lose as if you like, and win as if you were used to it.

In April 1943 a Texas newspaper assigned the adage to an individual [LRTH]:

Lose as if you like it, and win as if you were used to it — Thomas Hitchcock.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Lose As If You Like It, and Win As If You Are Used to It