Master of the Truly Stupid

September/October 1996

Reading time min

Master of the Truly Stupid

The Book of Truly Stupid Sports Quotes (HarperPerennial, 1996, $10)

Jeff Parietti knows a snappy quote when he sees one. He wrote and edited sports stories for the Stanford Daily and later for the San Jose Mercury News . As a public relations man, he crafted memorable lines for a living.

So when he sat down to write his first book, Parietti, '77, decided to follow the old advice: Write what you know. He set about compiling the great one-liners of the sports world. His first two books sold so well that he headed back to the library to sift through mountains of newspapers and magazines for a few hundred more boneheaded remarks.

The result, The Book of Truly Stupid Sports Quotes (HarperPerennial, 1996, $10), is a collection of utterances worthy of Yogi Berra, the Yankee's legendary master of malaprop. "I'd work six or seven hours straight -- no drinks of water, no snacks. Just work," he says. "You knew you had a good quote when you laughed out loud."

Among his favorites:

You guys line up alphabetically by height
-- Bill Peterson, Florida State football coach;

I'm going to graduate on time, no matter how long it takes.
-- Rod Brookin, University of Pittsburgh basketball player;

A lot of horses get distracted. It's just human nature.
-- Nick Zito, horse trainer;

I don't want to tell you any half-truths unless they're completely accurate.
-- Dennis Rappaport, boxing manager;

His reputation preceded him before he got here.
-- New York Yankee Don Mattingly on teammate Dwight Gooden;

He speaks English, Spanish and he's bilingual, too.
-- Boxing promoter Don King on fighter Julio Cesar Chavez.

Parietti manages to sneak a few Stanford references into the book:

Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.
-- Football commentator and former player, Joe Theismann, on coach Bill Walsh;

If Stanford is a No. 12 seed, then I'm a left-handed ham sandwich.
-- Wimp Sanderson, Alabama basketball coach, on NCAA tournament seeding;

I don't know, I never played there.
-- Golfer Sandy Lyle on his opinion of former Cardinal star Tiger Woods, '98.

Parietti's passion for sports goes way beyond chasing down athletic inanities. He ran track at Stanford, finishing seventh in the 5,000 meters in the 1976 Pac-8 meet. While in school and later as a press agent for the computer industry, he moonlighted for 13 years as a Stanford basketball statistician, sitting courtside at Maples Pavilion.

Parietti lives outside Seattle, where he works as a corporate speechwriter. There have been sightings of him at the ballpark watching the Mariners' playoff games in 1995, the NCAA Final Four in 1994 and the NBA finals last spring.

Parietti's next book describes baseball's worst records (like the time Willie Mays grounded into three double plays in a single game). Will the 40,000-word manuscript find a publisher? As Yogi Berra said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future."

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