Mick the Quick
On December 11, 1975 the Yankees made a pretty good trade. They acquired lead off hitter and center fielder Mickey Rivers and starting pitcher Ed Figueroa in exchange for Bobby Bonds.
The trade proved to be a solid deal for the Yankees who were on the brink of building a championship team.
On the surface, the Yankees added to the team a proven left handed lead off hitter and a proven starting pitcher.
Ed Figueroa won 19 games and “Mick the Quick,” as he was known, made the All Star team, hit .312, stole 43 bases and set personal season highs with 9 home runs and 67 RBI.
He also placed third in the AL MVP voting behind Thurman Munson and George Brett, in addition to playing excellent defense https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qsvCo5Ras0c
Mickey would hit .300 six times and steal 267 bases in his 15 year career.
Rivers and Figueroa would play pivotal roles on the 1976 American League Champion team and both of the 1977 and 1978 World Champion teams. Rivers hitting .326 in 1977 and Figueroa would win 20 games in 1978, becoming the first and only pitcher born in Puerto Rico to win 20 games in a season.
Mickey stole a lot of big bases for the Yankees.
A great trade indeed.
But what no one knew at the time was that Rivers would become the author of some of the funniest and perplexing quotes since Yogi Berra.
Mickey was a real character, when he would walk up to home plate for his at bat, he would limp with his shoulders stooped over like an injured old man, meanwhile he was probably the fastest guy on the field.
There were many stories of his escapades and love of the horse track.
When Goose Gossage became a Yankee, he got off to a terrible start, blowing many saves. On one occasion when Goose was called to come close a game, Rivers jumped on top of the bullpen car to prevent Gossage from entering the game.
That was Mickey Rivers.
I thought it might be a good idea to have a laugh or two. Below I compiled some of his best quotes during his career. I hope it cheers some of us up during this unsure time.
When speaking of the wind circulating in a certain ball park.
“The first thing you do when you get out to center field is put up your finger and check the wind-chill factor.”
When speaking of the differences in the weather between Florida and Texas.
“The difference in the climaxes (climates) doesn’t make much difference to me.”
On rude fans.
“I’m watching the game as well, and heard those, a perfect example of why kids should stay in school”.
When asked about playing during a heat wave.
“It was so hot, I saw a dog chasing a cat, and the dog was walkin’”
On his relationship with George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin.
“Me and George and Billy are two of a kind.”
On his goals for the upcoming season.
“My goals are to hit .300, score 100 runs, and stay injury-prone.”
Responding to teammate Reggie Jackson’s claim he had an IQ of 160
“Out of what, a thousand?”
On his baseball philosophy.
“Pitching is 80% of the game and the other half is hitting and fielding”.
To Reggie Jackson (Reginald Martinez Jackson) during Reggie’s slump in 1977.
“No wonder you’re all mixed up. You got a white man’s first name, a Spanish man’s second name and a black man’s third name.”
To Reggie Jackson when Jackson told Rivers, in front of reporters, that he should learn how to read and write.
“You’d better stop readin’ and writin’ and start hittin’!”
A response to a interview question asking him how many bases he was going to steal that season.
“I’m going to double my limit.”
A response to an interview question of why he started playing better.
“I was eating too well and getting too much rest. I take my old lady dancing every night now. Doin’ the bump keeps your legs in shape.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bump_(dance)
On former Major Leaguer Danny Napoleon’s looks.
“He’s so ugly. When you walked by him, your pants wrinkle. He made fly balls curve foul.”
On teammate Cliff Johnson’s looks.
“He is so ugly he should have to wear an oxygen mask.”
On helping the team while injuries were piling up.
“I might have to commute. You know, left field, DH, wherever.”
A response to a question about the strong winds in the outfield at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
“The wind was blowin’ about 100 degrees”.
On a teammate who just played his first game.
“He was lost out there. He was the Lost Mohegan.”
A response to playing left field for the first time.
“I felt alone out there, like I was on a desert island. I felt like Gilligan.”
In response to jogging during training camp.
“I’ve been doing my 2 1/2 miles every day and I’ve gained 2 pounds. My stomach is getting smaller but my butt’s getting bigger.”
Commenting on his teammates in the Senior Professional Baseball League (1989) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Senior_Professional_Baseball_Association
“I like playing on this team. We actually been doin’ real good. Got a different mix here. Most important thing is you gotta keep pickin’ up in paces. That’s why we’re playing contentious play. We got top names, guys can still hit in the majors, guys been out of the game hittin’ the ball, shockin’ it. Don’t have no old, old guys. Not sayin’ they don’t get a good job done. Fact is, they’ve been vice versa. So that’s incentive right there. It’s been a plus.”
On the age of Texas Rangers teammates Bill Stein and Larry Bittner.
“These guys are so old they’re eligible for meals on wheels.”
A post game comment after hitting a double off of Boston Red Sox right handed pitcher Bob Stanley.
“That felt good. I hadn’t hit off a lefty in two months.”
On an upcoming important home stand.
We’ll do all right if we can capitalize on our mistakes.
On whether the team’s turmoil was bothering him.
“I don’t get upset over things I can control, because if I can control them there’s no sense in getting upset. And I don’t get upset over things I can’t control, because if I can’t control them there’s no sense in getting upset.”
On his teammates.
“Everybody complaining about their average and all that, but I wanted be in there where I can help my team no matter what situation. And a lot of days, I didn’t have it.”
On a tough loss.
“I don’t like to lose. I don’t care where it is.”
On his throwing arm.
Good arms are overrated.
Weak arms don’t cause you to lose games. When you hit, be sure to get on base. Then no one will care about a weak arm.
“It’s all stealing bases and winning games. If not, go home”
Besides disco dancing, funny quotes, horse racing and agitating Reggie Jackson whenever he could, Mickey provided the spark that was needed for the late 70’s teams to become World Champions. He became a fan favorite and one of the guys that kept the club house loose.
Hang in there everyone!