A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from November 19, 2011
“Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords”

"Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords” is an old baseball saying, often attributed to Pittsburgh Pirates slugger (and New York Mets announcer) Ralph Kiner. Kiner always credited pitcher Fritz Ostermueller (1907-1957), a Pirate teammate from 1946-48.

“He had the idea that the home run hitters drive Cadillacs” is from March 1951. A May 1951 newspaper account gives an interesting version:

Why doesn’t Ralph Kiner hit to right against the lopsided defense played against him? He doesn’t want to. When Kiner came up to the Pirates and teams began overshifting on him, he toyed with the idea of hitting to right. Fritz Ostermueller. then a veteran pitcher for the Pirates, told him: “There aren’t any Cadillacs for you in right field, Ralph. Your money is in left.”


Wikipedia: Home run
Home runs are among the most popular aspects of baseball and, as a result, prolific home run hitters are usually the most popular among fans and consequently the highest paid by teams — hence the old saying, variously attributed to slugger Ralph Kiner, or to a teammate talking about Kiner, “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, and singles hitters drive Fords.”

Wikipedia: Ralph Kiner
Ralph McPherran Kiner (b. October 27, 1922) is an American former Major League Baseball player and has been an announcer for the New York Mets since the team’s inception. Though injuries forced his retirement from active play after 10 seasons, Kiner’s tremendous slugging outpaced nearly all of his National League contemporaries between the years 1946 and 1954. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.
(...)
A quote variously attributed to Kiner himself, as well as to teammates talking about Kiner, was “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords.”

Wikipedia: Fritz Ostermueller
Frederick Raymond Ostermueller (September 15, 1907 in Quincy, Illinois - December 17, 1957 in Quincy, Illinois), was a pitcher in major league baseball from 1934-1948, for the Boston Red Sox, Brooklyn Dodgers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Browns.
(Pittsburgh Pirates, 1944-1948—ed.)

6 August 1946, Christian Science Monitor, “In the Dugout,” pg. 10:
Says Fritz Ostermueller, veteran Pirate pitcher: “Young Ralph Kiner of our club has as much right-handed power as I’ve seen iri a rookie. He would be worth $75,000 to the Red Sox for what he could do to that left-field barrier at Fenway Park. He pulls that high fly ball to left, and most of them are caught in the Pittsburgh park. If he played with the Red Sox, he’d have 25 home runs right now.”

15 March 1951, Long Beach (CA) Press-Telegram, “Cramer Works to Improve Zernial” by Frank T. Blair, pg. B2, col. 1:
“Then last year he (Gus Zernial of the Chicago White Sox—ed.) began going for homers. He had the idea that the home run hitters drive Cadillacs. He’s wrong about that.”
(Doc Cramer, a training camp coach --ed.)

21 May 1951, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, “Ted, When Hitting, Can Hit to Left; at Present He Cannot Hit—Period” by Harold Kaese, pg. 10:
Why doesn’t Ralph Kiner hit to right against the lopsided defense played against him? He doesn’t want to. When Kiner came up to the Pirates and teams began overshifting on him, he toyed with the idea of hitting to right. Fritz Ostermueller. then a veteran pitcher for the Pirates, told him: “There aren’t any Cadillacs for you in right field, Ralph. Your money is in left.”

6 February 1953, Charleroi (PA) Mail, “Sportraits” by Johnny Bumarozya, pg. 9, col. 1:
Pirate slugger Ralph Kiner didn’t gain any popularity when in his answer to fans who look at batting averages instead of home run records he cracked: “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs, .300 hitters drive jalopies.”

2 July 1953, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “Swinging for Long Ball Hard on Average, So Robinson Forgets It In Bid for Batting Championship” by Pat Harmon (NEA Special Correspondent), pg. 21, col. 6:
“It’s the economics,” says Rogers Hornsby. “The players think the home run hitters drive Cadillacs and the bunters ride something else. So they’re all taking a chance on hitting the long ball.”

17 November 1954, New York (NY) Times, “The Trade Winds Stir” by Arthur Daley, pg. 42:
When National League managers began to gang up their defenses on Kiner with the equivalent of the “Boudreau shift” as used against Ted Williams, big Ralph followed the Williams example and refused to slice the ball to the opposite field. His remark still is a classic.

“Power hitters who slice to the opposite field,” he said with a grin, “ride around in Model-T Fords. Power hitters who pull the ball into the stands, ride around in Cadillacs.”

29 January 1955, Morning Sun (Yuma, AZ), “Kiner Planning Circuit Clouts” (UP), pg. 9, col. 3:
Kiner has been given credit for several years for the saying: “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs. Pitchers and league-leading hitters drive Fords.”

“I never said that,” said Ralph, “but it may be true. Actually, it was said by one of our pitchers at Pittsburgh.”

8 March 1955, New York (NY) Times, “Bombers Players Take Long Drill: Stengel Puts His Big Hitters Through Bunting Session” by Louis Effrat, pg. 32:
ST. PETERSBURG, March 7—Bunting is becoming a lost art in baseball. Perhaps it is so because Ralph Kiner once remarked “Players who bunt don’t ride around in Cadillacs.”

5 May 1957, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Jim Gallagher Contends That Modern Baseball Equipment Has Altered the Game” by Gordon Cobbledick, pg. 2C, col. 2:
“Rip Sewell stated the case,” said Gallagher, “when he said, ‘Home-run hitters drive Cadillacs; singles hitters drive Fords.’”
("James Timothy Gallagher, the Lorrain (O.) sports writer who made good as general manager of the Chicago Cubs and who now is a member of the local public relations firm which also includes Bill Veeck and Marsh Samuel”—ed.)

7 February 1958, Hartford (CT) Courant, “With Malice Toward None” by Bill Lee, pg. 27A:
There is a saying in the dugouts that only the home run hitters drive Cadillacs.

Google News Archive
21 March 1958, Miami (FL) News, “Sports Today” by Norris Anderson, pg. 6C, col. 1:
Who says the home run hitters drive the Caddies and Thunderbirds?

4 February 1959, Omaha (NE) World-Herald, “Cerv Would Like to Draw ‘Singles’ Hitter’s Pay” by Robert Williams, pg. 23, col. 7:
Richie was asked what he thinks about Ralph Kiner’s remark that singles hitters drive Fords and home run sluggers Cadillacs—and the fact Ashburn owns a Cadillac.

7 May 1959, Hartford (CT) Courant, “With Malice Toward None” by Bill Lee, pg. 21A:
As the ball players say. the long ball hitters drive Cadillacs!

Google Books
My War with Baseball
By Rogers Hornsby with William Surface
New York, NY: Coward-McCann
1962
Pg. 57:
Everybody is going for the fences today because that’s where the pay-off is. The fans want home runs and the players have to hit them to make big money. Home-run hitters drive Cadillacs. Singles hitters drive Fords.

8 June 1962, Burlington (NC) Daily Times-News, “Between You ‘n’ Me” by Murray, pg. 2B, col. 1:
Ralph Kiner, it now turns out, never said the phrase that has become a part of baseball idiom—“Singles hitters drive Fords; home run hitters drive Cadillacs"..."I’ve been driving a Ford a long time,” confessed the former slugger, who now airs games for the New York Mets. “Fritz Ostermueller (the old major league pitcher) said it.”

Google Books
July 1962, Ebony, pg. 48, col. 2:
“Home run hitters,” says Pittsburgh slugger Dick Stuart, “drive Cadillacs. Singles hitters drive Fords.”

Google Books
A Thinking Man’s Guide to Baseball
By Leonard Koppett
New York, NY: Dutton
1967
Pg. 31:
Greed is simple to explain: “Home-run hitters drive Cadillacs” is an irrefutable slogan.

Google Books
June 1969, Baseball Digest, pg. 68, col. 1:
A clause has been added to the adage that “home run hitters drive Cadillacs while singles hitters drive Fords,” the punch line being “guys who don’t hit either drive delivery trucks for a living.”

Google Books
June 1975, Baseball Digest, pg. 26, col. 2:
There’s a tiresome baseball adage: “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords.”
Pg. 27, col. 1:
That’s no longer true.

Google Books
BackTalk; The View From Kiner’s Korner
By RALPH KINER with DANNY PEARY
Published: April 04, 2004
(...)
Another quote that has been attributed to me is, ‘’Home-run hitters drive Cadillacs and singles hitters drive Fords.’’ That was actually first said by my Pirates teammate, pitcher Fritz Ostermueller.

Google Books
It’s Outta Here!:
The history of the home run from Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds

By Bill Gutman
Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publications
2005
Pg. 3:
Many years ago the inimitable Casey Stengel, in speaking about his power-laden New York Yankees, said, “Home run hitters drive Cadillacs!” Back in the 1950s, the Cadillac was the luxury car of choice and, in his own way, Ol’Case knew what he was talking about.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Saturday, November 19, 2011 • Permalink