Holy Cow(baseball) origin?

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Apr 5 17:41:32 UTC 2004

This discussion reminds me of the old joke about a woman whose husband was a
big fan of Custer and who wanted to give him a painting of Custer's last
stand for his birthday.

When it was unveiled at his birthday party she was appalled because it had a
picture of cow with a halo and pictures of hundreds of Indians screwing.

She then told the painter that she would not pay him since that was not what
she had asked him to paint.

He replied that he was just trying to paint the picture from Custer's
perspective which was, "Holy cow. Look at all those fucking Indians."

I heard this joke from my father back in the 1950s but have no idea how old
it was at that time. I do know that Holy cow has been used as a euphemism
for my entire lifetime which extends back to the 1940s.

I have heard Holy Cow attributed to Phil Rizzuto as his signature
exclamation but I can assure you that Harry Caray was using it before Phil
ever used it since Harry used it when Phil was still playing shortstop for
the Yankees.

This brings up another subject: the use by baseball broadcasters of
signature home run calls.

Harry Caray used to call a home run by shouting, "It might be! It could be!
It is!"

The best one I know of was Rosie Rosewell's which was, "Open the window,
Aunt Minnie. Here it comes!"  Then his assistant at the time, Bob Prince,
would drop a try of glass on the floor and he would say something like.
"Uhoh. She got there too late."

If anyone out there has any more interesting baseball announcer's signature
phrases I would love to know about them.

Page Stephens

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mark A. Mandel" <mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU>
Sent: Monday, April 05, 2004 10:34 AM
Subject: Re: Holy Cow(baseball) origin?

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Mark A. Mandel" <mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Holy Cow(baseball) origin?
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Sam Clements writes:
>         >>>
> >From the 28 May 1927 _Decatur(IL) Evening Herald_
> 7/3(NewspaperArchive)
> <<If Dan O'Leary were in the Three-Eye[class "B" league--ed.] yet, that
> stentorian bellow of his from the third base coaching line----"Holy cow,
> get a hit before the league blows up," would be fraught with dire
> significance.  But, we are assured, the league isn't going to "blow up",
> and ......>>
> O'Leary was the manager of Davenport(IA) from 1911-16, and Decatur(IL)
> in 1922 and 1925.
> This "could" be a major league player named Dan O'Leary, who was born in
> 1856, and who had perhaps as undistinguished a career as any player in
> baseball.  45 total games in the majors, 32 of them for the Univ. of
> Cincinnati.  Mitigating against it being Dan-O'Leary-the-major-leaguer
>             (militating? -- MAM)
> is his reported death in 1922.  But, hey, people voted in Illinois after
> they were dead, so why couldn't he have managed in 1925, three years
> after his death.  It could always have been another O'Leary.
> I know there is no supporting evidence for this, but it's food for
> thought and further research.
>         <<<
> This is rather out in left field, but do you see any indications that
> this "holy cow" connection could be an intentional tall tale to connect
> the expression with Mrs. O'Leary's cow, the legendary cause of the
> Chicago Fire?
> -- Mark A. Mandel

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