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 September 23, 2015
“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious”

An athlete who can use both right and left hands is someone who is “ambidextrous.” Something on both land and water is “amphibious.” “He’s amphibious”—a malaprop for “ambidextrous”—was cited in 1930 newspapers by Al Demaree, a former New York Giants pitcher. “He’s amphibious” was also said by Milwaukee Brewers infielder Jim Gantner in 1988.

Yogi Berra (1925-2015), who played for and later managed the New York Yankees, is sometimes credited for having said this about Mickey Mantle (1931-1995). This remark, cited in print since at least 1961, is still thirty years after the first “amphibious” citation.


Wiktionary: amphibious
Adjective
amphibious

1. Capable of functioning on land or in water.
2. Occurring on both land and water.

Wiktionary: ambidextrous
Adjective
ambidextrous
β€Ž(comparative more ambidextrous, superlative most ambidextrous)
1. Having equal ability in both hands; in particular, able to write equally well with both hands.
2. Equally usable by left-handed and right-handed people (as a tool or instrument).
3. Practising or siding with both parties.
4. (humorous) Of a person, bisexual.

4 May 1930, The Sunday Repository (Canton, OH), “Yes, Amphibious Golfer Ought To Be Rather Tough” by Al Demaree (Former Giant Pitcher), pg. 16, col. 8:
One day he was discussing the play of a certain member of the Bayshore C. C., who had possessed the happy faculty of playing a fair game with either right or left-handed clubs.

“Say, that guy’s a tough bird to beat,” Jack observed, “because you see, he’s amphibious.”

Google News Archive
25 June 1949, Florence (AL) Times, “Roundup of Sports” by Hugh Fullerton, Jr. (AP), pg. 7, col. 5:
“You gotta be able to handle the ball with both hands on the pivot, son,” he (Western Kentucky basketball coach Ed Diddle—ed.) explained kindly. “You’re a college player now, you gotta be amphibious.”

31 March 1961, Newark (OH) Advocate, pg. 4, col. 4:
Yogi Berra was extolling the prowess of his team-mate, Mickey Mantle. “Mickey,” said Berra, “can hit just as good right-handed as he can left-handed. He’s naturally amphibious.”—Scholastic Coach.

20 June 1961, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Remoulade” by Howard Jacobs, sec. 1, pg. 9, col. 2:
EAVESDROPPINGS: Overheard in a pinball palace by a Eureka Joe Miller: “He shoots with either hand. He’s amphibious.”

23 October 1963, San Diego (CA) Union, “Yogi’s A Comic-Book Character, But No Clown To The Yankees” by Jack Murphy, pg. B-5, col. 1:
The Yankees remind me of Yogi’s description of Mickey Mantle. “Mantle can hit just as good right-handed as he can left-handed,” said Berra, “he’s just naturally amphibious.”

Google Books
Baseball : --a Laughing Matter!
By Warner Fusselle with Rick Wolff and Brian Zevnik
St. Louis, MO: Sporting News Pub. Co.
1987
Pg. 137:
Jim (Bobo) Breazeale, first baseman, Richmond Braves:
“He’s amphibious. He throws righthanded and lefthanded.”

Google News Archive
22 March 1988, (Beaver County, PA), “Gantner takes page from Yogi’s book” by The Associated Press, pg. B1, col. 6:
(Milwaukee Brewers infielder Jim—ed.) Gantner noticed Donnie Hill would throw a couple of times with his right hand, then throw a couple with his left hand.

“Hey, look at Donnie Hill,” Gantner said. “He’s amphibious.”

19 November 1995, Northwest Florida Daily News (Fort Walton Beach, FL), “Verbal goofs good for a few laughs” by Bill Campbell, sec. B, pg. 1, col. 1:
Yogi also uttered these pearls:

. If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.
. Mantle’s a switch hitter because he’s amphibious.

19 May 1996, Aberdeen (SD) American News, “Bridge” by Alfred Sheinwold and Frank Stewart, pg. 10E, col. 1:
Baseball’s Yogi Berra seems to be quotable these days. Yogi on reciprocity: “Always go to other people’s funerals of they won’t some to yours”; Yogi on the late Mickey Mantle: “Great switch-hitter, just naturally amphibious.”

Google Books
Be My Baby Tonight
By Kasey Michaels
Ne York, NY: Zebra Books
2002
Pg. 38:
He had this wild thought, remembering a quote from the very quotable Yogi Berra: “He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

Google Books
The Ultimate Book of New York Lists:
Everything You Need to Know about the Greatest City on Earth

By Bert Randolph Sugar with C. N. Richardson
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2009
Pg. 51:
YOGI BERRA-ISMS
(...)
β€œHe hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

Google Books
Pinstripe Quotes:
The Wit and Wisdom of the New York Yankees

Edited by Henry Clougherty
New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing
2009
Pg. ?:
Yogisms”
(...)
“He hits from both sides of the plate. He’s amphibious.”

TMZ Sports
EX-NBA PLAYER CHARLES SHACKLEFORD
DIES IN N.C.
2 1/27/2017 8:56 AM PST
(...)
Shackleford was a stud in college at N.C. State in the ‘80s—but was more infamous for a post-game quote in which he attempted to describe his shooting talents.

“I can shoot with my left hand, I can shoot with my right hand, I’m amphibious.”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Wednesday, September 23, 2015 • Permalink