"Million-dollar arm, ten-cent head” is said of a baseball pitcher (or a football quarterback) with a great arm, but who seemingly doesn’t have the intelligence to take advantage of it. Chicago White Sox player-manager Cap Anson (1852-1922) said this about pitcher Pink Hawley (1872-1901). “T. Hawley, the young man whom Anson says carries a $10,000 arm and a 25 cent head” was cited in print in 1893. “Anson is quoted as saying that Pitcher Hawley has a $10,000 arm and a 50-cent head” was cited in 1895. “The veteran Chadwick says Hawley has a ten thousand dollar arm and a ten cent head” was cited in 1896.
“Schreck said Mike had a million dollar arm and a ten-cent head” was cited in 1910. “The rip on him had always been that he was worth the proverbial $1,000,000.10, a million-dollar arm and ten-cent head” was cited in a 2012 book, referring to 1970s football quarterback Terry Bradshaw.
Wikipedia: Cap Anson
Adrian Constantine Anson (April 17, 1852 – April 14, 1922), nicknamed “Cap” (for “Captain") and “Pop”, was a Major League Baseball (MLB) first baseman. Including his time in the National Association (NA), he played a record 27 consecutive seasons. Anson was regarded as one of the greatest players of his era and one of the first superstars of the game. Anson spent most of his career with the Chicago Cubs franchise (then known as the “White Stockings” and later the “Colts"), serving as the club’s manager, first baseman and, later in his tenure, minority owner. He led the team to five National League pennants in the 1880s. Anson was one of baseball’s first great hitters, and the first to tally over 3,000 career hits. “The veteran Chadwick says Hawley has a ten thousand dollar arm and a ten cent head” was cited in 1896.
LA 84 Foundation
1 July 1893, The Sporting Life, “St. Louis Siftings” by Joe Campbell, pg. 3, col. 5:
For the trip of the Browns was a reign of terror, with a full-faced T. Hawley, the young man whom Anson says carries a $10,000 arm and a 25 cent head, was placed on the spit by Manager Watkins on the return home of the team and burnt to the tune of $25.
1 April 1895, The Scranton Tribune (Scranton, PA), “Base Ball Glints,” pg. 7, col. 4:
Anson is quoted as saying that Pitcher Hawley has a $10,000 arm and a 50-cent head. Hawley got $1,400 in St. Louis last season and wants $3,000 to play next season.
29 May 1896, The Morning Times (Washington, DC), “Diamond Dust,” pg. 3, col. 3:
The veteran Chadwick says Hawley has a ten thousand dollar arm and a ten cent head. About right.
7 May 1898, The Scranton Republican (Scranton, PA), pg. 3:
He (Hawley—ed.) did remarkably well, but Anson refused, to sign hwn, saying that he was a man with a $10,000 arm and a 3-cent head.
14 June 1902, The Hoosier Democrat (Flora, IN), “First Defeat of the Season,” pg. 1, col. 1:
‘Bud” Mahaffey, the Delphi pitcher, had a $100 arm and a ten-cent head and lost his own game.
30 May 1904, Rockford (IL) Republic, pg. 2, col. 4:
Darb Rice, the famous Hoopeston baseball twirler, with Bloomington in 1902 may break into the game again this season. (...) Rice is said to still have the same terrific speed which attracted Capt. Anson’s attention several years ago. He is the man about whom Anson made the now famous remark about the “fifty thousand dollar arm and ten cent head.”
The National Game:
A History of Baseball, America’s Leading Out-door Sport, from the Time it was First Played Up to the Present Day, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of the Great Players who Helped to Bring the Game Into the Prominence it Now Enjoys
By Alfred Henry Spink
St. Louis, MO: National Game Publishing Company
Schreck said Mike had a million dollar arm and a ten-cent head.
August 1912, Boys’ Life, “Books Boys Like Best” by Franklin K. Matthews, pg. 34, col. 2:
“The Ten Thousand Dollar Arm” is the most recent of Mr. Van Loan’s books. Many a pitcher has a ten thousand dollar arm and a ten cent head. Read this story and you will find out all about it.
October 1912, Pearson’s Magazine, “Brains and Nerve in Baseball” by Billy Evans, pg. 36:
About two out of every ten failures can be traced to a lack of gray matter. (...) If such a chap happens to be a pitcher he is usually dubbed a fellow with a million-dollar arm and a ten-cent head.
24 October 1913, The Virginia Enterprise (Virginia, MN), pg. 4, col. 2:
Brainerd also produced Billy Phyle and before that Harry Howe, the man whom old Pop Anson described as having a thousand dollar arm and a ten-cent head.
The Internet Movie Database
Bull Durham (1988)
Crash Davis: Come on, Rook. Show us that million-dollar arm, ‘cause I got a good idea about that five-cent head of yours.
Baseball Between the Lies:
The Hype, Hokum, and Humbug of America’s Favorite Pastime
By Bob Carroll
New York, NY: Perigee Books
The original man with a million-dollar arm and ten-cent head, (Rube—ed.) Waddell was a marvelously talented left-hander who would much rather have spent his time chasing after fire trucks, fishing off a pier, or sampling the wares of the nearest saloon ..
Curse of Rocky Colavito:
A Loving Lookat a Thirty-Year Slump
By Terry Pluto
New York, NY: Fireside
“A million-dollar arm and a ten-cent head” was how Indians broadcaster Bob Neal characterized McDowell.
The Last Headbangers:
NFL Football in the Rowdy, Reckless ‘70s--The Era that Created Modern Sports
By Kevin Cook
New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
The rip on him had always been that he was worth the proverbial $1,000,000.10, a million-dollar arm and ten-cent head. Bradshaw’s worst fear was that it was true.
How Much is a “Million Dollar Arm, But a Ten Cent Head” Worth Now?
Posted on April 11, 2012
For those who didn’t know, it’s the twenty-two year anniversary of the film Bull Durham. The movie is a fan favorite for a variety of reasons: Kevin Costner kicks ass in it, Baseball is an awesome sport, and there are a plethora of memorable quotes. Everyone has a go-to of the latter, but one in particular has stuck in my mind–when Crash Davis labels Nuke LaLoosh as a “million dollar arm, but a ten cent head.” What a great, revealing concept.