Nowadays, the phrase ‘Nice guys finish last’ is so commonly used that perhaps we don’t even think about its origin. But where does it actually come from and, most importantly, why has everybody saying it for so long?
Well, the answer is pretty simple: baseball.
In case you haven’t heard of Leo Durocher, he is one of the most legendary baseball manager due to his skills of making his team win – at all costs. Of course, that’s why he trained the Dodgers way back in 1946 and motivated each player due to his tough attitude. Basically, he made the team feel bad about any bad move they did. During the same year, he said the well-known phrase right before a game.
In fact, he was so proud of his own quote that he explained it years later, in his 1975 autobiography called, unsurprisingly, ‘Nice guys finish last’:
“Take a look at that Number Four there. A nicer guy never drew breath than that man there.” I called off his players’ names as they came marching up the steps behind him, “Walker Cooper, Mize, Marshall, Kerr, Gordon, Thomson. Take a look at them. All nice guys. They’ll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last.”
According to an article of the New York Journal American released in 1946, though, the manager didn’t say it quite like that. The actual quote was:
“The nice guys are all over there, in seventh place.”
Later on, the Baseball Digest publication, which was extremely popular at the time, switched the final words so that the phrase would be ‘Nice guys finish last.’ Apparently, Durocher didn’t mind at all to take credit for it.