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Nice guys finish last.

Leo Durocher
Leo Durocher (1905-1991) American professional baseball player, manager, coach ["Leo the Lip"]

The full quote was reported by in the column by Frank Graham, "Leo Doesn't Like Nice Guys," New York Journal-American (6 Jul 1946). When, as Brooklyn Dodgers manager, asked by a reporter if he were a nice guy:

Nice guys! Look over there. Do you know a nicer guy than Mel Ott? Or any of the other Giants? Why they’re the nicest guys in the world! And where are they? In seventh place! The nice guys over there are in seventh place. Well let them come and get me. The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place.

As the anecdote was retold (even when Graham's column was reprinted in Baseball Digest in the fall of that year), the references to "seventh place" began morphing into "last place" and "in the second division," eventually settling on the shorter version cited above. While Durocher originally denied he'd said the shorter version, he eventually lay claim to it, and used it as the title of his 1975 autobiography.

More discussion of this quotation:
Added on 22-Mar-22 | Last updated 22-Mar-22
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Nice is a pallid virtue. Not like honesty or courage or perseverance. On the other hand, in a nation frequently lacking in civility, there is much to be said for nice.

Molly Ivins (1944-2007) American writer, political columnist [Mary Tyler Ivins]
“My, Oh, My, It’s the Ninth Wonder of the World,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram (15 May 1994)

Reprinted in You Go to Dance with Them What Brung You (1998).
Added on 3-Jan-22 | Last updated 3-Jan-22
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Don’t be yourself — be someone a little nicer.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1966)
Added on 6-May-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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“Do unto others …” is a good rule of thumb. I live by that. Forgiveness is probably the greatest virtue there is. But that’s exactly what it is -­‐ a virtue. Not just a Christian virtue. No one owns being good. I’m good. I just don’t believe I’ll be rewarded for it in heaven. My reward is here and now. It’s knowing that I try to do the right thing. That I lived a good life. And that’s where spirituality really lost its way. When it became a stick to beat people with. “Do this or you’ll burn in hell.”

You won’t burn in hell. But be nice anyway.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
“Why I’m an Atheist,” Wall Street Journal (19 Dec 2010)
Added on 4-Aug-16 | Last updated 4-Aug-16
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Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Leo Buscaglia (1925-1998) American psychologist, writer
Born For Love: Reflections on Loving (1992)
Added on 12-Apr-16 | Last updated 12-Apr-16
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The real trouble is that “kindness” is a quality fatally easy to attribute to ourselves on quite inadequate grounds. Everyone feels benevolent if nothing happens to be annoying him at the moment. Thus a man easily comes to console himself for all his other vices by a conviction that “his heart’s in the right place” and “he wouldn’t hurt a fly,” though in fact he has never made the slightest sacrifice for a fellow creature. We think we are kind when we are only happy: it is not so easy, on the same grounds, to imagine oneself temperate, chaste, or humble. You cannot be kind unless you have all the other virtues. If, being cowardly, conceited and slothful, you have never yet done a fellow creature great mischief, that is only because your neighbour’s welfare has not yet happened to conflict with your safety, self-approval, or ease. Every vice leads to cruelty.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer, literary scholar, lay theologian [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Problem of Pain (1940)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Aug-19
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Is there any religion whose followers can be pointed to as distinctly more amiable and trustworthy than those of any other? If so, this should be enough. I find the nicest and best people generally profess no religion at all, but are ready to like the best men of all religions.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Religion” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 22-Jan-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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Good-nature is more agreeable in conversation than wit, and gives a certain air to the countenance which is more amiable than beauty. It shows virtue in the fairest light, takes off in some measure from the deformity of vice, and makes even folly and impertinence supportable.

Joseph Addison (1672-1719) English essayist, poet, statesman
The Spectator, No. 169 (1711-09-13)
Added on 10-Jul-08 | Last updated 8-Jan-24
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You say you’re supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense, I don’t have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.

Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson (1930-2023) American politician and televangelist
The 700 Club broadcast (1991-01-14)

The earliest documentation of this quote I can find is in David Cantor, The Religious Right: The Assault on Tolerance & Pluralism in America, Sec. 1, ch. 1 (1994).
Added on 29-Apr-08 | Last updated 13-Jun-23
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A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

Dave Barry (b. 1947) American humorist
“25 Things I Have Learned In 50 Years,” #21 (1997)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Oct-14
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