Old Rivals Fight to Scoreless Tie

Damon Runyon

Fort Worth Star-Telegram/November 26, 1911

Both Yale and Harvard Miss Golden Opportunities to Make Touchdown.

40,000 Witness Game

Bad Pass to Howe Prevents Fullback Kicking Easy Field Goal

Once this afternoon Opportunity rapped at the door of Yale but stepped aside to avoid a poor snap from center on a try for what seemed a certain field goal. Once it beat a loud tattoo at the Harvard portals and then dodged back before a forward pass. Whereupon opportunity came no more to the gate and the annual battle between Harvard and Yale ended in a tie.  

Nothing could be fairer than nothing to nothing and when it was all over and 40,000 people were trying to walk off the field on their 80,000 frosted feet, it was unanimously agreed that it might have been much worse. 

Game Ragged at Times

The score about represents the strength of the two elevens. It tells nothing of the slipshod, shattering game they played at times. It is mute on the subject of chances fritted away on fumbles and failures of one kind and another but it does indicate that at least there was a rough tussle and therein speaks truthfully. 

There have been many better games played between elevens representing the ancient rivals of the college world, but there never has been one fought so desperately. Every moment of playing was filled with possibilities and the fact that they always fell short of actual fulfillment took nothing from the thrills they stirred up. 

It was feared that the field would be wet and soggy after Friday’s rain, but when the straw covering was removed this afternoon it was found it was merely dampened and a gorgeous sun soon dried it thoroughly. 

Yale supporters cheered up at this news, as a muddy field would have a worked against the blue if the team lived up to its season’s record. As it turned out, Yale played a weaker game against the crimson on a fairly dry field than against Princeton on a sloppy fieId. 

Blue Has Chance to Score

Early in the first period the blue had a royal chance to score, when a high punt from Camp’s toe was fumbled by a Harvard player and bounced up and down the field. While crimson jerseyed arms were reaching for the ball Avery of Yale slipped through a hole in the Harvard’s 19-yard line. 

Dunu went through the crimson barrier for four yards. Another smash at the line by the Yale fullback added three more. Right in front of the Harvard goal, Howe dropped back for a crack at the posts. The pass from center was very poor and the next moment a few hundred pounds of Cambridge men landed on top of Howe. He was downed on Harvard’s 17-yard line and the ball belonged to the crimson. 

Later in that part after Harvard had been penalized five yards for delaying the game, Felton’s foot raised a punt high over Howe’s head and Huntington went tearing down the field for a nice recovery on Yale’s 8-yard line. Potter was pushed into the lineup at this juncture in place of Gardner. 

Wendell tried a smash at the blue line and crushed the Harvard cause along two yards further, planting the ball right against the Yale goal. Potter dropped back as if he intended to try for a kick, but suddenly slanted the ball out to the bunched players for a short forward pass. The effort went awry. Spalding of Yale reached a long arm into the air and grabbed the ball, which then belonged to the blue within inches of their goal line. Camp booted the ball forty yards away.

Came Off in Punting

Camp’s punting today was below his form but he did some great line plunging. Potter of Harvard had a good chance at a field goal from the 24-yard line in the first period. Frothingham replaced a player in that same period for Harvard and tried a field goal, but it missed. 

The work of Philbin the Yale back was a notable feature. Time and again he carried the ball for good gains. Felton’s punting was another feature, the Harvard man outbooting his blue rival.

It cannot be said that either team had much advantage. At different stages one would excel in one department and the other in another, but all in all, the nothing to nothing score is a good line on their respective abilities. The game is another proof of the fact that no matter how they have each shown against others during the season, when Yale and Harvard meet, it is the one big battle of the year. 

The game was evenly battled and if it had been a prearranged tie it could not have been worked off with so little sustained advantage to either side. The championship title may not have been at stake as the football experts say, but that was lost sight of when the teams took the field and they fought as desperately as if the world were at stake.  

Frequent penalties told of roughness in the playing. There were numerous substitutions for one reason and another and as the panorama of battle swept the field at the feet of the chilled 40,000, there was plenty of justification for the cheering sections to exercise their lungs. 

A touchdown was always the most remote possibility of the game. The spectators realized almost before the first period was over that if there was to be a score it would come from a field goal, unless accident contributed to this game as it has to so many others this season. The luck broke about even, however, and neither side can complain on that score.

Through the first period, however, Harvard seemed the best but after that Yale stiffened and carried the fight to her opponents. Philbin slipped away in the second period for a mighty run of forty-three yards, only to be brought down on a beautiful tackle by Potter.


A Thrill at the Dog Track

Damon Runyon

Star Tribune/August 4, 1935

Often we have been asked: 

“What was your greatest thrill in sport?”

We have never given the true answer until now.  

This is because our greatest thrill was a private thrill. 

Perhaps no one felt the same thrill at the moment. It was a passing incident of sport that meant nothing in particular to anybody but us. 

The Dempsey-Firpo thrill, the Los Angeles Olympic games thrill, the one-inch stand of Columbia’s football team, the ride of the old “Big Four” of polo—these, and a thousand and one other great thrills that we have experienced were common property. 

But our greatest thrill, the one we shall remember all our days, was largely an individual matter. It came from a dog. 

A racing dog. A fawn-colored greyhound named Damon Runyon. 

You can see the connection. 

He was a great dog, a champion if ever one lived. He was a monarch of his racing time, and looked and acted the part.  

In Frank Menke’s all sports record book, under American records in the chapter devoted to dog racing, you see this entry:

¼ mile, time, 25, Damon Runyon, Miami, 1927.  

It still stands.  

The tracks have improved, the game has improved, perhaps the dogs have improved. 

But there it is, the fawn-colored Damon Runyon’s speed mark for the distance.  

It was made at the old Hialeah dog track at Miami, if memory serves, and they have been shooting at it for eight years all over the country. 

Now Damon Runyon, the racing dog, is dead, as a telegram from Portland, Ore., informs us. He died last Monday at Beaverton, in Oregon, well on in years, leaving behind him numerous progeny to carry on his name and fame on the dog tracks of the land. 

We did not own Damon Runyon. His owner was Captain Otto Wohlauf, famous in dog racing circles. The fawn greyhound was imported to this country from England as a young dog and was named for us as a compliment that became a considerable honor among the dog racing people. 

Few faster dogs than Damon Runyon ever lived. He won a large amount of money in purses, and was valued in his racing prime at $10,000. 

He was to the dog tracks, in his heyday, what Omaha is to the horse tracks today. He was the champion. 

We never saw Damon Runyon until he was 7 or 8 years old, way past his peak. 

Captain Otto Wohlauf had him down in Miami one winter some years ago with the rest of his racing kennel, and we visited the old dog. He was a quiet, friendly creature, and very handsome. 

“He can still run a little,” said Captain Wohlauf, “but we don’t race him much any more. He’s about all through, and we’re going to use him in the stud hereafter.”

We expressed regret that we had never happened to be where we could see Damon Runyan in action when he was at his best. We said we wish could have seen him run just once, anyway.  

“Well.” Captain Wohlauf said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll run him in a race at Miami Beach tomorrow night, just so you can say you saw him. He won’t get anything, but he loves to run more than any dog I ever saw, and he’ll enjoy it, anyway, and you’ll get a kick out of seeing your namesake travel.” 

So the next night we went out to the dog track built by the late George (Tex) Rickard, and found Captain Wohlauf waiting for us with a program in his hand. 

“The old fellow’s in good condition,” he said, “but I’m afraid he’s a little over his head in this race at his age, so if you bet anything, bet on this dog here.” 

He indicated an entry, but we paid no attention. We made a modest wager on Damon Runyon, and then we went out to the stewards’ stand to stand with Jack Fisher, the racing judge, to see the race. 

We got our first thrill when the first prices were posted on the approximate odds board, Damon Runyon was opened at 4 to 1, and bang! before you could say boo, he was down to 7 to 5, and the customers were clamoring for more tickets at the mutuels windows. 

“Hum!” hummed Jack Fisher. “Sentimental betting. They can’t forget what a champion the old boy was.” 

A moment later he was forgetting his judicial role to join us in a wild whooping, and the old dog, off in a tangle, trailed his field until the last few yards, then came leaping down the middle of the track, a tawny streak, to overhaul the front runners and win by two lengths. 

The roar from the crowd that followed sounded as if the ocean just beyond the backstretch fence had suddenly decided to go on a tear, and then Damon Runyon came trotting back to the judges’ stand, his tail wagging, and looking up at us as if to say: 

“Well, what do you think of me now?”

That was our greatest thrill, and it lives with us again at the mere recollection, as we read the news that Damon Runyon, the greyhound, has gone to the happy hunting ground of the great racing dogs. 


Betting on Baer, Louis Go Light, Says Runyon

Damon Runyon

San Francisco Examiner/September 23, 1935

 If you care to find out how much betting there is on the Louis-Baer fight, take a $1,000 bill into the betting marts and try to get it down on either man. 

If you haven’t actually got the $1,000, just go around making a noise like a $1,000 bill. You will discover that nearly everybody else is offering to bet in the same kind of currency, in short, that the betting is largely conversational. 

You can always tell how much betting is going on by the price on any event. When one man is a topheavy favorite, that means that there is very little wagering. In this case of Louis and Baer, the Baer admirers are asking a price that precludes any considerable betting on Louis by the discreet gamblers. 

Want 9 To 5

They want as high as 9 to 5. No one who knows anything about fistic form is going to lay that price for any large amount. Louis perhaps figures to be favorite, not only off his record, but off Baer’s last fight. However, the price should be no stronger than 7 to 5, tops. 

The popular form of betting just now seems to be to take a good long price that Baer will flatten Louis inside of four or five rounds, and then bet on Louis to win on general results. We do not agree that this is a logical way of reasoning, but we have heard of a number of comparatively small bets on that basis. 

Louis Has Chance

In other words, the bettors figure that Baer will win by a knockout early in the fight or not at all. They think that he will die away in the later rounds just as he did with Braddock. 

Our view is that Louis has just as good a chance as Baer, if not better, to land the early knockout. He is younger, fresher, and probably a better hitter. Certainly he is more accurate. The only thing that makes this a contest at all in the minds of the Louis supporters is the question as to Joe’s ability to take a good smack on the chin.


Curley and the Fighting Fireman

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader/June 5, 1935

Jim Flynn, the old Fighting Fireman of Pueblo, Colorado, who died in Los Angeles not long ago, was managed in the later years of his fistic career by none other than the good M. Jacques Armand Curley, the celebrated wrestling entrepreneur, and of Flynn the promoter tells many a story. 

Curley had a genuine fondness for the Fireman, because of Jim’s tremendous fighting heart and his picturesque personality. At one time Curley probably honestly believed that Flynn could win the heavyweight title, and to the day of his death, Jim Stoutly insisted that the police had no right to interfere in his fight for the championship against John Arthur Johnson in Las Vegas, N. M. twenty years ago next July 4th. 

They stopped it in the ninth round on the ground that Flynn was outclassed. Flynn never believed it. Flynn never believed that he ever was outclassed by any man, with one possible exception. That was Sam Langford. Flynn got a newspaper decision over Langford in Los Angeles in 1910, but a short time later, Sam got Flynn in the ring again and flattened him in ten rounds. 

In 1923. they met again in Mexico -City, but by that time Jim was all through as a fighter. He lasted only three rounds. He had been going twenty-one years when he crawled through the ropes for that battle. He always said Langford was the greatest fighter he ever met. 

Widow Now Living In Brooklyn 

In commenting on the death of Flynn, this column erred in stating that he was divorced from his wife, Fannie Vedder, a well-known and accomplished actress.  

As a matter of fact, they were still married when Jim died. Mrs. Vedder is now living in Brooklyn. Their son, a fine chap, visited his father in Los Angeles not long before Jim passed away. Flynn and Fannie Vedder were married for many years, and the writer is glad to make this correction. 

Jack Curley thinks that Jim was one of the very gamest glove gladiators that ever laced on fighting shoes, an opinion in which all those who saw Jim in his heyday must agree. So far from being affected by his knockout at the hands of Langford, Flynn fought on to the title bout with Johnson two years later.

The Fireman always welcomed a match with a negro opponent, because he had an idea that he went into the ring with some sort of psychological advantage over the negro. He fought over a dozen battles with the best colored heavies of his time, including two with Johnson, and three with Langford. 

Fought Until He Was 44 

The good M. Jacques Armand promoted the Las Vegas match between Johnson and Flynn, and the latter was so sure he could beat the Galveston negro that he fought for very little money. His knockout by Johnson five years before the Las Vegas battle had failed to convince him of Jack’s superiority. 

Jim was then 33 years old, yet he went on fighting for eleven years thereafter, meeting the very roughest men in the land. He spoiled many a championship hope besides the great Dempsey. He was long past his fighting prime when he flattened the Manassa Mauler at Murray, Utah, in one punch. 

The writer was talking to Jack Curley not long ago and was surprised to learn from him that the Las Vegas fight was not the complete loser that everyone supposed at the time. He says that as a matter of fact it broke better than even, though it didn’t draw up to expectations. Promoting prize fights was a precarious occupation in those days. 

Curley Was Big Boxing Promoter 

Curley’s fame as a wrestling promotor is so great that it has almost been forgotten that he was one of the biggest fistic promoters of his time, and he managed many fighters, including Flynn, Marvin Hart, who was briefly the heavyweight champion, Tommy Ryan the great middleweight, and others.

He promoted the Willard-Johnson heavyweight championship battle in Havana in 1915, with the late Harry Frazee, baseball and theatrical manager, and Lawrence Weber as his backers. They wound up making money out of that, as they had a “piece” of Willard, and he won the title, and bought them out.

Curley also promoted the Dempsey-Fulton fight in Harrison, N. J., the battle that made Dempsey. His backer then is said to have been Harry Tammen, the Denver newspaper publisher. Curley was the hardest working pugilistic promoter the writer has ever seen, with a capacity for infinite detail, but he was just a little ahead of the fistic gold rush. 

Thinks Louis Big Drawing Card 

Curley is greatly interested, as a showman, in Joe Louis, the young negro heavyweight sensation who fights Primo Carnera at Yankee Stadium this month. He thinks Louis may be the greatest drawing card since Dempsey and Tunney. 

It was Curley who first came babbling into New York of having seen the greatest fighter of his experience, after seeing Dempsey drape Carl Morris over the ropes in Buffalo one night, and Curley was managing Morris at the time, trying to build him up to a heavyweight championship tilt with Willard. 

Oddly enough, Curley was managing Jim Flynn when Flynn knocked out this same Dempsey a couple of years previously in Utah, but Curley did not go to Utah with Jim for that fight. He sent the Irishman out there with little hope for him, as Jim was pretty well washed up at the time. 

Curley was mildly surprised when Flynn flattened the unknown Dempsey, but was positively astounded when he saw, in Buffalo, the manner of man his old warrior had belted out. The good M. Jacques wouldn’t mind having a Jim Flynn, of say 1911, around right now. He would be better than the wrestling game.


Babe Ruth Not Quite Fading Away

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader/June 4, 1935

It has been a matter of common knowledge to the baseball fans of the land that their old idol, Babe Ruth, had reached the spot marked X – he now says it is double X—of his active career.

They knew that Boston was merely the hopping off place, the end of the last long mile, the boneyard. Perhaps the great Ruth knew it, too, as he unpacked his satchel there with a spurious smile of hope on his fat features, and mumbled that he was delighted to get “back home.”

If there had been any doubt in his mind that the shadows were lengthening across his baseball path, it must have been speedily dispelled soon after the opening of the season when he found the old immutable law of average looking him in the eye, and when the cheers suddenly curdled into rawzberries, as they say in Boston town.

But it is characteristic of Babe Ruth that when he realized that the jig was up he did not sling off into the darkness of his 21 years of baseball without ado. He put his going where all his doings have been for many years—right on the first pages of the newspapers, with big headlines. Even a Babe Ruth stomachache was always entitled to that sort of billing, surely a Ruth hail, and half-farewell, could draw no less.

Few Homers Left

Of the Babe’s quarrel with that kindly, well-meaning, but somewhat baseballically bewildered gentleman, Judge Emil Fuchs, we have no comment to make. The Judge’s signing of Ruth, if he anticipated any real baseball service from the once mighty slugger, was an error in the beginning.

That Ruth has a few home runs left in his system, and always will have, there can be no doubt. The batting eye is last to go in the fog of time. But few believe that Ruth, 41 years old, could be of any great baseball value to a club across another season, and there was doubt that an ex-king could accustom himself to the small inconveniences of a mere subject.

Ruth served some purpose to Fuchs in the matter of a little passing publicity, to be sure. There will always be some publicity in Ruth as long as he lives. But the baseball fans will never be appeased by publicity when they are looking for home runs, and if Ruth does not know that, his years of service have taught him nothing.

His passing from the active game has been a foregone conclusion for some time, but old ball players, like all established public characters, hate to give up. Ruth may yet become a great manager. He will never again be a great player, yet his greatness in baseball history is such that he will be the measuring mark for many years to come.

New Bantam Champ

After six years the bantamweight division has a new world champion in Sanchili, of Spain, who beat the veteran titleholder, Panama Al Brown, in 15 rounds at Valencia, Sunday.

Sonchili is unknown outside his homeland, and was first heard of in the sporting news when he got a decision over Brown not long ago. He is apparently an authentic bantam, as he weighed in at 117¼. The bantamweight mark is 118 pounds.

Brown, a Panamanian Negro, has been an absentee titleholder for years as far as this country is concerned, doing most of his fighting abroad. But until Canchili came along they have been unable to dig up a legitimate bantamweight who classed with the Negro.

In the national boxing consensus of 1934 Brown hung up a new record in the nine-year life of the concensus when he was picked as the first bantam of the world for the sixth consecutive time. The pickers are boxing writers who each year rate the first ten boxers of every division.

Few Were Prominent

Probably few American boxing fans can, offhand, name six bantamweights of any prominence or ability, so greatly has the division deteriorated.

Brown, a tall, stringy fellow, came to the title in 1929 largely by claim. The early ’20’s were the last big days of the division. New York’s Joe Lynch, now a boxing judge, won the title from Pete Herman, of New Orleans, in 1920 and lost it back to Herman the following year.

Then Johnny Buff, of New Jersey, beat Herman to a decision and Buff was knocked out by Lynch in 1922. Abe Goldstein, a New Yorker, won the title from Lynch by decision, and lost it to Cannonball Eddie Martin. Martin was whipped by Charley Phil Rosenberg, a good little fighter, who forfeited the title because of inability to make the weight in 1927, and who afterward fell into bad company and wound up in plenty of trouble.

Bud Taylor Was Best

It was now that the bantam championship, once held by some of the greatest fighters in the boxing game, George Dixon, Terry McGovern, Jimmy Barry, Frankie Neil, Johnny Coulin, Kid Williams, fell into disuse.

Buddy Taylor, of Terre Haute, Ind., was undoubtedly the best of them all around 1927 and 1928, but the New York commission would never recognize him. In 1929 Panama Al Brown beat Vidal Gregorio and claimed the title, and while it was a vague and shadowy claim in the beginning, he built it into general recognition.

Eugene Huat, of France, beat Brown in Canada and claimed the title, but Brown later whipped Huat. Boxing associations made several attempts to legislate Brown out of his claim, but he kept licking bantamweights all over Europe until it came to be generally agreed that the man who beat him would have to be accepted as the champ.

Meantime, America developed no bantamweights of any class. The last concensus mentions Brown, Sixto Escobar, Speedy Dado, Pablo Dano, Young Tommy, Joe Tei Ken, Lou Salica, Little Pancho, Indiana Quintana and Darky Blandon, one United States born in the bunch.


The Fistic Master Instructing Joe Louis

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader/June 3, 1935

A tall negro, the color of coffee with plenty of cream in it, and with the gray of 52 years settling about his ears, is the Master Mind of young Joe Louis’ pugilistic existence. 

This is Jack Blackburn, of Versailles, Kentucky, once rated one of the greatest fighters in the world. He has a mouthful of gold teeth and a plaintive expression. He deposited his fistic career in a state penitentiary in Pennsylvania twenty-six years ago, and never recovered it. 

After a fighter has been out of the ring ten to twenty years his pugilistic prowess is usually greatly exaggerated. We often hear the lads discussing moss grown gladiators as having been good fighters in their heydey, when, as a matter of fact, they were first-class rutabagas, and the record book so indicates. 

Many an old-time exponent of the manly art of pugilistic adagio dancing owes a reputation for bygone ability to youthful historians who never saw him in action, or never bothered to consult the archives. Even the veterans of the game often let their fond recollections betray them when they get to mumbling about the good old days, and retrospect gilds many a memory. 

But Jack Blackburn is one relic of a bygone fistic day whose ability must have been 18-karat, because the aged raconteurs of the ring agree that he was great, and they are borne out by the book. 

Blackburn’s forte was consummate boxing skill. 

It was a matter of instinct with him, as with most of the great negro fighters like Joe Gans, Jack Johnson, Sam Langford, Harry Lyons, Rule Turner, Sam McVey and Joe Jeannette. The great negro boxer is rarely a matter of manufacture, like many white boxers. He is born that way. 

Timing, and distance, and feinting and blocking, and leading, and countering, and all the rest of it, came to Blackburn naturally. 

But unlike many other boxers just as great, Blackburn was able to transmit his knowledge and skill to others. He has long been regarded as a great coach. He worked with a lot of other fighters before Joe Louis came along to fulfill Blackburn’s dream of a pupil who could do the things that Blackburn used to do—and as well. 

It is rare a teacher finds a pupil like that. 

Nearly every once-great boxer has tried to pass his own ability on to some youngster, but either the teacher lacked the knack of teaching, or was unable to dig up the right pupil. 

The great Jim Corbett, Jim Jeffries, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jack Johnson, Abe Attell, Jack Dempsey, Tommy Ryan and scores of other former greats, struggled with raw material at different times, and gave up in disgust. 

Blackburn, too, has had his failures, but at last came upon Joe Louis, the ideal pupil. The old timers say you see in Louis of reflection of the Blackburn thirty years old, the ice cold, dead pan master of the science of boxing. 

In his heydey Blackburn weighed between 135 and 140 pounds. He was of that species that became known as a Philadelphia lightweight. He did most of his fighting in the City of Brotherly Love, when they had six round no-decision bouts. 

Probably at his very best Blackburn weighed around 138 pounds, but weight was no consideration with him when it came to picking opponents. He would let them come in as big as a house. He was tall and rangy, and while not a tremendous puncher, he had a punishing pair of hands. 

He fought the mighty Sam Langford, then a welterweight, several times, drawing with him in twelve and again in fifteen rounds. He fought Joe Gans a couple of no-decision bouts, then lost to “The Old Master” in fifteen. Blackburn was then only about 20 years old. 

He fought fellows like Jack Twin Sullivan, Jimmy Gardner, of Lowell; Joe Grim. Dave Holly, Larry Temple, George Gunther, George Cole, Harry Lewis, Jack Bonner, Charley Hitte, Jim Barry, Philadelphia Jack O’Brien, Tony Caponi, John Wilde and Mike Donovan. Most of these names mean nothing to the present generation, but they were accounted fair fighters in Blackburn’s day. 

Some of them were welters, some middles, some heavies. It made no difference to Blackburn. It was rarely that he was shaded in no-decision bouts, in which the decisions were rendered by the newspaper writers. 

He was 5 feet 10 inches tall, with a long reach. He was rarely damaged by an opponent’s blows, because he rarely took a solid punch. He was a horse for work, because of his superb defensive ability, and he could fight a couple of times a week without any trouble.  

His big fight was 1908. He fought about seven years before he was at his very best. His last recorded fight was with Ray Pelkey in Los Angeles, when Blackburn, a shadow of his former greatness, lost in three rounds. 

He has been making his home around Chicago since quitting the ring, always working with some young fighter, amateur or professional. He is a quiet chap, with a good memory of the old days, and probably with regrets that he never attained the full reward of his amazing prowess.


Welterweight Title Tilt Tonight

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times Leader/May 28, 1935

New York, May 28.-Tonight, at the Polo Grounds, Jimmy McLarnin of Vancouver, defends his title of welterweight champion of the world against Barney Ross of Chicago.

The indications are that this, the opening show of the New York outdoor boxing season and the third meeting between the men, will draw a crowd of upwards of 50,000 and gate receipts of over $200,000.

They fought twice last year.

When they met the first time, Ross was lightweight champion, and McLarnin was welterweight king, and fighting his first fight since winning the title from Young Corbett, III, of California, a year previously.

Ross won on points at the end of fifteen rounds. It was close, so close that a return match was inevitable.

In their second fight, much postponed because of bad weather, McLarnin was declared the winner.

Again it was very close.

Ross retained his title of lightweight champion after being the first man in fistic history to hold both the lightweight and welterweight title at the same time.

He kept fighting at intervals through the winter. McLarnin in the meantime remained idle. Ross found he was having trouble with the lightweight limit. He could make it, all right, but the comfort of the welterweight division with no trouble whatever about making 147 pounds, lingered in his memory.

The New York Boxing Commission elected one Lou Ambers of Herkimer, N.Y., as its No. 1 lightweight challenger, and said Ross would have to fight Ambers before he could fight anyone else in New York.

A match with Ambers presented no glowing financial prospects to Ross, and he finally came into New York and vacated his lightweight title, leaving the way clear to a third match, between McLarnin and himself.

Ambers was then matched with Tony Canzoneri, former lightweight champion, for the lightweight title, and Canzoneri won with ease, and now is the recognized title holder. This same Canzoneri was twice defeated by Ross who took the lightweight title from the New York Italian, then whipped him again when Canzoneri figured as the challenger.

Obviously there was not much contention for Ross in the lightweight division and he steered a wise financial course in moving out. Win or lose against McLarnin he can always drop back and essay the 135 pounds of the lightweight division, if he desires.

The writer leans to Ross in the fight tonight for several reasons.

He is younger than McLarnin, has been in more active service, and figures to improve over his past fights.

He is a pretty cute boxer, and in their first fight he made McLarnin fight to suit him. McLarnin likes to have an opponent come to him. He is not so hot when he is required to do the chasing.

At his peak McLarnin was one of the deadliest punchers of the little men. Against Ross his punch, if he still retains it, was not so much in evidence, as he was always firing at a moving target. It is possible, of course, that too much ring rust has removed McLarnin’s sting forever, though it is the writer’s impression that it will be just as well for Ross if he does not undertake to test the theory. Ross has always been a stiff puncher, but never anything like the benumbering clouter that McLarnin used to be.

Yet McLarnin began his career as strictly a boxer, an exponent of fistic science in its highest form. He was little, and fast, and flashy, apparently without much punch until one night he laid Jackie Fields low with a right hand crack to the chin.

Thereafter McLarnin became quite conscious of his punching power. For a time he was “right hand crazy,” as the boys say. He knocked all his opponents cock-eyed. Indeed, he flattened his last opponent before he met Ross, to win the welterweight title. But against Ross, he has seemed just a boxer.

Both McLarnin and Ross have been training with the same idea in mind—to score a knockout in their third meeting.

McLarnin has boxed in five different classes, from the 112 pound on up to the welterweight, and if he beats Ross it is said he plans to invade the middleweight division. Ross did some fighting below the lightweight notch, but he gained all his fame among the 135.

McLarnin has been one of the greatest drawing cards that New York has ever known. His two fights with Ross, one of them almost completely spoiled by bad weather, yanked in $332,000. He has had some of his greatest ring successes in New York, and is beloved by the fistic fans of the big town.

Here are two fighters against whom there has never been a breath of suspicion. They are always leveling when they are in the ring, and both their fights against each other have been great fights from every angle. McLarnin has had 10 fights here, lost four and won six. Ross has been defeated once in a New York ring.

Little has been said of the preliminaries to the Ross-McLarnin fight, but behind them tonight will appear one of the most promising fighters in the ring today.

One of them is Sixto Escobar, of Puerto Rico, who is fighting Joey Archibald, of Providence. Escobar is said to be the greatest little fighter since Pancho Villa, and he is giving away weight to Archibald tonight.


Gone Fishin’ with Harry Richman

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader/May 29, 1935

New York, May 29. Now the big tuna are running, and Harry Richman can hardly wait.

As he croons his lullabies in a New York night club these pleasant evenings, he hears, not the applause of the crowd, but the mumble of the surf on the white sands of Bimini, and the whine of the reels.

He sniffs, not the perfume of the beautifully gowned gals, but the soft breezes of the distant Bahama Banks, or perhaps of a quietly decaying fish, both being the odors of Araby to a confirmed fishing nut like Harry Richman.

He has given in his notice.

His pals Billy Leeds and a score of other boon companions are down there jousting with the larger inmates of the briny, and Harry Richman does not purpose going on accepting a paltry $4000 per week for warbling when he might be riding a fishing smack off Bimini.

It was Billy Leeds, generally identified as the heir to the tin plate fortune, that you read about the other day as being sought in his storm-beleaguered launch off Bimini, and who turned up safe and sound in a Florida port slightly surprised at the hullaballoo over his absence.

Billy Leeds’ yacht, the Moana, is at Bimini with a party of pals for the big fish hunting and few men know those waters better than the young millionaire sailor. Harry Richman is joining that particular party.

An Expensive Sport

It Is surprising the hold that fishing for the big fighters of the deep, tuna, marlin, tarpon, and the like, has taken on rich young fellows of late years, and, if anybody asks you, it can be made an extremely expensive sport, at that.

Among those now at Bimini is Woolworth Donahue, called “Wooly” of the Woolworth five-and-ten clan, a tall, slim, pleasant young chap, who is a bug on both big game and big fish chasing. He is with Ben Finney, a well-known young sportsman of New York, and they are fishing off the Dawn, captained by Clarence Hegeman, a veteran of those waters.

Young Donahue is fishing with what is described as a 20/0 Vom Hofe reel, the largest ever turned out by that particular concern. This may seem nothing to you non-fishers, but it is a man-sized reel.

The writer thought the lads were spoofing him last winter when they told him of a reel used by Julio Sanchez, a famous fisherman of a rich Cuban family, that cost $1200, but cautious inquiry among the knowing indicates that this figure is quite possible, and in the Sanchez case quite probable.

It only goes to show you about fishing.

Hemingway Big Hunter

Ernest Hemingway, the greatest living American writer of fiction, and a piscatorial prodigy in the Caribbean, is at Bimini, and recently nabbed a 381-pound tuna, said to be a Bimini record.

Hemingway makes his home at Key West, and spends most of his time fishing for the big fish. He is accounted one of the greatest of the big fish hunters who prowl the waters off the Florida coasts.

Bimini is a blob of sand some fifty miles from Miami, or about thirty minutes as the seaplane drones. It belongs to the British, and was famous during the rum-running days as a loading port for the hooch. Now it is famous for fishing, and on Bimini a large coterie of fishermen make their headquarters during the season.

This writer ls one whose every instinct revolts against the very idea of fishing, mainly on account of the motion of the boat, but he is an honorary member of the celebrated Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club, of Hibiscus Island, the greatest organization of its kind in the South.

He is greatly flattered by the receipt of an entry card for the club’s prize contest for anglers. The contestant fills out blank spaces narrating his piscatorial exploits, but the writer observes that there is a space for the signature of the weighing of the fish.

At least there is one on the card received by the writer and he hopes and trusts that this is not a provision for him, individually, in case he decides to do any fishing. It seems somewhat skeptical.

Record of All Catches

The Miami Beach Rod and Reel Club likes to know what members are doing any fishing, and another card received by the writer provides for record of fish caught by rod and reel, such as marlin, tarpon, sailfish, Allison tuna, bonefish, permit, dolphin, wahoo, amberpack, African pompano, barracuda, king-fish, crevalle, grouper, bonito, tuna, mackerel, redfish, robalo, set trout, bluefish, pompano, all these indigenous to Florida waters.

The writer feels sort of out of it after reading this list. There is no provision for entry of the only kind of fish he ever catches, and for which he holds a record in Vincent Liquori’s Italian restaurant, the Monta Rosa.

This is the ferocious anchovy.

But can you imagine a guy chucking a $4000 per week job just to go fishing?


The Passing Show

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/March 11, 1900

By advocating painless removal of incurable idiots and lunatics, incorrigible criminals and irreclaimable drunkards from this vale of tears, Dr. W. Duncan McKim has provoked many a respectable but otherwise blameless person to throw a cat-fit of great complexity and power. Yet Dr. McKim seems only to anticipate the trend of public opinion and forecast its crystallization into law. It is rapidly becoming a question of not what we ought to do with these unfortunates but what we shall be compelled to do. Study of the statistics of the matter shows that in all civilized countries mental and moral diseases are increasing, proportionately to population, at a rate which in the course of a few generations will make it impossible for the healthy to care for the afflicted. To do this will require the entire revenue which it is possible to raise by taxation—will absorb all the profits of all the industries and professions, and make deeper and deeper inroads upon the capital from which they are derived. When it comes to that there can be but one result. High and humanizing sentiments are angel visitants whom we entertain with pride and pleasure, but when the entertainment becomes too costly to be borne we “speed the parting guest” forthwith. And it may happen that in inviting to his vacant place a less exacting successor—that in replacing Sentiment with Reason—we shall, in this instance, learn to our joy that we do but entertain another angel. For nothing is so heavenly as Reason; nothing is so sweet and compassionate as her voice—

Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose 

But musical as is Apollo’s lute, 

Strung with his golden hair.  

Is it cruel, is it heartless, is it barbarous to use something of the same care in breeding men and women as in breeding horses and dogs? Here is a determining question: Knowing yourself doomed to hopeless idiocy, lunacy, crime or drunkenness, would you or would you not, welcome a painless death? Let us assume that you would. Upon what ground, then, would you deny to another, incapable of exacting it, a boon that you would desire for yourself? 

Oh! It seems that the purpose of the Puerto Rican bill is not disclosed in its title, nor was it avowed in the arguments of its proponents. That bill was not devised in order to raise revenue for the needy Puerto Ricans; that was only a pretext—just a little political play, as it were. The esteemed New York “Tribune” now stands up “like old Goliath tall” and “gives the whole thing away.” Under pretense of tranquilizing those amazing Republican who believe in our right to get aside he Constitution in dealing with colonial Americans, but deny the expediency of exercising that right against Puerto Rico, that candid journal explains that the purpose of the bill was to provoke a decision from the Supreme Court for our guidance in other matters. Congress—or rather the Republican majority in Congress—may want to do a number of things affecting the colonial American. Some of these things can be done if he has constitutional rights, unless, says our frank contemporary, “some way not now seen, can be found to get around the constitution as nations always do get around their constitutions in great emergencies.” The transition from despair to hope in those words is admirable. The writer does not discern—alas!—any way to beat the Constitution, but by the general experience of other beaters is encouraged to believe that in the great emergency of his need it can be done.  

But the Republican party is not without a vestigial conscience; it would rather have a right to do wrong than suffer irritating criticism for doing it without the right. “So,” says the “Tribune,” “actual legislation withholding constitutional guarantees is necessary to test the right of Congress to withhold them in any instance whatever, no matter how essential to the general welfare the denial may be regarded by the whole country”—that is to say, the whole party. 

As it proceeds our hardy contemporary’s exposition grows more and more an exposure. Like our Potomac drinking water, the longer it is suffered to run from the tap, the fouler it is. To the merely human understanding of a non-Republican it seems plain that “constitutional guarantees cannot be “withheld” and “denied” unless they already exist. If there already exists “actual legislation” that “withholds” them from Puerto Rico, or potential legislation “denying” them to Luzon or Guam, it must be unconstitutional. The services of the Supreme Court are needless; the great oracle of the Republicans has decided the matter; and decided it our way. It is not for us to inquire what they think of the decision. 

The President, also, is explaining that the bill was drawn in order to obtain a Supreme Court decision on its lawfulness. Evidently the word has come forth, that this is to be the avowed justification of the bill. As proof of a quickened conscience it is acceptable. It shows, too, that the Administration is not devoid of ingenuity nor insensible to the advantages of afterthought. 

The “Evening Journal’s” portrait of President McKinley singing in church leads like a kindly light to the inference that if he can repair his political fortunes by doing that, the Methodist vote has not a speaking acquaintance with the Methodist eye. 

A man who is not as good soldier as I am, is, I take it, a mighty poor soldier; and the man in general command of the Dutch forces in South Africa appears to be of that kind. As early as the third of last December I said in this paper, in an article entitled “The Thunder of the Captains”: 

From a military point of view General Joubert’s strategy is inexcusable. From Ladysmith to Kimberley, following the general course of the Orange river, the distance is not less than 400 miles; and this long line he has attempted to hold with a half dozen small armies, and at the same time keep his grasp on Mafeking, 200 miles in Kimberley’s rear. 

Having affirmed the faultiness of this disposition of his troops, I ventured to point out what seemed to me a better one:

Leaving a small “containing force” to watch Colonel Baden-Powell’s paltry six hundred, he should have called down to the line of the Orange all the troops operating in that vicinity.  In the same way he should have released his hold upon either Ladysmith or Kimberley, or both, and by rapid concentration of his entire force secured the advantage given him by “interior lines.” Having massed his forces he could fall upon that column of the enemy most deserving of the distinction, overwhelming it before it could be succored by its distant co-fractions. 

Belonging as it does in the category of imaginary operations, this plan is re-stated here for what it is worth. As a mere looker-on at the game, I have not the immodesty to claim for it any special consideration. The next best thing that can be said of it (as of the plan of tunneling under the British and catching them by the coat tails) is that, being untested, it is not discredited by failure. And the best thing? Oh, nothing much—only that it strictly conforms to all the principles of the art of war. 

Permit me to make an end of the matter and spare myself additional blushes by quoting the concluding lines of the article in question—which if General Joubert has the happiness to take this paper (as I trust he has) must have seemed to him exceedingly impudent, however they may seem to him now.

Apparently he cannot make up his mind to let go; he clings to the shadowy advantages of his semi-sieges in the desperate hope of capturing troops that can be spared and places that he would soon be compelled to abandon. The pounding that he is getting at the right of his line is the legitimate fruit of his error and a prophecy of what awaits him everywhere if he persists in it.  

Let us be serious. If any reader thinks that I am laying claim to a superior sagacity he misses the meaning of these remarks; I should be sorry to believe that any cadet at West Point in his junior year, having given an equal attention to General Joubert’s operations, could possibly have made a different forecast of the result. The purpose is to show that the immemorial and immutable principles of strategy cannot be violated with impunity; that he who having advantage of “the initiative” and of “interior lines,” throws it away to indulge in dubious sieges, and having opportunity to concentrate against a gathering enemy tries to hold an extended line, is foredoomed to defeat. In this instance my own forecast is the only one immediately available in illustration. Any regularly educated officer of our army, or any intelligent civilian student of the military art could have made, and many doubtless did make, a better one. The topographical features of the theatre of war, the Boers’ unsuspected state of preparation, the long-range firearms and smokeless powder—all these gave amazing and unforeseen superiority to the defense and postponed the day of inevitable punishment to him who defied the laws of his trade. But eventually, when confronted by a fairly good soldier, sensibly observing and skillfully applying them, he went to the wall. And with him, thank heaven, go the belted civilians and kept corporals of the press, and every Anglophobe harangue wooing the Irish vote by waving the red flag in the cave of the winds. 

In offering his free-trade amendment to his party’s Puerto Rican tariff bill, Senator Cushman K. Davis said: 

“I have never yet, in all the years that I have been in the Senate, been accused of doing anything because I thought it politically expedient, or because I believed it was ‘good politics.’”

It is hardly likely that Senator Davis knows accurately all that he has been accused of; what he means is that he has never done these things. That is to say, he has neglected all the surest means and methods of political preferment, as practiced by those “born leaders or men,” the bosses. That accounts for Senator Davis’ failure and his humble position. If he knew “practical politics” and had a sounder respect for its immemorial traditions, instead of being what he unfortunately is—merely a great-hearted gentleman whom his foolish countrymen delight to honor—he might be as magnificent a figure in political history as the Hon, Mark Hanna of Ohio, the Hon. Thomas C. Piatt of New York, or the Hon. Jack Satan of Lower Kansas. 

The distinguished president of the Stanford University is an eminent ichthyologist—he knows a shell from a jellyfish without eating them. Nevertheless, there are things that he does not know; for example, that the people of the South African republics will ultimately have their “freedom,” and that the present century (or the next) will witness “the downfall of the British Empire.” Yet he is foolish enough to declare that these things will come to pass, because he wants them to come to pass. Of his reasons for wanting them to, it is worthwhile to speak. On second thought, indeed, it is not worthwhile to speak of the distinguished president of the Stanford University.  

It was a great speech, that of Senator Lodge, yesterday, on the Philippine islands and their eternal “question,” and it expired in a grand “peroration” abundantly embellished with fireworks. Pious and reverent it was withal, for Senator Lodge is not of those who belittle The Power that gave him to his country. This from the “peroration”:

The same laws which govern the movements of the uncounted stars in space tint the wings of the moth so that his green-eyed enemy cannot distinguish him from the dead leaf or the roughened bark, and paint the little sand spider so cunningly that unless he move, his most virulent pursuer would not know that he was not a part of the glittering grains among which he hides. 

Admirable! But might it not have occurred to the distinguished perorator that possibly the moth and the sand spider are entitled to some of the credit and glory? That perhaps their colors were “laid on” without any reference to their personal security. If he had been differently tinted maybe the moth would have sought and found an equal security elsewhere than in the dead leaf or the roughened bark—as green insects, for example, find it on the living leaf. Maybe the sand spider was not made to glitter because predestined to lurk among the shining grains, but like the sensible fellow that he is, lurks among the shining grains because of glitters. Is Senator Lodge quite sure that Massachusetts men (like the heavens from which we submissively receive them, and to which we thankfully surrender them), really “declare the glory of God” when they point out His peculiar care of certain of His creatures in preserving their liberty to the great disadvantage of certain others which have nothing else to eat? It is greatly to be wished that persons to whom nature has denied any knowledge which is not the fruit of hard special study would abstain from expounding in Congress the laws of God and try a good deal harder to improve the laws of man. That, I take it, is what, with a free hand in the government of their country and an occupied one in its treasury, they overpay themselves to do.  

The learned ladies of the eclectic club have been debating the relative influence of moral and immoral women.—New York Paper. 

What? Really? Can immoral women be? 

I thought they all were nice—dear me, dear me! 

Explain, O ladies, if ’tis understood, 

How bad ones are distinguished from the good. 

And when I’m freed from this vile life below, 

Pray tell me where in t’other world to go, 

O virgin devotees and saintly nuns, 

To be among the—well, the pretty ones. 

Mr. L. E. Cooley, a well-known civil engineer, who has been in Nicaragua, says that the people of that country favor annexation to the United States. If the people of Costa Rica feel the same way, peaceful annexation may someday come about. But not under our present administration. Messrs. McKinley and Hay would set their faces like two flints against anything of the kind. Meddlesome critics would be sure to construe our possession of the country through which the ship canal must run as an objection to invoking the Concert of Europe. They would invoke it all the same, but with hearts less light and joyous.

Here is an imaginary conversation: 

McKinley—I observe that Representative Josiah Hunker, of New York, is going to introduce a bill providing for condemnation of the Erie Canal and the making it into a shipway by the general government. 

Hay—Yes, Your Majesty, I have been looking into the matter. The State Department will do its duty. 

McKinley—What the devil has the State Department to, do with it? 

Hay—Eh? Surely Your Majesty forgets the European Concert! 

McKinley— ‘mm. Yes, I’m an absent-minded beggar. It had escaped my memory. What does the British Ambassador think about the scheme? 

H—The British Ambassador says that he does not think about it.  

McK—And the French Ambassador? 

H—He regret that he is greatly preoccupied with other matters. 

McK—The German Ambassador? 

H—Is deeply engrossed in study of the French Ambassador. 

McK—Then they are all alike: Behold the concert of Europe! 

H—Yes, Your Majesty, it is very gratifying. 

McK—Look here, Sir John; I’ve an inspiration! Is it certain, after all, that their concert is necessary? 

H—Sire, you astonish and pain! Am I necessary? 

McK—Alas, yes—you are inevitable.


Boys Club Softball on the East Side

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader/May 30, 1935

New York, May 30.—This writer went down to Osborn Field, at 31st street and the East River, one night this week and chucked out the first three balls in the opening of the soft ball season of the Madison Square Boys Club League.

A large crowd witnessed the prodigious ceremony.

There was only a little booing.

It was advertised as a first ball chucking. The reason why it became a three-ball chucking was because the writer, standing on the mound, coat peeled, displaying a gorgeous pair of suspenders, chucked the first ball plumb out of the lot.

A young batsman standing at the plate awaiting the chuck looked somewhat surprised. They have had wild chuckers in the Madison Boys Club League, but never before one that couldn’t hit the ball yard. The catcher, his hands spread wide to engulf the chuck, seemed annoyed.

There were murmurs of discontent from the crowd made up of men and women, small boys and girls, and even little babies. Then some sympathetic soul said:

“Aw, give the poor guy another chance.”

So the writer chucked again, and this time the ball hit inside the lot but almost brained- an infant in its carriage on the side line. The fond mamma sitting beside the carriage looked around, as if seeking a rock, or an aged vegetable. The crowd muttered, but the sympathetic soul said cheerfully: “Well, he ain’t no LaGuardia when it came to first-ball chucking, but once more, anyway, for luck.”

In Care of 1,400 Boys

The catcher could have nailed the third chuck with ease, if he had had a net on a 15-foot pole.

But, anyway, the Madison Square Boys Club soft ball season of 1935 was on, with the 24th Streeters playing the 28th Streeters. The 24th Street lads line up like this: A. Martella, short; G. Wanderer, third; S. Sidor, second; P. Rachhia, right field; P. Piraver, first; V. Fornal, center; W. Procida, left; C. Swabe, pitcher; F. Hoyt, catcher.

The 28th Streeters were: Fabo, catcher; Ovaro, right field; V. Andrews, short; Principate, first; Cataldo, third; Zarrella, center; Hess, pitcher; John Noto, left field; Santora, second. The Madison Square Boys Club has 1,400 members, and a fine club house on E. 30th Street, also a summer camp at Carmel, New York. It is supported by private contributions, and its purpose is to take boys off the streets and to provide recreation for them.

The soft ball league with 27 teams of 16 members each is one of the many movements of the club to this end. The club taxes in the region from 23rd Street to 38th Street, from Lexington Ave. to the East River. Some of the teams are made up of small boys who played in the afternoon. The older boys play in the evening, beginning about 7 o’clock and playing as long as the daylight permits.

Among the players are listed 50 different occupations, taxi drivers, clerks, artisans, and the like. The club has been playing soft ball for several years, and with tremendous success, and the league is well organized and conducted in a business-like manner.

Playground Clears Street

All this was explained to the writer by Leonard Farley and Larry Weill, who met him when he arrived at Osborn Field to do the three-ball chuckings. They are among the moving spirits of the Madison Square Boys Club, of which Albert B. Hines is the managing director.

Osborn Field is a big vacant lot in the shadow of tall cigar and silk factories, with many garages nearby and the spires of midtown New York looming in the background. The property is owned by William Church Osborn, wealthy lawyer, who is a big contributor to the Boys Club and let it have the lot. All the softball games are played there. The East river rolls placidly along just a few yards from the yard.

The field was surrounded by spectators. Georgie Thompson, a political celebrity of the district, strolled about, deeply interested in the game. W. Egan was the umpire-in-chief, and Sam Schoffman was on the bases. The Madison Square Boys Club uses the regulation baseball bat, with the soft ball, and 75-foot base lines. The pitcher’s box is 41 feet from the plate. It makes a good, fast game.

Two elderly ladies sat perched on a fire escape landing high up one of the grimy factory buildings.

“They never miss a game,” Larry Weill said. “I don’t know who does the cooking.”

Right Thing in Wrong Place

A few of the players had uniforms. Most of them, however, were content with ordinary street clothes. Some of them can slam that fat soft ball a surprising distance. Some of the pitchers display amazing “stuff.” They have to pitch underhand.

After the three-ball chuckings, the writer was surrounded by young men who asked: “Who’s gonna win the fight?”

The writer kept answering “Ross.”

Finally he became cognizant of distinct coolness on the part of his auditors, and also of a great tweaking of his coat tails by Mr. “Mushky” Jackson, of the fistic fancy, who had accompanied him to the scene of the three-ball chuckings.

Mr. “Mushky” Johnson seemed desirous of speech with the writer, who eventually gave reluctant ear. He felt sure Mr. “Mushky” Jackson wished him to make favorable mention of the great Jackson gladiator, Donald “Red” Berry, but no. Merely a word to the wise.

“Listen,” Mr. Jackson whispered, hoarsely, “this is an Irish neighborhood.”