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vited me to lunch at his restaurant in St. Louis. Afterwards, he allowed me to turn on a tape recorder for 45 minutes to recall the highlights of his magical career.
A call to Joe B. Hall, the longtime Kentucky basketball coach segued into an invitation to join him for breakfast with his breakfast club at Wheeler’s Pharmacy in Lexington, Ky. Afterwards, the proprietor found a nondescript storage room where I interviewed him. Joe introduced me to Cliff Hagan, who played 10 years in the NBA with the Hawks and later became athletic director at Kentucky. One summer, I was moving about in a small town in Italy late in the day and walked by a restaurant. Cliff was sitting by the window with friends. He ordered a glass of wine for me, and we had a nice chat. Can’t remember the town but remember Cliff’s hospitality.
There were two legendary sports figures I was able to talk to on the phone, but was unable to see. Charley Trippi arranged for me to connect with Joe DiMaggio at the family restaurant in San Francisco, but he had done enough interviews in his life. I was told he didn’t think he could have a conversation with any media person without the bringing up of Marilyn Monroe’s name. He was nice and pleasant, but I was too much of a stranger for him to sit and talk about his remarkable career.
Bronko Nagurski, the great running back of the Chicago Bears, lived out his life in International Falls, Minn., where he ran a service station (try that one on the high draft picks of today). At the time, I was in Minneapolis and wanted to drive up to see him, but he would only give out interviews on the phone. Ourphoneconversation lasted more than an hour.
Here’s to the ole timers. They always have time