Columbia Pulled its Punches on Coast, Says Indignant Sports Scribe

Damon Runyon

Wilkes-Barre Evening News/January 3, 1934

I am extremely indignant over the duplicity of Mr. Lou Little and the members of his Columbia football club.

They assured me on leaving New York that they would beat Stanford by not less than two touchdowns. I held out for three, but we finally compromised on the two.

You can imagine my feelings on learning that the Columbians had double-crossed me and let Stanford off with just enough of a goosegging to make it an official Columbia victory. I don’t mind telling you that I don’t like that sort of business, especially after a telephone conversation with one of my representatives on the Pacific Coast.

He informs me that he has reasonable grounds for the suspicion that Mr. Marcus Aurelius Kelly, the red headed rooster of the Arroyas, got hold of Mr. Bill Corum, Mr. Louie Burton, and the other New York newspapermen with the Columbia team who prevailed upon them to have Columbia operate under a yank.

Mr. Marcus Aurelius Kelly explained to the easterners, with tears in his eyes, that if Columbia defeated Stanford by a big score, the humiliation would be more than he could bear. The boys felt sorry for Mr. Kelly. They said they would see what they could do.

“And there you are,” said my Pacific Coast representative.

“Did it look as if Columbia was pulling its punches?” I inquired.

“Well, I wouldn’t care to make an out and out accusation,” said my West Coast man, “but if Columbia wasn’t pulling, what became of that other touchdown they promised you?”

And that is exactly what I am going to ask Mr. Lou Little and his Columbians the next time I see them. I am very indignant.

The understanding we had when I split the difference with them and called it two touchdowns instead of insisting on my original idea of three was that they were to make one early in the game, and one very late, and that in between these touchdowns they would permit Stanford to advance several times to Columbia’s line, and Columbia was to stand there, nonchalantly, and invite Stanford to throw its Graysons, etc., at the Columbia front.

“Just let ’em bounce off of you,” I said. “I want to show Mr. Marcus Aurelius Kelly and the other Californians present how foolish they are in thinking their football players can score on you. Of course you mustn’t permit the boys to bounce hard enough to hurt themselves, as Stanford wishes to use some of them for football purposes next year. Let ’em bounce off maybe a few yards each time. Perhaps you’d better stand there with your hands in your pockets. To make the demonstration all the more impressive.”

“We ain’t got no pockets in our uniforms,” said one of the more literate of the Columbia students.

“In that case,” I said, “stand with your hands behind your backs. Give Stanford a chance.”

My West Coast man admitted that the Columbians carried out their agreement to let the Stanford lads bounce. In fact he said one of the Stanford boys bounced so high off the Columbia front that he narrowly missed braining Mr. Marcus Aurelius Kelly up in the press pavilion.

If it was toward the close of the game, Mr. Kelly wouldn’t have cared. It would have saved him the bother of hurling his disappointed person into the Los Angeles River as soon as it got in enough water to make the hurling effective, but nevertheless and notwithstanding, I am still out a touchdown, and I want Mr. Lou Little and his Columbians to know that I feel they have done me dirt.

I suppose I should have known enough to go out there with them to protect them against the wiles of Mr. Marcus Aurelius Kelly. He wouldn’t have gotten around me with that soft soap. I would have said:

“No, Mr. Kelly, no, it must be two touchdowns or nothing. This Columbia team has come a long way for this game, leaving behind it its favorite zero weather and is playing football when it should be skating, and skiing, and sleigh riding, and you cannot expect it to do a Dan O’Leary out here just to save your feelings.”

That is what I would have said to Mr. Kelly.

Now I am so burned up at the two x’s put on me by the Columbians, that next year I am going to personally escort some football club out there and see that it lives up to my expectations.

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