New Yorkers Committing Hockey

Damon Runyon

The Monroe News/January 29, 1927

Mr. Joe Schenck, the big movie man, pays Mr. Leo Deigel, the golf expert, $1000 per month for instruction in the manly art of pasture pool, so I am informed by one of my most trusted west coast operatives.

Of course $1000 a month is not a button off Mr. Schenck’s expansive financial test, but it is a fair salary for a teacher, at that. They say Mr. Deigel is to receive a bonus of $5000 when Mr. Schenck attains such proficiency under his instruction that he can waddle the old pill from hole to hole with less than a hundred strokes.

I am glad that I am not the party of the first part to such a contract. I mean to say I am glad that I have not promised Mr. Deigel such bonus under such conditions. I am at best weak to human temptation. Can you imagine me with a score of 98 and one cinch shot to go to break that 100, at a cost of $5000?

I fear I would be unable to resist the impulse to flub, or dub, or scrub, or snub, or slub that one. (What is it they do when they blow a shot, anyway?) Still, knowing Mr. Joe Schenck I am sure that he would pay over the $5000 with vast pleasure. He is that way.

This golf bug seems to be a terrible affliction. I can remember when Mr. Joe Bannon, the world’s champion newspaper circulation manager, would sit down calmly with you and discuss this and that without heat.

Now he comes in with an outdoor complexion, and a healthy aspect which is positively odious to indoor athletes and speaks of golf and golf, and more golf. He does it in the winter time, too, which I hold is carrying matters a little too far.

But while the golf bug is very, very bad, I have come upon another malady among the citizens of the great city of New York that is even worse. It is hockey. Professional hockey, at that. The boys are becoming violent on the subject.

“What’d you think of that game?” they demand now-o-nights.

If you answer that you didn’t see it, they glare at you with indignation. The idea of anyone not seeing that game seems to annoy them.

I have not heard of any hockey fan employing a hockey expert to teach him the game, but I would not be surprised at any time to learn that Colonel J. S. Hammond, president of the New York Rangers, is paying some star $1000 per month for that purpose. The thing has gone pretty far with Colonel Hammond.

At frequent intervals of late I have come upon my old friend Mr. Weelum J. McBeth, the sports writer, seated at tables in the Roaring Forties with mysterious looking strangers.

I can identify none of them as of the turf or baseball world wherein Mr. McBeth moved with vast authority for years, and the disquieting thought occurs to me that they are hockeyists. I fear that Mr. McBeth has suffered a reversion to type.

Mr. McBeth is a Canadian by birth, and long before hockey came to New York in its present professional form I used to hear him talking of the pastime of his youth without understanding what he meant. I thought it some childish diversion that had left its imprint on his memory, just as I occasionally revert in fancy to exciting miggle games of my adolescence.

But I can see now that Mr. McBeth would naturally be one of the first to be seriously affected by the new mania that has beset the citizens of the large city. He was practically a push over for it from the very start. Now he associates on terms of understanding with those who commit hockey, to say nothing of cheering for them from the stands.

I never really appreciated the extent to which professional hockey has grown in New York until the boys commenced to ask for Annie Oakleys, or passes. You cannot give away Annie Oakleys to sports in which there is no popular interest in New York. I even hear that the lads are wagering on the result of the games, which argues that we may need a commission of some kind.

There are two professional hockey teams in New York, the Americans and the Rangers, and local excitement seems to be equally divided between them. They both play in Madison Square Garden, and the important games pull packed houses.

They draw heavily from the Roaring Forties, from the actors, cafe people, and sporting contingent generally, which is all the more surprising to me. It takes something with plenty of thrill in it to interest this rather blase class.

And the customers talk hockey with understanding—the plays and the players. You hear red hot arguments about the games. Gentlemen have even been known to square away at each other. When someone remarked three years ago that professional hockey would be a wow in little old New York, I thought they were foolish.

Now I can see that it is the big winter game of the city, and the next time I see Mr. McBeth and his mysterious looking friends seated together I think I shall have to move in on them and join the argument.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s