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THE COACH
Gerald Holland
October 13, 1958
He is a big man—and, as executive, whip-cracking taskmaster, strategist, field general, actor, director, spellbinder and talent scout, he gets bigger and bigger with each passing season. The question is: Are the pressures of his job making him too big?
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October 13, 1958

The Coach

He is a big man—and, as executive, whip-cracking taskmaster, strategist, field general, actor, director, spellbinder and talent scout, he gets bigger and bigger with each passing season. The question is: Are the pressures of his job making him too big?

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He paused and thought, then pointed to the wall opposite. "On that same map," he said, "we'd have red and blue pins stuck at various points. That would show the location of alumni—real and synthetic—that we could count on for fast action in getting a boy and his parents to our campus for a visit. The red pins indicated those contacts owning private airplanes, the blue pins were for those who had high-powered cars or could ante up the price of a rail or plane ticket. As I say, some of these alumni were synthetic. In other words, they had never attended State or any college. But they had adopted our team and took a great pride in it. I issued them special cards admitting them to all secret practice sessions. I remember one of these fellows, Tony LaPresta his name was—he was known as 'The Pizza King' of his city. Never saw a fellow so touched when I handed him his secret-practice card. He almost bust out crying. All he could do was to keep saying over and over again, 'Only in America could it happen.' "

Blenheim sat down at the desk. He looked up at the framed photographs. "It's a fast pace, Bob Wyzck," he said, "and a man can't keep it up forever. It's for the younger fellows—Hayes, Bryant, Daugherty, Brennan, Tatum—"

Bob Wyczk broke in: "I notice you wear a ten-gallon hat like Jim Tatum, Boogey!"

Blenheim turned on him. "What do you mean," he barked, "like Jim Tatum! I was wearing a ten-gallon hat when Tatum had holes in his stockings! I originated that trademark, boy!"

"Excuse me," said Bob Wyczk.

"Forget it, son. As I say, I've slowed down, but in my prime I was the best recruiter in the business. I could call no less than 1,000 high school coaches by their first names. I never forgot a name. I could make one speech that would bring tears to your eyes, and I could turn around and make another one that would make you laugh yourself sick. I had material for every occasion."

Bob Wyczk leaned forward and said, "Dad said you used to work some wonderful philosophy into your talks. He said he figured you were the best-read man he ever met."

Blenheim stared at him, then threw back his head and laughed. He leaned over and pulled out a desk drawer and after rummaging in it, he drew out a slender, worn book bound in imitation leather. "Son," he said, "I'm going to let you in on a little secret of mine. Since you're just starting out, I'm going to make you a present of the most valuable little book you'll ever own. This book here, boy, is known as Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book. It's out of print—and there are hardly any calls for it any more."

"I don't believe I've ever heard of it, Boogey, sir."

"Of course you haven't. This book was a big seller back in the '20s, but nobody remembers it today. What it is, son, is little bits of philosophy and inspiration collected by this fellow Elbert Hubbard in a lifetime of reading. This is the cream, the pick of everything he thought worth saving. Do you get the idea? Here's a man's lifetime of reading in one package. It's been invaluable to me."

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