"Tommy was a great boxing instructor as well as a fine ukulele teacher. He brought me along until I had won the middleweight championship of the naval station and was able to stay in the ring during workouts with real pros like Pal Moore and Cal Delaney."
"Just think," I said, "of all the careers you might have pursued. You might have become a professional fighter and possibly a champion. Or, if you had stuck to your music, you might have become a big-name band leader. Do you think?"
" Philadelphia Jack O'Brien thought I had a future as a fighter, but I'm glad I didn't follow up on that. As for music, I had an expert opinion from the late Eddy Duchin. We were good friends, and I used to pretend to him that I seriously thought I was in his league as a piano player. Eddy never caught on, he couldn't see anything funny in the idea. So I began to get people to ask him just where he would rate me among the 10 best piano players of the country. Eddy used to blow his top. He'd yell, 'Conzelman! He's no piano player! Look at his left hand! As a piano player Conzelman is a bum!' "
Conzelman got up from the piano.
"You were going to show me the movie you made for a client here," I said. "The one that draws certain analogies between sports and business."
"Oh, yes," said Conzelman. "Follow me."
We walked out of the studio and down the hall to a projection room. While we were waiting for the film to start, I said:
"I was just thinking. Jack Benny must have been at the Great Lakes naval station when you were."
Conzelman nodded. "I remember him. He was a member of a musical group that called itself The Jada Trio. Jack's idea of comedy at that time was to play the violin with one pants leg rolled up to the knee. For some reason it always got a big laugh."
The film was rolling now. The story line had Conzelman driving into a gasoline station. He is recognized as the former pro football coach by the station's proprietor and introduced to some salesmen who happen to be there. They all adjourn to a coffee shop and, as the tale unfolds, Conzelman speaks on sports and salesmanship.