The same year
Mossie recruited Somerset he went after a husky, 6-foot-6 Pittsburgh boy named
John Cegalis, who had announced he would enter Fordham. As Cegalis remembers
it: "Mossie says to me, 'John, I don't want to try to change your mind
about Fordham. I think you've made a wise decision. But you've got to remember
that you're just a kid from a middle-income family and you won't have any
common ground with those sophisticated New Yorkers. Now look here, I'm going to
give you a chance to acquire a reputation under Coach Manning, who is going to
be one of the top coaches in the country.'
"And after he
says that," Cegalis continues, "he says, 'When are you coming over to
enroll?' Not 'Have you decided to come?' but 'When are you coming?' So I went
over and enrolled."
angrily severed basketball relations with Duquesne.
Mossie is not
above giving his recruits the impression that he is a Very Important Person.
Lunching with Coach Manning and a gangling high school star in the dining room
of the Pick-Roosevelt Hotel one day, Mossie spied then-Governor David L.
Lawrence at another table. Seizing his teen-age prospect, Mossie bounded over
to the governor with outstretched hand and bellowed, "Hi, Governor! How's
your son these days?"
fine," replied the governor. "And how are you?"
introduced his recruit to the governor, then strutted back to his table. The
prospect was excited about meeting the governor for the first time. Mossie
should have been just as excited—he had never met the governor, either.
When Mossie teams
up with Coach Manning on proselytizing trips into the hinterlands, the two men
match as beautifully as ham and milk of magnesia. Manning is a pale, austere,
tight-lipped man of 34 who has been likened in appearance and vivaciousness to
Andrei Gromyko. He dines on whole wheat toast and skim milk, admonishes wives
of his friends to cook wheat-germ oil into their meat loaves and, when asked by
his wife to pick up cigarettes on the way home, purposely forgets. Manning also
regards Mossie's girth with revulsion. "Red absolutely tortured me to go to
a doctor for a checkup," says Mossie. "So I finally went and the doctor
found I have a heart condition. Red was delighted! He's rooting for me to
parents of high school prospects have found that a visit from Manning and
Murphy is something like being double-teamed by Hyman Rick-over and Oliver
takes a kid till he meets the mother and father and explains to them exactly
what Duquesne's like and what he's like and how demanding he is and how
demanding the studies are and that there will be a lot of weekends when the kid
won't be able to come home because of the study load," says Mossie. "He
tells them, 'It's not a very pretty school.' In other words, he tries to talk
them out of it."
pair traveled one night to the town of Belle Vernon, Pa. to recruit a handsome,
sturdy, 6-foot-9 lad named Walt Lautsch. For openers, Manning told Lautsch's
parents, "I think Walter is too fat and I'm going to try to get some weight
off him. I don't think he's a very good basketball player, but I think I can
make him one."