Nancy returned with a new pair of earrings ("my special weakness," she said) and they headed for the Franz home. It was on a small street where the houses clung together—neat, freshly painted, the best-kept house on the block.
Mrs. Franz and Ron, dressed conservatively in dark clothes, were waiting. Mrs. Franz was conciliatory and at ease. Ron was as stiff as a palace guard. To warm the air, Winter asked him if he played baseball. Ron said he did not, that he had little talent for the game. Winter observed that Ray Sadecki of the Cardinals had attended Ward High, too. Ron seemed interested. They talked Sadecki across town to The Golden Ox restaurant, best known of Kansas City's edge-of-the-stockyards steak houses and a favorite of people like Mickey Mantle and Al Lopez.
Winter urged a 16-ounce top sirloin on Ron and anybody else who had the courage. "Don't hold back," he said. Everybody ordered steaks, not holding back. Tex asked Ron if he had a girl friend. Ron shook his head. "I'm his best girl," Mrs. Franz said archly. Ron's best girl then went on to say that 18 schools were after her son. "They won't let him alone," she said. "Why, just the other night in a couple hours he had phone calls from six schools." Ron said he already had visited Michigan State and St. Benedict's and was going to Colorado next weekend. "Don't you think you'll just get confused if you visit too many campuses?" asked Winter.
The steaks came and drew immediate attention. Tex cut into his and said offhandedly, "You know, Ron, when we go on basketball trips we arrange our travel schedule so we can come back through Kansas City and take in the big buffet they serve here at the Ox every Sunday. But that's not all," he continued. "A bunch of our graduates gives us a whole steer every year. We get beef like this regularly at our training table."
Winter turned to Mrs. Franz. He said he had been told that Ron's father was dead. Mrs. Franz nodded. "Eleven years ago," she said. She had gone to work to support Ron and his two older sisters and was now head of the camera department at one of the downtown Kansas City drugstores. Nancy Winter broke in to point out that Tex's father had died when he was 11. "Tex's mother went to work and raised Tex and three other children."
Conversation drifted into two parts. Nancy talked jobs, grandchildren and dogs with Mrs. Franz, and Tex slid his ice cream closer to Ron's. "I've just about decided," he said quietly, "to offer scholarships to about eight boys. You're one of the three forwards I'd like to have. Your skills fit our style of play. Frankly, it takes an exceptional sort of player to be a starter as a sophomore, but I know you're an exceptional player." Ron nodded, gratified. "We think we have more to offer in basketball than any school anywhere," Winter continued. "Over the last 12 years more fans have watched Kansas State play at home than any other school in the country. We have three full-size practice courts, plenty of room for individual attention. And you won't find any night practice for freshmen, either. You'll have plenty of time to study. What is it you want to be? A certified public accountant? Well, we've got a fine and growing business school."
Driving back to the Franz home, Tex talked of how hail-and-well-met the fellows were at Kansas State and how lasting friendships were born there every day. Nancy Winter said that they often had players living with them. The car reached the Franz house, and everybody got out and stood around under a streetlight. Tex said he would make reservations for Ron's trip to Manhattan in April. "We'll put him in one of our Catholic fraternities, and he'll be able to get to Mass on Sunday morning," he said. He turned to the car. "Just a minute now—I want to sign this for you." He began scribbling in a book, The Triple-Post Offense—by Tex Winter.
Ron, his sister and brother-in-law visited the Kansas State campus in April. Mrs. Franz stayed home. On May 25 The Kansas City Star
reported that Ron Franz had signed a grant-in-aid to go to the University of Kansas, the archrival of Kansas State. Tex Winter called it "a lasting disappointment."
It was raining in Dallas, and Coach Gene Gibson of Texas Tech was out in it. He stood in front of the small, single-story brick house belonging to Robert Glover, a Dallas bus driver. Glover's son, Bob, was big like his father, 6 feet 7, 225 pounds and, furthermore, had averaged 20-points-plus a game for Thomas Jefferson High. Bob was much admired by Coach Gene Gibson, but Gibson could not get in out of the rain to tell him so because Mr. Glover was limiting the sales talks to one at a time and another coach was already inside with Bob. The glow of the runway lights of Love Field could be seen from the front yard. They were red.
A television .man joined Gibson on the lawn. He had been tipped that basketball hero Bob Glover, sought by 50 schools, was about to make his decision. Mr. Glover, tall, light-haired, himself an ex-basketball player, said, "The boy is really up in the air about this thing. He's in there now talking to Archie." Archie Porter had been Glover's coach at Jefferson High School. A friendly, estimable man, Porter was now an assistant coach at Texas A&M. He was also the Glovers' next-door neighbor. There was anticipation at Texas A&M that getting Porter on the coaching staff was getting Bob Glover on the dotted line as well.