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One of Madigan's most successful creations was a character named Tom Deegan, who was invariably pulled from Slip's teeming brain after one of his players had made a mistake. Deegan, Slip claimed, had been his teammate at Notre Dame, and a wonderful athlete he was. The Deegan way was the right way. "Deegan never would have muffed that one!" Madigan would bellow at an offending Gael. "Deegan would have gotten the ball—just stolen it like he did against Michigan—and run it back for a touchdown!"
"Remember Tom Deegan!" became the rallying cry in the dressing room and on the practice field at St. Mary's. Years afterward, when a Notre Dame alumnus overheard two St. Mary's players discussing the fabled Deegan, he drew Madigan aside.
"Say, Slip, did this Deegan really win any games for Notre Dame?" he asked.
"Nope," Madigan said, "but he's won a lot of them for St. Mary's."
In 1930 Madigan arranged to play Fordham annually in New York. St. Mary's president at first objected to the plan, fearing that the players would lose too much time from their classes. But Madigan argued persuasively that the many educational opportunities such a trip presented far outweighed the loss of class time.
By 1936 the St. Mary's-Fordham game had become a football attraction in New York second only to the Army-Notre Dame game. When the special train arrived there, its passengers whooping and hollering, Madigan dispatched his players to their rooms at the Westchester Country Club. Then he took himself and his followers to a massive "press party" at the Waldorf. Although many of the team's ardent rooters missed seeing a football game because of what transpired at the party, Madigan made dozens of friends among both the press and those strangers who happened to wander in off the street.
There were 50,000 people in the Polo Grounds on the 1936 Saturday when the St. Mary's players, glittering in their red silk jerseys with white epaulets and their shiny green pants, rushed onto the field. Strolling proudly after them, no less resplendent, was Coach Madigan in a natty light suit, pink shirt and orange cravat.
By the end of the first period, Slip looked as rumpled as his players. Storming up and down the sidelines in his usual manner, ranting at the officials, pulling his hat down over his ears, he worked himself into a lather. At half time, the Fordham band formed a giant tolling bell on the field and played The Bells of St. Mary's. The hungover camp followers, sitting together in the upper stands, cheered wildly and rained confetti down on the sidelines.
Shortly after St. Mary's lost the game, 7-6, the special train pulled out of New York. In addition to memories of another lively visit to the Big Town, Madigan carried with him a check for $38,824.15. This sum, St. Mary's total share of the gate receipts for the Fordham game, was collected by Madigan because the college had fallen behind in paying him his share of receipts.
"I paid Mr. Madigan," Brother Albert, the president of St. Mary's, was to say during the college's subsequent financial difficulties, "because I recognized a just debt and I recognized that he had brought certain assets to St. Mary's."