Now, for the first time, Commissioner Ford Frump reveals what really happened behind the scenes in the last two years as the National Fly Casting League confounded critics by emerging as another strong and popular member of the ever-growing fraternity of successful new American professional major leagues.
Now, for the first time, I want to reveal what really happened behind the scenes in the last two years as the National Fly Casting League confounded critics by emerging as another strong and popular member of the ever-growing fraternity of successful new American professional major leagues. This story should clear the air, as it were, of the charges and innuendoes that have been irresponsibly bandied about by certain elements of the press ever since the league started operation.
We have been "bucking the tide" all along, that is for sure. Sports fans said to me from the first, "It'll never work, Frump. The people won't go for it." Or, if they knew me: "It'll never work, Ford. The people won't go for it." Sure, I had to remind myself, keeping my "cool," the people weren't interested in talking motion pictures either, at first. We had to educate the public, to show them what a great spectator sport fly casting is, live and on TV. Now that we have, now that we have established ourselves as a power in professional sport, I think at last it's time to spread the true facts before the American people and, in my own words, show how a germ of an idea grew into what is now one of the largest major leagues in this country.
I shall certainly never forget how first I became aware of what was then, so to speak, the incipient National Fly Casting League. It was one crisp autumn day in the fall of 1969 when I had lunch in a swank midtown Manhattan ( N.Y.) restaurant with a recent acquaintance of mine, Frankie Scilizi, the pharmaceutical magnate and, as you know, now the owner of our Buffalo Bass franchise. After exchanging niceties, Frankie and I got down to where, as my old daddy used to say, where the rubber really hits the road. Frankie told me about the other meetings he had been having with various millionaire civic leaders and scions of leading families throughout the 50 states, as they all made initial plans to start the first National Fly Casting League. National Fly Casting League! I sat up in my chair, with a start. This was the first time I had ever heard of such an enterprise.
"It'll never work, Scilizi," I said. (How could I know then how "off base" I would be proven by subsequent events!)
"Why don't you think so?" Frankie asked me, leaning forward.
"The people won't go for it," I went on.
But Frankie was a strong advocate of this bright new project, and he began to point out the real facts to me. He told me how 93.7 million Americans will fly-cast at one time in their lives, how 189.6 million Americans lived near large or medium bodies of water at one time or another and hence were all potential fans, how a nationally commissioned poll showed that 78% of all Americans answered "yes" they would like to go to a sports contest on the water if they had the chance, etc., and so on.
"Whew," I said, "those are all mighty impressive figures I wasn't aware of." Though still something of a "layman" to the world of fly casting, I was beginning to see the potential in this exciting, bold new venture.
"The National Fly Casting League can combine our American tradition of the pioneer outdoors with our modern desire to see a competitive sports event in clean, comfortable, safe surroundings," the young pill mogul and sports innovator explained to me. "Here, look at this report."