The vital signs were terrible. And yet looking at Tex propped up there in the oxygen tent with a silly grin on his lips, it was hard to believe he was going to go out that easily. For one thing, he seemed almost apologetic, and apologizing is not something Tex Maule does easily.
Of course, there was reason for this sudden melting of a towering confidence. Having decided that the last place in the world he wanted to be was in the oxygen tent, Tex got up and walked away with it. There were a few problems, such as being hooked by the chest to an electronic monitoring system and through the veins to a bottle of glucose, not to mention the oxygen hose itself. Unfortunately, only the horrified attendant got to see that wondrous vision of this seeming giant thrashing away at his bonds like a maddened Gulliver. Eventually the attendant and the paraphernalia got to Tex. Uncharacteristically subdued, he retreated to his bed and allowed that maybe there was, after all, a better way for a man to fight a massive heart attack.
This is one of the few known cases where Tex Maule backed down on anything, and we would not have it any other way. For one thing, he is still with us and, as everybody knows, predicting as fearlessly as ever. When Maule walks into an office with a broad grin on his face, you know immediately that here is a man who has just seen the light and is going to bless you by sharing it—whether you want a share or not. The nugget could be that there is "no way, no way in God's green acres" the Dallas Cowboys can lose—and they finally won, didn't they?—or that the greyhound he owns a half-share in was "running under wraps" in the semifinal at Miami last week and is a "shoo" for the final (he finished sixth).
Sometimes, certainly, Tex is having us on, as with his name. You see, he was born in Florida, a fact he has learned to live with quietly. But Tex—Fla if you prefer—can be serious, too, say when meeting a midnight deadline on a pro football or fight story. No one could appear more relaxed than Maule with his legs up on his desk straddling his stripped-down typewriter, but no matter how great the pressure, the story always arrives on time. Often his observations are far ahead of others in accuracy, too. At the second Ali-Liston bout, for instance, he was one of very few writers to see the blow that photographs later showed knocked Liston off his feet. The fight was no fake, he quickly said, and proceeded to write it that way.
When Tex had his heart attack, his account of which begins on page 62 of this issue, it was a big, Texas-sized one. Naturally, But Tex didn't have to be told how to recover. He knew, even if his skeptical doctor was not so sure. But more than just knowing, to the amazement of everyone but himself, he became a marathoner—well, one-third of a marathoner; that's how far he got in Boston a year ago. Which in itself is quite a feat and goes to prove what Tex has always said. They haven't made the oxygen tent yet that can hold a good man down.