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It was the night of the special Bicentennial Awards Banquet, and before the ceremonies began, the members of the All-Time Old-Time Sportsmen's Club began to assemble in the Immortals' Lounge of the Cloud of Fame. Bobby Jones came in and joined Babe Ruth and Strangler Lewis at the bar. Of all the members, the Strangler looked least comely in wings. "The usual," Jones said to the bartender, who was Bud Abbott.
"Sure, Jonesey," Abbott said. "Who's on first?"
"I don't know," said Jones, giggling.
"No, he's on second," Abbott said, and everyone roared, Albie Booth digging a friendly elbow into Goose Tatum's ribs. The Cloud of Famers always had fun times here together. Ty Cobb and Babe Didrikson were wrist wrestling over by the jukebox. George Gipp put his Irish Mist down and went over and played A-8 on the Wurlitzer. It was the Notre Dame fight song.
"That's the truth," Clyde Beatty hollered. "Hey, sweetie, when's the live entertainment start tonight?"
"Gladys'll be here soon," answered the barmaid, who was Texas Guinan. From over at their regular table, Jim Thorpe, Josh Gibson and Grover Cleveland Alexander signaled her for another round of doubles. Walter Johnson joined them, ordering a Shirley Temple for himself. As he sat down, The Big Train had to move quickly to escape the falling body of Barney Oldfield, who was getting the stuffing knocked out of him by John L. Sullivan.
"Hey, Bud, I can still lick any man in the house!" Sullivan roared, stepping up to the bar and blowing the foam off his beer. Oldfield limped away, bloody. Actually, he got off easy. You should have seen the mess Sullivan made of Pop Warner last week.
Tex Rickard had come up with the idea for the Cloud of Fame, and got Stanford White, who had designed the original Madison Square Garden, to take on the job. White leaned heavily on the traditional Toots Shor neo-jock decor for the Immortals' Lounge. Autographed glossies ringed the walls (sample: "To Tex and Stannie, two real sports—Always a good time and a good drink. Your pal, Amos Alonzo Stagg") and the ashtrays, shaped like hockey rinks, were collector's items. All drinks at the bar were half price at Happy Hour, and the menu, made up in the shape of a boxing glove, leaned heavily toward steaks, with mutton chops the chef's specialty for the 19th century crowd. For those few late, great Americans who had been accepted into the Cloud of Fame, the Immortals' Lounge was as nice a place as there was in all of heaven.
Across from the bar there was a raised platform, ingeniously constructed to look like a pitcher's mound, and on it was an organ; presently Gladys Goodding arrived and began to play. Babe Ruth, who was trying to toss a peanut down Annie Oakley's front while chugging a beer, burped, and there was generally a lot of grousing as the crowd came to its collective feet. "Hell," said Jack Johnson, who was throwing darts with Walter Hagen and Dr. James Naismith, "why can't we ever have some live entertainment that knows something besides The Star-Spangled Banner?"