Special contributor John Garrity, whose profile of Cincinnati Bengals punter Pat McInally appears on page 36, is a night owl. When the sun rises in Kansas City, Garrity falls...asleep.
Our New York offices begin to hum about the time Garrity begins to snore, so talking over assignments with the Missourian can be a problem. Fortunately, when John sleeps, Jack Garrity, 79, covers the phone. "My dad is a big hit with everybody who calls," says John. "His speech is a blend of P.G. Wodehouse and Ring Lardner...that is, loony in a very literate way."
The elder Garrity's charm is not diluted by the miles. "His voice is crystal clear," says articles editor Myra Gel-band. "It has a musical lilt which reminds me of the way people in the northeast of Scotland speak. He's a delight to talk to."
Jack Garrity has also won over many of the athletes, coaches and celebrities who return his son's phone calls (leaving their messages on the piano bench). Among his favorites are bowler Earl Anthony, Bengals lineman Ross Browner and Ted Williams. Says John, " Ted Williams is supposed to be a tough interview, but he returned my calls three times, and the first thing he said was, 'Your old dad is a great man.' " More recently, attorney Brian Rohan, who was interviewed for the McInally piece, told Garrity, "Your old man's full of blarney. What are you paying him?"
Only compliments, our Garrity admits. "I've exploited Dad shamelessly in first-person pieces for SI and other magazines. I can't write about golf or a barbecue without putting him in the story. I think he invented both."
That may be stretching it, but Jack Garrity did help build the first golf course in New Richmond, Wis., circa World War I. He studied law at the University of Minnesota, sold road-grading equipment during the Depression, worked in a B-25 bomber plant in World War II, and later ran his own steel scaffolding company in Kansas City. Along the way, he collected golf books, played to a six handicap and raised three golfing children. Tom Garrity, a former Missouri amateur champion, played on the PGA Tour in 1960 and '61. He's senior vice-president of marketing for MacGregor Golf. Joan Terry Garrity, in addition to an obscure work called The Sensuous Woman, wrote The Golfer's Guide to Florida Courses. And John? "Johnny can bust it a mile," says his proud father. "He hits a two-iron farther than Jack Nicklaus." (Responds John, "Dad's eyes aren't what they used to be.")
Now retired, Jack Garrity plays golf five days a week and shares his son's turn-of-the-century house in Kansas City's Hyde Park neighborhood. John says, "I called Dad from an airport a couple of weeks ago—I think I was in San Francisco—and he answered the phone, 'I'm watching TV.' He said he was trying to win $500 in a contest, but since it was my phone and my house, he'd split with me, 50-50."
John said, "I'll sleep on it."