Another phone rings. Lowe puts Big Will on hold and talks to Bob Boy. Tolbert finishes with his customer, first disclaiming, "This information is not to be used in violation of any laws." He takes Bob Boy's call, and Lowe returns to Big Will.
Meanwhile, at his desk near the front door, Austin, impervious to the noise around him, intently studies the day's starting pitchers. At precisely 8 a.m. his private line rings once. He picks it up.
"Yeah," he says. "Run 'em."
"I'll give you 30 on Flanagan over Worth-am." he says. "I'll give you 50 on Perry. I'll give you a dime over on the Cleveland game...."
In layman's language, Austin is betting $3,000 on the Orioles with Mike Flanagan pitching to beat the White Sox with Rich Wortham, and $5,000 on the Padres with Gaylord Perry on the mound. Any changes in the starting pitchers will cancel the bets. Austin also is wagering $1,000 that the number of runs scored in the Oakland game at Cleveland will be more than 8½. Why? Because in his morning calls to the weather bureaus in each city where a major league game is scheduled, Austin has learned from the Cleveland weatherman that the wind is blowing out strongly at Municipal Stadium.
"How about football?" Austin asks.
"I'll give you 50 on Green Bay plus 4½, and I guess that'll do it for now. If you ever need any San Diego plus 3½, let me know."
By 9 a.m. Austin has spoken with half a dozen bookmakers, some of them more than once, and has bet approximately $75,000, always getting the best football line or baseball price available. The bookmakers like getting Austin's and other strong players' opinions early, because it helps them adjust their lines before the rest of the populace starts betting.