Freddie Martin has precious few mementos to show for his long years at Greenbrier. He just never thought to keep an autograph book; it would have had the names of Presidents and kings in it. But he did have one prized souvenir and, before he went to fetch it, he said, "I was the first one to predict that Sam Snead would break 60 in competition." Then he got up painfully and hobbled out of the living room and came back and held out a golf ball. It had the numeral 59 scribbled on it with a lipstick that Sam had borrowed out of the gallery the day he shot that fantastic 11-under-par in the Sam Snead Festival tournament at Greenbrier on May 16, 1959 (SI, June 1, 1959). He had brought the ball straight to his first patron, Freddie Martin, and had given him the card for the round as well.
Gary Nixon spoke up: "Sam does a lot of nice things nobody ever hears about. He never lets it be known, but he's a soft touch for many an old pro who's played out and broke."
I couldn't help saying, "I was in the gallery over at Hot Springs and got to talking to one of the natives. I'll admit this fellow had been drinking some of that mountain liquor but he said Sam Snead was the tightest man in the state of Virginia. He said even today he'd fight a man over a 3� overcharge at the grocery store."
"Why, that doesn't prove a thing," declared Freddie Martin. "Who wants to be gypped even if it is a matter of a few cents?"
Gary Nixon laughed: "Oh, heck, Sam does that kind of thing just for the fun of it. It's like Jack Benny playing up the idea that he's a tightwad. Why, actually, Sam is always doing little charities—of the nondeductible variety, too. For instance, he'll slip an old caddie a $100 bill and tell him to go buy groceries for the poor folks in his neighborhood. He gave a fine electric organ to the family church in Hot Springs."
"Why, yes," exclaimed Freddie Martin, "and when I retired, do you know what Sam Snead did? Made me a present of an automobile. It's a Valiant, and you can take a look at it in the driveway on your way out."
Freddie had been rummaging through some papers in his lap, and now he held out a letter. It was from Duke Ridgeley, the Huntington, West Va. sportswriter who was the first to call Snead "Slam-min' Sam." Duke is in a veterans' hospital now.
"I'll tell Sam about this," said Gary Nixon, scanning the letter. "He'll want to go over and pay a visit to old Duke." (Sam did just that the next day.)
"Freddie," I said, "you were the first man to predict that Sam would break 60 in competition. What about the Open? Do you still think he's got a chance to win it at his age?"
Freddie thought carefully. He is not—and never was—a man to speak carelessly. After a moment he said slowly, "Yes, I'll predict it. Make a note of it there, put down the date and the occasion here and say that Freddie Martin predicts Sam will win the Open before he's through. He's hitting as long a ball as ever, and his putting has been terrific. Write it down. Freddie Martin says Sam will win the Open before he's through."