I was lucky enough to grow up in Steubenville, Ohio in the 60’s. Life was good and the town was prosperous, mostly because of the Steel Mills and gambling.
You could make a bet almost on any corner downtown where we had what they called cigar stores. The ones I fondly remember were the Rex, where Dean Martin got his start dealing, the Smoke House and Tommy’s Lounge.
The first visit was with my dad this one Sunday, a story I love to tell. He says to my mom, “I’m taking Dickie (that’s what they called me) with me downtown.” We lived about five blocks away and my dad always walked as he never drove a car.
I must have been 7 years old when first visiting Tommy’s Lounge. We went into the back and there were huge boards, a ticker tape machine and this old guy making the board. There was this big box filled with sandwiches in wax paper. My dad says take one, they are free. He made his $5 baseball parlay. I remember it like it was yesterday.
We were walking out and this big guy with a cigar the size of a footlong hotdog comes up to my dad. He says who’s this good looking kid, and my dad says it’s his son, and the big guy gives me a dollar. As he gets into his shiny gold Caddie and heads out, another guy comes over to my dad and asks if he has an extra dollar.
Dad says no and this guy gets into a beat up old Ford. My dad looks at me and says the guy in the Caddie owns the place and the other guy bets with him, and that was that. We headed home.
As I got older I spent a lot of time in these joints and on Sundays I remember when the police would park right outside Tommy’s. We would all step aside as they needed to get their football bets in before heading home off the night shift. It was like gambling was a way of life.
If you grew up in the 60’s in the tri state Steubenville, West Virginia, Pittsburgh area you were into pro wrestling and, yes, we could even bet on it. My favorite wrestler was William James Myers aka George “the Animal Steele.”
George was set to fight Bruno Sammartino at the Community Arena in Steubenville and we went to root him in. He was coming out of the tunnel and we were yelling at him that we were his biggest fans. We wanted an autograph, but he spit on us and started to chase us. What a character!
The Animal died last week at age 79. He had a master’s degree and was a high school teacher and wrestling coach in Michigan. He used to paint his tongue green in honor of Michigan State. As the song says, “those were the days my friend we thought they’d never end…” But here we are.
Just win, baby
Talk about how times can change. You can lose and still win in today’s world. Take Tony Watson the Pirates closer. He lost his arbitration and only got a 62% raise. What the heck would he have gotten if he won – the team?
The Real deal
This past Saturday they ran the Grade-3 El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate. We will just say that none of these runners will be in the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle. Ann Arbor Eddie was the even money choice and finished second only to be DQ and was placed fourth, costing him four Kentucky Derby points.
Sheer Flattery, the second choice at 5/2, never got into the race and finished last. The winner was a gelding by the name of Zakaroff who paid $99.60. Nice if you hit the all button in the 20-cent pick six. There will be no horse play this week as Santa Anita ran on Monday and will be off this Thursday.
1 for Thursday
Moving on to a hoops play, this Thursday we have the high scoring UCLA Bruins hitting the road to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe. The Bruins are sitting in third place in the PAC 12 behind Arizona and Oregon. The Bruins are on a five game win streak and will keep it rolling here. The Sun Devils have gone 0-6 ATS the last six meetings. We will lay the number (around 11) with UCLA.
If you live in or around Las Vegas or are coming to town for a visit and are a fan of college basketball, well, Vegas is the place to be, not only for betting but for viewing, Friday, March 3 Orleans Arena will be hosting the West Coast Conference tournament, which runs through the championship game on Tuesday, March 7.
On Wednesday, March 8 the Mountain West will be starting their tournament at Thomas & Mack and the PAC 12 will be starting their tournament at the new and beautiful T-Mobile Arena.
You can bet and then go see the games live. We here in Vegas are walking around lucky and don’t even know it. Have a great week.