‘The Greek’ and ‘Money’ probably would have rolled with Pirates

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First I want to thank all my readers and friends who appreciated last week’s article about Steubenville, and I will answer a few questions I received.

Steubenville is usually known for Dean Martin, as well it should, and also Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder who was born in the “ville” as Jimmy Synodinos.

But there were some other greats that very seldom get a mention: Rollie Fingers, the great A’s reliever, and Robert Urich, who played Dan Tanna in the series “Vega$,” was born just up the road in small town just 15 minutes away named Toronto, Ohio. But one guy you never hear of is the great gambler “Money” O’Brien. We will tell a little story about one of the nicest men I have ever met.

“Money” was just that, the money man. He actually gave the “Greek” his first shot in gambling on the Big Six Wheel in his Academy Pool room – a spot I played many a game of 8-ball.

They became partners after a while and best of friends, but Money was the man.

Now the story.

Money and my father were the best of friends. Money loved his cooking and my dad, Benny, would always let him know if the brisket was tender. Money, every year, would get us parking and yearly passes to then Waterford Park. Money loved to bet the ponies and during the Christmas season he would always give Benny what they called Christmas horses. They always won.

Money knew Benny was just a $2 bettor but was also aware my mother, Mary, also wanted in. So he would give him a $10 bill and say a “fin” for you and a “fin” for Mary. She loved Money not only for how kind he was but also how well he was always dressed – a coat, tie and starched white shirt every day.

One day I was driving my father to the track. He never drove a car, so it was my turn at the wheel that day. Waterford was around a 20 minute drive if we didn’t catch a train in New Cumberland. The trip was across the bridge from Steubenville to Weirton, West Virginia and then right up Route 2. But on this day I see Money on the side of the road hitchhiking. I stop and he gets in the back seat of my car, where my dad always sat, and they start talking.

Benny asked him if his car broke down and Money says no. He had to get rid of the car, needing the cash to go to the track. Looking through my rear view mirror I see him look right in my dad’s eyes and say, “Benny, I just can’t believe it. I outlived my money.”

A week later the fine gambler who could make a line on anything was gone. They just don’t come like Money O’Brien nowadays.

“Broadway” Benny was crushed. He looked at us and said, “Where will we get our passes to the track now?”

Benny was Benny.

Baseball beat

Just a few weeks left in the first half of the baseball season. It has been crazy so far and will continue to be. Our series plays the last two weeks have faltered but we must step up to the plate and take another swing.

This weekend the Giants travel 3,000 miles and start their East Coast swing in Pittsburgh for a three game series starting on Friday. Andrew “Cutch” McCutchen looks to have come back to life, as the Pirates have; they are playing much better. Giants are just 13-30 on the road so this is a good shot for the “Buccos” to pick up some ground. We will be on the Pirates and OVER in all three games.

The backstretch

We begin a big weekend with the 4th of July in just eight days, so we will have a huge week of horseracing with Santa Anita ending its meet next Tuesday.

This week’s Play of the Week will come in race 8 at Santa Anita – a Cal-bred $50k maiden claimer for fillies and mares. Play the 1 horse Gee Street. We gave this runner out a few weeks ago and just got beat a half-length. She gets put right on our horses to watch list and has her second try at this level and turf distance. The combo of trainer Richard Baltas and jockey Corey Nakatani has been a money maker.

Gee Street will get a good fast early pace with several sprinters in here stretching out. If looking for hookups, we will be using No. 2 Christiana’s Song, who is dropping from a straight maiden race at this mile turf distance, and No. 8 Lethal Legacy, who just missed by a neck last out with open company for a $50k price tag going this mile turf distance.

Be kind to your friends. You never know as a gambler if you will outlive your money. Always remember, you could be walking around lucky and not even know it.

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