Without a personal appearance, it’s almost impossible to capture “Tiger Paul” Auslander. Seeing him in action is more telling than a novel about him.
Tiger was a pudgy little guy, funny looking, with close, squinty eyes and an atrocious haircut.
Paul was from Pittsburgh where he delivered papers. He also had a successful sports score service, dealing to bookies and bettors before the proliferation of scores on the Internet.
Paul confided in me, “People think I’m dumb, but I make more than most of them and don’t pay taxes.”
Paul was unofficial cheerleader for his beloved Pirates and Pitt Panthers. He’d get on the Pirates dugout, run back and forth, flailing his arms and Three Rivers Stadium would go nuts.
Most teams have one of these guys but none like Tiger Paul. Ted Turner, then owner of the Braves, tried to lure Paul into cheering for the Braves. He flew Paul to Atlanta, wined and dined him as much as you could a guy like Tiger. Tiger wouldn’t budge. He was a Burgher (Pittsburgher).
Paul should have considered the offer because the Pirates later told him to take a hike when he wanted on their payroll and to go on the road with them.
Tiger Paul was also unofficial cheerleader for the Pitt Panthers. When Pitt upset Notre Dame under Jackie Sherrill, “Sports Illustrated” (2/18/1974) ended their coverage by giving Tiger credit for getting the crowd into it: “With all the success, it remained for a 30-year-old newspaper delivery boy named Tiger Paul Auslander to get the campus aroused…”
The article continues: “Tiger Paul wears a white shirt, tie and old letter sweater as he leads the Pitt team onto the floor and conducts cheers from the sidelines.
“At one time Tiger’s antics, which include tearing off the sweater and tie, pin wheeling his arms, dashing into team huddles and belly-flopping along the hardwood, were an embarrassment to the school administration.
“But the students liked him so much he was allowed to stay, and even to go on road trips. The other day Tiger Paul threw his arm out of whack exhorting the Panthers to another victory.
Later, a radio announcer read off the Pitt team hospital report: Knight – bruised shoulder. Martin – damaged thigh. Tiger Paul – pulled arm muscle. When you’re 19-1, even the cheerleader’s injury is news.”
Paul told me he doesn’t use up his momentum until the team needs a boost. He picks his spots. Fans were quiet for the cheerleaders then erupted for Tiger.
It finally came to a head when Pitt’s cheerleading coach went after Paul, ripping his white shirt during a basketball game.
Paul demanded an apology and a new white shirt. The Post Gazette and the whole city became involved. Tiger said without an apology and a new white shirt he’d cheer for Duquesne.
Pitt’s administration backed the cheerleaders and their coach; the basketball team and coaches backed Paul saying Tiger was valuable to their success on the floor. The betting line on Pitt actually reflected whether Paul would cheer or not.
Bettors would try to find out if Paul was in or out like he was the point guard. They figured he was worth about 1.5 points. It finally ended up with the cheerleading coach quitting. Paul won. The whole thing became an absurd comedy.
Next week: Paul leaves Pittsburgh for Vegas.
Scotty Schettler began his Las Vegas journey in 1968. By the time he quit the race and sports book business he had booked over $1.5 billion for different employers. He says he knows where most of the cans are buried. His book, is available on amazon.com. Contact Scotty at [email protected].