Chuck never let the facts interfere

Mar 9, 2004 9:02 AM

It was the fall of 1976. The offices of fledgling Sports Form (predecessor to GamingToday) consisted of two rooms on the second floor of the Tam Building at 1020 South Main Street. My desk was a board across the top of two old metal filing cabinets.

The text of the newspaper was typed on an antiquated Compugraphic ExecuWriter. The headlines were pieced together in a painfully slow manner, letter by letter.

At the time, Sports Form was having start-up problems. The readers loved the paper and couldn’t wait to get it each week. But, advertisers were taking a wait and see attitude.

After one particularly unsuccessful week of selling, Chuck decided to go see Bill Friedman at the Castaways on the Strip where The Mirage now stands. Bill liked the paper and Chuck wanted to end the week on an up beat. He was pretty sure he could make a sale.

When he came back late in the day Chuck was very excited. I wondered how many ads he had sold. But, as I was about to find out, it wasn’t ads putting the spring in his step.

"Our troubles are over," he shouted. "Here, look at this."

He shoved a football parlay card under my nose.

My inquisitive look prompted him: "Bill was upset with his printer because he’s always missing deadlines. He told me I could charge him what ever I wanted as long as I have these cards on his desk every Thursday morning by 8 a.m. I told him, ”˜Bill, don’t worry; the cards will be there next Thursday.’"

The glee he had infused me with dissipated. "Chuck, we can’t possibly do this job. First of all, our equipment is not capable of typesetting this card. Second, the last time I looked around the room I didn’t see a printing press."

"Eileen," he replied, "you know what’s wrong with you? You’re always letting the facts get in your way."

With that, he went to his desk, picked up the phone and soon made contact with an old friend who sold typesetting equipment. By the next morning the machine we needed was on the way. A call was also placed to the late John Luckman at Gambler’s Book Club. John gave Chuck a primer on the pitfalls of printing parlay cards. He then pointed him in the direction of a semi-retired printer in Henderson who worked out of his home. Within two or three days we were doing a test run and the following Thursday at 8 a.m., as promised, parlay cards were sitting on Bill Friedman’s desk.

That was classic Chuck Di Rocco.

In the last 30 years this man of many hats created a gaming newspaper, a parlay card printing business, a racing dissemination business, a satellite transmission company and a simulcasting industry.

Never have I known a person with more drive and determination. He did everything with gusto. And, he never let the facts interfere.

Right now, he’s probably convincing St. Peter that he can have a new system for processing incoming souls up and operating within a week. I know he will get the job done.

Chuck, you taught me so much. Work hard. Never give up. Keep track of old contacts. Everything’s negotiable. If you think you can, you will.

You were my business partner, my husband, my best friend. You made life challenging and exciting.

But, you’ve given me an awfully big fact to overcome this time. I will need to draw on all the lessons you’ve taught me over the last 32 years to keep it from getting in the way. Hopefully, I will have what it takes and I will make you proud.

I miss you. I love you.

God bless.