Saturday, April 4, 2020

The Freakin' Weekend (1974)

I am stunned at how scarce of information a simple Google search yields for "Tex Maule."

Here's the complete text of his May 18, 1981, Section D, Page 13, obituary in The New York Times:

Tex Maule, a noted sports writer for the last 25 years, died of a heart attack Saturday, Sports Illustrated announced last night.

He was 66 years old.

Mr. Maule covered professional football for Sports Illustrated from 1956 though 1975. He also covered boxing, horse racing and baseball. He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and three children. The funeral will take place today at 2 P.M. at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan.

Here's the first paragraph of his Wikipedia entry: "Hamilton Prieleaux Bee Maule, commonly known as Tex Maule (May 19, 1915 in Ojus, Florida — May 16, 1981) was the lead American football writer for Sports Illustrated in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s."

And while it goes on to list some interesting facts about his life, even those ask at least as many questions as they answer:

-- Tex Maule played college football. (Hmmm ... was he any good?)

-- Tex Maule served in World War II. (Hmmm ... what was his experience?)

-- Tex Maule's coworkers in the Los Angeles Rams front office included Pete Rozelle and Tex Schramm. (Hmmm ... did they lunch together?)

-- Tex Maule wrote a book in 1972, Running Scarred, about his taking up running after a heart attack. (Hmmm ... was he on the job at some NFL game or practice when he suffered the heart attack?)

-- After leaving Sports Illustrated, Tex Maule went to work for three years with The Dallas Morning News. (Hmmm ... what was the impetus for that change?)

My ghost of Christmases past is happy to report that good, ol' Hamilton Prieleaux Bee hasn't left SI as of this date in 1974. No, on this Thursday, April 4, non-quarantined 1974 me is relishing the notion of a hopefully quiet weekend at home, flipping through the most recent Sports Illustrated (it's the baseball-preview issue!) and absolutely devouring Tex Maule's dispatch from Venezuela on a George Foreman-Ken Norton bout. There's next to zero possibility that thing is anything less than fantastic.


  1. Hard for me to imagine there's a better greatest-hits collection than Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy, and fake 1974 me really can imagine this because this Who record came out in 1971. This was actually the first Who record real I ever bought, so, naturally, he would disagree with Dave Marsh--but fake 1974 me disagrees with Dave Marsh, too. Probably if real now I and fake 1974 me had been living deep in this rock music with Dave Marsh in recent years, we would agree with him. But middle-aged us have spent the last several years trying to understand our wives and children through their music or endure work with other types of music altogether, and so we really appreciate the nostalgic trip back into our youth that "Peter "Bouncy" Townshend and the brilliant cover artist are taking us on.

  2. Pro sentence from Tex Maule: "Aside from the continuing hassle about hotel rooms, he had to arbitrate, as best he could, another argument about officials."

    Hassle about
    Hotel rooms
    He had

    ... Arbitrate
    As best he could
    Another argument
    About officials

  3. Here are three words from this story I'm going to look up in the dictionary:

    -- rapacious,
    -- Percheron and
    -- lagniappe.

  4. This was not a great fight, and Tex Maule has to go clever with a lot of his 2,000 words to breathe some life into his report. Even for SI in 1974, I imagine it was not OK to take the company AmEx to Caracas and come back with only the couple-paragraphs "Roundup of the Week" item that the fight itself might've merited. So, there's a lot in here about stuff such as shenanigans that the TV people had to go through with the Venezuelan government and an issue that George Foreman had with which referee would work the match. None of that sounds any too interesting, but it's pretty fun reading in the care of Tex Maule.

  5. And once he does get down to the business of documenting the fight itself, Tex Maule is as on point and devastating as his subject:

    Once the fight began, Foreman forgot showmanship and demonstrated, briefly, what a good fighter he is. He has been criticized as an awkward, clumsy man who makes up for his deficiencies with brute power, but he is far more than that.

    The clumsiness disappears in the ring and Foreman becomes an economical, precise fighter. He does not move with the balletic grace of an Ali, but he does not have to. He spent the first round stalking Norton, moving his feet in small, shuffling steps, always on balance, always ready to fire the salvos that are a mark of his powerful style. Norton moved around the periphery of Foreman's range for a while, then tried to move in. When he moved in—or when he did not move back fast enough—he was damaged by one of the strongest left jabs any fighter has ever felt.

    Foreman uses the jab not only in the familiar way; he also uses it to beat down his opponent's defenses and to bring him a message. His hands are quicker than his heavily muscled arms would lead one to believe, and the jab lands with the impact of a battering ram. Toward the end of the first round, the jabs had carried the message to Norton, who seemed shocked by their power and unable to react profitably. After the jabbing attack, Foreman hooked Norton once high on the side of the head, then hit him with a tremendous left hand under the heart just before the round ended.

    "He acknowledged that punch," Foreman said later. "I heard him grunt and I knew I had him."

  6. In MLB73, Hank Aaron hit 40 home runs in 120 games.

  7. At the outset of MLB74, 11 batters had accumulated 3,000 or more hits in baseball history. Only one pitcher, Walter Johnson, had 3,000 or more strikeouts. Now we have 32 guys with 3,000 or more hits and 18 with 3,000 or more strikeouts.

  8. At the outset of MLB74, CW (per Ron Fimrite in SI) is that the best player in baseball is ...?

  9. You could’ve given me 10 guesses to complete that sentence, and I might've started with Reggie Jackson. But I probably would've suspected it was Pete Rose. And then when I was surprised that it wasn't, I might've guessed Tom Seaver. Or Johnny Bench. Or Joe Morgan. Or Willie Stargell. Or Carl Yastrzemski. Or Brooks Robinson. Or maybe even Sal Bando.

  10. And for my 10th guess, I would've starting looking through rosters, and I would’ve been mad at SI for being too cute.

    Amos Otis? Cesar Cedeño? Bobby Grich?

    No, no and no.

  11. Well, OK, then ... Hank Aaron, I guess.


  12. Of course, Bobby Bonds did not end up in the Hall of Fame. And, of course, we all have our positions on Barry Bonds.

    But say this for the Bondses: Not once did any major publication suggest that Ken Griffey Sr. was the best player in baseball, or that Archie Manning was the best player in football, or that either of Gordie Howe's all-star sons was the best in hockey. I feel pretty certain that Bobby and Barry Bonds are the only parent and offspring who both were ever even arguably the best players in their sports in their prime. That's quite an accomplishment.

  13. The April 8, 1974, SI ran a beautiful Bernie Fuchs illustration of "Bad Henry," kneeling with his bat as in an on-deck circle. (Bernie Fuchs also did some illustrations from the Carol Burnett Show titles that you will recognize.)

  14. Advertisers, too, note the imminent fall of the record. Spalding, for example, has a display celebrating "The ball Hank and The Babe hit ... Way to go, Hank. Thank you, Babe." Jim Beam, however, has a black-and-white image of Ruth in backswing: "BABE RUTH 'Sultan of Swat' ... You can't improve on the original."

  15. The next, April 15 issue has Aaron on the cover--smiling, the ball hoisted over head with his right hand. The letters in the magazine nameplate are red to match the red outline around the "Braves" script on Aaron's jersey, and the outline around the words "Sports Illustrated" is gold to match the only other type on the cover: a gold "715," which Aaron appears to be viewing with relief.

  16. We join Gary Player and Dave Stockton for their approaches on No. 9. Both are successfully on the green, Player closer.

    This is the final pairing. They are tied for the lead, along with Tom Weiskopf, who is playing No. 10, at 9-under.

    CBS brings us up to date with an all-caps leaderboard outlined by the shape of a television-set screen:

    T1. Tom Weiskopf (Massillon, Ohio): -9 (63 holes)
    T1. Gary Player (Johannesburg, South Africa): -9 (62)
    T1. Dave Stockton (San Bernardino, California): -9 (62)
    T4. Bobby Nichols (Louisville, Kentucky): -7 (63)
    T4. Jim Colbert (Elizabeth, New Jersey): -7 (62)
    T4. Phil Rodgers (San Diego, California): -7 (62)
    7. Jack Nicklaus (Columbus, Ohio): -6 (65)
    T8. Maurice Bembridge (Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England): -5 (72)
    T8. Dave Hill (Jackson, Michigan): -5 (65)
    T8. Hale Irwin (Joplin, Missouri): -5 (64)

  17. I am rooting for Tom Weiskopf, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Nichols of St. X.

  18. Here’s CBS’s announcer lineup on the course for the last several holes:

    — Par-3 No. 12, Jim Thacker
    — Par-5 No. 13, Pat Summerall
    — Par-4 No. 14, Jack Whitaker
    — Par-5 No. 15, Ben Wright
    — Par-3 No. 16, Henry Longhurst
    — Par-4 No. 17, Frank Glieber
    — Par-4 No. 18, Ray Scott

  19. The leader in the clubhouse, 5-under Bembridge, opened today at 3-over.

  20. Player--black shoes, black pants, black belt, black shirt and white cap--rolls in his six-footer for par on No. 9, and he's alone in the lead at 10-under.

    Then Stockton--white shoes, yellow-and-white plaid pants, white belt, yellow shirt and white cap--misses his three-footer for par at No. 9, and he's now alone in third at 8-under.

  21. Nicklaus—Masters champion of 1963, ’65, ’66 and ’72—is hacked after pulling his drive on No. 12 to just off the green. After pulling his chip, he’ll have about eight feet to go for par.

  22. This is the 38th Masters, and Nicklaus is the only person to have ever won two in a row. Here are the all-time winners, by number of "green jackets:"

    4-Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer

    3-Jimmy Demaret and Sam Snead

    2-Ben Hogan, Byron Nelson and Horton Smith

    1-George Archer, Tommy Aaron, Gay Brewer, Jack Burke Jr., Billy Casper, Charles Coody, Doug Ford, Bob Goalby, Ralph Guldahl, Claude Harmon, Herman Keiser, Cary Middlecoff, Henry Picard, Player, Gene Sarazen, Art Wall Jr. and Craig Wood

  23. Nicklaus gets his par. "Had to have it!" Summerall says. Keeps him within four strokes of the lead as he heads to No. 13.

  24. Player gives back a stroke at No. 10 to fall to 9-under, but he's still alone in the lead because Weiskopf has a couple of bogies in the last few holes. He's now 7-under.

    Meanwhile, Nicklaus rolls in a 50-foot eagle putt on No. 13, and now he's T2 with Stockton at 8-under!

  25. 1. Gary Player (Johannesburg, South Africa): -9 (64)
    T2. Jack Nicklaus (Columbus, Ohio): -8 (68)
    T2. Dave Stockton (San Bernardino, California): -8 (64)
    4. Tom Weiskopf (Massillon, Ohio): -7 (66 holes)
    T5. Jim Colbert (Elizabeth, New Jersey): -6 (65)
    T5. Hale Irwin (Joplin, Missouri): -6 (66)
    T5. Bobby Nichols (Louisville, Kentucky): -6 (66)
    T5. Phil Rodgers (San Diego, California): -6 (65)
    T9. Maurice Bembridge (Worksop, Nottinghamshire, England): -5 (72)
    T9. Dave Hill (Jackson, Michigan): -5 (67)

  26. Ray Scott points out that clubhouse-leader Maurice Bembridge shot a course-record-equaling 30 on the back nine today and that Player, Nicklaus, et al. have most of the back nine yet to play. "So spectacular golf is still to come!"

  27. Jack Whitaker live at the par-4 14th's green, where Nicklaus surveys his third shot, from about six feet off the green ... Nicklaus putts ... "he's come up short, as everyone has who has been in that spot today ... about three ... three-and-a-half feet ... back to 11 ..."

  28. Ray Scott: "Now here's Gary Player, trying to protect his lead in this Masters ... Dave Stockton has already played and missed his birdie putt, and now this is for par, remember, for Gary Player. He misses this, and he's back in a tie with Jack Nicklaus and Stockton ..."

  29. It's about eight feet. Player settles in to his curious stance in which his knees are crunched together and his feet are shoulder-length apart ... Scott: "Oh, what a crucial putt! Gary Player responding to the pressure here with a par at the 11th hole. Holds his lead of one stroke over the charging Jack Nicklaus and his playing partner, Dave Stockton."

  30. Whitaker at 14: "Nicklaus ... very swift putt for par ... no! ... so, Jack Nicklaus bogeys the 14th, to drop to 7 now ..."

    And Stockton ended up bogeying 11 after Player's clutch par, so now it's Player (9-under) by two strokes over tied Nicklaus, Stockton and Weiskopf, whose eagle try at No. 14 just skirts the edge of the hole.

  31. Nichols birdies 14, joining, at 7-under, the T2 at 7-under ... but only for a few seconds, as Weiskopf bottoms a short birdie to move into second alone, at 8-under ... but only for a few seconds, as Player loops out his par at 12! It's Player and Weiskopf tied for the lead. And now Nicklaus is in the water at 15! Oh, my!

  32. Nichols birdies 13, joining, at 7-under, the T2 at 7-under ... but only for a few seconds, as Weiskopf bottoms a short birdie to move into second alone, at 8-under ... but only for a few seconds, as Player loops out his par at 12! It's Player and Weiskopf tied for the lead. And now Nicklaus is in the water at 15! Oh, my!

  33. CBS helpfully gives us an update on its attractive, TV-screen leaderboard, which looks to me it is of the sensibilities and craftsmanship of the Match Game crew. Confirmed: Player and Weiskopf, both 8-under, and Nichols, Nicklaus and Stockton, all 7-under.

    Gary Player is behind a tree on No. 13, and Jack Nicklaus is taking off a sock and putting back on a shoe as he prepares for a shot from the water at No. 15.

  34. It turns out that Nicklaus's ball is lodged on the back bank of the pond just in front of the 15th green. Nicklaus anchors his right, shoed/un-socked foot in the water. His left knee his bent at about 45 degrees, and his left, shoed/still-socked foot is propped up on the bank. Nicklaus hatchets a wedge into the mud of the bank and sends flying the ball toward the pin.

    "Wow!" Ben Wright, live at the hole, enthuses. "What a colossal golf shot!"

    It rolls still maybe three inches from the cup.

    "Shot of the match ... Jack Nicklaus taps in for the most unlikely of birdies, and he's back at eight under par. And he started the day at 4-under."

    Shaggy-headed Nicklaus--looking like he owns the joint in Masters-green pants and gold-with-Masters-green-striped shirt--flashes the smile that makes Marge Simpson swoon as he walks off the green and then bends down to untie his soggy white right shoe and put back on his sock.

    1. Pretty savvy marketing here. Jack Nicklaus for Sunday’s final round appears to wear the same Hathaway Golf Classic shirt he models on Page 70 of the April 22, 1974, Sports Illustrated covering the tournament. “The name Hathaway Golf Classic speaks with authority (it’s the shirt Jack Nicklaus wears!). For the Hathaway Golf Classic Shop nearest you, write Hathaway House, Waterville, Maine 04901, a division of Warnaco, Inc.”

      This is one of four ads in which Nicklaus appears in this issue.

  35. CBS, helpfully:

    T1. Jack Nicklaus (Columbus, Ohio): -8 (69 holes)
    T1. Gary Player (Johannesburg, South Africa): -8 (66)
    T1. Tom Weiskopf (Massillon, Ohio): -8 (68)
    T4. Hale Irwin (Joplin, Missouri): -7 (68)
    T4. Bobby Nichols (Louisville, Kentucky): -7 (67)
    T4. Dave Stockton (San Bernardino, California): -8 (64)
    T7. Frank Beard (Louisville, Kentucky): -6 (68)
    T7. Jim Colbert (Elizabeth, New Jersey): -6 (67)
    T7. Dave Hill (Jackson, Michigan): -6 (67)
    T7. Phil Rodgers (San Diego, California): -6 (67)

  36. Nicklaus and Weiskopf both went to Ohio State. Both Beard and Nichols went to Louisville St. X.

  37. Weiskopf has a 15-footer for birdie on No. 15 that would put him in the lead alone. He's short.

  38. Stockton has a 25-footer for eagle on No. 13 that would put him in the lead alone. He's short--but his birdie ratchets him into the T1 at 8-under.

  39. Henry Longhurst at the par-3 No. 16, watching Nicklaus's drive: "Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear ... well, this time he is in the water ... he must be in the water ... we saw the splash ..."

  40. Player has seven or eight feet for birdie on No. 13 that would put him in the lead alone. He makes!

  41. CBS comes back from commercial to show Nicklaus playing out of the bunker, and his wedge shot barely makes it out. He's still not on the green. This must be where his tournament turned.

  42. Nicklaus putts from the fringe. He misses just right and past the hole. It's a bogey, and he's back to 7-under.

    I guess Nicklaus's ball skipped off the water on No. 16 and to the sand. Crazy that he's still in this thing at all--though now two back.

  43. Back to back, CBS shows Nichols flying an approach probably 60 feet past the green on No. 14 and then Beard sending his drive into the water ahead of the green at No. 16. An unhappy few moments of Sunday-afternoon national TV for our St. X home boys.

    Oh, dear, oh, dear, oh, dear, indeed ... Beard drops in front of the pond and then puts that shot back in the water again!

  44. Nicklaus has a long putt for birdie to go to 8-under ... just short.

    Irwin has a short one for birdie to go to 8-under ... good!

    Weiskopf, who takes a while, has a shorter one for birdie to go to 9-under and T1 with Player ... good!

  45. But now Weiskopf is in the water at 16! No. 16 is just killing people today.

  46. Weiskopf drops over his shoulder in front of the pond, as Beard did. His next shot is a high archer that stabs into the green about eight feet right of the cup, rolls backward a couple of inches and stops. He's lying three, but he'll have a good chance here to lose only one stroke--and now Player is in a fairway bunker.

  47. Weiskopf gets it! He's now back to 8-under, tied with Irwin and Stockton. Irwin has a lengthy uphill putt for birdie at No. 17--he's short.

  48. Nicklaus holes out at No. 18 to finish 7-under. He still looks great, if crestfallen.

  49. Hmmm ... we missed some shots here, because now we have Player and Stockton walking to the green at No. 16. Apparently, neither of them went in the water.

    Player is up. Henry Longhurst estimates it's 18 feet downhill and edging left.

  50. With Player sizing up his attempt, CBS cuts to Irwin just missing a 4-footer that would've gotten him to 9-under with Player.

  51. Now a split screen ... Weiskopf at 17 on the left, Player at 16 on the right ... Player just misses right but taps in to stay at 9-under ... Weiskopf, who takes a while, is still sizing up his 20-footer for birdie ... misses just right, as well ... his caddy thought it was in and bounced up and down at the pin ... stays at 8-under.

  52. Back to Stockton ... 11 feet for birdie at 16, also downhill ... oh, man ... also just missed ... stays at 8-under ...

    The pin at No. 16 is way up at the front corner of the narrow, left side of the green, just beyond the water and, a little to the left, sand. Nicklaus, Beard, Weiskopf, so many--trying to charge from one or a few strokes back--went for the cup and found the water. Stockton, playing with the leader, apparently clubbed up, like the leader, and went long and uphill of the cup. Both Stockton and Player got their pars. But now Stockton has only two holes left to gain a stroke and tie his playing partner.

    The pairings still on the course:

    -- Nichols (5-under) and Weiskopf (8-under) on No. 18
    -- Colbert (5-under) and Rodgers (5-under) on No. 17
    -- Player (9-under) and Stockton (8-under) on No. 17

    Leaders in the clubhouse are Irwin and Nicklaus, at 7-under.

  53. Weiskopf has 250 yards to go on his second shot at the dogleg-right 18th ... he really is a deliberate player but not antsy ... I, for one, would like to be a more deliberate but less antsy person.

  54. Oh, my, beautiful ... lands maybe 15 feet right and high of the hole, roles back to within maybe 12 ... he'll have a birdie try ...

  55. Stockton's drive on No. 17 was errant right, and he's going to have to fly mostly blind into the green. He gets to the green, but it's way long and 50 feet away for birdie ...

    OH, MY! Player's second shot from the middle of the 17th fairway dribbles to a stop less than a foot from the hole! He has inches for birdie. "That may be the shot!" Frank Glieber assesses.

  56. Weiskopf has longer left than what I thought. Ray Scott says it's 18 feet, and there's a downslope. Weiskopf's read is excellent, but his ball rims just right and around the back of the hole. He's done, at 8-under.

  57. Stockton makes a good go of the long, long birdie at 17, but it's about three feet long.

  58. Nichols birdies 18 to finish 6-under and finish off Beard for Low Kentuckian.

  59. Player ... no problem ... goes to 18 at 10-under, two ahead of done Weiskopf and partner Stockton.

  60. Dan Jenkins then covers the entire four-day tournament and its decades of context in a 325-word opening paragraph: "This was to have been the Masters in which Jack Nicklaus did battle with the Youth of America, the mop-haired crew that has been winning all those golf tournaments over the past year, even stealing away some that Nicklaus wanted most, like the U.S. Open and the British Open. You had the feeling he was letting the kids have their fun for a while. Now, after practicing hard on the course the week before, out he stormed over the fairways of Augusta, shooting subpar rounds of 69 and 71 the first two days, good enough to move comfortably away from young bucks like Johnny Miller, Ben Crenshaw and Lanny Wadkins. He was ready to take on the challenge of Dave Stockton, Hale Irwin, Jim Colbert and Tom Weiskopf, all younger if not part of the mod squad, all in contention to win the tournament. And then, midway through the third round, as his attention was riveted on them, he was caught and passed on his blind side by an old foe, 37 years old as a matter of fact, a man who won his first major championship while Nicklaus was still an amateur and who spent the week of the 1973 Masters recovering from the second of two operations. Now fit and, as he likes to say, "playing the best golf of my life," Gary Player startled Nicklaus and the rest of the field on Saturday afternoon with a string of five straight birdies that vaulted him into second place, one stroke from the lead. On Sunday he grabbed the lead at the 9th hole, and while he was often forced to share it with a small army of contenders, Player refused to back off. One by one the others did, Nicklaus included, and when it was over, Wee Gary had won the Masters. He shot 71-71-66-70—278, 10 under par, to beat Weiskopf and Stockton by two strokes, Nicklaus, Colbert and Irwin by three."