Author’s Note—This is a fiction story, a fantastic fairy tale woven from gossamer strands of the imagination. All names of characters, places and organizations are fictitious, and, of course, everyone who is familiar with hockey knows that the incidents described could never possibly have happened.—F.E.
I AM going to put down in writing the true history of my career as a star hockey player, because there has been so many pieces in the paper this winter about me which was not true that I am obliged to take this step in self-defense.
This big sports writer, Dexter Chase, has made a large number of these dirty cracks, and I am going to have this printed in the paper so that everyone will know what are the true facts of what come off. I was going to sue this Dexter Chase for lible, but my Uncle Willie advised me not to because he said:
“You will have to go into the witness box, and then some smart lawyer will make a monkey out of you.”
I said: “There is not no smart lawyer ever going to make a monkey out of me, Uncle Willie.”
“No, I suppose you figure that the job done by Nature cannot be improved upon,” my Uncle Willie said.
My Uncle Willie is like that, always kidding and wisecracking, but half the time he does not mean what he says.
But I have promised my Uncle Willie that I would not take no serious steps in any matter without first asking his advice, so when he said that I should not take no lible action against this Dexter Chase, I decided that I would not do it, but would write down the true facts instead and have them printed in the paper. In this way I will protect my rights as a simon-pure amateur hockey player who is not no slave like the pros.
EVERYONE knows that I am Bernard Bannister and that I come from Cosmos Creek, because that has been in the paper 1,000 times, and that is about all that the papers has ever printed about my career as a star hockey player that is the true facts. The newspaper fellows do not even write about me by my right name, but always call me “Beefy” Bannister, and I do not seem to be able to stop them doing this unless I take a sock at them, and Joe Mullins that manages the Crumpets will not let me take a sock at them.
I play defense for the Crumpets in the Baking Soda League, and also for the Eagles in the High Group of the Amateur Hockey Organization, which is the governing body of us amateurs.
I started to play hockey when I was at school, and I was the best defense player they ever had at Cosmos Creek High School, and after I left Cosmos Creek High School when I was aged seventeen years old I went to work in the paper mill, which is where most everyone goes to work in Cosmos Creek, because there is no other place to go to work in Cosmos Creek, any way. My father is the assistant head shipper in the paper mill and he got me a job in the shipping room.
My mother did not want me to leave school when I did, because she wanted me to study to be a big lawyer and become Prime Minister of Canada, but my father said that I had a fat chance to become Prime Minister of Canada without no brains to go with the job, and he would just as soon have me turn out to be another Art Ross as Prime Minister of Canada, any way.
Well, I played defense for Cosmos Creek for a couple of years and then we won the Cosmos County League and sent in a challenge for the Adams Cup, but we had to go to the Big Town to play off, and so we lost on account of strange ice, and besides the referees was from the Big Town and they give us all the worst of it.
This was the first time I had been to the Big Town, but my Uncle Willie, who is Mr. Davis, the big machinery salesman, lives there, and after the game he come into the dressing room and he had another man with him, being Mr. Joe Mullins who is an important man in the Canadian Consolidated Crumpets, Limited.
So my Uncle Willie introduced this Mr. Joe Mullins to me, and Mr. Joe Mullins says:
“You were going pretty good out there tonight.”
“I am always going pretty good,” I says to Mr. Joe Mullins.
“I am glad to hear it,” Mr. Joe Mullins said, “because maybe next season I might have something to say to you.”
Well, that was all that come off the first time I met Mr. Joe Mullins, but in September my Uncle Willie come up to Cosmos Creek to sell some machinery, and he wanted that I should go back to the Big Town with him.
My mother did not want me to go to the Big Town, but my father and my Uncle Willie argued with her, my Uncle Willie saying that he could get me a good job with Canadian Consolidated Crumpets, Limited, at a salary of twenty-five dollars per week to start.
“Goodness gracious,” said my mother. “Why, Sam, when we was married you was not making only fifteen dollars per week.”
My father said: “Yes, Mary, but that was twenty-five years ago, and besides I was not no hockey player nor any other kind of a athalete except at cribbage and checkers, and there is not no one paying money to see people play cribbage or checkers either.”
'T'HEN my mother said that she would not want me to be a professional athalete, because if I was a professional athalete I would never get to be a big lawyer and Prime Minister of Canada. My father said that we could cross that bridge when we come to it, and anyway when I turned pro., it would not be for no twenty-five dollars per week, and in the meantime I could go right on developing my poke check.
“This here is a strictly amateur proposition, Mary,” said my father, “but the kid has got to get him a job of some kind, and you should leave this to Bill, because he knows what’s what in the Big Town.”
My mother said: “I do not see how it can be so amateur if they are offering to pay Bernard twenty-five dollars per week because he is a good hockey player.”
“They are not paying him no twenty-five dollars per week for playing hockey, but for working in the shipping room of Canadian Consolidated Crumpets, Limited,” said my Uncle Willie.
“Would they pay him all that money if he was not a good hockey player?” my mother asked, and my father said that that did not have nothing to do with it, and he could not understand why it was that women did not seem to be able to grasp the simplest thing about sport.
My Uncle Willie then said to me: “What do you think about it yourself, kid?”
“I would like to go to the Big Town,” I said, “because if you are in the Big Town you have got a better chance to win the Adams Cup.”
My Uncle Willie then laughed and said: “In the Big Town you have got a better chance to do a lot of other things, too.”
So I saw my Uncle Willie was kidding, and I said: “I was talking about hockey, Uncle Willie.”
“What did you think I was talking about—snakes and ladders?” said my Uncle Willie, still kidding.
Well, after they had been arguing for a long time, my mother said to my father: “Well, Sam, you are his father and the head of the family, so I suppose you have got to have your own way, because I know what you are when you have got your mind set on anything. Just like a mule,” my mother said.
So I knew it was all right.
WELL, my Uncle Willie and me went to the Big Town in the first week in October, and we got a room for me to sleep in, and then we went down to the Canadian Consolidated Crumpets to see Mr. Joe Mullins, and Mr. Joe Mullins shook hands with me and told my Uncle Willie that he should take me down to the shipping room.
So we went down to the shipping room and my Uncle Willie intraduced me to Mr. Walter Johnson, who was the head shipper, and was a tall thin man with a sour look, like he had been sucking a lemon or something. “Well, Walter,” said my Uncle Willie, “here is good news for you. This is my nephew Bernard Bannister and he is coming to work for you.”
Mr. Johnson said: “Oh, yes. And is he a shipper or just another hockey player?” So my Uncle Willie said: “He is both, and he will do a good job of work for you and for Joe Mullins as well.”
“He had better,” said Mr. Johnson, “because I tell you right now, Bill Davis, that I am getting good and sick of carrying a lot of prima donna hockey players on my pay roll just to please Joe Mullins. I am running a shipping room and I am not running no rest room for tired hockey players.”
“Well, Walter,” said my Uncle Willie, “this time will be different because you can see for yourself that my nephew has a splendid physic and is solid and strong and built like a rock.”
Mr. Johnson said: “That is all right, so long as he is” not built like a rock from the neck up. Anyway,” said Mr. Johnson to me, “you come to work next Monday morning at 8 a.m. o’clock, and we will soon find out if you are a shipper or just another athalete suffering from the sleeping sickness.”
I thought this Mr. Johnson was a crab, but I did not say nothing on account of him being a friend of my Uncle Willie.
Well, I went to work for Mr. Johnson on Monday morning, and there was seven or eight other fellows in the shipping room, but only one besides me was a hockey player and his name was Bob Henderson, being a forward, and older than me but not so strong nor so heavy.
That is all that come off until the first week in November when Mr. Mullins sent word around for the first practice, which was on a Wednesday.
Well, I had new boots and skates, but I did not do so bad at this practice, only Mr. Mullins balled me out a couple of times for spilling fellows into the boards, saying: “Listen, if you want to get a reputation for being a bad man, wait until the season starts, because I do not want no dumb cluck rushing around here breaking arms and legs in practice games. This is all one happy family, and you had better forget about chucking your weight around, and try to pick up some of the fine points of the game which will keep you busy anyway.”
So Mr. Mullins told Bob Henderson to coach me on the attack, and he showed me a lot of things we had not done in the Cosmos County League, like how to cross check with a high stick and come up at the last moment so that the referee does not get wise, and how to hold down the other fellow’s stick in the face off, and other fine points of the game.
Well, nothing else come off until after the season had started except that I got balled out by Mr. Johnson for coming in late, which I could not help, being tired after the practice and wanting to get my sleep and keep up my strength, and also having some trouble with this Johnny Kelly which is a newspaper fellow who works for this Dexter Chase, the big sports writer.
It was about the third or fourth time that I had come to work at nine o’clock a.m., or may be a few minutes after, that Mr. Johnson balled me out.
“If you think you can come to work a couple of hours late every morning after a practise, what will you be like when the season starts?” Mr. Johnson said. “You may have been hired for a hockey player, but you are on my pay roll as a shipper and you will either be a shipper or get to blazes out of my department,” he said.
Well, I did not want no trouble with Mr. Johnson, what was always crabbing anyway, but I could not let him get away with nothing like that, so I said in a dignified manner: “Mr. Johnson, I am a simon-pure amateur hockey player, and I am doing my best for the Crumpets which has asked me to play for them and you have not got no license to say that I was hired for no hockey player, because that is not true and I have got my amateur card to prove it.”
IT was this Johnny Kelly that first thought up the idea to call me “Beefy” Bannister, and he is a big fellow with red hair that used to come to our practices, and once he wrote this piece about me in the paper which I cut out and am keeping in my scrapbook.
“The Crumpets, last year’s Baking Soda League champs, are banking heavily on “Beefy” Bannister, the blonde behemoth from Cosmos Creek, to plug the hole left by Long John Silver’s jump to pro. ranks. This kid shows up well in practice and seems sure to get the call for the vacant defense job. He skates well, and with a little more experience should come along fast.”
I said to Bob Henderson: “Who is this Johnny Kelly anyway, and what license has he got to call me out of my name, and what does he mean by this word ‘behemoth.’ ”
“He is a newspaper fellow,” Bob Henderson said, “and he will call you anything he feels like.” I said: “He had better not call me out of my name, or I will give him a punch in the nose.” Well, Bob Henderson said that it would not get me anything to go around punching newspaper fellows in the nose, because then they would pan me or not write anything about me at all; which would be worse. Then me and Bob Henderson looked up this word “behemoth” in the dictionery in Mr. Mullins’s office and it said that it was a word which means “a very large and strong animal.”
So I said: “What does he mean by calling me a very large and strong animal?”
“Well, you are, are not you?” Bob Henderson said.
I said: “I am not no animal and no newspaper fellow is going to get away with calling me ‘Beefy’ and a animal at the same time.”
Well, the next time we had a practice, Bob Henderson says to me: “There is your friend Johnny Kelly sitting on the penalty bench,” pointing to this big fellow with red hair.
So I skated over to the bench and I said: “Are you Johnny Kelly that puts the pieces in the paper?”
He said: “I am, and what of it?”
“Well,” I said, “I am Bernard Bannister.”
“What do you want me to do, break down and cry?” said this Johnny Kelly.
So I said: “If you do not stop calling me names in the paper you will break down and cry because I will sock you in the nose.”
Then this Johnny Kelly got up and took off his hat and bowed and said: “My humble apologies, Mr. Bannister, and what would you suggest that I call you?”
“My right name is Bernard Bannister, and I do not like to be called out of it,” I said.
“Let me get you right, Bernard,” said this Johnny Kelly. “Do I understand, Bernard, that you would rather be called Bernard than ‘Beefy?’ Is that the idea, Bernard?”
I said: “You are darn right I would, and what is more if you call me ‘Beefy’ again in your paper I will give you a punch on the jaw.”
“Well,” said this Johnny Kelly, “there is no accounting for tastes, Bernard, but let me tell you, Bernard, that in this man’s town I write what I feel like writing, within reason; and let me advice you further, Bernard, that if you were ever so indiscreet as to give me a punch on the jaw, your sorrowing relatives would immediately be out the price of one expensive funeral.”
So I said: “Is that so?”
Then this Johnny Kelly said: “Suppose you experiment and find out?” But just as I hauled off to swing on him, Bob Henderson grabbed me by the elbows and said, “Do not be a fool, you fool,” and then Mr. Mullins comes up the alleyway from the dressing room.
Well, Mr. Mullins shakes hands with this Johnny Kelly, saying, “Hello, Johnny, I see you are getting acquainted with my new material.”
“Yes,” said this Johnny Kelly, “and if you ask me, some of your new material is pretty raw material, because this rash young man has just offered to punch me on the jaw.”
So Mr. Mullins says to me, “What is the matter with you, are you crazy?”
I said: “No, I am not crazy, but no newspaper fellow is going to call me ‘Beefy’ in his paper and get away with it.”
Well, Mr. Mullins laughed and he said:
“Forget it, because I am not going to have you going around fighting with the newspaper boys, and anyway you had best lay off of Johnny Kelly, because he is just about the best amateur boxer in these parts, and he has won the provincial amateur welterweight championship three times hand-running.”
Well, I was not going to get mixed up with no man that won the amateur provincial welterweight championship three times hand-running, so I said:
“All right, Mr. Mullins, if you do not want me to fight with the newspaper boys, I will not take no sock at Mr. Kelly.”
Then this Johnny Kelly says: “You are wise, Bernard, beyond your years, and now that we are friends again I will inform your public tomorrow that you would rather be called Bernard than ‘Beefy’.”
Well, in the paper the next day Johnny Kelly did not say nothing about me, but this Dexter Chase, the big sports writer, had a sarkastic piece about me in his column which was intitled, “Is Hockey Getting Effete?” and in this piece Dexter Chase said:
“It is disquieting news for the sterner school of hockey supporters to discover that there exists in Canada today a hockey player of Mr. Bannister’s seeming vim and vigor, not to mention poundage, who would rather be called Bernard than ‘Beefy.’ “Shades of Moose Johnson, Cyclone Taylor, Newsy Lalonde, Pud Glass, Punch Broadbent, and a score of other honorably nicknamed old-timers! Here is a puck chaser who just loves to be known as Bernard.”
I did not like this Dexter Chase writing that way about me, but there was not anything I could do about it because Mr. Mullins did not want me to get into no fights with newspaper fellows, but I was good and sore at Bob Henderson for not telling me that this Johnny Kelly had won the provincial amateur welterweight championship for three years hand-running, and I balled him out.
Bob Henderson said: “There is gratitude for you. I save your life by stopping you from socking Johnny Kelly and you give me a balling out because I did not write you a history of his life. Joe Mullins said that I was to coach you in offensive-defensive play, but he did not say nothing to me about acting as dry nurse to you and I do not intend to do so. There has got to be some things you must find out for yourself,” Bob Henderson said.
So I was still sore at Bob Henderson, and the next time me and him come together I give him plenty, but it did not do no good because the next thing I knew I got a fierce crack on the head from a stick, and I did not know it was him until I saw him skating away and laughing, and he said:
“Now we are even, fellow!”
Well, Mr. Mullins did not like the players on his team to mix it with each other, so I laid off Bob Henderson and there was not no more trouble. But if he had been on some other team I would have give him plenty.
NOTHING else come off until the season opened and we won the first game by the score of 3 goals to 1 goal, and after the game my Uncle Willie comes into the dressing room and he says to Mr. Joe Mullins: “Well, Joe, was I right or was I not right?”
Then Mr. Joe Mullins said:
“Well, Bill, he has certainly got his health and strength and he seems to have the guts to use them, but he has still got a lot to learn because most of his brains is in his feet.”
“I did not tell you he was no college professor, Joe,” said my Uncle Willie,
“I told you he was a hockey player, and I am right. Give him time and he will play himself right out of this league.” Then he slipped me a five-dollar bill, and said that I should get myself a packet of cigarettes or some chewing gum, because he had just took ten bucks from a sucker on the other side of the fence, and he would split with me because I had put up a good show for the first time out.
Well, that was all that come off until just before Christmas, and we had won all our games except one that was a overtime tie, and we would have won that, only we did not get any breaks and besides the referees give us a raw deal. Even Mr. Mullins said I was pretty good and getting better, and my Uncle Willie come into the dressing room after one of our games and said:
“Listen, kid, I want you should drop into my place on your way home, because there is a man I want that you should meet.”
My Uncle Willie had a apartment not far from the rink and when I got there, there was a swell gentleman in one of these evening full dress suits, and my Uncle Willie says:
“This is Mr. Carlson, a friend of mine and a good sport.”
So I said: “Pleased to meet you,” and then it come out that this Mr. Carlson was a great hockey fan, and he was especially interested in the Alexanders, which, is a independent club playing in the Middle Group of the Amateur Hockey Organization, and Mr. Carlson wanted I should play for his club as well as for the Crumpets.
So I said it would be O.K. by me if Mr. Joe Mullins would stand for it, and if it would not hurt my amateur standing.
“You can leave Joe Mullins to me,” Mr. Carlson said, “and you do not have to worry about your amateur standing, because being with the Alexanders will help your amateur standing, because the Crumpets is a industrial team and is not illegible for the Adams Cup, but the Alexanders is a independent club arid will enter for the Adams Cup, and what is more will come darn close to winning it. All we need now is a smart defense player and I think that you are elected.”
Well, these Alexanders played on Saturdays in the Castle Rink, which is not so big as the Pantheon, where the Crumpets played on Wednesdays, so I signed to play with the Alexanders as well as with the Crumpets, because I like to play hockey, and one game a week did not do any more than work a sweat up for me.
Mr. Joe Mullins did not mind about me joining the Alexanders, but Mr. Johnson, my boss, was good and sore, and he called me into his office the next morning and said:
“What is this I hear about you signing with another hockey team besides the Crumpets?”
I said: “Well, Mr. Johnson, I have been asked to play for the Alexanders, and there is not no law against it.”
“There had ought to be,” Mr. Johnson says, “but that does not matter, and you stay right where you are, because I want that you should hear this.”
So then Mr. Johnson telephoned to Mr. Joe Mullins, saying these words, as near as I can remember:
“Well, Mullins, this big piece of cheese you wished on me last October has rassled his last packing-case in this room. No, I will not give him another chance, because he is not no good anyway, and he spends half of his time that I am paying for, in bed recovering from his exertions on behalf of your lousy hockey outfit, and now he has signed with the Alecs, and that means that he will spend all his time in bed when he is not playing hockey; and what good to me is a lazy bum that spends all his time playing hockey and sleeping so he can be in shape to go out and play hockey again, because this is a shipping department that I am running and it is not no home for exhausted athaletes, and if he had never of come to me that would have been too soon, and any way he is being paid off from this department right now and you can pick up the remains with my blessing?”
Then Mr. Johnson wrote out a order for my pay, saying to me:
“Take that and get out of my sight before I bust you loose from a few teeth. You may be one fine hockey player, and I have my doubts about that, but you are certainly excess baggage where there is work to be done. Now report to Mullins. Maybe he will make you a vice president, and the best I wish you is that you break a leg.”
Well, I did not want no fuss with a old man like Mr. Johnson, so I went to Mr. Mullins’s office and Mr. Mullins said:
“Well, I am sorry you had a run in with Mr. Johnson, but it will be all right, because I am going to put you into the sales department, and you will get your twenty-five dollars per week as a drawing account, and commissions as well if you sell enough, and the first customer you can go to work on is Mr. Carlson because he buys about a million crumpets a week for them grocery stores that he has got, and he does not buy more than one quarter of them from us.”
Then Mr. Mullins said that I could go home for the rest of the day and report to him next morning, and that I should read a good book, preferably a hockey guide. So I told Mr. Mullins that I did not read books because it was bad for the eyes, but that I would go to a picture instead. Which I did, and the next day I became a salesman for Canadian Consolidated Crumpets, Limited, which was a whole lot better than rassling heavy cases in the shipping room, especially for a old crab like old man Johnson.
WELL, that was about all that come off in my first season in the Big Town, except that the Crumpets win the Baking Soda League, and the Alexanders got into the sectional finals for the Adams Cup and we only lost by the odd goal in seven to the Cherokees, which was because we did not get the breaks, and any way the Cherokees copped the cup in the finals, so Mr. Carlson did not feel so bad.
Mr. Carlson was very good to the players on the Alecs and he give us all gold watches for getting into the sectional finals and every Saturday afternoon after the game he would come into the dressing room and give us envelopes with money in them.
Mr. Carlson would then say:
“Well, boys, I managed to clean up a bit betting on this game, so here is a little present for you with my best wishes.”
The first time this happened, I said:
“Well, Mr. Carlson, it is very kind of you to give me a present, but I do not think I should ought to take money for playing hockey, because it might hurt my amateur standing and I do not want to do nothing that would hurt my amateur standing.”
“Well, Bannister,” said Mr. Carlson, “if you do not want to take a present from me, that is up to you, but I want that you should understand that this is in no sense a payment for playing hockey because that is against the rules, but merely a token of my private esteem and admiration for you personally. If I was you I would just take it and say nothing about it, because it has nothing to do with your amateur standing if I choose to give you a little present because you are a friend of mine. You have got your amateur card, have you not?” said Mr. Carlson.
So I said: “Why, yes, Mr. Carlson, of course I have got my amateur card.”
Mr. Carlson then said: “All right then, what is eating you?” and I did not say no more about it.
Well, every Saturday afternoon Mr. Carlson come round to the dressing room and give all the boys a little present in token of his admiration and esteem, and he must have been pretty smart because it did not make no difference, whether we win or lose he always seemed to make some money betting. Not that we lose many games, of course.
I told my friend Bob Henderson that Mr. Carlson must be a pretty smart chap and I wondered how it was he always made some money betting whether the Alecs win or lose, and Bob Henderson says maybe he bets on whether you are going to be dumped on your rear three times or twenty in any given period, or maybe on how thick your skull is, and anyway you should worry because he has got plenty of jack and he gets a kick out of it, because it is his hobby to run a hockey team the same way that some fellows collects postage stamps.
Well, besides that, Mr. Carlson helped me with my job as salesman for Canadian Consolidated Crumpets, Limited, by giving me the order for all the crumpets for his grocery stores, and besides he give me intraductions to six or seven of his friends that give me orders because they was friends of Mr. Carlson.
So what with this and that I was not doing so bad by the time the end of the season come, and I was glad that I had come to the Big Town.
Well, that is about all that come off until last September, when my Uncle Willie said to me one day:
“I suppose you are going to keep on playing with the Crumpets and with the Alecs this winter, kid?”
So I said: “Yes, Uncle Willie, them’s my intentions.”
“I guess that is the best you can do, kid,” my Uncle Willie said. “You have done pretty good for your first year in the Big Town, and I guess by the time you have got one more season under your belt with the Crumpets and the Alecs you will be ready for the big time. Well, I am making my annual trip to the coast, starting next week, and I just wanted to know what you figured on doing, so that you would not do nothing foolish while I am away in the West.”
“I will not do nothing foolish, Uncle Willie,” I said.
“That means that you will sit still and not do nothing at all,” said my Uncle Willie. He is always wisecracking and kidding, but it don’t mean nothing.
But how was I to know what was coming off?
WELL, the first thing that come off was that a Mr. O’Connor called me up on the telephone one day and said that I should go to the Maple Leaf Hotel and meet him because he wanted to talk to me about something very important.
So I went to the Maple Leaf Hotel and I met this Mr. O’Connor, being a short fat man, and he said:
“I am a man of few words, Mr. Bannister, and I am going to come right to the point which is that the Lions wants to sign you to a pro. contract and if you would like to make 200 dollars faster than you ever made 200 dollars in your life, all you have got to do is put your name down on this dotted line.”
Then Mr. O’Connor gave me a piece of paper to sign and he took out two bills, each of them being 100-dollar bills, and he put them on the table by the piece of paper.
Well, I did not want to sign no paper without asking my Uncle Willie about it, and I told Mr. O’Connor that, and he said:
“All right. Get hold of your Uncle Willie. Who is your Uncle Willie anyway?”
So I said that my Uncle Willie was Mr. William Davis, the big machinery salesman, and that he was now in the West. Then Mr. O’Connor said:
“Oh, if you mean Bill Davis, he is a friend of mine and he would tell you that the smartest thing you ever did was to sign that paper, but I have not got no time to wait for Bill Davis to get back from Winnipeg or Vancouver or wherever it is that he is at, and I have not got no time to waste arguing with hockey players that do not know their own mind. I have got to have your answer right now, but seeing that you are a nephew of my friend Bill Davis, I will raise the ante fifty bucks.”
Then he put a fifty-dollar bill on the table beside the 100-dollar bills, saying:
“There it is. Take it or leave it.”
Well, I thought my Uncle Willie has always wanted me to get into the big leagues, only he did not expect that I would have no chance until next season, and here was the Lions wanting me this season. Then Mr. O’Connor says:
“You are your own boss, anyway, because I looked you up and I know that you was twenty-one years old on the sixteenth of last August, so nobody don’t have to tell you what to do.”
“No, Mr. O’Connor, nobody don’t have to tell me what to do, and I am going to sign your paper, Mr. O’Connor,” I said.
So I signed the paper and took the 250 dollars, and Mr. O’Connor said:
“That is fine and you are a bright kid. Now you go on about your business and you will hear from us later when we want that you should report. But remember to keep your trap shut about this, because if it got out, the other clubs would be sore and beside they would take your amateur card away from you, and if the deal was to fall through you would be out on a lim for fair.”
Well, I wanted to tell Bob Henderson that I had signed with the Lions, because I knew that would make him sore because he had not been asked to sign with no pro teams, but when Mr. O’Connor told me that I decided that I would not say nothing until the Lions ordered me to report, and then I would just mention it in a casual manner and then Bob Henderson would be sorer than ever.
But I did not know what was coming off the very next day, and I was glad I had kept my trap shut, because a man called me up and said that he was Mr. Kane, and he wanted to see me right away at the Hotel Beaver. So I knew there was a Mr. Tom Kane who was secretery or something for the Leopards, and I said to myself I bet this is this Mr. Tom Kane and he wants to sign me for the Leopards, and sure enough that is who it was and that is what he wanted.
Well, I had promised Mr. O’Connor I would not say nothing to nobody about signing up with the Lions, and I thought anyway if the deal with the Lions should fall through for some reason, then I could play with the Leopards which is pretty good and needs a new defense man the way Tommy Talbot was going last year, and he must be pretty near to 100 years old anyway.
So I said: “Well, Mr. Kane, of course I want to play in the big league and if the Leopards can use me I shall be glad to play with them, because it looks like you would be able to use a clever strong defense player the way Tommy Talbot was slowed up last year.”
Then Mr. Kane said that I was a smart kid and had the right idea and that I should keep my trap shut in case anything should come up before the club was ready to start practising.
So I did not say nothing to nobody, but I thought, well, that makes 450 dollars that I have made in two days for being a star hockey player and if this keeps on I shall not need no job with them Crumpets nor with nobody else either, and I will just have only to play hockey and will make more money in a season than Bob Henderson will make all his lifetime.
But the very next day another man called me up and said he was Mr. Jones of Metropolis, and he wanted me to go round to the Big City Hotel right away, because he had to catch a train, which is the swellest dump in town.
Well, this Mr. Jones turned out to be the manager of the Metropolis Wolves, and he said the Wolves was up against it for defense players, and he wanted me to sign with them and go to Metropolis.
Them Metropolis Wolves is not so hot and they was not in the play-offs even last year, but I thought, well, if something should happen to gum up the works with the Lions and the Leopards, I would still have the Wolves up my sleeve, and I bet if they had me on that defense it would not look so much like a sieve, and we would get in the play-offs sure; so I signed a paper for Mr. Jones, and he give me 200 dollars which was 650 dollars I had got in three days just for being a star hockey player; so I went home feeling pretty good and sitting on top of the world, like it says in the old song.
WELL, how did I know what was to come off that very night when Don Keating that was the captain of the Alecs calls me up at my rooming house and says to come over to the Big City Hotel right away because there was a big deal coming off!
When I got to the hotel there was Don Keating and pretty nearly all the Alecs players except one or two subs, and they was talking to a man and Don Keating intraduced me saying:
“This ‘Beefy’ Bannister, Mr. Brewster,” because the newspaper fellows had kept right on calling me “Beefy,” and now everybody had got into the habit of calling me that, even my friends.
So this Mr. Brewster shook hands with me and then he says:
“Well, Don, you know what this is all about, and I guess I will leave you talk it over with the boys,” and then he went into another room and shut the door.
Then Don Keating said:
“Well, fellows, it is this way. Mr. Brewster is the representative of a very important syndicate of big sports in this town that wants to put a strong team in the High Group this coming season. Well, you know how it was last year. We was playing with the Alecs in the Middle Group in that crumby little Castle rink which is no bigger than a ice box in a kitchen, but we showed them a lot of stuff just the same. Well, what we showed them last year has had its effect and now Mr. Brewster wants that we should sign up with him and play with this new team, which is the Eagles in the Pantheon, and be in the High Group. That is the proposition, and I tell you right, now fair and square that I am going to take Mr. Brewster up, because I know that Mr. Brewster’s crowd is some of the biggest sports in town, and they will treat you better than ever old man Carlson ever thought of treating you. But it is up to you fellows to decide for yourselfs because you are all amateurs, and not no slaves like a pro. to be sold up and down the country without no say about where he wants to play.”
Well, we talked it over among ourselfs and most of the boys was for going to Mr. Brewster with Don Keating who was a swell fellow and popular, which is not often the case with a captain.
So we all went into the next room to see Mr. Brewster, going in one at a time.
When it came my turn I went in and Mr. Brewster was sitting at a table with a lot of forms in front of him and a list of our names and a lot of envelopes with names on them in typewriting. Mr. Brewster give me one of the forms to sign and it was the regular A.H.O. form except that it was for the High Group instead of for the Middle Group.
Well, after I had signed the form Mr. Brewster give me a envelope with my name on it, saying:
“Now, Bannister, remember that you have signed with a amateur club and you have done nothing to hurt your amateur standing; but the directors of the Eagles Amateur Hockey Club, of which you are now a member, wishes you to accept this envelope and its contents as a token of their admiration and esteem.”
So I thought that is just like Mr. Carlson used to do, so I guess it is all O.K. But when I got home I found there was a fifty-dollar bill in the envelope which was more than Mr. Carlson ever presented me with, being usually ten or maybe fifteen dollars, and besides I could see like Don Keating had said that it would be better for the amateur game if we was in the High Group because we certainly would have went through the Middle Group like nobody’s business.
Don Keating told us that we should not say nothing about what come off with Mr. Brewster because the Eagles’ directors would make the announcement when they got good and ready, but so much had come off and so fast, that I wanted to ask advise from somebody, and I talked a bit to Bob Henderson, because my Uncle Willie was still away in the west some place.
So I asked Bob Henderson if he was me and someone had offered him a contract to quit being a simon-pure amateur an turn pro., what would he do, and he said:
“Who was it made you this offer?”
So I said: “Nobody has made me no offer, but if they was to what would you advice me to do?”
Bob Henderson said that that was horsefeathers, but that I would be a fool to sign a pro. contract because I was not ready for pro. company, needing at least one more season under my belt.
“If any of the big timers are trying to sign you now, fellow,” Bob Henderson said, “it is only because they want to beat the other guys to it, and they will either let you out altogether after they have seen you go in fast company or they will farm you to Windsor or Providence or one of them clubs, and you will be in the thick soup up to your heck, because you will have to get yourself another job, because Joe Mullins will kick you out of this place on your ear the minute you turn pro., and you get just as hungry in July as you do in January.”
Well, Bob Henderson talked a lot to me like that and he got me scared, especially as I was signed with the Eagles and it looked like they would treat me good.
So I called up Mr. O’Connor the next day and I told him that I had changed my mind and was going to stay amateur for another season, anyway. Mr. O’Connor give me quite a argument, but I told him that I was not no slave and that I would play with whoever I wanted to play with. Then Mr. O’Connor says, “Well, we will see about that,” and hung up the telephone in my ear.
'“THE next thing that come off, Mr. Mullins sends for me, and says:
“Well, stupid, what have you been doing now?”
So I said I had not done nothing.
“Keep your trap shut if you want,” Mr. Mullins said, “but you must have done something or Carey Lewis would not be on the telephone telling me to get you up to his office right away.”
Carey Lewis is the secretary of the Amateur Hockey Organization, which is the governing body of us amateurs.
So Mr. Mullins said: “Maybe he just wants to give you your card, but it did not sound like that to me the way he talked. Anyway, you had better hustle up town right away and if you are in any jam I will try and get you out of it, but I do not promise nothing because you are certainly one wild man when you start to do your own thinking. If you had two more brains you would be a half-wit,” Mr. Mullins said.
Well, there was Mr. Charlie Foster, president of the Dominion Hockey Association, sitting behind a desk and looking very sore at something, and there was Mr. O’Connor of the Lions looking even sorer than Mr. Charlie Foster.
Mr. Charlie Foster said: “Well, well. So this is Jim the Penman.”
Carey Lewis said: “Let me see the evidence,” and Mr. Charlie Foster handed him three slips of paper, being the papers I had signed for Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Tom Kane and Mr. Jones.
Then Carey Lewis handed the papers to me, saying, “Did you sign these?”
So I said, “Yes, Mr. Lewis, I signed them papers, and what about it?”
“That is all I want from you,” Carey Lewis said. “Now you can sit outside and wait for me.”
So I went and sat down in a little outside office, but there was only a glass door between and I could hear them arguing inside and they were arguing about my amateur standing.
Mr. Charlie Foster said: “The way it looks to me, this boy is not only turned professional, but he is turned professional three times in three days, and he has taken 200 dollars apiece from the Leopards and the Wolves and 250 dollars from the Lions.”
“Of course, I would have to be the sucker for the extra 50 bucks,” said Mr. O’Connor.
Then Carey Lewis said: “He is just dumb, that is all. You know darn well that he is not ready for no professional company yet.”
“That is not the point,” said Mr. Charlie Foster, and Mr. O’Connor said: “That is my grief, but I think he is ready or darn near ready anyway.”
Mr. Charlie Foster said: “The thing is, Carey, are you going to give this boy a amateur card after he has signed professional contracts and taken money for signing?”
“The best thing to do is make him refund the money and forget about it,” said Carey Lewis.
Mr. O’Connor said: “Forget about nothing. This boy is signed with the Lions, and if you do not give him his amateur card, he will have to report to the Lions, and that is all there is to it. Are you going to give him a amateur card when he is a signed professional? That is all we want to know.”
“In this organization a contract is a contract,” Mr. Charlie Foster said, and then nobody said nothing for a long time.
At last Carey Lewis said: “Well, I will give you my answer Charlie, and that is that we are going to let this boy have his amateur card.”
Mr. O’Connor started to say something with a lot of cuss words in it, but Mr. Charlie Foster must have shut him up, because he stopped all of a sudden and then Mr. Charlie Foster said:
“All right,' Carey, if you are in the business of issuing amateur cards to signed professionals there is nothing more to be said. I was just curious to know.” Well, Carey Lewis come out looking sore and I got up and followed him and he did not say nothing until we got to the street, and then he says:
“Listen, Bannister, if I have any more monkey business with you I will throw you out of amateur hockey so far that it will take you the rest of your life to get back in, and you can tell Joe Mullins I said so.”
Well, I did not want no argument with Carey Lewis, but I did not say nothing to Mr. Mullins, because I am not no messenger boy for no one, more especially not a crab like this Carey Lewis.
Then the next day this Dexter Chase went and put that piece in the paper, not only about me signing the papers for Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Tom Kane and Mr. Jones, but also about me and Don Keating and the rest of the boys signing to play with the Eagles in the High Group.
There was a number of dirty cracks about me that was not called for, more especially saying that if I could play hockey like I could sign contracts I would be the greatest hockey player in history.
Well, of course, Mr. Mullins sent for me to come to his office and he said: “What is all this about, and what in blazes do you mean by signing a pro. contract without telling me about it—not to say three of them?”
“Well, Mr. Mullins,” I said, “I was offered a opportunity to go to the big league and I took it, and so would you have if you had got the same opportunity.”
“You are not ready for the big league yet, you sap,” said Joe Mullins.
“Yes, Mr. Mullins,” I said, “and when I come to think it over I decided that I would not turn pro., but would keep my amateur standing.”
Joe Mullins said: “If I did not know that you was just plain simple-minded, I would say that you was a double-crossing, chiseling crook. Did you send back that money they gave you for signing?”
“I have not sent back no money yet, Mr. Mullins,” I said, “because it was gave me for signing three papers and I signed them.”
Then Mr. Mullins did a funny thing. He shut his fist tight and hit himself ever so many times on the head !
“You will either drive me nuts or into my grave,” Mr. Mullins said. “Don’t you know that until you send that money back Carey Lewis will not give you your amateur card?”
Well, I knew that Carey Lewis was sore at me for something and that he would not miss no chance to pick on me if he could, so I said:
“All right, Mr. Mullins, I will send back the money today.”
“Send post-office orders,” Mr. Mullins advised me, “because after trying to gyp them birds the way you did, you could go fish for a receet and I would not blame them.”
“Another thing,” said Mr. Mullins, “you will have to get out and hustle another bunch of customers if you are going to jump from the Alecs to the Eagles, because from now on old man Carlson is going to love you like he loves poison ivy, and what is the idea, anyway?” So I said: “We would better play in the High Group and we would better play in the Pantheon and not in that crumby Palace rink. And besides if we was to play in the Middle Group this year we would go through it like nobody’s business, and interest in the games would be all shot.”
“I see,” said Mr. Mullins. “You are doing this for the good of the game?” “That is what we are doing it for,” I said.
“Well,” Mr. Mullins said, “I will believe you, but thousands would not. You do not suppose that old man Carlson is going to take this lying down, do you?”
I said: “There is not nothing he can do about it, because we are amateurs and can play with who we want to, and not no slaves like them pros, to be sold back and forth any place whether they want to or not.”
Mr. Mullins said: “Well, I am glad to see you think so much of your amateur standing.”
So I said: “Yes, Mr. Mullins, I am very proud to be a amateur and not no slave like them pros.”