The Life of Reilly
Mentor, Wisecracker and individualist extraordinary Tim Daly is an outstanding figure in the world of sport
IT WAS a hot night in the Montreal ball park and pudgy Tim Daly, veteran trainer of the Toronto Maple Leafs, mopped his brow as he came puffing up the ramp from the visiting team’s clubhouse underneath the stand. Arrayed in white ducks and opennecked sport shirt, he stood there a moment searching the faces of the customers in the box seats. Then he waddled around the semi-circle back of the boxes and parked himself finally between Bill Hinchman, the Pittsburgh Pirate scout, and Joe Page, well-known Montreal báseball man.
“Boy,” Daly said, leaning back in his chair, “if this ain’t the life of Reilly. Travelling around the country in Pullman cars, staying at the best hotels, and watching a ball game every day. If a fella had a million dollars he couldn't do nothing more with it.”
A short while later, when Daly had departed for the clubhouse, both Hinchman and Page agreed they had never met a man who got a bigger bang out of his work than Tim, and we were inclined to string along with them.
We had been watching him in the inevitable poker game on the train the night before. The biggest pot of the evening was on the table when we happened along, and everybody leaned forward to watch Daly turn over a card.
“Well. I’m a son-of-a-gun,” somebody grunted. “There oughta be a law against that Daly.”
Tim sighed a little as he gathered in the sheaves. He stuffed the bundle into his pants pocket, took off his glasses and wiped them, put them on again and bet a cautious quarter on the next hand. He bet another quarter on the
hand after that and then, sighing and stretching, withdrew from the game seemingly unaware of the angry glares of the ravaged athletes whose money reposed in his pocket.
“How d'yuh like that?” bawled Mayo Smith, an outfielder who hails from the deep south. “He takes ah money and then he don’t play no mo’.”
Daly paused in his flight to the other end of the car, levelled a forefinger at Mayo and croaked impressively: “Any sucker can quit a loser. Now let that be a lesson to you.”
Tim (he was christened Thomas Michael) quit being a sucker himself somewhere back near the beginning of this century when he stopped a punch w ith his jaw in a Boston prize ring and woke up several hours later in Providence. He knew then he wrasn’t cut out to be a lighter and his reasoning went something like this:
“Fella, get smart! This is the hard way to hustle your potatoes. Besides, it ain’t safe. If you don’t get yourself another job soon, you’re gonna be walking on your heels.” Jimmy Floode. his old trainer, was looking for a helper at the time and Tim applied for the iob. Floode was working with a lacrosse team at St. Catharines. Ontario, and it was there Tim made his bow’ as a muscle manipulator. From there he went along naturally with Floode into baseball and hockey, and when Floode later passed from the scene he had the field all to himself.
So for thirty-five years now he’s been training Toronto’s professional baseball and hockey clubs, outsmarting the players, intimidating bat boys, bossing the husky truckdrivers who handle the teams’ trunks, kidding the Customs
people in railway stations and at the border, and otherwise having himself a time. His fame has spread far beyond the confines of the dressing room.
It was after a hockey game in Madison Square Garden last winter that Jules Timmins, president of the Hollinger Gold Mines, asked to be introduced to him. Mr. Timmins was ushered into the Leafs’ dressing room where he shook hands with Tim and told him he had heard a great deal about him. They talked for a few minutes while the players stood around with their mouths hanging open. Red Horner was dressing near by and when the visitor had departed he asked in awed tones, “Wasn’t that the Hollinger man?”
Daly looked at Red and suddenly burst out laughing. “Say, Red.” he said, “wrhat have I got that you ain’t got?”
Another night in the big New York Garden he spied Robert Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck, the picture stars, w-atching the game and he went over to their box. “I’m Tim Daly,” he said. “Ain’t you Robert Taylor?” Taylor admitted the charge and Tim said, “Maybe you’d like to meet our boys at the end of this period. I know they’d like to meet you.” So at the end of the period Taylor knocked on the door of the Leafs’ dressing room. Daly hushed everybody up by. bellowing, “There’s an old pal of mine from Hollywood coming in here. Behave yourselves now and I’ll introduce you.”
Then he unlocked the door, stuck out his hand and said. “Hello. Bob. Come right in,” and proceeded to conduct Taylor around the room and introduce him to each of the astonished athletes in turn. When it was all over Taylor asked Tim if he had ever been to Hollywood. Tim said no, and asked Taylor if he had ever been to Toronto. When the actor admitted that he hadn’t, Tim sighed a little and murmured, “Just a coupla stars who ain’t seen each other’s home towns.”
No Shrinking Violet
HE CONFIDED to us once that he never felt any nervousness at meeting any kind of a big shot, because he felt he was just as big in his line as they were in theirs. We suggested that Bill O’Brien, who trains both baseball and hockey clubs in Montreal, was pretty good too.
“Sure.” Tim agreed. “But you know where Bill falls down, don’t you? He ain’t got no
The kayo he suffered in Boston is the single flaw in his armour, the only crack in his tough mental make-up through which the noble athletes he now trains can ever wing a shaft. They never let him forget about it. either.
“Remember the way they used to bill you when you were at your peak?” they’ll say. “COME EARLY AND SEE DALY ON HIS FEET.” In reply to these jibes the only alibi he has ever been able to offer is, “I’m telling you, the guy hit me after the bell had went. Honest he did.” But he’s been around so long he knows most of the answers, and he’s so quick on top he’s usually a couple of jumps ahead of the boys. They rarely best him at poker, craps, gags, or any of the other forms of trouble they are able to think up.
Just before the National Hockey League play-offs last March, he arrived one day at Maple Leaf Gardens. In the passageway outside the dressing room he encountered Turk Broda, Leaf goalie, who made an elaborate gesture of stepping aside to let him pass. Daly stopped as if he’d been shot, side-stepped quickly, grabbed Broda and shoved him through the door first. The bucket of water that had been rigged up over the door and intended for Daly came down with a crash and drenched the goalie from head to feet.
“That guy’d never showed me no manners before,” Tim said later, by way of explaining his sudden hunch.
He is one of the three figures still connected with hockey
who were present at the first professional game ever
played. This was in Cobalt in 1908. The other two are the
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The Life of Reilly
Continued from page 14 -
famed Lester Patrick, now manager of the New York Rangers, and Art Ross, head man in the Boston Bruin organization.
The night the Leafs and Rangers first met in Madison Square Garden in a National Hockey League game is a night that stands out in Daly’s memory. Ermined women and gentlemen in white ties and tails made the boxes glitter like the Diamond Horseshoe at the “Met” on the opening night of the opera season. As Tim stood watching the spectacle, Lester Patrick came up behind him.
"Beautiful, isn’t it?” said Lester, whose heart was bulging with good will at the sight of his Rangers cavorting in the world’s most famous sport auditorium.
“Remember that night up in Cobalt?” answered Tim. “I bet you never thought then we’d ever live to see the day when they’d be playing this game on Brussels carpets.”
YET TIM himself has come almost as far as the game of hockey in the intervening years. He was brought up in a large family where the going was so tough that when his mother used to send him to the corner for five cents worth of liver, he’d ask the butcher to throw in a bone for the dog. Then he’d take the bone home and his mother would make soup out of it for the entire family.
That kind of early training has made him thrifty. He has been tops in his trade for a long time and he has been lucky, too, in being with a fair share of championship clubs. He has done such a good job that no one has ever begrudged him his slice of play-off money. But he has a way of turning everything to good account. A year or so ago he raffled off a turkey among the hockey players and came up with the winning ticket himself. You have to get up too early to beat him.
Ty Cobb and Dan Howley tried to work a gag on him once when they were up north duck hunting. Ducks being scarce, they shot a couple of hell-divers for diversion, which they sent to Daly for a joke. They were completely flabbergasted to receive a collect wire from him a couple of days later asking for some more of the same. They had no way of knowing that Daly had unloaded the hell-divers on an unsuspecting butcher who didn’t know a wild duck from Poe’s raven.
In the years he has been operating Tim has “trained” some great athletes. We say "trained” because the Daly system of training, while effective, is unique. He doesn’t believe much in rubdowns. He will argue with you that his dislike of rubdowns doesn’t stem from an aversion for work but from the harm it does athletes
to pamper them, especially young athletes.
He impressed this most forcibly on Murph Chamberlain, the hockey player now with Montreal Canadiens, the year Murph broke in. Murph came off the ice after his first professional workout and leaped onto the rubbing board. Daly saw him but allowed several minutes to elapse before going over to him.
“My boy,” he said gently, looking down at the tired Chamberlain, “how old are you?”
“Nineteen,” answered Chamberlain.
Tim shook his head sadly. “Ain’t you ashamed?” he said. “A young fella like you. Get up offa there.” And Chamberlain, thinking he had broken some unwritten law of the dressing room, slid off the table and disappeared with his shame into the dark reaches of the shower.
He will rub an athlete if he thinks it really necessary, but usually he turns him over to his trusted helper, “Smitty,” who has been with him these past fifteen years. Everything “Smitty” knows he has learned from Tim and he is ready to slug the guy who makes any cracks about the boss.
THE great Daly has his enemies. What man of stature hasn’t? The feud he carried on last summer with a baseball fan was one of the most hilarious episodes of the entire season. Tim was told that his critic had tried to enlist the aid of a wellknown Toronto sports writer in having him ousted from his job. This burned him up, and he demanded to know what reply the sports writer had made to the suggestion. The writer’s reputed answer pleased him so much, and seemed to him so eminently correct, that it may be taken as Tim’s own estimate of the place he occupies in the community.
“You’ve picked on the wrong guy,” the sports writer is supposed to have said. “Daly’s not just a trainer. He’s a great Canadian character—known and loved by all.”
The feud came to a head one night when the pair clashed physically underneath the stands. They were separated before the carnage became too devastating. Afterward there was the usual hand-shaking and making up, but it didn’t take any too solidly with the outraged Daly. He encountered his erstwhile enemy for the first time since the armistice at the Long Branch race track. The enemy ivas studying a racing form and he saluted Tim by saying, “Who do you like?” which is horse player’s parlance for who do you think will win the next race. Mister Daly replied briefly, “I like a lotta people,” and passed on.
Mike Meóla, the burly Bronx Italian who used to pitch for Toronto, crossed Tim once and the two of them kept up a sort of running fight for several seasons. It happened like this:
An old gentleman collapsed in the stand at a ball game one day and the stadium ushers carried him into the clubhouse and laid him down on the rubbing table. Tim tried without result to revive him by bathing his face with cold water. He then held smelling salts under his nose. When that didn’t work he began to slap him gently on the side of the face. At this juncture the doctor walked in, felt the old man’s pulse and pronounced him dead.
Tim was startled. He looked up guiltily and saw Meóla staring at him. Mike had come in while Tim w'as administering tire slapping treatment, and his lips formed an accusation. Though the doctor declared that the man had died of a heart seizure, Tim continued to hold it against Mike for daring to express the alarming thought which had occurred to him himself.
Like most married men he is afraid of his wife. He was popping off in a Rochester hotel one night many years ago when a drunk heckled him by saying, “I suppose you’re another of them Canucks come over here to get a job in the Rochester Street Railway.” For it seems the presence of so many Canadians in that public service company was particularly galling to local labor. Tim replied angrily that he had no such intention as he didn’t like working with foreigners. Just then something hit him on the head and he went out like a light. When he came to he was stretched out in bed with a lump on his head, and he was sporting a black eye in the bargain.
Next day, while the game was in progress, he remained in the clubhouse applying a huge beefsteak to the damaged optic, but it didn’t do much good. When he arrived home on Monday morning the eye was still as prominent as a wart on the end of your nose. His wife took one look at him and cried, “Good heavens, what have you been doing?”
“That,” he told her, “is what you get for trying to field bunts,” and she couldn’t get another word out of him.
HIS THREE great hobbies in about the order named, are his home, sleep and the movies. Some years ago he bought a piece of land about fifteen miles from Toronto and on this property he has built a house. He takes a lot of ribbing about being the gentleman with the country estate, but he is proud of the place and does a lot of work on it.
The guest book at the country place looks like a sheet torn from the Burke’s Peerage of Sport, if there were such a publication. Ty Cobb, Charlie Gehringer, Tony Lazzeri, George McQuinn, Heinie Manush, Lester Patrick, Dick Irvin, King Clancy, Red Horner, Hap Day, and just about everybody who is anybody in baseball and hockey has been entertained there.
He once took two rookie ballplayers home to dinner with him without first taking the trouble to telephone his wife. But it happened that she had cooked a small roast and she carved two generous helpings for the visitors. She had planned to go out that evening and when she returned to the dining room she had her hat on. She knew ballplayers had notorious appetites, but she was surprised to notice that the guests had already wolfed down the first helping. She asked them if they wouldn’t have some more, and they nodded eager assent. After she had finished setting them up for the second time, there was little left of the roast but the trappings.
“Good-by,” she said as she prepared to leave, “enjoy yourselves now.”
Her husband, who is a better than fair hand at the table himself, had been handicapped this night by a late start. He glanced at what was left of the roast and grunted, “Yeah, do your best, you
guys. Because neither one of you is coming back.”
Though he doesn't get as much time for it as he would like, his capacity for sleep is amazing. He can sleep anywhere, at any time, sitting up on trains in broad daylight or even on the hard surface of the huge trunks which are used to transport the players’ unifonns and other paraphernalia, and he can doze off in the middle of a sentence.
I íe will tell you that the best movie he ever saw was “You Can’t Take It With You,” which is rather odd when you consider that its theme is the exact antithesis of his own acquisitive philosophy. Yet it is ofily fair to mention that he once offered to lend a friend who was down on his luck the sum of $1.600, which was the entire amount of his bank balance at the time. He says the worst movie he ever saw was “Goodbye Mr. Chips,” which he insists on calling “Mr. Chips Goes Home.” English public school life was too much for him; he didn’t understand it at all, at all.
He is so vague about names that Mrs. Daly declares he can only remember two or three of them; his own and a couple more of the short Irish variety like Kelly and Burke. During Mike Meola’s stay with the Leafs, Tim always referred to him as Mike Manilla. Right up to a couple of weeks ago he was calling Bingo Kampman, Bingo Compton. Doc Romnes is Doc Robinson. Dr. Smirle Lawson he describes as the “chief corona.” which makes Ontario’s coroner a big cigar. While he was feuding with that fan last summer he threatened to sue his tormentor for “libel and deputation of character.”
At least twice he has misplaced bets through confusing the names of the horses. He once bet Mail Pouch when he was told to bet Rural Mail, and another time he bet on a nag named Night’s End when he meant to play Bobtail.
The Tonic of Laughter
DALY knows that if you can get a roomful of athletes laughing, there is little likelihood of their tightening up under the pressure of competition. Some of his skits are as good as anything produced by Al Schacht, who bills himself as the Clown Prince of Baseball and gets upwards of $25.000 a year for his work. One of these is the hockey player who gets cut and doesn’t want to have stitches taken. Another is the entrance into the clubhouse of the pitcher who has just been knocked out of the box. And still another is the ballplayer who is in a batting slump.
He is a friend of Pat Rafferty, one of the original Dumbells in the last war, and he contributed a skit to Rafferty’s act which is one of the best things in that comedian’s repertoire. Maybe you’ve seen it. It’s the one where a recruiting sergeant stands on a soap box haranguing the crowd. Finally he concentrates on one man. “Why aren’t you in the army?” the sergeant demands. “Why aren’t you over there fighting for your country?” To which the harassed one replies, “Have you ever seen me walk?” And when the sergeant says no, the object of his scorn starts to walk off casually and then suddenly breaks into a run.
His appetite for gags almost cost him his life on one occasion. The Toronto Club was playing in Newark at the time and Tim and Jess Doyle, a fun-loving pitcher, went to a vaudeville show where they saw the late Houdini perform his amazing bag of tricks, which gave them an idea. Next day before game time Tim got into one of the big trunks, and Doyle turned the key in the lock with all the players looking on. Doyle was only supposed to go through the motions of locking the trunk, but he couldn’t resist the temptation to doublecross his pal. While Tim struggled impotenti y inside the trunk the boys gave him the horse laugh and went out to play the game.
About the third innings the grandstand caught on fire. There was a rush for the
clubhouse while the players rescued their personal belongings. Doyle was standing around outside watching the clubhouse burn when something suddenly clicked in his head. He let out a yell and dashed inside. When he finally got the lid of the trunk open Tim was already slightly toasted.
'VT’ET WITH all his kidding Daly knows as much about the psychology of athletes as any man'alive. He knows their tendencies to moan and alibi, to stall and second-guess, and he also knows the remedies. Dr. O’Hara, physician to the Toronto Baseball Club, says that Daly is an invaluable aid to him in diagnosing player injuries.
“Those fellows can fool you if you don’t know them,” the doctor explains. “Daly stands behind them and I can tell more by watching the expression on his face than from the answers an ‘injured’ player gives me.”
Tim claims that the athletes of today aren’t as tough as the old-timers. A player nowadays gets a chipped bone on his finger and it lays him up for a month or
six weeks. That could never happen in the old days.
“I remember once,” he says, “we were playing an important series with Providence. Bill Bradley was playing third base for us and a fella jumps into him and gives him his spikes. It took eighteen stitches to close the cut. Bill was out of the game next day. but he was back in there the day after that. You won’t never see nothing like that again.”
He has his own explanation for it. “Athletes today,” he says, “are like actors. They get a lotta publicity, their pitchers in the papers and magazines and even in the movies, and them talking over the radio every night. They got their public and they ain’t gonna appear before it unless they can show at their best. Some of them won’t even go out without their hair combed and their teeth brushed.”
But Daly is not the type to spend much time regretting the passing of the good old days; he’s far too busy enjoying the here and now for that.
“The wife claims I was born under a lucky star,” he’ll tell you. “She says I’m the only man she knows who gets paid for living the life of Reilly.”