I hope you have been enjoying the excerpts from Heinsohn, Don't You Ever Smile? by Tommy Heinsohn. Here is one of my favorite stories about a couple of practical jokes that Red and Tommy played on each other. To set the stage, Tommy had a really bad day, which he called his worst day ever, with everything going wrong that could go wrong as we pick up this story after he finally had gotten to practice, only to be fined by Red for being late.
I sat there and wondered: "What more can happen to me on this day?"I must have had an unusually sad expression for such a kind face because Auerbach walked over and asked what was wrong. I cited chapter and verse. "In addition," I said, "you fined me and then my wallet's stolen with everything else." I really wasn't looking for sympathy - not from Auerbach. He surprised me, though, which, if I had any brains, should have made me suspicious immediately. "Look," he said, "that's a bad day. What you ought to do - nothing relaxes me more than a cigar. You're just gonna relax if you smoke this cigar." He handed me a roman candle and I put it in my pocket. I was too overwrought and slightly shocked by Red's generosity to think clearly. I was mad at the world as I headed back for home in Worcester, where we lived before we bought a new home in South Natick. I got about halfway when I began talking to myself, for a change. "What the hell are you getting so angry about?" I asked. "I'll be alright," I answered. "I'll take Red's advice. I'll smoke his cigar and relax." I stopped at a red light and took out the cigar. I stuck it in my mouth and lit it. I took two puffs and the damn thing exploded. I was so mad, I could have taken the rifle I wanted to give that Arab in Egypt and shot Auerbach on the spot - with real bullets. I never acknowledged that I smoked the loaded cigar. "Hey," he aid when I saw him at practice the next day, "how did you like that cigar?" I told him I never smoked it but had given it to somebody. I didn't want to give him the pleasure - only a loaded cigar of my own. I set him up by feeding him cigars for the next four months. I wasn't too obvious. It would be once a week or every two weeks. It cost me a dollar and sometimes a dollar and a half but I would tell him I picked up a good one for him at a banquet. At first he looked at both ends to see if it was loaded. He reached the point where he finally trusted me and lit the cigar without inspecting it. I was ready to pick my spot. It came when we were practicing at Northeastern for another playoff. The setting was perfect because the media were there and Red was distracted by a press conference. He had all the reporters around when I handed him my cigar, revenge brand. He nodded, put it in his mouth, but didn't have a match. I was on the fringe of a circle that must have included twenty newspapermen. I wanted to see the whole thing but was careful not to be too obvious. Red was busy telling everyone how great the Celtics were going to be and how they were going to do this and that, meanwhile fumbling for a match. I began to panic. For want of a match, I was about to blow the opportunity after all my investment of time and money. What do I do now? I grabbed my lighter and worked my way closer to him. "Red, whatsa matter?" I said, innocently. "Gotta match?" he asked, conveniently. Magnificent. It couldn't have been better. My cigar and my match. He took two puffs and said: "We will defeat the Seventy..." Boom! No more press conference. He chased me out of the locker room and up the stairs.
Here is another favorite of mine. Big Baby came in for some criticism for accidtntly running into that kid in Orlando, but here is a story where Cousy and a teammate targeted a fan.
Much has been written about the family attitude on the Celtics and it was true. There never were cliques and, despite Auerbach's contribution to the smooth relationships, the players, themselves, had much to do with it. Cousy, as an individual could be difficult to tolerate at times because he was a demanding person, but he subjugated himself like everybody where the team was concerned. I was closer to Cousy than anyone because we lived in Worcester and had loyal Holy Cross ties. We would drive to practices together and enjoy practical jokes together. That still didn't prevent him from treating me with the same impatience as the others. His favorite trick at the start of a game was to deliberately overthrow two or three times to make you stretch out. It was his way of getting you primed for the fast break he ran. After tossing the ball over the end line, he would grumble as though it had been your fault. He'd mumble something like: "Zudersumbdunadun." Something you couldn't possibly understand. Consequently, I called him Mr Razzlefraz after the character in the Scripto television commercial who would grumble incoherently because he couldn't get his golf ball out of a trap. We knew Cousy would throw too long deliberately but never questioned him. We knew he had great control of his passes and could peg the ball through a rubber tire from fifty feet away if necessary. He was like Tom Seaver tossing a knockdown pitch to get his message across. Once in Philadelphia where the fans were as gentle as those in the Roman Colosseum in the days of Caesar, a teammate, Jack Nichols, solicited Cousy's aid. In those days, the games were played in Convention Hall, where the people were not as close to the playing surface as in Syracuse, Minneapolis, or some other cities. Most of the crowd sat in a balcony that overlooked the court. There were seats on the floor but, because there was so much room, they were well removed from the sidelines and endlines. The players were within harassing distance, anyway. For some reason, the best hecklers seemed to mobilize under the baskets. The favorite spot was near the visitors' bench. There sat the Nuremberg jury, a vocal group without the music, and then there were the comedians, who preferred to work alone. A Philadelphia comic tried out his act on Earl Strom one night in the Palestra, where a playoff game with the Knicks had been shifted because there was a circus in the Convention Hall. There was a disturbance and the referee called for the cops to remove the fan. "He kicked me," explained Earl, "so I kicked him back." That's what happens when you see too many Leo Durocher pictures. There was another superb customer whose sole purpose for paying was to take out his hostilities on a player of his choice. It was remarkable the way he could maintain a constant flow of choice words without taking a deep breath. That went on for an entire game, and it would become annoying. His favorite target for awhile was Nichols, our resident dentist, who now practices in Seattle. "It's bad enough he is berating me with such horrible language," said Jack, "but he's got two kids with him. He's swearing all the time, which is no way for an adult to act in front of children." Nichols and Cousy worked out a solution at half time. During the warmup, Nichols would take the ball off the basket, heave it out to Cousy, and then take a return pass. Jack, in the meantime, would stake himself out in front of the obnoxious fan, who was impairing the morals of minors with his foul words. Cousy fired a bullet, Nichols stepped aside, and the ball hit the fan right in the stomach like a dumdum. He was a big, fat guy and the impact knocked him back into his seat. Though his wind was knocked out, the guy never missed a syllable and continued his abuse. Nichols was enraged even more, so he picked up the ball and dribbled it off the fan's head. The fan understood that and never showed at another game, unless he shifted to an inconspicuous seat without our knowledge.
I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into this fascinating book. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the history of the Celtics or just a good read.