In today's excerpt--sportswriters in the 1920s, feeling underpaid, often took payments from sports promoters to give favorable coverage to certain athletes. One such sportswriter was the immortal Damon Runyon, star reporter for the Hearst newspaper chain, whose short stories were later turned into the Broadway smash Guys and Dolls:
"Though not yet famous, as he eventually would become, mainly because of his colorful and often exaggerated descriptions of sports events and his popular short stories about Broadway gamblers and their variegated associates, Damon Runyon was a man in perennial search of a buck. Or at least he was before he became famous after some of his make-believe Broadway characters became immortalized in the hit musical Guys and Dolls. Barney Nagler, one of the most highly respected boxing writers over a period that extended from the 1930s to the 1980s, was known to become almost apoplectic when he would hear a young sports reporter wax reverentially about Runyon's work. 'He was the crookedest writer around, with his hand in every promoter's pocket and in a lot of managers' and fighters' pockets, too,' the usually mild-mannered and soft-spoken Nagler once suddenly thundered.
"Indeed, Runyon had been on the take of promoters and fight managers since he was a very young sportswriter on the Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado, where he grew up. ... Early in his journalistic career, Runyon found out that managers and promoters were willing to pay a sportswriter or sports editor to ensure that their fighters got what they considered adequate space on the local sports pages. Taking a cue from some older writers, Runyon also bought, or was given, part ownership of some fighters in Pueblo and Denver, both good fight towns in the early part of the twentieth century. By owning a piece of a fighter, a sportswriter was even more inclined to write often and favorably about a fistic prospect.
"Runyon's ethical misbehavior went even further. In his 1991 biography of Runyon, Jimmy Breslin said that while running an annual Milk Fund boxing benefit [to help the children of the poor] at Madison Square Garden for the wife of William Randolph Hearst, Runyon was inclined to skim off some of the gate receipts--in effect, as Breslin put it, stealing money from the babies of indigent New York families. But by then some of Runyon's best friends were well-known New York gangsters whose scruples also left much to be desired."
Jack Cavanaugh, Tunney, Ballantine, Copyright 2006 by Jack Cavanaugh, p. 115.